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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:

West End News: May 11

Clare Shirley's West End News is a weekly feature on WTIP. Clare is a fifth-generation local, and third-generation canoe outfitter from Cook County's West End.

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Gus' Wild Side: Biting bugs

In this edition of Gus' Wild Side, we'll hear about biting bugs - a negative aspect of our brief northwoods spring and summer seasons.

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.

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 5

A return to Gunflint territory never ceases to dish up a surprise. Such was the case in the Smith’s reentry into wild country last weekend.

While pulling away on our departure south to Iowa for ten days of visiting family and friends, plus taking in “America’s Athletic Classic” at the Drake Relays, spring had been characterized as full speed ahead at Wildersmith and all points north. For listener/readers outside the area, what a surprise it was when our trip back out the Trail found the landscape once again dressed in winter character.

With quiet ponds and wetlands skimmed over, and snowy white all about, the season of rebirth has been put on hold. And, I as key this week's scoop, prognosticators are indicating “May Day” could see another dose of the shoveling material. Guess we’ll know by this air time if such came to pass.

For those of us residing here, like it or not, the late season coating was, and any additional, is always a blessing this time of year. Since a good share of the new precipitation fell in the form of sleet (about four inches here), it is packed and frozen so hard it will take a few days to melt down. Slowly saturating the forest floor as the icy pack dwindles, wildfire danger is considerably reduced for the time being.

In spite of the smaller water bodies getting a fresh skim during the cold stretch, the lakes throughout border country are free of ice. The official ice-out date on the Gunflint gal was April 20, two weeks ahead of the May 6 average as documented by the State Climatologists. It seems strange to have waters lapping at the shoreline and a white blanket on the ground. Surely this cannot last too long and we’ll be back on track. In the meantime, May flowers will have to wait.

Although winter scenery captured most attention during our trek back to home sweet home, a black Bruno was observed at some point along the way. It was our first viewing of the new season, and “br'er bear” stood out in stark contrast to the ditch whiteness.

Several north woods bunnies were seen in varying stages of roadside activity, too. Most have adapted to summer color except for sporting their winter white socks. Animals have great ability to adapt, but in both animal sighting cases, one would wonder if they might be a bit bewildered about our vernal season weather disruption.

The upper Gunflint will be a busy place this weekend. Saturday morning finds the tenth annual Ham Lake half marathon/5k events kicking off the day. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. from the Gunflint Pines Resort and Seagull Creek Fishing Camp respectively, the event is administered by the Cook County YMCA with sponsorship from a number of area businesses and institutions. For more information on running the “trail less traveled,” go to the Cook County YMCA website and click on half marathon.

In the afternoon, residents and friends will be remembering the 2007 Ham Lake Fire. “A Celebration of Community” commemorates survival and rebirth from the tragic inferno that changed lives, as well as the complexion of the forest.

Activities will be held at the Seagull Lake Community Center beginning at 3:00 p.m. with a getting reacquainted hour. A sit-down buffet dinner will follow at approximately 4:00 with a commemorative program to follow at 5:00 p.m.

The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and the Gunflint Trail Historical Society are co-sponsoring the event in observance of the tenth anniversary. This will be a chance to gather with friends, neighbors and volunteers to share stories and reflect on this historical Gunflint happening and the aftermath.

All are invited to come and rejoice that no lives were lost, properties have been rebuilt and a new generation of green is flourishing! You can’t keep Gunflint folks down for long, nor “Mother Nature” from regaining command! Let us celebrate!

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with mysterious natural wonders yet to be revealed.

(Photo courtesy of Suzanne Weber)

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Northern Sky: April 29 - May 12

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

May Day is also known as the witches' Sabbath. In the evening sky there are many constellations that can be seen through the summer. Venus is now only a morning star; brilliant Jupiter is seen at nightfall. Arcturus is part of a stream of stars thought to be remnants of a small galaxy, and May 10 is the full "flower" moon.

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West End News: April 27

Shortly after last week’s West End News, the paddling season officially began. The ice went out up here at Sawbill on April 21. Although we were having an unseasonably warm spring, the ice out is only four days earlier than last year. True to form, some die-hards have already arrived to head into the Wilderness.

Lest we get too ahead of ourselves, sprinter came back with a vengeance in the form of a lovely storm of wintry mix. Over the hill in the west end we got some ice, but mostly we ended up with a fresh new layer of snow. Things are looking more like November than April right now.

As soon as this last vestige of winter melts, keep your eyes peeled for the delicious wild edibles that grow abundant in our west end woods. A few little birds have already mentioned to me that the ramps have started coming up. Ramps are a wild vegetable that is something of a cross between onions, garlic, and leeks. Fiddle head ferns will be making an appearance soon, too. As always, it’s best to go on your first harvesting trip with someone who is experienced with wild edibles. Armed with a little knowledge, the right tools, and an appetite for adventure, you can come up with some delicious spring treats. North House Folk School offers wild edible classes, check out their website if you’re interested in learning more.

The Northwoods Volunteer Connection held its volunteer pint night last week and announced their 2017 volunteer opportunities. There are three overnight projects in the Boundary Waters, one in June, one in July, and one in August. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work on the Angleworm Hiking Trail, the Granite River portage, and the Ramshead Lake portage, respectively. NVC provides most of the gear needed for the volunteers, and cost is only $50 for these trips. Check out their website for more information.

They also have some opportunities for wilderness visitor use monitors. Monitors report visitor use back to the Forest Service, which helps the agency determine the patterns of use in the Boundary Waters. If you’re interested, contact the volunteer connection and a travel route and date will be assigned to you. There are several day long volunteer opportunities coming up as well, if you have a tight schedule.

A new opportunity this year is the Adopt-an-Entry point program. Much like adopting a section of highway, you can adopt a Boundary Waters entry point. An individual, group or business can adopt the entry point, which means you’ll help keep the area clean and open for use. Mainly, it will consist of a couple of days clearing brush and litter each year. There are a number of entry points available here on the west end, including Kawishiwi, Hog Creek, Brule, Baker, and Homer Lakes, to name a few. The Sawbill entry point has been claimed by our intrepid Sawbill crew.

The loons have made their annual journey back north, and can be heard wailing their excitement as they fly overhead. The cattails are sporting their yellow dusting of pollen and hungry fish can be seen rising in the newly opened waters. Fishing opener is May 13, hope to see you out there.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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North Woods Naturalist: Spring takeover

Although springs seems to keep coming and going, naturalist Chel Anderson reassures us that we are closing in on spring. WTIP’s Jay Andersen learns more in this interview.

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The Lake Superior Project/Logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSProject: Second round of testing completed for chemicals of emerging concern in area lakes

In this edition of The Lake Superior Project, Dr. Seth Moore, director of biology and environment with the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa, discusses his participation in a study of emerging toxins in several northeast Minnesota lakes, fish and sediment. The project began in 2015, and testing results have come back from the second round of samples taken in 2016.

WTIP's Martha Marnocha spoke with Dr. Moore about results of the latest sampling in the 1854 Ceded Territories. (See slideshow for map of this area)

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: April 21

Spring awakening along the Gunflint Trail continues providing pleasant aspects of nature's rebirth as April steers closer to May. Our forest world has taken on a renewed twinkle as conifer juices are pumping verdant energy into the drab needles of winter. Folks may think I’m seeing things through colored glasses, but I’m sure as the sun comes up each day that the evergreen world has become brighter green in just the past few days. In the meantime, deciduous brethren of the tree world are beginning to bulge their buds with envy of those woodland evergreen cousins. If the rain gods would cough up a wet contribution, they will be popping out of cold season covers in a hurry.

Speaking of rain, or the lack thereof, this neighborhood went for three weeks with nary a drop of precipitation. A meek disturbance broke the spell last weekend, but managed only a few hundredths. And part of that was in the form of snow on Easter Sunday, leaving a fresh inch by this past Monday. Then another touch of winter was on the Tuesday docket. Needless to say the upper Gunflint territory had become seriously dry, so the snow, sleet and rain since Easter Sunday have been a real blessing. DNR burning bans for Cook County are still likely, but for the time being wildfire danger has been tempered.

Up until the heavenly moisture favor, “Mother Nature” had been of some benefit in the plight about fire danger with the liquidation of ice on some lakes. Such has allowed opportunity in a few locales to get wildfire sprinkler system piping in the water and pumping units into operating condition. However, in spite of early ice-out on a number of lakes, several of the larger bodies remain at least partially locked in crystal. At the time of this keying exercise (last Sunday evening), I’m told Seagull Lake has opened and the west end of Gunflint was open, too. Nonetheless, ice on the Gunflint gal at Wildersmith remains intact. My guess is by the time we meet again, water will be lapping at our granite shoreline.

During a trip into the village for Easter church services, I crossed paths with several north woods bunnies. It was their time to rise and shine as hares, but they were definitely not in attire fit for an “Easter parade.” One was still in a near-white coat while others displayed a motley mix of earthen grit. Perhaps they are in a state of confusion with regard to this earlier than normal cycle of warmth? For example, in a blacktop encounter, a singleton lagomorph seemed out of its mind as it tried zig-zagging to avoid committing “hari-kari” in front of my vehicle. Alas, I gave it a “brake” so “Peter Rabbit” could hop on down the bunny trail.

Still no bear or skunk reports, but another hibernator has been out and about for several days around here. Those spunky chipmunks are busy sprinting here and there trying to remember where they stashed extra provisions last fall. Again, it would be my guess the red squirrels have already located and consumed the “chippy” treasures.

Life in the wild can be challenging when it’s first come, first serve. Such is the case for the Wildersmith resident fisher. The grizzly fur ball just can’t get the timing down in regard to getting here for a poultry part. My distribution comes in the morning, and those pine martens have it timed just right for their hand-out, easily beating big cousin out of a treat. In the meantime, this fisher character arrives sometimes in the evening and once in a while during the afternoon, obviously missing its chance for some barnyard protein, and only getting a whiff of what was there. Being relegated to snacking on leftover sunflower seeds, I suppose it must sleep during the morning after its overnight prowls?

If listeners/readers are wondering why I’m not practicing what I preach about having those bear temptations put away by now, I have never had a bear here in the morning hours. Guess they might be catching daily “zzzz's” at this time, too. Puting limited critter rations out early in the day, they are usually consumed before bear activity commences in afternoon and evening. Having given you all my reasoning on this issue, I might have to eat my words someday. So far, so good, but never say never!

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with often mysterious natural wonders.

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Northwoods Volunteer Connection

West End News: April 20

April always feels a bit like the calm before the storm in the West End of Cook County. While we slowly wake up from our winter hygge and begin going about the task of sprucing things up for summer, we seem to keep one eye looking south down Highway 61, anticipating the crowds of visitors headed our way in a few short weeks. It feels like such a privilege to be able to watch the wilderness here shake off winter. The transition seasons seem especially reserved for the locals.

This year, many local west enders have been kept busy with their backyard maple syruping endeavors. The sap started flowing a few weeks ago, and by all accounts it just won’t quit! Many folks are on their third or even fourth sap boils already. Boiling sap down to syrup is a very labor intensive project, so a big sap year like this can really turn into quite the time commitment. It’s hard to say no though when you are granted such a prolific batch of sweet maple syrup in the end.

I’ve been remiss in extending a warm welcome to the new Acting Tofte District Ranger with the Forest Service, Lenore Lamb. Lenore is on loan to us from Rhinelander, Wisconsin. She will be here for a few months, filling in for Kurt Steele who has moved on to the Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting Lenore on a couple of occasions now and she is certainly a wonderful person who is thoroughly enjoying her time here in our corner of paradise.

The Forest Service, in particular the Tofte District office, has been working closely with the nonprofit Northwoods Volunteer Connection. This organization, based out of Tofte, partners to create connections to recruit, train and supervise volunteers. They work to help put boots on the ground and tools in the hands of people that care about the northwoods of northeastern Minnesota. The group organizes several volunteer trips throughout the summer, often led by Forest Service wilderness rangers. These trips are a wonderful opportunity to learn some new skills, spend some time outdoors, and help maintain our public lands. The Volunteer Connection is holding an open house this Monday, April 24, at 5 pm at Voyageur Brewing in Grand Marais. Many community groups, like the Superior Hiking Trail Association and Kekekabic Trail Club, will be at the open house to answer questions about what they do and how you can be involved. There are door prizes, a featured speaker, and best of all the Volunteer Connection will be unveiling this year’s volunteer trip opportunities. If none of that entices you, at least come to share a good beer with some new friends. For more information you can log onto http://www.mnnvc.org/.

Last, but not least, as a part of this writing (which is occurring at an embarrassingly late hour on Wednesday night, April 19) the ice on Sawbill is still not out. It has detached from shore, floated up, and turned a dark, dark grey so really this is it, and it should be out in the next couple of days.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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Northern Sky: April 15 - 28

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

The moon is bright in the morning sky; clearly seen at nightfall is the constellation Leo, containing the quckly-rotating star, Regulus. West of Regulus is the star cluster known as the Beehive. Jupiter is bright in the southeast, and in the west, Mars is dim and low on the horizon.

Saturn can be seen before sunrise. The Lyrid meteor shower is expected to peak on April 22 or 23.

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