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West End News: May 8

Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay

WEN_20140508.mp34.8 MB

The second annual Cook County Ramble held last week at Cascade Lodge was a huge success again this year.  About 20 local musicians played songs inspired by the late American music icon, Levon Helm. The place was packed and everyone seemed to have a good time. My hat is off to the staff at the Cascade Pub who labored mightily all night long to keep everyone fed and watered.  They got into the spirit of the evening by donating some of their tips to the fundraising cause, which is Cook County High School's instrument repair and replacement program.
Present company excepted, I can only say wow to the level of musicianship that we have walking around in Cook County. If you haven't gone out to hear any local music lately, you might want to give it a try.  Our local musicians have a lot of opportunity to perform in public and they just keep getting better and better.  Special thanks to Jessa and Eric Frost from Tofte for organizing the Ramble, and to Maureen and Michael O'Phelan for hosting.
It's not too early to sign up for the third annual North Shore Landowners Workshop, which will be held this year at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland Friday, June 13 from noon until 4:30 pm. This has become a very popular and fun event for landowners along the North Shore. Sponsored by the North Shore Forest Collaborative, the event is part of their effort to restore the forest of the North Shore to a healthy and high functioning ecosystem. The workshop connects landowners with professional foresters, tools and resources to help in the effort.  It's also a great opportunity to meet your fellow landowners - from up and down the shore - to compare notes and get to know each other.
The event is free and open to everyone, but registration is required, which you can do by calling Molly Thompson at 218-525-0001 or just search online for the Sugarloaf North Shore Stewardship Association.  As always, you can contact WTIP for details and contact information.
A lot of people are thinking about the health of the forests and Lake Superior recently after the latest National Climate Assessment was released this week. The assessment observes changes in the climate based on the best scientific methods available. The report leaves no doubt that our climate is changing at a rapid rate and is mostly caused by human beings burning fossil fuels.
In our region, it is easy to observe some of the effects, including dying birch trees, declining moose population, deeper and longer droughts which can lead to larger forest fires, more intense rain events and flooding, among many others. In my opinion, if we human beings don't get serious now about climate change, we will be remembered as the generation that left a much more difficult and unpleasant world to our children and grandchildren.  The report deftly bats away the various arguments of the climate change deniers, who are now thoroughly discredited by the obvious facts.
Reacting to climate change doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Switching to more local, non-polluting energy and food sources would be good for Cook County's economy, keeping the money circulating here instead of sending it out of the area.  This is a big issue for the West End and for the world and I urge you to look at the surprisingly clear and readable report. You'll easily find it online by searching for "National Climate Assessment."
April Knight is a nurse from North Carolina who visits the BWCA Wilderness every few years for a canoe trip.  A few years back, April met Andy Keith, a former Lutsen resident who now lives in Mexico.  Many years ago, Andy and Herb Wills, also from Lutsen, canoed from Sawbill Lake to Hudson Bay over the course of several months.  April was intrigued by Andy and Herb's adventure and is planning to canoe the same route this summer.  She will start the trip alone, but is scheduled to join a group once she reaches the big Canadian rivers in order to be safer in the big rapids there.  She was planning to embark on May 8, but will be delayed a few days by the late spring ice.
April is no stranger to adventure travel, having used her nursing skills to help people in some of the most remote parts of the world.  She has certainly done her homework and has tapped Andy's experience for practical advice.  Hopefully, I'll be able to update her progress for you occasionally as the summer goes on.
I just like knowing that it's possible to throw a canoe in the water a few steps from my front door and travel ancient routes almost to the Arctic Circle.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.