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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:
Perseid Meteor Shower {NASA /Flickr}

Northern Sky: August 8

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 Perseid meteor showers at their best in the learly monrnings of August 11-14; Saturn at east quadrature on the 21st; Lyra and mony more constellations.


Gunflint Lake

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: August 7

A week into this month and our Gunflint weather has mellowed from the last ghastly segment of July. Cooling northern air settled over the area and a brief thundershower in the wee hours of last Sunday morning calmed the dust in this neighborhood. Although the rain was not of major consequence, the dropping dampened the thirsty forest floor for at least a day or so.

Chapter eight of the year was ushered in on winds to remind us of November gales. As I commence this week's Trail review, three consecutive days has seen Gunflint Lake and her sky-blue cousins thrashing in frenzy.

The geographical alignment of the lake outside our door makes her most temperamental when prevailing west-northwesterly air comes barreling down “the pike” in earnest. In fact, the “old gal” is most unforgiving of anyone who does not give her respect during times of wrestling with the gales.

I know of at least three near disasters during the rough seas of last weekend here on Gunflint Lake. Two involved canoers having to seek refuge assistance while another episode found two boaters caught in a violent storm-front surge which ended up with an emergency stop at the Wildersmith dock.

In both instances the lake-faring navigators were experienced folks, but ended up being no match for the fury of our angry Gunflint waters. All were well taken care of by friendly, accommodating Gunflint south shore residents. So all is well that ended well!

Our dockside observations provided a seldom seen aquatic trek up the lake one evening last week. This adventure occurred during a somewhat calmer time of the recent blustery sequence. The fact of the matter is this incident took place in the hour or so prior to the storm front surge mentioned above.

Heading eastward (up the lake) three innovative canoeing parties had apparently conceived a plan to take advantage of the breezy conditions. Aligning themselves side by side, a tarp (maybe it was a canopy top) was stretched between the two outer canoes at the bows with rear corners of the resulting sail anchored in the hands of two comrades in the sterns. Meanwhile the third unit was sandwiched in between with the stern paddler of this canoe steering the catamaran like craft.

The crew seemed quite experienced in sailing maneuvers as they cruised by us on-lookers in no time at all. Apparently headed toward a rendezvous at Camper's Island, they soon disappeared from view. I’m guessing they beat the storm to a shore side campsite, or maybe they’re caught up in the trees near Bridal Falls still hanging onto their sail. In any event, it was intriguing to watch them battle the rolling waters.

The upper Gunflint heads off into week two of this month of the “Blueberry Moon” (Miinike Giizis) focused on a busy next few days. Sunday is a chamber music concert, Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings. It begins at 4:00 pm in the Mid-Trail (Schaap) Community Center. Requests for last minute seating reservations can be made by calling Susan at 388-9494. At this writing, it is unknown if seating remains available.

Scheduled for the next day, Monday (the 10th) is the August meeting of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society. This gathering begins at 1:30 pm in the Seagull Lake Community Center. The program will feature Earl Niewald, retired USFS/Gunflint District Ranger who served during the BWCA controversies of the late 1970’s. This should be an interesting historical reflection! Treats will again be served after the program.

Then on this coming Wednesday, August 12, the annual Mid-Trail fundraising bash for the Trail Volunteer Fire and EMS crews takes center stage. The Flea Market, Gift Boutique, Auction and Quilt Raffle commences at 1:00 pm in the Schaap Community Center. This is always an energetic event, especially the often hilarious bidding wars for some great handcrafted items by local artisans. Come early and stay late, for the big quilt drawing around 4:00 pm. Soft drinks and baked goods will also be on sale. Be there or be square!

The Gunflint summer has whizzed by. In the minds of some out this way, summer is over after July 4 while others say it's “kaput” following the downtown Fisherman’s Picnic.

This thought is being confirmed by “Mother Nature,” too, as the ground level flora, dogbane, is now golden along area roadsides and a few birch trees and young maples are beginning temper chlorophyll production in this time of dwindling daylight minutes. And according to the Minnesota DNR, the August stanza also shows lake water temps peaking during this first week and slowly trending southward from this point forward. So the beacon of fall is beginning to glow!

This is Fred Smith, at Wildersmith, on the trail, don’t miss the unused warm season days up the Gunflint!

(Photo by David Griffin Photography)




Superior National Forest Update: August 7

Steve Robertson is a Forest Interpreter with the USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest. He shares this week's update.



Stage Door: Two Playhouse Men

‘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. 



Citizens' Climate Lobby informational gathering on August 11

There will be an informational gathering in Grand Marais to learn more about how a small group of citizens can become part of the solution to climate change. WTIP volunteer Joey Detrick spoke with regional coordinator Paul Thompson on North Shore Morning. 

Paul Thompson and Mindy Ahler will be holding an informational session on how to get involved with the Citizens' Climate Lobby on Tuesday, August 11, from 7 to 9 pm at the First Congregational Church in Grand Marais. For more information, call Rose at 387-2113.


Firefighter at work on the current fires in Alaska.

West End News: August 6

Many local Forest Service employees and retired employees are being dispatched to the large wild fires in the western states and Alaska.
Tim Norman, from Tofte, who is a retired fire behavior specialist with the U.S. Forest Service just returned from a month in Alaska.  He was stationed on a huge fire along the Yukon River about 50 miles from Fairbanks. 
Tim was the operations manager on a fire that was half a million acres in size. To put that in perspective, that would be half the BWCA Wilderness burning in one large fire.  The operations manager is arguably the toughest job on any fire, requiring vast experience, years of training, solid judgment and the ability to make decisions that carry life and death consequences.  It is a lot like being a battlefield commander, but hopefully without any loss of life.
At one point, the smoke from the fire was so intense that aircraft couldn’t supply the fire camps located hundreds of miles from the nearest road.  The local people broke out their salmon nets and gathered berries to keep the hungry firefighters going until the supply flights could resume.
Tim slept for nearly three days straight when he got home.  The heavy responsibility and rough working conditions in Alaska kept him up all hours and provided for plenty of stress.
Tim was very impressed the hospitality and skills of the native Alaskan Athabaskan people that he worked with there.  He commented that the fun part of being a wildland fire fighter is getting to know all the different cultures in this great and diverse country that we call the United States.
The Birch Grove Foundation is celebrating its 30th year of existence this year with a “Back to the Future” party on Saturday, August 15. The festivities kick off at 3 pm and include a Birch Grove retrospective, tours, dinner, a presentation and a movie on the new large format theater style movie screen.
Caroline Wood, the Birch Grove Foundation Director, is calling 2015 “a year to remember.”  Not only is it the 30th anniversary of the beloved community center, but it has been, by far, the most successful year of fundraising in the Foundation’s history.  More than $70,000 in grants have been received this year in addition to the income that the Foundation collects through its various activities.
The Birch Grove Community Center mostly serves the townships of Lutsen, Schroeder and Tofte.  If you haven’t stopped by recently, I strongly urge you to stop in for a tour on the 15th.  It has become a truly remarkable and lovely gathering spot for the entire West End.

Cook County School District 166 is holding another operating levy referendum during the normal general election this November.  The previous operating levy referendum expires in December.
I plan to vote yes for the referendum and strongly urge everyone to join me in voting yes.  Our schools are the single most important key to the future prosperity of Cook County.  It isn’t the only key, but it is the most important key.  Without top notch public education, everything else becomes much, much more difficult.
In my opinion, the system of holding referendum elections every few years for regular school funding is not good public policy.  It was an idea that was popular 20 years ago, but has proven to be a wasteful, time consuming and unnecessary process.  There are far better ways to hold schools accountable for their spending while making sure that we spend enough to make Minnesota’s public education system fair and equal and right up there with the best in the world.  It’s an investment that will pay rich rewards.  I urge the state legislature to revisit school funding soon and design a system that is efficient, fair and effective.
The blueberries and raspberries are reaching their peak ripeness this week.  In the West End, it seems to be a so-so year for blueberries, but the raspberries are abundant, if on the small side. 
I’ve heard stories of very abundant blueberries at the end of the Gunflint Trail and in the Pagami Creek burn near lake Isabella.  As a bonus this year, the biting insects are nearly nonexistent.  Now is the time to head for the berry patch and gather a little taste of the sweetness that is our beloved West End.



'Dance ‘til there is No More' fundraiser for Violence Prevention Center, September 12

The Violence Prevention Center of Cook County is sponsoring a 2015 Dance Party Fundraiser: "Dance 'till There is No More!" North Shore Morning host Yvonne Mills spoke with the Center's Jodi Yuhassey and Marybeth Wilkes on North Shore Morning.

‘Dance ‘til there is No More’ is Saturday, September 12, at WTIP’s Radio Waves Music Festival. To learn more, contact the Violence Prevention Center at 387-1262.


Common Tansy

Invasive Plants Workshop and 'Weed Pull' offered on August 9

If you’d like to learn more about identifying and controlling our local invasive plants, there will be a workshop and weed pull this weekend. WTIP volunteer Mary Manning spoke with invasive species coordinator Laurel Wilson on North Shore Morning. 

Date: Sunday, August 9, 2 pm – 4 pm
Location: Seagull Lake Fire Hall and Blankenburg Public Landing

Learn identification and control options for regional invasive plant species that invade our forests, in addition to hands-on experience helping to control invasive plants at Blankenburg Public Landing. Please bring gloves and wear a long sleeve shirt.

More information from Laurel at 387-3772.



Puppet Show

'Rendezvous Days' and Powwow at Grand Portage National Monument, August 7-9

There will be a recreation of an 18th century voyageur Rendezvous at Grand Portage National Monument this weekend. WTIP volunteer Mark Abrahamson spoke with Park Ranger Karl Koster on North Shore Morning. 

More information on Rendezvous Days and Powwow is available 475-0123 or on the National Park Service website.



Gitchi-Gami Trail

Gitchi-Gami Trail Association sponsors 'North Shore Bike Ride' on August 15

The 15th Annual Gitchi-Gami Trail Association's North Shore Bike Ride will be held Saturday, August 15, starting at Gooseberry Falls State Park at 9 am. WTIP volunteer Mark Abrahamson spoke with Bike Ride director Bill Blank on North Shore Morning.

Ride options are 28, 37, and 55-mile loops. Day-of-ride registrants are welcome. More information and registration are available online at, and included in ride brochures available at businesses along the shore.