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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!

 


What's On:
Lighthouse Beacon in Grand Marais (Steve Dumire /Flikr)

Cook County Community Fund grant applications: letters of intent due April 15

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Deadlines are approaching for this year’s grant cycle of the Cook County Community Fund.  WTIP volunteer Julie Carlson spoke with Kaitlyn Bohlin of the Cook County Community Fund on North Shore Morning.

Letters of intent (due April 15) and applications (due May 1) are now submitted online.
 

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Superior National Forest Update: April 3

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Hi.  I’m Amy Wilfahrt, wildlife biologist on the Superior National Forest, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of April 3, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
If you are headed out to enjoy a last ski in the winter woods, you may have waited a bit too long.  There is still some snow out there, but there isn’t a lot and what is there is going away pretty fast.  But, if you are planning on paddling anywhere, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.  There is still a lot of ice on the lakes – over two feet on many of them.  It is softening though, and you will have to be careful if you are venturing out on the ice.  It is not very predictable this time of year.
If you are out driving, there are a couple of logging operations going on.  One is off Forest Road 170 on the road to Wilson Lake and another on the Trapper’s Lake Road near Isabella on the Tofte District.  On the Gunflint side, there is one operation off the Greenwood Lake.  Due to the spring thaw making gravel road beds mushy, the county and Forest have imposed load limits on roads which means that even with these logging operations, there is not much in the way of truck traffic right now.  So, you don’t have to watch for large trucks as much, but you do have to watch for washouts, crumbling shoulders, and water over the road. 
Many of the roads that were not plowed during the winter are still impassable due to snow, ice, or soft roadbeds.  Plowed roads have been thawing and refreezing, and may be icy in spots.  One small advantage of our dry spring is we’ve had virtually no washouts this year, but be aware that some roads are very mushy in low spots.  When in doubt, get out and check before driving over suspiciously soggy spots.
Those dry conditions may make for good spring driving, but it also makes the forest ripe for fires.  Until the thunderstorm season starts, virtually all spring fires on the forest are started by people.  That means that despite the dry conditions, we can avoid wild fires, if we choose to.   If you are using fire, be very careful this spring to make sure that it is controlled.  We’ve had some really windy days, and the combination of low humidity, lack of rain, and high winds mean that what normally would be a safe fire could easily get away from you.  While snow cover makes for little fire danger in some areas, the shore of Lake Superior is actually at critical fire danger this weekend.  On the west side of the Forest, the snow is gone and there has already been one eleven acre wild grass fire.  On our east side, let’s see if we can have zero human caused wild fires this year.
Out in the woods, wildlife is noticing the spring.  Robins have shown up in the area, and eagles are sitting on hatching eggs or nestlings.  Melting snow banks on the road sides have exposed the winter’s accumulation of dead deer, and crows, ravens, and eagles are gathered to enjoy the feast, creating a uniquely north woods traffic hazard.  Where else do you need to brake for low flying eagles?
Enjoy our spring weather, and until next week, this has been Amy Wilfahrt with the National Forest Update.
 


 

Child Protection in Cook County

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Child protection is a community effort, and locally we have the support of Cook County Public Health and Human Services.  WTIP’s Veronica Weadock spoke with Social Services Supervisor Grace Bushard and Child Protection Social Worker Heidi Akins of PHHS.   Concerns about a child's safety or wellbeing can be reported at 387-3620.

Cook County Public Health & Human Services
411 W Second Street
Grand Marais, MN 55604
(218) 387-3602

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Venus (J. Gabas Esteban /Flikr)

Northern Sky: March 21

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Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column.

The end of Mars, a waxing moon, a bright Venus with its runaway greenhouse effect; and a total lunar eclipse on April 4th after moon set.


 
Cross River (Matt Becker /Flikr)

Schroeder Township elections and annual meeting update

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The Schroeder Township Board held their annual meeting and elections on March 10. WTIP volunteerJulie Carlson spoke with Schroeder Township Deputy Clerk Gale Ring on North Shore Morning. 

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Superior National Forest Update: March 20

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Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist on the Superior National Forest, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of March 20th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
First and foremost, it’s official!  It is now spring!  Three big celestial events happened on March 20th.  If you happened to be in Northern Europe, you got to see a solar eclipse, but it happened at the wrong time of day for us over here.  There also was what is called a Supermoon, which happens when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth.  The Supermoon on the 20th happened when the moon was new and not visible, so that’s two events we couldn’t actually see.  So, the most important event for us in Minnesota was that the 20th was the spring equinox.  Day and night on the equinox are exactly the same length, but from then on, days will be longer than nights until September.  That’s something we can actually see!  The equinox marks the official beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere!
Also in astronomical news, a large solar storm took place this week.  While the storm wasn’t visible, it caused beautiful northern lights.  With that storm subsiding, there is less of a chance of an aurora, but the possibility lingers, making it worth going outside before bedtime.
Despite astronomy saying it is spring, there is still some winter left out there.  Cross country ski trails up the Gunflint Trail are still open and actually not bad skiing.  At the time of recording, Pincushion ski trails are also still very skiable, and even the Sugarbush area down near Tofte has a 3 to 6 inch base.  Be on the lookout for bare spots though, nothing will stop you faster than hitting grass at the bottom of a hill.
If you are out driving, there are a couple of logging operations going on.  One is off the road to Wilson Lake on the Tofte District, and the other is off the Greenwood Lake road on the Gunflint District.  Due to the spring thaw making gravel road beds mushy, the county has imposed load limits on county roads which means that there is not much in the way of logging truck traffic right now.  While this means you don’t have to watch for large trucks as much, it also means you have to watch for washouts, crumbling shoulders, and water over the road.  Since we didn’t have much snow this past winter, conditions are better than they are some springs.
Most roads that were not plowed during the winter are still impassable due to snow.  Plowed roads have been thawing and refreezing, and with cold weather anticipated this weekend, they will probably be very icy in spots.  One of our people reported that some plowed roads were so icy, it was hard to even walk on them.  Enjoy spring, but keep a watch for those remaining bits of winter!
With all the snow and ice, you are probably not thinking of forest fires.  Our fire people are already preparing for the spring fire season though.  The prediction is that this will be a warm and dry spring, nice for hiking, but also good for accidental fires.  Until May when we start to get thunderstorms, humans are the only source of wild fires, and conditions predict a higher than normal potential for fire.  We’ll be talking more about this in weeks to come, but the main message will always be to be careful with fire.  As Smokey says, only you can prevent wild fires.
While we’ve seen signs of raccoons, I have yet to hear a report of a bear being up and about.  But, this is the time for the bruins to start waking up.  If you have bird feeders out, it is also the season to start taking them in at night, unless you really want bears to take them down for you.  Gulls have returned as well, and it just makes me feel warmer when I hear the cries of the gulls as I walk the shore.
Enjoy the gulls and the Forest, and until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.
 


 

Superior National Forest Update: March 13

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NOTE:  Seasonal road restrictions are now in effect (as of 12:01am Friday March 13th) and will continue for a minimum of eight weeks.  All Cook County roads are limited to 5 tons per axle unless otherwise posted. More information is available from the Cook County Highway Department at 387-3014. 

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This Sarah Poznanovic, biological science technician on the Tofte Ranger District, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest.
For the week of March 13th, here’s what’s happening on and around the Forest.
The most obvious thing going on all over is that temperatures have warmed and the snow is melting!  There is still inland snow, but conditions are getting to be pretty hazardous for skiing.  Trails alternate between ice and slush, so you either are going too fast on ice, or making a sudden stop when you hit slush.  Many trails are listed as open, but conditions are changing fast.  A good alternative to trails for a workout is to ski on lakes because bare ice is a lot easier on skis than rocks.  Of course, the ice is melting too, but most lake ice is still pretty thick… for now.  Don’t take anyone’s word for it though, do your own checking and make sure that the ice is thick enough before you venture out onto a lake.  Ice should be at least 4” thick to safely walk on, and it is also recommended that you have ice picks along with you.
Most snowmobile trails are listed as open by the DNR as of March 5th, but again, trail conditions are changing rapidly.  Check the DNR website before you head out for up to date information.  Bring along what you need to pull your sled out of slush if you get mired.  And, of course, use your good judgment.  If the trail is listed as open, but all you see is dirt and rocks, you can assume that route isn’t one to travel on.  Remember that cross country travel on a snowmobile requires at least four inches of snow on the ground to be legal.
Our gravel roads are also getting soft this time of year, particularly on the shoulders.  This means to really watch for truck traffic as it will be harder for either you or the truck to pull to the side.  There is still hauling taking place on the Tomahawk Road, 4 Mile Grade, Lake County 7, and possibly the Honeymoon Trail, so be on the look out for log trucks, especially along those routes.
We’ve seen water across some roadways due to clogged culverts, a pretty common occurrence this time of year, even on major roads like Highway 61.  Water on the road is always worth slowing down for, since you never know how deep it may be.
So far, this has sounded a lot like a list of ‘watch out’s and ‘be careful’s.  But, even though spring around here is known as the mud season and comes with some warnings, there are a lot of reasons to get out and enjoy the forest.  Skiing in short sleeves can be a lot of fun, and the smell of warm soil after a cold winter is always great.  It won’t be long until spring migration begins, and chickadees are already singing their short but sweet two note spring song.  Soon we’ll be seeing the first robins arriving for the year and chipmunks emerging from hibernation.
Enjoy the warm weather and what may be the last bit of our winter season.  Until next week, this has been Sarah Poznanovic with the Superior National Forest Update.
 


 
Milt Powell

Anishinaabe Way: Milt Powell, Part 3

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Milt Powell grew up on the Canadian side of Saganaga Lake on what was once known as "Powell's Bay." In this segment he tells a family moose tale about his dad, Mike Powell, and his uncle, Frank Powell, shares his experience working for the gold prospector Benny Ambrose on Ottertrack Lake and talks about his family's deeply rooted Ojibwe traditions. From an interview with Milt and his wife Alice Powell in 2012.
 


 
Ultraviolet Saturn (NASA, Hubble, 2003 /Flikr)

Northern Sky: February 21

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Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column.

In the West, Venus and Mars less than one full-moon-width apart; use the crescent moon to find the little blue dot of Uranus; Saturn in the morning sky; and March 5th, a full moon at apogee.


 

Superior National Forest Update: February 20

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Hi.  I’m Cathy Peterson, Administrative Support Assistant for the Tofte district of the Superior National Forest, and this is the National Forest Update for the week of February 20th.  As we ease out of February into March, it may seem that spring is right around the corner, but we know up here that there is plenty of winter left to go.
 
There have been enough small snowfalls now that ski and snowmobile trails are in pretty good shape, thanks to the grooming done by our trail partners.  Be sure to respect trail use designations though, there isn’t a lot of snow to repair ski trails marred by snowshoes or snowmobiles.
 
Some visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on recent weekends may have been surprised by groups of students winter camping.  The culminating event for an outdoor recreation course for several Twin Cities schools is a trip to the Boundary Waters in the middle of winter.  Students learn how to adequately prepare for extreme weather conditions and overcome the challenges of winter camping.  They also learn the rewards of what is really a wonderful time to camp.  If you’ve never been winter camping in the Boundary Waters, you’d do well to learn from these students and give it a try…properly prepared, of course.  The two big advantages are that you can pretty well eat as much as you want, and there are no bugs at all!
 
There is logging activity going on in the Forest outside of the Boundary Waters.  In the distant past, almost all logging was done in the winter when logs could be slid out on sledges traveling ice roads and across frozen rivers and lakes.  Now we log in the summer as well, but winter is still a good time for timber harvest.  Watch for traffic on the Tomahawk, Four Mile Grade, and Trappers Lake Road.  Also, remember that almost any plowed side road was probably plowed for logging traffic.
 
If winter has you down, it may cheer you up to realize that there are some signs of spring around.  Owls have laid their eggs, and some may be starting to hatch.  Denning bears usually give birth in late January, so there are probably cubs around in the bear dens.  Even better, we’re up to 10 and a half hours of daylight, up from a mere 8 and a half in December.  We still have two hours to gain before the spring equinox around March 21, but we’re half way there.
 
For now though, keep thinking snow, and enjoy the winter.  Until next time, this is Cathy Peterson for the Superior National Forest Update.