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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:

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.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 31

For non-believers in this Global Warming thing, sure hope they’re enjoying the roast! The upper Gunflint has not been spared over the past week, and these lousy hot temps are getting a lot of folks down.

As I prepare this week's commentary, no break is foreseen in the forecast. It’s forcing the moose and me to lay pretty low after mid-morning. Then again, being retired, I quit most work-related chores at noon anyway.

Guess we can consider ourselves fortunate in one aspect as the humidity has been bad enough, but not complicated with additional moisture. Then on the other hand, another week with nary a drop of rain around this neighborhood and the fuel load throughout the forest has grown tinder dry. The agencies charged with monitoring forest conditions are not being too public with concern, but we who live here know it’s dangerously dry on the wilderness floor.

This in mind, it would be a good idea for area residents and businesses to crank up the wildfire sprinkler systems (WFSS). Doing this not only assures their unit is in readiness, but also acts to dampen down property holdings.

I’ve found that an hour or so of WFSS operation in the early evening can do wonders cooling the house down during these miserable warm days. It makes for much more comfortable sleeping conditions if one does not have artificial cooling.

All this being said in regard to our atmosphere, it’s nice to bid this crabby hot July farewell. One positive, while planet earth bids this chapter adieu, if skies are clear we will be blessed with the “blue moon” on her last day.

The “thunder” moon, as it's called by Algonquin tribes, sends us off into August. The hope in these parts is those notorious “dog days” of month eight will be few and far between.

This magnificent million-square-mile wildflower patch continues blooming its fool head off. Early blossoms are fading to seeds while mid-summer varieties have taken over. It’s a time for drifts of Daisies, Black-eyed Susans and Fire Weed to escort one’s trip along the Byway.

A local fishing guide shared a recent experience he had not encountered in over 20 years of hosting fishing excursions. His angling customers were taken out on an area lake in search of big Northern Pike, and I was told they did get their wishes, but nothing extraordinary. Near the end of the day, one of the catch was released. No sooner had it hit the water, than an eagle appeared from high in the sky and swooped in for its catch of the hour.

If that wasn’t enough of a thrill for this fishing party, moments later a bear swam by their craft. It actually came close enough to provide some great photo ops. What a wonderful wild woods and water gift.

Later, as the group trailered the boat to head home, a trifecta of critter observations was completed when a moose met them on the road away from the launching access. One could not have scripted a better north woods encounter. This northern reality show will no doubt be etched in these folks’ memories for a lifetime, and probably will lure them back to this wilderness paradise often.

Fishing fortunes here at Wildersmith are not often met with success. In all likelihood, it’s because we aren’t fanatics about doing such. However, the grandsons were here for a visit last week and angling luck briefly turned around. On a trip up to Saganaga Lake, Tuesday before last, grandson, Lane Smith from Iowa, had the thrill of his young life. He hooked onto one of those Walleye “hawgs.” After an arm wrenching battle of several minutes he netted a 29-inch beauty. Lane says a big thanks to his guide, Adam!

It has been his family’s rule if anyone ever catches a “whopper,” it was going onto the wall. So this green and gold trophy was frozen and headed south for proper preservation and a “wall of fame” induction.

A week from this coming Sunday (August 9), the third annual Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings chamber music concert will be presented at 4:00 pm in the mid-Trail (Schaap) Community facility. Many accomplished area professionals will be engaged in the collection of performing musicians. A reception will follow where one can meet and greet the players. Time is running out for seating reservations. If you haven’t reserved yours call Susan 388-9494 before it’s sold out.

This is Fred Smith, at Wildersmith, on the Trail. The great Gunflint Territory awaits you!

(Photo by Kenny Murray on Flickr)




Superior National Forest Update: July 31

Hi, this is Mary Ann Atwood, Gunflint Ranger District Administrative Support Assistant, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update. For the week of July 31st, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Due to sporadic rain over the last few weeks, the Superior National Forest is beginning to transition from moderate fire danger to high fire danger.  Keep this in mind while recreating in the forest. 
District Offices
Before, or after, your superior recreation - stop by the Gunflint or Tofte District Offices.  Not only will you encounter a plethora of information but you’ll discover a variety of wilderness books, games, animals (that don’t need feeding) and maps in the Interpretative stores.
Let those truckers Roll 
Timber trucks continue to roll down many of the roads on the Gunflint and Tofte districts.  Drive cautiously and keep in mind; the gravel roads are very dry. A dusty cloud may indicate a vehicle is coming your way. Also, the washboard affect abounds on our gravel roads. 
Forest Facts
Did you know that the Superior National Forest: contains more than 2,000 lakes which total 440,000 acres of lake and 3,400 miles of stream?
With those facts in mind, it’s no wonder water plays such a vital role in Cook County.   This weekend is the 86th Annual Fisherman’s Picnic. The Grand Marais Fish Pic began in the days when the area's economy was based on logging and commercial fishing and the community would gather for a shoreline fish fry of fresh Lake Superior herring.  Which reminds me…How can you tell if a fisherman is going deaf?                                            * Give him a herring test.
Keep an eye out for Smokey Bear and his friend Murray the Moose over the weekend; they are bound to make an appearance in the parade Sunday, August 2nd at 1:00 in downtown Grand Marais.
2015 has been a busy year on the Superior.  Here’s just a sampling of accomplishments:
*      ¼ million trees were planted;
*      Wilderness rangers on the Gunflint Ranger District partnered up with a Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa (CCMI) crew spending 3 ½ muddy days replacing a failing boardwalk on the Meeds to Swallow portage.   This project began last February when wilderness staff used snowmobiles to freight over 40 tamarack planks up to the Wilderness line on the Poplar to Meeds portage. 
Our Faces of Tomorrow crews are having an exceptional summer.  By the way, Faces of Tomorrow is an initiative to increase the diversity of our seasonal workforce.  Some of their achievements include:
*      Building a new 360 foot boardwalk on the South Lake Trail.
*      Rerouting Bower Trail Portage which includes a new boardwalk
*      Constructing stairs on the Northern Lights Trail
Summer brings countless visitors to the Superior’s trails and campgrounds.  When recreating keep in mind:
*               Your behavior has an impact on others.
*               Store food carefully, bears are starting to get active. 
*               Don’t leave campsites unattended for more than 24 hours.  Leaving your gear on a site as a way of “reserving” it - is not allowed.

Carve out some time to spend in the Superior National Forest - you won’t be disappointed - after all, the Superior has been listed as one of the 50 greatest places to visit in a lifetime!  
Keep hydrated throughout these warm summer days.  Until next week, this has been Mary Ann Atwood with the Superior National Forest Update. 


Locomotives on the rail line between Taconite Harbor and Hoyt Lakes

West End News: July 30

The closing of Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor power plant continues to be on the minds of West End residents.  It takes time to absorb such a large blow to the community.
I was intrigued by Cook County News Herald editor Rhonda Silence’s suggestion that the railroad between Schroeder and Hoyt Lakes be reactivated as a scenic railroad.  I’ve hiked quite a few sections of that rail line and it is beautiful.  The tunnel is particularly spectacular, not just for its capacity to scare the young Rhonda Silence, but for breathtaking views from both ends. 
The kind of thinking that Rhonda is doing is exactly what we need to turn the end of the power plant era into a new era of prosperity for Schroeder and Taconite Harbor.  It seems to me that any place where a rail line meets a Great Lakes shipping line is bound to be useful to someone.
The 15th annual Gitch-Gami Trail Association North Shore Bike Ride is coming up on Saturday, August 15.  The ride takes place on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail along with some connecting roads and offers a 28-mile, 37-mile, and 55-mile option.  The ride starts and ends at Gooseberry State Park.  Riders should gather there around 9:00 am in order to start riding before 10:30.  You must wear a helmet and be willing to sign a liability waiver.  There is a small charge for participation.
The North Shore Bike Ride was the brainchild of the late Congressman Jim Oberstar.  He wanted the event to call attention to the trail each year, especially to highlight the additions to the trail year by year.
Jim Oberstar was, among many other accomplishments, the leading advocate for bicycling in the U.S. Congress.  It was his vision that will result, when complete, in an 88-mile bike trail along the shore of Lake Superior from Two Harbors to Grand Marais.  Twenty-nine miles are complete now with some significant new sections coming soon.
The Birch Grove Community Center would like to introduce you to Pickleball, if you aren’t already acquainted.  Pickleball is a fun game that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.  It can be played indoors or out with a paddle and a plastic ball.  It is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all abilities.
Birch Grove has Pickleball every Thursday and Saturday at 10:00 am.  They are especially encouraging new players at this time and will make sure that you are comfortable and have fun.  Call Elizabeth at 663-7977 to give her a heads-up if you plan to attend.
The folks at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland are organizing an invasive weed pull on August 6 at 5:00 pm.  That is the same night and time as the popular farmer’s market, so you can stock up on fresh goodies and perform some community service at the same time.  The Lake County Invasive Species Team will be on hand to provide instruction on identification and techniques for removing invasive weeds.  Bring your gloves.
Congratulations to a couple of couples from Lutsen who tied the knot last weekend.  Josh Schmidt married Kim Coffman and Steve Bragg was wedded to Teresa Hansen.  Both ceremonies were loaded with locals and family from afar, all of whom enjoyed the most perfect North Shore Saturday of the decade.  It’s good to feel the love in the air in the beautiful West End.



Cook County Local Energy Project update

 The Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) recently hosted a solar workshop and tour. WTIP volunteer Mary Manning talked with Virginia Danfelt of the Cook County Local Energy Project on North Shore Morning.    
For more information on CCLEP contact:

Virginia Danfelt