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News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!


What's On:

TXT4LIFE - Meghann Levitt

Meghann Levitt is the Northeast Minnesota TXT4LIFE Coordinator.
She talked with Julie Carlson on North Shore Morning about the TXT4LIFE program.



West End News - February 22

West End News 2/22/18

The recent winter storm has breathed some life into the mid-winter in the West End. If you haven’t been on the slopes at Lutsen Mountains in a while, now is the time to go! Lutsen got hit with about 13 inches of snow in the last storm and they know how to make the best of it. The snowmobile trails are also in excellent shape. The Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club is hosting its third annual vintage snowmobile ride at Cascade Lodge on Saturday, February 24. Registration starts at 10 am and the ride begins at 12. It’s $10 per sled for the 20 mile trail ride with prizes for best-of-show and both the winner and loser of the fun run.

The cross-country ski trails are also in prime condition. On Saturday, March Third the Sugarbush Trail Association is hosting the Sugar Tour. From 10 am to 2 pm at the Oberg Mountain Trailhead in Tofte, there will be fun non-competitive ski routes set up with activities and personal challenges. Adults and children can choose a loop of 5, 8 or 18K. There will, of course, be treats and hot chocolate waiting for you back at the trailhead.

With March peaking over our shoulders, it’s time to start gearing up for the annual St Urho’s Day bash in Finland. Featuring a parade, music, and general merriment, St. Urho’s is a great excuse to go explore our neighbors to the west. The Clair Nelson community center has put out a call for vendors for the Urho’s day craft fair. It will be held on March 17th from 8 am to 3 pm and vendors can rent an 8foot display space for $20. If you’re interested in selling, call them at 218-353-0300 to reserve your spot.

There is also a Clair Nelson vocational scholarship available for anyone about to start a 2-year vocational program. The deadline to apply is March 1st so you still have a few days if you’re heading to vocational school and could use some extra help, check out friends of finland dot org to apply.

 Coming up on March 8th Bill Blackwell, Jr. will be leading a Social Justice Conference in Grand Marais. This talk is aimed at preparing parents and the community to continue the conversation around race, identity, and culture. The talk is free and begins at 6:30 at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. I know, personally, that it is difficult to motivate yourself out the door and all the way into town on a Thursday evening. If you have kids in the school system here or have an interest in how our community handles these conversations, then you should make the effort to be there.

Bill Blackwell Jr is a member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the executive director of the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University and a graduate of Cook County High School. Recently, he has been the recipient of the Distinguished Diversity Leadership Award from the Minnesota state colleges and university’s academic and student affairs division and the Martin Luther King Commitment to Service Award.

Conversations surrounding race, identity and culture are important to have across our county. I hope to see many of us come together for this important step in moving that conversation forward.
 For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley, with the West End News.



"Saving Snow" Film Screening

Staci Drouillard talks about the film "Saving Snow" that documents the economic and cultural changes to our northern winters.  She also explains Cook County Local Energy Project's involvement in bringing the film to our area.


Constellation Orion (Peter Liebetrau/Flickr)

North Woods Naturalist: Constellation Orion - Part 1

In our part of the world, the most familiar nighttime sight is the constellation Orion. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about the cultural diversity of Orion.


Feb Sky.jpg

Northern Sky: Feb 17 - Mar 2 2018

“Northern Sky” by Deane Morrison  Feb. 17-March 2 2018

In the second half of February, Venus starts to peek out from the sun's afterglow and slowly climb into the evening sky. On Saturday, February 17, there's a thin young crescent moon in the west-southwest, and if you look half an hour after sunset you may spot Venus way below and a little to the right of the moon. In the coming days, the moon will move on to the east, but keep looking in the same spot for Venus, although it will be a little higher each night.
As the moon makes its way eastward, it waxes. Between the evenings of the 22nd and 23rd, it passes the bright star Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus, the bull. The evening of the 24th, it travels the night sky above Orion.
The moon finally becomes full on Thursday, March 1st, at 6:51 p.m. It'll be big and bright because it'll be just a couple of days past its closest approach to Earth in this lunar cycle. And, since moonrise over Grand Marais comes at 5:32 p.m.--barely more than an hour before perfect fullness--it'll be one of the roundest moons. Also, this gorgeous moon rises against a pale sky opposite a setting sun. It crosses the night sky below the belly of Leo, the lion, a spring constellation.
The latter half of February is a good time to watch the predawn show because there’s little interference from the moon. Three planets are all well up by an hour before sunrise, and they form an almost perfectly straight line. Starting low in the southeast and moving diagonally up and to the right, they are Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. Off to the right of Mars is Antares, the bright heart of Scorpius. Antares' name means rival of Mars, and as Mars brightens over the coming months it'll really outshine Antares and even begin to rival Jupiter.
Unlike Mars, Jupiter and Saturn don't change much in brightness because they're always very far from Earth no matter where Earth is in its orbit. Therefore, their distance from us can only change by a relatively small amount. But the orbits of Mars and Earth are much closer, and like runners in adjacent lanes on a track, our two planets vary widely in relative distance. As Earth gains on Mars and gets ready to lap it in the race around the sun, we get a lot closer. Mars’s mid-February distance is about 143 million miles; that shrinks to only 36 million miles when we lap it in July.
Mars also differs from Saturn and Jupiter in another way that we don’t need a telescope to see. If you watch the planets’ positions with respect to the stars, it looks as though Saturn and Jupiter are barely budging. And why not? Earth’s orbital motion pushes both stars and planets westward. But Mars is budging quite a bit compared to the background of stars, because its orbital motion, eastward, is so much faster than the other outer planets'. Sure, Earth’s motion also pushes Mars westward, but not nearly as fast as it does the background stars, or Jupiter or Saturn. From morning to morning you can watch Mars plowing its way eastward, away from Jupiter and Antares and toward Saturn. In the first week of April, Mars passes Saturn.
Also in the predawn sky, the Big Dipper is now hanging high in the west. If you follow the curve of its handle, that brings you to Arcturus, whose name means follower or guardian of the bear. Arcturus is a brilliant star, high to the upper right of Jupiter. Also try finding the crown of Scorpius, which is three stars that now look like a shield protecting Antares from Jupiter.



Superior National Forest Update - February 16, 2018

National Forest Update – February 15, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, education specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update, a round-up of everything that for the next two weeks may affect your visit to the Superior.  Even though it is midwinter, there’s a lot going on outside.

You may have been watching the Winter Olympics this past week, and while the Superior doesn’t have its own luge run, we can give you great skiing opportunities, thanks to the grooming efforts of our trail partners.  The Sugarbush Trail Association, which maintains the Sugarbush Ski Trails with trailheads at Britton Peak, Moose Fence, and Oberg Mountain, is hosting a candlelit event this Saturday, February 18th from 6 to 8.  You can ski, snowshoe, or hike on candlelit trails, then stop by the bonfire to warm up with cocoa and cookies.  That’s my idea of a Winter Olympic event:  bonfire with cocoa and cookies.  I could medal in that.  All this will take place at the Oberg Mountain parking lot, just up the Onion River Road north of Tofte.

Our other ski areas are looking good too, though the recent warm days may have caused some bare spots.  Skiers need to be aware of potential hazards with relatively low amounts of snow in some areas.

Fat tire biking isn’t an Olympic sport yet, but we’ve heard good reports from bikers using fat bike designated trails at Pincushion, Norpine, and Flathorn.  If biking, please be sure to stay on bike designated trails, and only bike when the snow is firm enough to support you. 

Travel in the Forest should be pretty good, though as Minnesotans we all know that depends on the weather.  But for now, the roads are in good shape, and on the Tofte District there are no active timber sales, so no truck traffic.  There are a few places on the Gunflint where you may find logging activity and trucks.  Watch for hauling in the same places as the last few weeks on the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Greenwood Lake Boat Access Road, South Brule Road, Lima Grade, and FR 152 C off the Lima Grade.  This week, and for the next couple of weeks, there will also be hauling on the Homestead Road off of the Caribou Trail, and on the Caribou Trail itself.  The Homestead Road has a ski, bike, and snowmobile trail parking lot, so people accessing that facility should be cautious.  Also, be cautious on the Firebox Road and FR152C since those routes are also used as snowmobile trails.

Another non-Olympic winter event takes place this weekend:  the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count.  You don’t even have to stir out of your house for this one.  Just grab your coffee, and watch your bird feeder for a little as 15 minutes, or as long as you want, and record your observations at  This takes place from this Friday, February 16th through Monday, February 19th.  This a great example of citizen science in action.  The data from thousands of observers across the world gives ornithologists a snapshot of birds all over.  Last year, more than 160,000 people participated!  Go to for details.

So, enjoy the Olympics, but take some time out to get away from the TV and do your own version of winter sport.  It can be skiing, or snowshoeing, or counting birds, or just taking in a bonfire with a cup of cocoa.  Enjoy the winter!  Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update. 



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - February 16, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith        February 16, 2018  
It’s incredible that February has eclipsed the halfway mark. The day of hearts and chocolates has even passed us by. Guess we Smith’s might consider taking down the last of our holiday decorations, although the outdoor wreath remains green as it was when it was hung up right after Thanksgiving.   
The border country drought has extended into yet another week with no apparent relief on the weather service agenda. Here at this place, we’ve not had a significant snow since January 11, and the seasonal total to date is a pretty sad 45 and a fraction inches   
In the meantime, our bitter cold has mellowed a bit. The Wildersmith thermometer finally reached the zero mark last Sunday afternoon. It’s been a long haul getting to the big “0” in the Wildersmith neighborhood. Checking back through my daily log, I find the last day where we had a high on the plus side was January 30th, yes, thirteen consecutive days of frigidity as of this past Monday.  
In spite of minimal new snow over the past month, there is enough stacked up, along with plenty of deep ice to support this week -ends snow mobile drag races on Hungry Jack Lake. As I mentioned in my previous scoop, the racing will commence at 11:00am. Racers should be there by 10:00 to register an entry. Wishing everyone good luck and a safe race. It should be a howling good time!  
Our north woods winter calendar lists another event the following week, February 24th. Resort owners along Gunflint Lake are putting on a “Cabin Fever Festival.” This is a joint effort by Gunflint Pines Resort, Gunflint Lodge and Hestons’ Lodge.  
Everyone is invited to get out and enjoy a celebration of all things wintery. There’ll be outdoor games, feats of skill, sled racing, a fat trout fishing contest and a fat bike course across the border ice.  There will a bonfire to keep you warm and marshmallow goodies to savor. The day will end with an evening social mixer in Justine’s Dining room at Gunflint Lodge. Look for start times of specific activities in next week’s edition, or call Gunflint Lodge for more info. (388-2294).                                                                                                                                                           
Outside of weekend events, it’s a slow news time in the neighborhood. Our “wild” neighbor critters have not performed anything extraordinary beyond their daily race to the trough in bone chilling conditions, and it’s quiet as a thirty below, starlit night in the cosmos.   
Speaking of attraction to my deck side cafeteria, I have recently noted a peculiar happening with a pine marten/or martens during each mornings’ feeding chores. Prior to putting out my ration of vittles, I crank up my leaf blower to clean the deck of the previous days’ foraging. Boy, they leave a mess the likes of which easily would match a gathering of careless human litterers.   
It seems the noise from this clean-up process must be signaling the marten/s to assume grub is served. After shutting down the blower and vacating the area, I can count with some regularity that one of the furry critters will show up within five minutes or so to secure a poultry breakfast treat.    
Talk about causing un-intentional adaptive animal behavior, I’ve done it. Guess my predictable provisions practice could be considered objectionable by some. Nevertheless, it’s a “feel good thing” to offer some easy survival sustenance to the lush fur balls during these cold times.   
For WTIP, this Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as winter starts “slip sliding” away.



Birch Grove Elementary - School News - February 14, 2018

School News from Birch Grove Elementary
with Jack,  Signe and Nataliya.


Timber Wolf.jpg

Magnetic North - February 14, 2018

Magnetic North 2/13/18

There Be Wolves in My World
Welcome back to Magnetic North, where today I dare to speak of one of the three things I have learned never to bring up in polite conversation lest I offend. Not politics. Not religion. But the thorniest of the big three, at least in these parts - wolves.  Fact is, there are as many opinions about wolves as there are people in the northland. So I come not to praise or convict the beasts, just to share my limited experiences with them with you.
That said, my farm critters and I share a world with wolves. Any and all of my critters, from the tiniest bantam chicken to the bulliest billy goat would make a lovely meal for the fabled predator. And some have. As for me, when I moved here from the city many years ago, all I knew of the wolf was that one ate Red Riding Hood’s gramma, and others hang out with vampires. I knew that they would as soon gobble up my pet dog as take a moose calf. And I was properly freaked out by that prospect, even as I left the city and headed 300 miles north into wolf wonderland, the North Shore and forests beyond.
And so, it was no surprise to me that when Paul and I settled here 27 years ago, we found ourselves and our wolf fears tested on the very first night in our new home. Our bedroom faces on our  long winding driveway, and we had the windows open to enjoy the August breeze, so the distant sound of what sounded like a whole lot of dogs yipping, woke us up around about midnight. “Hear that?” Paul whispered, obviously thrilled with the nearness of coyotes or brush wolves. But his thrills turned to chills as the yipping got close and closer to our house, then seems to be, and in fact was, heading straight for our open windows.  By the time the pack veered off into the forest, probably after some poor prey animal, Paul and I were sitting bolt upright in bed, bug-eyed and scared silly.
“Close the bleeping windows,” was all Paul said after the sounds died out.  Thankfully, that was a one-time experience. Maybe even a welcome to the hood, thing.
It was Paul alone who had the first up-close-and-personal encounter with a timber wolf on our acreage. He went for a walk in our woods to scope out a potential trail to the back forty and Little Brule River. Paul was notorious for disappearing for hours on end in the woods, but that day he reappeared in less than half an hour.
“Somebody on this road has a gigantic German Shepherd,” he said with a nervous laugh. “I mean, the thing was coming right at me on the trail, then stopped when it saw me and loped off into the brush...sort of like a wolf.  Ha, ha, ahem, I mean, it might even have BEEN a wolf,...” he dithered on, now rummaging around in our unpacked moving boxes.
When I ask him what he was looking for and what the heck did he mean by “it might have been a wolf, he just kept on mumbling about it probably was a dog, but no, it must have been a wolf, until he found his trusty rifle.
“Whatever it was, I’m not going out there without this,” he said, adding, “I wouldn’t worry, wolves are more afraid of us than we are of them.
Well, he could have fooled me on that one. The color still hadn’t returned to his face by dinnertime.
In the years to follow, Paul and I repeated the experience of seeing a wolf, or wolves and having our brains instantly imagining that they were really dogs. It must be some kind of primitive denial thing, but it always gives way to, “By golly, that IS a wolf!”
And yes, I have lost critters to both brush and timber wolves. To date, two turkeys, ten guinea hens and three geese disappeared, leaving enough forensic evidence to indict wolves, rather than other uninvited dinner guests. We learned to identify who did the killing by the scene and sometimes, the state of a carcass left behind. Wolves don’t leave anything but feathers strewn out all over the place. Raptors and owls leave a neat pile and, if there’s snow on the ground, wing impressions on either side of the pile. And weasels, such as martens, leave a Steven King horror show which I refuse to describe and wish I could completely forget myself.
So far, no goats, even though my little flock of five free range over the meadow and sleep in a barn whose door is wide open. Oh, I’ve seen wolves on the meadow. A pack of nine sauntered from west to east one sunny morn in late fall, paying zero attention to the fat, juicy goats in the corral as they passed. For their part, the goats were just as disinterested in the wolves. But Paul and I were pretty revved up. We got a picture of the pack as it passed the lone white pine on the east meadow and Paul urged me to “howl or something so maybe they’ll turn around.” He wanted a better picture. I howled....howled my very best, but for all that the wolves merely stopped for a few seconds, seemed to look at each other - maybe exchanged a few snide remarks about “people” and vanished.
The only other wolf seen on the meadow was a lame one, limping from the woods to our pond. This time, I was in a combative mood and took after him with a broom. Perhaps the chickens and ducks were out. But he simply kept on going, stopping only to relieve himself, a clear sign of his opinion of me and my antics.
As cutesy as these stories are, I am acutely aware of the heartache suffered by a number of my neighbors and friends who have lost beloved dogs to wolves, often cruelly hearing the last cries of their pets and unable to save them. For this reason, I do take precautions. My dogs run loose on my meadow by day when they need to go out. But by night, they go out only on leash, even if it is in the wee small hours and double digit below zero weather. This practice does not eliminate the risk, but it does cut it down.
This winter, I’ve seen no wolves and heard them only on my computer, which I fire up almost every night for my bigger retriever, Jethro. He likes to howl, but produces mostly strangled squawks, so I play YouTube videos as tutorials for him at night at bedtime. Lately, Jethro seems to have found his voice, pursing his muzzle, angling his silky black neck upward, as he shuts his eyes and let’s a low, mournful note flow from his throat. I clap and tell him he’s ready for America’s Got Talent, then I let him jump up into bed next to me. And my “secret wolf” and I sleep in blissful ignorance of what goes on in the night forest that surrounds us.
For WTIP, this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - February 9, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith               February 9, 2018 

Spell the Gunflint weather for week one of February in capitals, COLD! As I reflect on the past week, several days at Wildersmith have failed to get above the zero mark. Fortunately on most days, the winds have not exaggerated the frostiness, so minus twenty-five to thirty is what it is.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Now at broadcast time, the territory seems to be emerging from relentless arctic fervor. So the woodstove can be allowed to cool down, but the snow shovel remains idle.                                        

Such stretches of below nothing temps are not unusual at this mid-point of winter. However, the older I get, it seems harder to adjust to that first blast hitting you in the face when heading out for morning chores. Like the visiting neighborhood critters though, once I get going, the lowly mercury isn’t as bad as more southerly folks would think.                                                       

Winter character remains magical at most every turn of this Scenic Byway. Last week while traveling to Grand Marais and WTIP, for reporting this weekly news review, the breath of “old man winter” was huffing and puffing. With the wind kicking up its’ heels, a recent skiff of snow was being launched ahead of my path in eerie serpentine slithers.                                                               

I am forever charmed by these gauzy, snake-like tentacles as they scramble down the paving in search of a place to escape the icy bite of grizzly air. Bouncing from windrow to windrow, their fate is often terminated in a ghostly gathering, and a leap of fate into the calm of a roadside ditch. There, the phantom mass joins a “zillion” other crystal cousins in irregular contours to rest until “Mother Nature” calls them home come April or May.                                                                                   

The recently released Cinema, “THE SHAPE OF WATER” has set me to wondering what its’ really about. However, being one hundred fifty miles from the nearest theater, and not a television movie consumer, the likelihood I’ll get a chance to see the production is remote.                                          

The title has summoned thoughts about the” shape of water” up north, recognizing our “shape of water” is currently frozen in time. Shaping our north-country water started months ago with those first crinkles on quiet area lakes, since then evolving into hard water wonders the likes of which we can barely imagine.                                                                                                                                          

In warmer times of the year, the “shape of water” outside my back door is forever magnificent and always moving. Whereas ripples and rollers of summer have a distinct beauty of their own, they come and go in the blink of an eye, never again to be seen in duplication.                                            

Things are different now as there are uncountable shapes of H2O seized in solidarity. Whether hanging as a stalactite from a roof edge, a wind drifted snowy mound or a lake surface ice heave, n this dead of winter, the sculpture of crystalline on area lakes and landscapes is a curiosity of nature… One can scrutinize in celebration and reverence, with time to actually ponder the how’s and why’s of solid water in all dimensions of accumulation.                                                                                                                                 

During a recent trip along the Trail, while passing Swamper Lake, I became even more keenly aware of the “shape of water” in border country. Winds of the season had randomly amassed the prisms of frozen components into waves of winter. In essence, preserving the lake surface for moments in time while documenting, a white keepsake remembrance of a rough lake day from warmer times.                                                                                                                                                                                       

Energized as I am in regard to this frosty season, I have seldom given serious thought to the “shape of water”, much less, how frostiness casts the mold. But the charm is out there in icy flakes, jagged chards and mini-glacial masses. Take time to observe and enjoy our “shapes of water” and be forever mindful of these majestic “winter rituals” of the element which means “life” for all living things.   
One week from tomorrow (Saturday), February 17, another big power sledding event will be held in the territory. What has become an annual event on Hungry Jack Lake is sponsored once again by the Cook County Ridge Riders Snow Mobile Club.                                                                                      
Drag races will be held for all classes of sleds beginning at 11:00 am.  Entry fees and registration will commence at 10:00 am at Hungry Jack Lodge. For more race information, call HJL @ 218-388-2265. Refreshments and musical entertainment will occur through the day. Spectators are welcome!   
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, at forty-eight degrees north!