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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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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!

 


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A Year in the Wilderness: April 8 - Ready for Breakup

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Superior National Forest Update: April 8

Hi. I’m Patty Johnson, fire management officer on the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest. For the beginning of April, here’s what’s happening on the Forest.

Spring conditions continue to arrive across the forest, despite the setback of some April snow. Mice can no longer rely on hiding under snow cover, so the dinner table is set for hawks. Many species, including the harriers you can see along roads, are moving north as the snow retreats. Along with feeding, spring is a time for raptors to reform pair bonds and do some spring cleaning and remodeling on last year’s nest. Eagles were able to start this process earlier as they never left the area. Their favorite food, fish, was available through the winter this year in Lake Superior, and their second favorite food, road kill, was also in good supply along Highway 61.

Other animals are on the move as well. That roadkill supply is on the increase as deer are spending a lot of time walking across the roads. This is one of the prime times of the year for deer collisions, so watch out as you drive. Going along with this is the spring arrival of turkey vultures, just in time to help clean up all those deer carcasses. Smaller things are making appearances as well. On warm sunny days, insects are appearing in our air again, but luckily no mosquitoes yet. A worm was spotted wiggling on top of the snow, and was probably wishing that it hadn’t come out of its burrow yet. On the larger side of animal life, bears should be waking up. Though there’s been no reported sightings of bears at our offices, it is time to start taking in your bird feeders at night or they will become bear feeders.

The spring weight limits on roads are still in force, so there is very little truck traffic on forest roads. Though you don’t have to watch for trucks as much, you do need to pay attention to road conditions as they may vary considerably from one corner to the next. On gravel roads, soft shoulders and washouts are concerns, but on the paved roads we’ve had a lot of black ice in the mornings as the temperature shifts from above to below freezing. One roadway sign of spring is that the Cut Face Creek rest area is now open, and soon will be followed by the other rest stops along the highways.

Some spring burning restrictions have gone into effect in Lake and Cook Counties. Burn permits are now needed for both counties, so make sure to get one before you decide to burn that spring brush pile.

It is a great time of year to go exploring near thawing creeks and waterfalls where rushing water and ice make beautiful contrasts between moving and frozen water and between winter and summer. Watch for icy spots, soft roads, and suicidal deer, but do take the time to get outdoors and enjoy spring returning to the forest.

Until next time, this has been Patty Johnson with the National Forest Update.

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Plucked Up String Band is going on its first national tour

West End News: April 7

I was saddened to read about the passing of Frank Dvorak, a long-time seasonal resident of Tofte. I knew Frank through DFL politics and was surprised when he wasn’t in attendance at the Tofte precinct caucus this year. He and his wife, Barbara, were faithful precinct caucus goers, even in the years when hardly anyone attended.
 
Frank was retired from a long, distinguished career as an attorney in Minneapolis. He was a law school classmate and good friend of Skip Humphrey, who went on to be Minnesota’s attorney general. Skip’s father was Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. Frank said that he and Barbara helped the younger Humphreys move into their first home in Plymouth, right after they graduated. It was a low budget affair, with a bunch of the Humphrey’s friends making multiple trips with cars and pickup trucks. 
 
The Humphreys rewarded their helpers by throwing a party at the house after all the moving was done.  They were pretty broke, so it was a potluck and bring your own bottle. Frank said the party was in full swing when they heard approaching sirens and looked out to see a long black limousine pull up in front of the house. Stern secret service agents swept through the house to check for weapons. Close on their heels was Vice-President Hubert Humphrey with a bottle of whiskey in his hand. He announced to the stunned group, “I hear there’s a party and I hear it is BYOB!”
 
Frank spent his entire life working to bring justice to ordinary people and you can’t really do better than that. He will be missed and remembered by many.
 
Congratulations to Lynn Rose for her appointment as the newest Lutsen Township Supervisor. As everyone in Lutsen knows, Lynn is as close as you can get to a saint in this earthly realm and certainly knows the Lutsen community well. She’ll be a great Supervisor.
 
It is good to hear that a new initiative may be coming to Lutsen that will allow people with modest income to receive grants to improve their houses. The Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, better known as the A.E.O.A., is applying for a state grant that will provide tens of thousands of dollars to individual homeowners who qualify. The grants take the form of deferred loan over ten years. So, if you stay in your home ten years after accepting the grant, you pay nothing. If you sell the home before the ten years are up, you just pay back the remainder of the loan.
 
The program is to replace or refurbish roofs, doors, windows, or anything that makes the home more efficient. It cannot be used to increase the size of your home. Many people in Lutsen will qualify, even if they earn a fairly normal income, so if you are interested, go to the AEOA website to learn more.  This is literally too good of a deal to pass up.
 
I was ten years old when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Along with millions of other American kids, I resolved that day to be a rock and roll star, touring around America, playing and singing to adoring audiences. I even started a band with some buddies, but it came to a quick end when we discovered that playing and singing like the Beatles was hard.
 
Now, more than 50 years later, my dream is finally coming true, with the possible exception of the adoring fan part. Cook County’s own Plucked Up String Band, of which I am lucky enough to be a member, is heading out on its first tour this week.  Basically, we are driving to Montana where we have at least four appearances lined up, then we’re driving straight through from Montana back to Ashland, Wisconsin, where we are head-lining the Ashland Folk Festival, the oldest folk festival in Wisconsin.
 
It’s way too late, in more ways than one, for me to wind up in front of millions of people on the Ed Sullivan Show, but it should be fun, nonetheless.  And, I’ll be glad to be living my teenage dreams, however modestly, in my 60s.
 

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North Woods Naturalist: Neighborhood Changes

There are more signs of an early spring besides milder weather. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about all the indicators of the changes afoot.

(Photo courtesy of Brad Smith on Flickr)

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Stage Door: Little Red Robin Hood

'Stage Door’ takes us behind the scenes at the Grand Marais Playhouse. It’s a chance to meet the artists involved in our local theater…in addition to the people involved in production at the Playhouse.
 
Stage door is produced by Tina Krauz for the Grand Marais Playhouse and WTIP. 

(Photo courtesy of Grand Marais Playhouse Facebook page)

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Linda LeGarde Grover

Anishinaabe Way: Author Linda LeGarde Grover

"The Road Back to Sweetgrass" (U of MN Press 2016) is the second novel by Duluth author Linda LeGarde Grover. Set in northern Minnesota, this story follows a trio of American Indian women, from the 1970s to the present, observing how their lives intersect on the fictional Mozhay Point reservation. In this interview, the author shares a reading from the book and explains the historical challenges faced by Native people during the Termination era of American Indian history. She also discusses the role that humor plays in the telling of a story that is both bittersweet, tragic and sometimes funny.

(Photo courtesy of U of MN Press)
 

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Hydra (Alexander Jamieson /Wikimedia Commons)

Northern Sky: April 2

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota. She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and contributes to WTIP bi-weekly on the Monday North Shore Morning program through "Northern Sky," where she shares what's happening with stars, planets and more.

Planet Mercury in its best evening showing of the year; Jupiter and Regulus (Leo); the week's challenge - Hydra; in the morning sky, Scorpius, Mars and Saturn; the teapot of Sagitarius; a new moon on April 7.

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A Year in the Wilderness: April 1 - Water Testing

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: April 1

The Wildersmith two are back in the woods. It’s sure a joy to be home in the peace and quiet along the Mile O Pine. Although time spent with our daughter is always precious, being away from what’s supposed to be organized civilization for seventeen years finds us almost completely out of touch with all the urban hub-bub. Too many people and too many vehicles!  

Ten days visiting in southeast Iowa, found spring in full swing. Daffodils were blooming, grass was nearing the mowing stage and Rhubarb had perked up from its winter abode. Meanwhile, back on the northern front, I was pleasantly surprised and pleased to return to our winter character. In spite of a slushy/muddy combination while slogging down our pathway to “paradise found”, the scene of still copious white on either side of the road was encouraging after finding many stretches along the north shore drive looking crunchy dry.              

To substantiate it being quite dry down that way, during my trip back to border country this past Monday, I was shocked to see a burned patch about an acre in size right along highway 61. It’s unknown whether this was an accident or prescribed burn. Whatever the case, the scenario rekindles one’s attention to dangerous wildfire potential up this way in the days and weeks ahead. This serious situation suggests a reminder for Trail residents to be making plans for having those wildfire sprinkler systems operational as soon as open water is available.                                                                                                                                  
Just when the area appeared headed toward a serious early season brown-up, the wimpy winter mustered a fourteen inch surge on March sixteen and few more inches since has brought our seasonal total to over eighty inches in this neighborhood. The storm provided a generous addition to the snow pack of which the final meltdown will help replenish several depleted area lakes.                                                        

Regarding lake ice, the unseasonal warm rush, during the first two weeks of month three, had things cooking toward a potential new record ice-out. However, the tail end of this third segment has things back on a more normal course and lakes I passed along the Trail remain pretty well locked in crystal right up to the shorelines.                                                                                                     

Outside our back door, the ice on Gunflint Lake had several massive soggy patches of gray prior to the southerly departure, but our return finds her tightened back up for the time being. Thus, the early ice-out record of March 25 set in 2012 remains intact. Nevertheless, it’s almost certain ice will be making its disappearing act soon, rather than the usual end of April to early May.                                                                                                                  

Both ice-on and ice-out leads to much seasonal bantering and even a pool or two as to when such will occur each year. One instance of ice-out lore reflects on pioneer Gunflint mail runner, Don Brazell predicting ice-out on the Gunflint Gal following a succession of lake ice departures going up the Trail.                                                                                                                           

To recap Don’s historic account, beginning with the opening up of ice on the Brule River at the north Brule Bridge, it is said, seven days later, the Tuscarora Pond will open and seven days after Tuscarora, the Gunflint Lake will shed her winter coat. The progression then extends to Saganaga (Sag) as Gull and Seagull Lakes become players in the process with their solidarity sinking from the southwesterly direction. Lifelong resident, Bruce Kerfoot, attests to this commentary being pretty much true to form during his seventy plus years in the territory.                                                                                                                  

I would guess the key issue might be defining with some degree of accuracy whether the river opening is just a trickle or completely free of hard water shore to shore. So we’ll all be watching for one more of those celebrated, natural Gunflint adventures!                                                                                                                                                                      

This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith! Savoring outdoor transitions!

(photo by mattbuck via Wikimedia Commons)
 

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Huckleberry inspects hole where 19” of ice was measured on Sawbill Lake this week

West End News: March 31

I was thrilled to hear that Mary Somnis is very likely the new Director of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority.  Mary considers herself a West Ender, even though she has lived on the Range for the last 20 years. 
 
Back in the day, Mary lived in Tofte and was hired by the newly organized Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association as a secretary.  The LTTA was formed to administer the newly passed bed tax, charged to tourists who rented rooms in the townships of Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder, used to promote and market the area. 
 
Mary was hired with the idea that she would answer the phones, open the mail, take minutes at the board meetings and that type of thing.  Very quickly Mary’s competence and work ethic had her taking on greater and greater responsibility. A misunderstanding of the law created some confusion that made it look like Mary could not be paid in keeping with her actual skills, but after that was straightened out, Mary was named the full time Executive Director of the LTTA.  Under her leadership, the Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder area had the fastest tourism growth in the state for several years in a row. In fact, Mary did such a great job, that she was hired away from us by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board to run their regional tourism program, which she has done with distinction for almost 20 years.
 
All through those years, Mary kept ownership of her home in Tofte, visited frequently and took a keen interest in local goings on.  She always maintained that her heart was in Cook County and that someday she would like to move back here.  Well, that day has come and we will all be the better for it. Welcome home, Mary.
 
Everyone who loves speed and excitement will be glad to know that the Midwest Extreme Snowmobile Challenge will be returning to Lutsen Mountains April 15th through 17th.  This is a huge event that will attract more than 500 riders, including some of the best racers in North America.  The Lutsen event is perhaps best known for the hill climbing competition, which provides a thrilling experience for spectators.  The purse this year should be around 40 thousand dollars, so you can be sure the riders will be taking this seriously. 
 
A few people have questioned if Lutsen Mountains will have enough snow for the event and the answer is an emphatic yes. The Mountain management plans carefully for this event and with their ever-expanding snow making capability, they have plenty of snow for a great event.  You can go to Lutsen.com for details.  As I always say, “be there or be square.”
 
Speaking of snow, there is still at least a foot of snow still covering the ground once you get a few miles back from Lake Superior.  Even though it’s melting fast, it is not unusual at all to see significant snowfalls in April and even occasionally in May. In spite of a very warm winter overall, the snowfall back in the woods was pretty hefty.  As of this writing, I’ve recorded 85 inches of snow this winter here at Sawbill.
 
The warm weather, combined with early snow did do strange things to the lake ice this year.  The ice never got more than two feet thick, which is at least a foot less than normal and half of what we’ve seen in cold years.  The average ice thickness right now on Sawbill Lake is 19”, but some of the narrows are already opening up, making lake travel treacherous already.  I can’t recommend going out on the lakes anymore this season, but if you do, go with a friend, take your rescue picks, a throw rope and enough dry clothes in a waterproof bag for a complete change from the skin out.  As my dad always used to say, “Discretion is the better part of valor.”
 
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.
 

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