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North Shore Weekend

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  • Saturday 7-10am
Genre: 
Variety
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

 

 


What's On:

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 11

I sound like a broken record in recounting the week's upper Gunflint weather. Trail residents went through a third consecutive weekend meltdown. This past episode took on more serious connotations in terms of winter packing up and calling it a season. With a forecast of unseasonal warmth in the offing this week and beyond, it would seem “old man winter” has played his last hand.

Sadly, if such is the case, this has to be one of the shortest winters in memory. When borderland normal usually ranges from November into May (a good half calendar year), we barely experienced three months in ‘15 and ’16. Whether this is a cyclical phenomenon or another outgrowth of self-serving mankind abusing the environment, guess we might as well accept this is probably the new norm.

A brief reflection of what our season of cold and snow has been, finds snow accumulation at Wildersmith to date measures 66 inches. Most of this has fallen in minimal doses of two, three or four inches with no meaningful droppings at least in this neighborhood.

Meanwhile we did not experience the traditional multi-day siege of sub-zero in January. In fact, we had only a handful of morning low temps in the minus 25 to 30 realms. This followed a bumbling December with minimal frosty personality and February having little bitter clout as well. To further illustrate the meek north woods air, the National Weather Service sensation of wind chill has been almost non-existent. Bluntly speaking, my favorite season has been simply wimpy!

Here we are heading into the second week of March, warm, slushy and slimy slick under foot. Trail-side snowbanks are showing the look of icky urban crud, and “mud season” seems just a few more warm days off and early to say the least. Adding to our winter catastrophe, rain showers, hail, thunder and lightning pelted various places up the Trail early this week.

It would seem the Ojibwe full, “crust on the snow moon” will be inappropriate this time around. The way things are going, there may be no snow left as we reach the “Vernal Equinox” and the full lunar rising about the same time.

On another note, this coming Sunday (2:00 am) marks another instance of our society tinkering with the natural world, as we nonsensically “spring ahead” on our time pieces. To yours truly, time passes by fast enough, surely lessening the need to jump our clocks ahead every year at this time. Furthermore, the “fall back” come November is little noticed and always seems a lost cause in the total scheme of late autumn happenings.

Getting down off my “soap box” now, I’m happy to announce the annual trout fishing derby made it just under the wire as winter staggered under a beaming “Sol” last Sunday. Somewhere over 70 ice anglers registered for the competition on sloppy Gunflint Lake ice.

A big crowd of onlookers gathered to enjoy a day in the sun as they stood on the ice in ankle deep slush and water. Miraculously, there were no issues with the uncommonly thin frozen surface. Guess it was safe enough though as any number of pickup trucks ventured onto the gooey mess, and at day's end, spun their way back to the mainland.

The purpose of the day was trout catching fun, but only a few were pulled through the hard water holes. The fish, once again, had the last laugh as only five were posted by quitting time.

In the end, two Grand Marais gals were at the top of the leader board. The $500 first prize, for the largest catch of the day, went to Lynn Christensen, with Britney Trovall coming in second. Congratulations and thanks go out to the organizing Cook County Ridge Riders, on braving the difficult lake conditions for another swell event.

At broadcast time, the “Dog days of Winter” are still on the docket for Sunday in spite of the big warm-up. The dogsled derbies and skijoring will be held on Poplar Lake at Trail Center Lodge. To keep track of any possible scheduling changes due to the reeling winter conditions, check visitcookcounty.com.

This is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, savoring the thought of real yesteryear winters and looking for first buds of the next generation.

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Anishinaabe Way: The Inherent Right of Sovereignty, Part 5

April McCormick works in the Land Trust office on the Grand Portage reservation. She defines the various types of land ownership at Grand Portage, and the tribe's land acquisition initiative, an effort that has resulted in a 98% ownership of lands held in trust by the tribe. Land repatriation is also a priority at the Red Cliff Reservation, where the tribe recently finished work on Frog Bay Tribal National Park, the first tribal owned and operated National Park in the country.
 

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A Year in the Wilderness: March 10 - Rain and warm

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Sarah Somnis

West End News: March 10

Another year and another set of West End Township annual meetings is in the record book.  On Tuesday, Schroeder, Tofte and Lutsen all held township elections and the grand meetings where the township budgets and tax levies are discussed and settled.
 
This was a pretty harmonious year for the townships in the West End, with very little in the way of hot topics. Congratulations to all the candidates for supervisor, clerk and treasurer, who ran unopposed and won overwhelmingly. 
 
The only contested election was for township supervisor in Tofte, where Birch Grove Community School Board member Sarah Somnis defeated six-year incumbent supervisor Jim King by a nearly two to one margin. Both Sarah and Jim gave heartfelt speeches when the results were announced, expressing their admiration for each other and wishing the best for Tofte. Jim said that he is turning 76 soon and is looking forward to having a little more time to enjoy retirement. He also mentioned his pleasure in seeing younger members of the community, which he defined as under the age of 50, stepping up to take leadership roles.
 
Sarah wanted everyone to know that she had nothing to do a somewhat negative political cartoon that was put in some mailboxes in Tofte just a few days before the election. The cartoon, which was based on the Angry Birds smart-phone game, was pretty mild by today’s political standards, and did show some real creativity. But, it’s unfortunate to see any negativity when the two candidates are so friendly and respectful to each other.
 
I would like to join the entire community in thanking Jim for his service and tireless work on behalf of Tofte over the last six years. I know he will be helping as much as he can in the future, too.
 
Congratulations to Julie’s Hardware in Silver Bay for the major store renovation that is nearing completion. Owners Faron and Angie Meeks had been thinking about upgrading their already thriving store for a couple of years. When they heard the news that Cliffs North Shore Mining was shutting down for an unknown period of time, they considered putting their own plans on hold.  But, after thinking it over carefully, they decided to demonstrate their faith in the Silver Bay community by moving forward with a significant investment. Do stop by to see their impressive hardware store the next time you are in Silver Bay.
 
Finland’s own virtuoso guitar player, Gordon Thorne, is offering a couple of cool community events in the near future. Starting last week, Gordon will be hosting a guitar workshop at the Clair Nelson Center in Finland every Tuesday night from 6 to 7 pm.  On April 8 and 9, Gordon will be hosting the 6th Annual Fingerstyle Masters Weekend at the Bluefin Grille in Tofte. This year’s masters will be guitarist Pat Donohue and fiddler Tom Schaefer. Pat is a longtime member of “Guy’s Shoe Band” which is the house band for the nationwide radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion.” Tom is a well respected Twin Cities musician who plays in many groups, including the Mark Krietzer Band and Cousin Dad. In an interesting bit of West End trivia, the band known as Cousin Dad was actually given their unusual name here at Sawbill back in the 1980s.
 
You can find workshop registration information at the WTIP website. You can buy tickets to the April 9 Saturday night concert at Bluefin Grille at the door or instructions for getting them in advance are also on the WTIP website. As I always say, be there – or be square.
 
Dan and Clare Shirley, who have recently returned to make their home in Tofte, were alerted to good northern lights last week by a Facebook post from Amy Freeman, who has been camping in the BWCA Wilderness, without coming out even once, for the last six months. Clare reported a decent display over the north end of Sawbill Lake that was made even more special by the repeated calls of a nearby Barred Owl. Clare and Dan did their best imitation of howling wolves, but weren’t able to raise a response from the real wolves.  The whole experience took place under remarkably clear star-filled skies with temperatures in the comfortable lower 40 degrees with no wind.…just another night of routine entertainment here in the remarkable West End.
 
 
 
 
 

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Dr. Moore tracks radio-collared moose

Dr. Seth Moore: Moose research update

Dr. Seth Moore is Director of Biology and Environment with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. 

The Grand Portage Reservation is located in the extreme northeast corner of Minnesota, on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Cook County. Bordered on the north by Canada, on the south and east by Lake Superior and on the west by Grand Portage State Forest, the reservation encompasses an historic fur trade site on scenic Grand Portage Bay.

The band engages in fisheries and wildlife research projects throughout the year, working with moose, wolves, fish, deer, grouse, and environmental issues. Dr. Moore appears regularly on WTIP North Shore Community Radio, talking about the band's current and ongoing natural resource projects, as well as other environmental and health related issues. 

In this segment, we’ll hear an update on the Tribal Lands moose population.

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Gus' Wild Side: Mojave Desert tortoises and an unexpected encounter

Gus recalls his research on the Mojave Desert tortoise, along with an encounter with another resident of the desert.

Gus’ Wild Side is a regular feature on WTIP. Gus writes about our connections to Nature as he explores wildness from the High Arctic to his own backyard along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
 

(Slideshow photos courtesy of Gus)

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North Woods Naturalist: Sap and syrup

How does the maple sap run change with a warming climate? WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the uncertainty of maple sap volume.

(Photo courtesy of Glass House on Flickr)

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Grand Marais artist Neil Sherman visits Dave and Amy

A Year in the Wilderness: March 2 - On the move again

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

Listen: 

 

Northern Sky: March 5

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.

Opposition of Jupiter; a new moon on March 8; the Beehive; Mars, Saturn and Antares in the morning sky; moving to Daylight Savings Time on March 13.

(photo via Wikimedia Commons)
 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 4

“Old Man Winter” remains in a fickle mood as I begin this week's Gunflint scoop. Our last weekend of February had one day of almost spring-like character and then slipped back into more normal seasonal conditions the next. 

Sunny skies and temps around the freezing mark had roof tops dripping last Saturday. Evening saw the thermometer crash rapidly and light snow was soon to follow. By Sunday morning at Wildersmith, the mercury was back near the zero mark and a few inches of fresh flocking had re-decked the forest.

February then went out like a lion, it was a real howling and not from the local wolf pack. Strong northwesterlies, the likes of which we have not seen this season, shook the house at times as “Mother Nature re-arranged our snow cover. The result is some splendid nature made snow sculptures. Talk about a capricious atmosphere!  

Strange happenings are going on deep within the bowels of our granite landscape. The normal flow of sub-surface springs into area ditches and culverts has not occurred. Thus, frozen culverts with the usual ice dam build up at the points of entry, is just not there. Although the inconvenience of these mini-glaciers is mitigated along many back country roads, it does not bid well for adequate run-off when the final meltdown occurs. The ability to replenish water levels on any number of upper Gunflint lakes looks to be alarming. 

It seemed as though the area was reasonably wet when fall was put to bed. But I guess such was not the case, as aquifers keeping liquid trickling under ice and snows apparently were drier than assumed. This scenario is also troublesome when flora begins to dry out in late April and May. We can only hope “El Nino” cools into oblivion during the next two months, and ushers in much needed rain before the June green-up. 

As it might relate to peculiar quirks of nature, there seems to be a chance the “great old man of the north” has put a spell on me. A couple weeks ago, I spent several hours cleaning heaps of snow off the roof, only to have it snow again one day after my job was completed.  Since then a few more droppings have built a lesser, but new accumulation. With the bright day of last Saturday, I decided to catch up once again. Sure enough, my clean roof job didn’t make it 24 hours this time, and more was predicted as I was keying this current report.  

Maybe Mr. Winter’s trying to get even with me for giving him such a bad time on a rather wimpy performance thus far. A connected thought comes to mind, with my kind regards for snow, if it takes cleaning off the roof to stimulate snow fall, perhaps I should spend more time on the ladder with my snow rake in hand. 

Furry weasel activity has been hot and heavy the past week. We had an after dark battle royal, apparently between two critters, leaving blood on the deck. Suppose it could have been two pine martens in confrontation over a poultry part, or maybe a marten and an un-suspecting flying squirrel. Regardless of the match-up, a winner cannot be announced. 

Two residents along the south Gunflint Lake shore report visits from a cousin of those pine martens. A fisher, or fishers, have been making nightly rounds at their places in the past few days. They could have been in this yard as well, based on some larger than usual marten-like trails around the place, but have not been observed. One neighbor shared a trail cam picture of one pilfering a chunk of suet from a bird feeding tray. The animal looked to be lush and healthy. Hopefully this guy/gal will avoid a trapper's doom.  

In spite of difficult ice conditions, the annual trout fishing derby is still a go for this coming Sunday.  Gunflint Lake ice is thick enough to support pedestrian anglers but not the usual vehicles. Fisher folks must sign in before setting out on their quest. Registration is between 9 and 11:00 am. All contest catches must be posted on the big board by 2 pm. The usual raffle, cook-off, and award ceremonies will be held near the boat launch area of Gunflint Lodge. Good luck to all!  

On a final note, speaking of fishing and angling fortunes, yours truly got an excited call last weekend from my grandson, Lane, of Sheldon, Iowa. He and his dad had been fishing behind the Lewis & Clark Dam near Yankton, SD, when he hooked into a monster. When finally pulled into the boat a 40-plus pound paddlefish was on the end of the line. What a day! “Google” tells of this finny creature being a kind of throwback to prehistoric times, but not too uncommon in some river systems. It was some kind of ugly, but certainly a fishing memory for the books.       

This is Fred Smith, on the trail, at Wildersmith!  The “March” is on!
 

(photo by ForestWander.com via Wikimedia Commons)
 

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