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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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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:
New Horizons Mission to Pluto {NASA /Flickr}

Northern Sky: June 13

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.

The distance between Venus and Jupiter shrinking; New Horizon spacecraft closing in on Pluto; The double dwarf system of Pluto and Charon; and the teaspoon of stars hanging above the teapot of Sagitarius.


Parula Warbler by Mitchell McConnell on Flickr

Field Notes: Walking in a Pine Forest

Field Notes with Molly Hoffman can be heard every Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning between 9 and 10:00.  Support for Field Notes comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.



Superior National Forest Update: June 12

Hello, I’m Chelsey Coley, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Planner, for the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update. This includes information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of June 12, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
For driving up the shore on HWY 61, there is a small section by the Cutface Creek rest area that is down to one lane. A traffic light directs travel flow and the waits are rarely more than one to two minutes. Also, please note that the old culvert is being replaced by a bridge.
Visitors could expect to see logging traffic on the Four Mile Grade near Wilson Lake, on Lake County 7 near Harriet Lake, on the Trappers Lake Road, and on the Dumbbell River Road. Visitors should drive defensively, and should be on the lookout for clouds of dust on the road that may indicate a log truck approaching.
According to Trent Wickman, our Air Quality Specialist in Duluth, the smoke we’re seeing appears to be coming from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Please do not be alarmed, the transport of smoke from Canadian wildland fires is fairly common in Minnesota, especially northern Minnesota. Smoke is also commonly transported into Minnesota from the western U.S., particularly during active fire years.
We are now in full “green up”, which means fire danger has subsided substantially. We are still looking at some prescribed burning if we dry out enough. The next two burns we are looking at is Honeymoon which is south of the Honeymoon Trail near White Pine Lake and Koski which is off the Sawbill Trail north of the intersection of the grade and the Sawbill Trail. There will be more to come on the prescribed fire front as we see how the weather shapes up later this week into next week.
Last week we started a forest inventory contract. In the very northwest corner of the Tofte district from Isabella to the north of the Tomahawk Road, contractors will begin to collect data on 15,000 acres this field season. Crews will measure and count mature trees as well as seedlings and saplings. Also, one of our Fuels Technicians will be assessing forest fuel hazards in the area and this data will be used in the future to develop forest management plans.
With the help of the Lake Conservation Corps of Minnesota Crew, our fisheries program was able to plant a mix of 3,025 White Pine, Red Pine, White Spruce and Northern White Cedar seedlings in the riparian areas of Kimball Lake, Thompson Lake, Kadunce River, Cascade River, Temperence River and Onion River. These tree species are classified as long-lived conifers and they will provide shade and structure to the lakes, streams and future nesting trees for eagles and osprey.
With all of that being said, I hope you that you all will enjoy your weekend and this has been Chelsey Coley with the National Forest Update.



West End News: June 11

This is the last call for the medical research project known as FISH that wants to interview and test 500 women of childbearing age that live on the North Shore.  The interview and tests are entirely confidential and relatively quick and painless.  The study is important for the future of our children and you get a $50 gift card if you participate.
I’m sure the data won’t be terribly skewed if they don’t reach the goal of 500 participants.  That said though, they are so close, wouldn’t it be great to hit that goal.
If you’re interested, contact the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais or the Grand Portage Clinic for details.
I read, with interest, the fine article in the Star-Tribune by Thomas Fisher about the future of driverless cars and the impact they will have on our communities.  What made this article interesting is that it was reporting on statements made by an infrastructure specialist in one of the world’s leading engineering firms. 
The gist of it was that driverless cars will be widely available within 3-5 years and could outnumber human-operated cars within ten years.  He pointed to major research and development that several car and technology companies are now conducting on public roads all over the world.  The driverless cars will be much safer, cheaper and more efficient, so much so that it will become an obvious next step in transportation technology.
As with all big technology shifts, some people will really benefit, especially the 25% of the human race that can’t drive, for one reason or another.  And, some people will lose out. Perhaps it will end up being more expensive for some people. Those of us who love to drive will certainly lose that sense of pride in a practiced skill.  Hopefully, there will still be plenty of opportunities to drive for pleasure.
I for one can’t wait for my driverless car.  I imagine reading, napping, watching movies and surfing the Internet while my car safely and swiftly carries me to Duluth and beyond.  I’m assuming a shift to driverless cars will benefit our tourism industry by making it more convenient and cheaper to drive to a favorite vacation spot.  Time will tell.
The talk up here in the backwoods of the West End includes a lot of theorizing about how this year’s weather has caused the transition from spring to summer to be a little weird. For instance, fishing has been quite good. The walleyes are hungry and in their usual spots, while the bass have been biting much earlier than usual. At least around here, there has been no major mayfly hatch. Until late last week, there were almost no mosquitoes. They’re starting to show up now, but the dragonflies have hatched early, so the bug season may be fairly mild this year. Here’s hoping, anyhow.
It is gloriously green back in the woods right now. Blossoms are more plentiful than I’ve seen in a long time and the water is running high.  I’ve even seen my first turtle laying eggs in soft gravel along the edge of the Grade Road.
It’s a crazy explosion of fertile life after the long cold winter. Get out and enjoy the beautiful and wild West End as often as you possibly can.



"Sea Change" sailing project addresses climate change

 “Sea Change” is a 3-year sailing project undertaken by the Gordon family from Two Harbors. The project is now in its second year and focuses on climate change and possible solutions. WTIP volunteer Tracy Benson spoke with Katya Gordon of Amicus Adventure Sailing on North Shore Morning.

More information at: Amicus Adventure Sailing



Albert and Bill A. Bally

Moments in Time: Albert Bally of the Bally Blacksmith Shop

The Bally Blacksmith Shop was originally constructed in 1911 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  In this edition of Moments in Time, WTIP’s ongoing series, long-time Grand Marais resident Bob Pratt remembers spending time at the blacksmith shop and getting to know Al Bally. 

(Photo courtesy of Cook County Historical Society)


Dalmatian Toadflax

'PlayCleanGo' event focuses on stopping spread of invasives, June 13

This Saturday is “PlayCleanGo” day – part of a national campaign to educate the public on the risks of transporting invasive plants. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills spoke with Laurel Wilson, Cook and Lake County Invasive Species Coordinator, on North Shore Morning.


PlayCleanGo Day - Saturday, June 13th
The Cook County Invasive Species Team is staffing a booth at Cascade River State Park and we are planning a variety of family fun activities and invasive plant tours. Saturday is also National Get Outdoors Day and Minnesota State Park Open House Day. Visitors to Minnesota State Parks receive free admission.



Ollie i Skratthult Poster

Cook County Historical Society hosts June 19 fishcake dinner fundraiser

A fishcake dinner fundraiser, several new exhibits, plus tours of the harbor are summer events offered by the Cook County Historical Society. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills spoke with Carrie McHugh of the Cook County Historical Society on North Shore Morning. 

The Cook County Historical Society’s Annual Fishcake Dinner
Friday, June 19 at 5:30 pm

Special guest talk by Phil Anderson about the world famous Swedish Vaudeville performer Olle i Skratthult.
Fishcakes and a full meal—all you can eat until it is gone! No reservations required.

Broadway and 5th Street, Grand Marais

For information: or 387-2883


Monarch on Milkweed - Photo by Wplynn on Flickr

Magnetic North: Planting for butterflies

Welcome back to Magnetic North where Mother Nature has decided to give us the cold shoulder off and on. After several weeks of faux summer and a few gentle drenchings to turn all things green, she gave us rain, wind, frost and even a brief snow shower.

But am I bitter? Heck no.

For once, and probably for the only time, I have used Mommy Dearest’s fickle nature to my advantage. Because this weekend I sowed five packets of milkweed seeds in the meadow down by the cattail stand. 

Milkweed seeds, unlike just about any other seeds I know of, like to chill a bit after germination. And where better to do that than in the on-again-off-again warm, then cold, then hot, then frosty Cook County June.

Now friends tell me that growing milkweed - a favorite food of Monarch butterflies - is tricky when starting from seed. 

Frankly, the whole venture is a gamble, with the gorgeous black and orange butterfly declining in numbers over the past few years. Migrating from Canada to Mexico then back again, the Monarch is simply running out of food. Our bad, of course. We gobbled up the fields where their milkweed grows to plant corn and big box stores.

Still, I believe that the most fragile appearing living things on our planet often are the most tenacious in clinging to life. Butterflies certainly fit that description.

A few winters ago, I read a book centered on Monarch butterfly migratory challenges. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver is part apocalyptic fantasy, part woman’s coming into her own. The novel is rich in unpleasant truths about the plight of Monarchs as their food sources disappear. And though it is long and pretty frightening, I highly recommend the book for its beautiful images painted in prose.

But as disturbing as I found the biological truths in Flight Behavior, I also found hope. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been clumping around my cattail wallow broadcasting milkweed seeds last week. 

As I let the mahogany-colored flat seed pods fly from my palm to the loamy earth around the cattails, I remembered my granddaughter Jane dancing in a cloud of Monarchs in my back yard several summers ago.

She was out there simply to pick dandelion flowers for a garland. The lawn seemed a solid carpet of yellow that day. And the warm breeze off the meadow made basking in the August sun a truly delicious experience, with the dandelion heads releasing their pungent perfume. Jane bent at the waist carefully choosing her garland specimens when suddenly she started. For no apparent reason, Monarchs, hundreds of them, were swirling about the six-year-old's bare legs. Tickling and delighting her.

And yes, I had my camera. For once. Drawn upright like a marionette, Jane merged into the flashing orange and black wings, giggling and shrieking to “Look!” “Look!” 

Honestly, I don’t even need to look at those photos to remember vividly that miraculous dance. My beautiful little blonde girl - the prima ballerina in a Monarch ballet. That’s when I fell in love with the creatures. 

And I am not alone in feeling that way. I have it on good authority - Google, of course - that the butterfly, any butterfly, carries all kinds of good portents on its fragile wings. Immortality of the soul, in ancient Greece. Fertility, love and summer breezes in China. Joy and longevity in Japan. And they are pretty and make little girls giggle when kissed by them.

My Jane isn’t a little girl anymore. She is an eye-rolling tween and doubtless will not be looking for flowers for garlands when she visits me this August. But along with her big brother, Jackson, I am confident that she will still insist on pumping the old well’s clunky hand pump and holding assorted bunnies and chasing around the pond and meadow with Zooey and Jethro, my two bone-headed labs.

Along with that, though, I hope that Jane will also find herself admiring butterflies, Monarch butterflies, as they partake of some succulent homegrown milkweed. If not, I’ll show her the pictures of the butterfly ballet she starred in when she was “little.” And I will tell her, “they’ll be back.” Because I do have hope. And because I do so want Jane to have butterflies in her world. 


Rose Arrowsmith-Decoux

Stage Door - Rose Arrowsmith Decoux

‘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.