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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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Superior National Forest Update - June 29, 2018

National Forest Update – June 28, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Bradley Mills, seasonal naturalist, 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 Superior National Forest.  This is the start of one of our busiest weeks in the Forest, the Fourth of July.  In addition to fireworks, there are a lot of people who celebrate the Fourth with a family camping trip, a picnic, or a fishing trip…or all three!  However you celebrate, the Forest and the Fourth just sort of go together.

As you travel, you’ll find that our roads are in pretty good shape.  There are a few places where gravel from recent grading has not packed down yet.  These areas can have less traction than expected when you go around corners or when you brake.  The roads are nice and smooth now, so on the straight areas, you might be tempted to gain more speed than is wise for braking or cornering.  It’s a good idea to test your braking once in a while, just to get an idea of what the road surface is really like, and to expect that even on straight roads, an animal could jump out at any time.  You could also be braking for logging traffic along a few roads.  On the Gunflint District, you could find haul trucks on Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Old Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Cook County 39, and Ward Lake Road.  On the Tofte side, expect trucks on the Trapper’s Lake and Dumbell Roads.

There’s been several small incidents this past week with falls and broken bones.  Forest trails are not maintained to the same sort of standards as trails in city parks, and you will find rough footing in places along almost any of our trails.  Watch your step:  a twisted ankle can wreck a vacation just as much as a more major event, and we hate seeing people having to cut short their visit to go to the doctor.  Be particularly careful along waterways.  As little as six inches of fast moving water can sweep a person off their feet.

Since it is the Fourth, a lot of people will be looking for fireworks.  Grand Marais, Tofte, and Silver Bay all have great municipal fireworks displays.  There are parades in Grand Marais and Tofte and celebrations during the day in all three communities.  But, there are no fireworks allowed anywhere on the National Forest.  This includes fireworks that are legal elsewhere in Minnesota.  Despite recent rains, we are always concerned about the potential of fires and the Fourth is no reason to start a wildfire.  Fire balloons, where a small candle is used to inflate a plastic garbage bag like hot air balloon, are of particular concern as they not only are carrying a source of ignition, they are also littering.

I’ve had a lot of fun as a forest interpreter with the first two weeks of naturalist programs this summer.  Please come join us at one of the many campfire or other programs going on at area resorts and at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground, Sawbill Campground, and Hedstrom’s Lumber Mill.  A full schedule can be found on the Superior’s website, Visit Cook County’s website, or in a brochure at many brochure racks around the area.  We’d love to see you.

Whether you are hiking, fishing, camping, or eating s’mores with us at a campfire, have a great Fourth of July and a great time out in the Forest. 

Until next time, this has been Bradley Mills with the National Forest Update.



Talking Books - June 25, 2018

"Talking Books" is a monthly feature on WTIP's North Shore Morning.
Gwen Danfelt shares what she is reading and what's new in the literary world.


Lake Superior waves. Photo by Joe Friedrichs.JPG

North Woods Naturalist: Spring turnover

When lakes turnover in the spring, it’s an important event for some microscopic single-cell plants. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson in part one of a two-part series about diatoms.


Fran & Fred Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 22, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint      by     Fred Smith       June 22, 2018    
After tinkering around in the northland for several weeks, the Solstice of June has declared this summer official. Although its’ been more than summer-like in many areas of the state already, the Gunflint Territory has pretty much been spared the tropical nasties so far. The moose and I hope this temperate spell can be extended into September, and then cool off.                                                          
During the past weekend, our wilderness world received a much-needed blessing from the heavens. Luckily, not falling as a huge deluge, this neighborhood received over an inch during three days of clouds and showers.                                                                                                                          
The moisture was hopefully enough to squelch a recent fire discovered a dozen or so miles northwest of Lake Saganaga in the Quetico. At last report, the ignition had consumed about forty acres and was being monitored while allowed to burn an area apparently in need of fuel reduction.                                                                                                                                                  
Trekking in the forest is a major recreational activity throughout the BWCA and Superior National Forest. While accidents and emergencies do occur on area Trails, such incidents are continually being addressed through advancing technology to assist search and rescue responders in their often difficult emergency missions.                                                                                                                                                    
Local trail users are starting to see new signage on some County trail systems. If listener/readers have not seen them yet, the blue and white signs have a series numbers and letters at the top and bottom. These “Emergency Location Markers” identify wilderness locations using the US National Grid (USNG). USNG use of rescue signs is relatively new and Cook County is beginning to pilot the plan.  USNG signing has been in use on Lake County snowmobile, ski and hiking trails for a few years. Cook County has installed some USNG signs on snowmobile trails, Pincushion Trail, Honeymoon Bluff Trail, some Chik-Wauk Trails and bike trails.
The great thing about the USNG application is even without cell coverage, if a user opens their phone and keeps the browser open, it will work without cell service as it is a satellite-based system allowing 911 Dispatch the ability to pick-up at least some accurate location information.                                                                                                                                                                             
“In an Emergency, call 911”, provide Dispatch with the two larger sets of 4-digit numbers on the sign bottom to accurately describe the location of the caller. The two sets of 4-digit numbers provide location info up to within 10-meter accuracy. As this signage project evolves Cook County will have some 240 locations marked. For more information, one might want to contact the Office of Emergency Management.                                                                                                
Residents along the Trail are reporting more and more moose sightings, any number of which have come in from up on the Sag Lake Trail and around Moose Pond Drive. One fellow has counted five recently, including a handsome set of twin calves. More observations have come from the Iron Lake campground and a few from Mid-Trail neighborhoods. Hurray for Moose!                                                                                                                                                 
Meanwhile, bear mommas are making candid appearances with their cubs in any number of locations. If they are causing trouble with us human invaders, I have not been informed of any, other than the tackle box incident a couple weeks ago.                                                             

 A couple Gunflint Lake residents did a double-take in reporting an unusual summer sighting of a great snowy owl. The observation came just a few days ago in an area of the lower Trail. It was determined to be a male and appeared in healthy condition. This winged predator might have a GPS problem though because it’s not supposed to be around these parts this time of the year. Usual migration takes them to northernmost Canada for breeding season by now.                                                                                                                                                
Special programming at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center continues with two events this weekend. Saturday the 23rd, The International Wolf Center will be presenting a program on none other than “Wolves”, beginning at 11:30 AM.                                                                                               
Then on Sunday the 24th, bird expert, Kate Kelnberger will be talking about “Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Hummingbirds and Sapsuckers”, beginning at 2:00 PM.                                                      
Both programs are free to the public with support donations being appreciated.                                     
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint, where every day is great, as the planet begins is slow trek the back other direction!


Baby Peregrines-banding

Superior National Forest Update - June 22, 2018

National Forest Update – June 22, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist, 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 Superior National Forest.  With the solstice this week and the official start to summer, we are looking at days that are almost 16 hours long and they are plenty full of summer activities.

To start with, this Saturday is the Lutsen 99er mountain bike races.  That means that several of the roads in the Forest from Tofte to Grand Marais are being used as race routes.  Information on good spots to be a spectator are on the Lutsen 99er website, as well as race route information for planning your travels in the same area.  Please respect cyclists, follow posted information, and be ready to cheer the racers on.

The cyclists will probably be going much faster than traffic on some parts of Highway 61.  There isn’t a lot of construction right here near the Forest, but south on the highway, there is plenty, so expect to encounter some frustrated drivers even up here.  That means to be extra aware of people passing when they shouldn’t and going faster than they should as they try to make up for lost time in order to ‘hurry up and relax’.  It’s time to remember that Minnesota Nice thing and just realize that it may take longer than you think to get places.

Our Forest Roads are actually in pretty good shape right now.  We’ve had enough rain to allow some grading in rough areas, but not so much as to cause major washouts or road damage.   Logging activity can be expected in Tofte on the Trappers Lake Road and the Dumbell River Road.  On the Gunflint District, trucks are using the Greenwood, Firebox, and the Old Greenwood Road (Forest Road 144).  While our roads are in good shape, all the rain in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan reminds us that it is a good time to remember what to do when you encounter a flooded roadway.  Even shallow water on a road can cause a vehicle to hydroplane and lose control, so it is best to slow down and even stop to evaluate the depth and the condition of the road beneath the water.  Over half of all drownings during flash flood events happen to people in vehicles, so the advice is always “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.

This week also marks the start of our summer series of Naturalist Programs.  In cooperation with area resorts and Visit Cook County, Superior National Forest has produced naturalist programs, campfires, activities, and hikes since the mid-1980’s.  This year, we have presentations on moose, wolves, bats, voyageurs, and more, so pick up a flyer at a Forest Service office, the Visit Cook County information center in Grand Marais, or online at our website, then come to one of our campfire programs.  We hope to see you there!

All these activities are for people, but there has been a lot of animal activity this past week.  We’ve seen moose with calves, grouse with chicks, and deer with fawns.  Peregrine falcons have chicks in their nests along the cliffs on Lake Superior as well.  As part of a long-term study on peregrines, the chicks are being banded.  This involves people rappelling down the cliff to the nest, putting the chicks in an ‘elevator’ to take them up to the banders on the top of the cliff, then putting the chicks safely back home.  Of course, the parents don’t appreciate this, and the climbers may get hit 50 or 60 times by the parent falcons.  Luckily, chicks, parent birds, and climbers all recover pretty quickly from this experience.  Don’t do this yourself though.  It does stress the birds, so if you come into an area where falcons, goshawks, or other birds are screaming at you – heed their warning and move away from their nest site.

Bears have also been active in the woods.  We’ve had to post alerts at several Boundary Waters entry points due to bear activity.  When you are going camping or entering the BWCAW, make sure to take the time to read the bulletin board or kiosk for information like bear alerts or fire restrictions.  If there is a bear alert, this doesn’t mean the end of your trip.  Just make sure to follow what should be standard procedure anyway on keeping food safe from bears, and be aware that you may have a bear encounter.  Detailed information on handling food in bear country, and what to do if a bear is in your space can be found on our website.
So, between bears, birds, and bicyclists, it is pretty busy in the woods.  Join the activity and get out to explore!  Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.



Magnetic North - June 20, 2018

Magnetic North 6/11/18
Barking dog navigation; Isle Royale Part 1
Welcome back to Magnetic North, where visitors now stream up the narrow highway from Duluth, braving detours and cavalcades of RVs, rubbernecking drivers, and excruciating miles in-between rest stops to get to Cook County. Once here, they crowd the restaurants and shops, take pictures of the Beaver House walleye and soak up the history and beauty of our little piece of heaven. 
But there is another breed of visitor whose primary reasons for coming to the county, specifically the town of Grand Marais, revolve around three fairly mundane pursuits: finding ice, a laundromat, and groceries and pumping out the effluent they carry onboard. These seekers come - and go -by water. And having spent a fortune on their mode of travel are less interested in land than in riding the waves of the big lake and taking home tales of having “cheated death again,” to their friends and families. 
I know this because I was such a one in the late 1970’s. For seven years I sailed the waters of Superior and for most of those years only spied the town where I live now. When I crossed the big lake from the Apostle Islands off Bayfield, Wisconsin, the homeport of my sailboat, Amazing Grace.
Looking back I realize now that, just as I had longed to be on the shore instead of slogging through the BWCAW years earlier, I was just as hungry to stay ashore whenever I tied Grace up at Grand Marais. Not because I dislike sailing - although there are about a hundred things I’d rather do -but because my inner compass always pulled me to the land where I live now. And, like many who have sailed in the troughs of high waves on Superior, I have seen her teeth close-up and respect them and her enough to keep my distance.
It was July of1976, our bicentennial year, when first I crouched on the bow of our sailboat as my then-husband, Jack pointed her towards land; at least the map and compass said there was land off our bow. Fog completely shrouded the harbor of Grand Marais. Nothing, not a building or tree or light could be seen.
But we were in luck. Friends who made the harbor before the fog moved in were on the break wall with an air horn, providing audible navigation in lieu of the usual sighting of lights at the harbor entrance or the radio tower on the hill above town. Sailors call this “barking dog navigation.” As in, you know you are about to go aground if you can hear a dog bark. Although, usually it was hearing waves lapping on rocks.
That foggy day we couldn’t have been more than 20 yards off the breakwall, following the compass and the blaring of the air horn, when we could actually see the wall, then the town... As usual, but not always, fog meant no wind, so we entered the harbor “flying the Atomic four,” the name of our diesel engine, -then tied up alongside the Coast Guard building at the foot of Artist’s Point.
As with my previous visits to Grand Marais, two arduous backpacking trips to the BWCAW, I longed to explore the town, to just lallygag on the shore and stare out at the lake for no good reason. And who knows, maybe even find a cove where the water temperature didn’t make my bones ache before I’d even dived in all the way.
But again, this was not to be. This was a quest, just as the backpacking trips were forced marches. The object of our adventure was Isle Royale. Washington Harbor, to be exact; the famed graveyard of sailing vessels like the America off Rock of Ages lighthouse.  Sure, why not go there on vacation? 
We divvied up tasks with our friends - they got the blocks of ice for our perishable food lockers and we got the grub. We didn’t need a laundromat or pompous yet. 
Our crew numbered three and a half, not counting the dog. A young intern who worked with Jack was along for the ride. She was tall, strong, brilliant and keen to experience sailing. Good, I thought. More naps and fewer dishes to wash for me! Our daughter Gretchen, just seven years old, had our Pug, Spanky, to entertain her, plus she was learning to knit. Jack, of course, was captain and I was navigator/cook/and chief complainer.
I think we saw only one square block of the town. So different then, except for the Blue Water Cafe and Ben Franklin. Mostly, we stayed aboard our boats - our friends had a 33 footer and we had a Pearson 30. - cozy spots on a chilly July night in fog. I remember that we sat up comparing notes on the crossing from the Apostle Islands; coming way too close to an ore boat, and hearing their chugga-chugga engines as we prayed that they were watching their radar. 
Little did we know that the day ahead would be the real test of our mettle. That the sunny day’s wind would whip up twenty-foot troughs between waves and threaten to send one or both of our boats to rest beside the America at the hungry mouth of Washington Harbor.
But I’ll save that tale for next time.
For WTIP, this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North


Olive-sided Flycatcher (Eric Gropp/Flickr)

North Woods Naturalist: Olive-sided Flycatchers

They’ve been dubbed the “peregrine of flycatchers.” WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about olive-sided flycatchers.



Christi Belcourt Show at Thunder Bay Art Gallery

WTIP Volunteer, Gary Latz talks with Christi Belcourt about her retrospective "Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth" on North Shore Morning.

“When I remember who I am – a human being connected to all of life – I remember also that I am loved by the spirit world and our ancestors. And when I remember this, I remember to respect even the smallest of things.” – Christi Belcourt

It is the ‘smallest of things’ – and the beautifully complex detail – that captivate anyone viewing a painting by Métis artist Christi Belcourt.  Her large canvases feature roots, twining stems, graceful leaves and flowers that echo the traditional motifs of eighteenth-century Métis beadwork.  Stylized fish, and figures gesturing in reverence to Mother Earth, also appear in Belcourt’s works.
From June 22-November 25, 2018, a mid-career retrospective of this prolific artist’s work will be at Thunder Bay Art Gallery.  UPRISING: THE POWER OF MOTHER EARTH is an exceptional gathering of Belcourt’s paintings from the collections of individuals, Métis organizations, and major Ontario galleries. 

People love Belcourt’s art.  Her fascinating designs are executed principally in tiny dots made by dipping the end of a stylus, paintbrush or knitting needle into paint. The time and stamina required to produce these large works speak to her energy and commitment. 

A passionate belief in the interconnectedness of all living things is central to Belcourt’s art and her work as an environmental activist and advocate for water, land, and the preservation of Indigenous languages.
She is a guiding force in the Ontario-based Onaman Collective which focuses on sharing Indigenous traditional knowledge and language with youth.  
Her collaborative art practice with knowledge-keeper Isaac Murdoch provides a way – particularly through community-based banner-making events – to promote strong messages about environmental and social conditions affecting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. 
To honour this collaboration, selected works by Isaac Murdoch will be included in the upcoming exhibition which is subtitled, Christi Belcourt – A Retrospective with Isaac Murdoch.  During their time in Thunder Bay, Belcourt and Murdoch expect to join community members in making banners to send to groups working to protect water in Canada and the US.

Visitors to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery may well remember Walking with Our Sisters, the art project exhibited in 2012 which honours the lives of murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada and the United States. This community-based installation was spearheaded by Belcourt.  It has continued as a touring memorial involving over 1500 artists and thousands of volunteers. More than 30,000 people have visited it in 13 communities. The tour will conclude in 2019.  

Despite her professional profile, Belcourt has not had an exhibition of this size before, and certainly not one which will travel to several Canadian centres. Organized by Thunder Bay Art Gallery in conjunction with Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa), this remarkable exhibition will tour to galleries in Ottawa, Joliette, Regina, and Winnipeg until 2020. 

  Although Belcourt is known primarily as a painter, she also practices traditional arts, working with beads, hides, clay, copper, and wool trade cloth, and most recently, plant fibres, birch bark and ochre. These traditional materials link Belcourt to her Métis ancestry in the historic community of Manitou Sakhigan (Lac Ste. Anne), Alberta. Raised in Ontario,  the artist is the first of three children born to Indigenous rights leader Tony Belcourt and Judith Pierce Martin.
Through all aspects of her art practice, Belcourt asks us to live in balance with nature. 
“The sacred laws of this world are of respect and reciprocity,” she says in her artist statement. “When we stop following them, we as a species are out of balance with the rest of the world.” She adds, “All I know is that all life, even the rocks, need to be treated with respect.”

By Holly Rupert
Thunder Bay Art Gallery staff writer



Superior National Forest logo

Superior National Forest Update - June 15, 2018

National Forest Update – June 15, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Jon Benson, Assistant Ranger for Recreation and Wilderness on the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update.

On June 28th, the Gunflint Ranger Station will be hosting an open forum from 4:00 to 6:00 pm to solicit feedback on our upcoming Kimball Vegetation Management Project.  The intent of these meetings is to gather information on areas of importance to local residents and other users of this area.  We will also be sharing information related to reducing hazardous fuels, treating areas to encourage younger age classes of vegetation, and enhancing wildlife habitat within the Kimball Project Area.  Please join us as we welcome the opportunity to hear from you.  Your comments will help us shape our proposed action.

Summer has finally arrived on the North Shore and with it comes additional visitors.  That means there will be more people in the Boundary Waters and the campgrounds and trails will be popular places to be.  I’d like to take a minute to encourage recreationists to take the time to plan ahead and prepare for their trips onto the National Forest.  Planning ahead will reduce the likelihood of any potential issues that might detract from your recreation experience.  I’d also like to ask folks to think about the safety implications of the choices you are making, make sure that you are recreating within your skill and experience level to avoid any mishaps that might ruin your experience.  If you are planning any time on the water, make sure you are wearing a life jacket and you have left an itinerary with a responsible person who knows where you are going and when you expect to return.

In addition to camping and trails based recreation opportunities, our Naturalist Programs begin at area resorts, campgrounds, and the Hedstrom Mill on June 19th.  We are grateful for our partnership with Visit Cook County and the host locations throughout Cook County who continue to support this wonderful program.  If you would like more information on the dates, times, and topics of these programs you can seek that information on the Visit Cook County events webpage or at the Tofte or Gunflint Ranger District Offices.

In terms of timber harvesting activity, things are similar to last week.  Logging trucks are using the Trappers Lake Road, the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Old Greenwood Road (Forest Road 144).  Keep an eye out for rough roadways, some grading work is starting to take place on Forest Service Roads.

Listeners may also be curious about current fire situation around the area.  Even with the rain, we have received in the past couple of weeks, we are still below normal with regard to precipitation this spring.  That means that the woods are still dry enough to carry a fire on a dry, windy day.  Please use caution with campfires and make sure that any fires are dead out before leaving them.  As far as prescribed burning operations go, we have completed the bulk of our spring burns with the exception of a couple of burns on the Tofte District.  One of these burns is planned for June and the other is planned for July as the prescription for these burns calls for them to be completed after green up has occurred.

Until next week, this has been Jon Benson with the National Forest Update, reminding you to be safe, have fun, and enjoy your National Forest.



North Woods Naturalist: Early Summer

Summer is in full swing and the natural world is buzzing with activity. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about early summer.