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North Shore News Hour

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News

The North Shore News Hour includes up-to-the minute weather, North Shore happenings in local news, sports and entertainment, as well as a variety of features from WTIP staff and volunteers. If you miss the North Shore News Hour at noon, tune in for a replay Monday through Thursday beginning at 5:00 p.m.


What's On:
Short-tailed shrew

North Woods Naturalist: Red-toothed shrews

The Incredible Shrinking Shrew. No, it’s not the title of a Sci-Fi movie. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about a winter survival tactic of red-toothed shrews.
 

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Superior National Forest Update November 10, 2017

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior.  With the change of season, we’re changing this program to air only every other week until spring.  Here’s what’s happening these next two weeks.

Winter is definitely here, especially inland, up over the hill.  Snow may have melted along the shore, but you don’t have to get too far from Lake Superior until you hit the white stuff.  While the trails aren’t groomed, people have already been skiing at Pincushion.  This is the time of year though that snowmobiles can really do some damage to that base layer of snow which gives us good trails all winter.  On trails, take it easy so you don’t dig through the snow to the ground, or wait until trails are packed by a groomer.  Cross country snowmobile travel isn’t allowed until there is four inches or more of snow on the ground, and snowmobiles are never allowed on plowed roads. 

Lakes are beginning to ice in, but none of them are really safe to be on yet.  Most large lakes are still open, but at least Sawbill is iced over.  Some roads are iced over too - it’s time to remember all you forgot about winter driving over the past several months.  Slow down, be cautious, and give yourself time to relearn how your vehicle handles and brakes on snow and ice.  There are fewer people out on the roads in the winter, so leave an itinerary of where you are going with someone.  That way, if you do run off the road, someone will eventually come looking for you.
 
Truck traffic is using the same roadways as last week.  Hauling on Gunflint is taking place on the following roads: Firebox, Blueberry, Greenwood, Shoe Lake, South Brule, Lima Grade, Ball Club, Devil Track, Forest Road 1385 and the Gunflint Trail.  Tofte logging traffic will be on the Pancore, Sawbill Trail, Dumbbell River Road, Wanless Road, Lake County 7 and 705, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, Perent Lake Road, Trappers Lake Road, Temperance River Road, and the Six Hundred Road. 

There are plenty of hunters out in the woods during deer season.  Whether or not you are hunting, stay safe and wear orange when you are in the woods.  You and your pet!  Respect no trespassing signs on private land, and remember that some private roads may be closed to motor use, even if they cross public land.  Use your Motor Vehicle Use Map to find out what roads are open to what use in the winter.  If you don’t like paper, but love technology, you can download these maps and use an app that shows your exact location on the map.  Remember, take those deer stands down after season, and no permanent stands are to be left on National Forest lands.

Along with our activities, our birds are shifting to winter.  Flocks of snow buntings along the roadsides create beautiful displays of black and white wings when they take off, but are unfortunately easy to hit with vehicles.  There are still lots of migrating hawks, particularly rough legged hawks, which can be seen perched by the side of Highway 61.  Redpolls and pine grosbeaks are back for winter at feeders, but since there are still a few bears up and about, you should still be taking in those feeders at night.

We are looking for some citizen science input on lynx.  Winter snow makes these secretive cats easier to find because of their tracks.  If you find lynx tracks, take a picture with your phone.  Put a glove or coin or something else near the track in the photo to show how large it is.  If your phone notes the GPS coordinates with the photo, that’s great, otherwise note the area you where you found tracks, and let us know. 

It is time to quit complaining about the end of fall and start enjoying our Minnesota winter.   Those last minute fall chores that never happened because of the snowfall, well, you’ll just have to figure them out next spring. Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest update.
 

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Bird Migration

North Woods Naturalist: High flying birds

On an average day birds fly around 500 or so feet high. During migration they climb a lot higher…a lot higher than we mammals could ever hope to survive.

WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about high flying birds.
 

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Leaves on the Ground

North Woods Naturalist: Autumn winding down

There are a number of indications that autumn is in full swing, maybe even turning the corner.

WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about autumn winding down.

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Autumn is in the air

North Woods Naturalist: Heading into fall

September is gone and we’re moving into October, and soon we’ll be experiencing all the signs of winter. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about heading into fall.

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(Barbara Monroe/Flickr)

North Woods Naturalist: Yellowjackets

Throughout the northern part of the state, and here in Cook County, we’re receiving numerous accounts of aggressive yellowjackets. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about what’s up with the wasps.

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Northern Sky: September 16 - 29

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota. She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and contributes to WTIP bi-weekly with "Northern Sky," where she shares what's happening with stars, planets and more.

Photo courtesy of NASA

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Superior National Forest Update: September 15

Hi. I’m Cathy Jasperson, customer service representative at the Tofte office with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior. Here’s what’s happening for the week of September 14.

As you head out into the Forest this coming week, you may encounter a lot of traffic. A “lot of traffic” here isn’t exactly a “Chicago rush hour,” but it will be enough that you’ll have to keep your eyes open and be ready for other vehicles on the road. One source of traffic will be the fall color season. Colors are really ramping up right now, and the Forest Service is getting a lot of inquiries on when the peak of fall color will be. This coming weekend should be a pretty good one for fall color in some areas, although there are plenty of other areas which still are hanging on to summer. Differences are due to variations in microclimate where even the south side of a hill can have a different climate than the north side. The differences are also due to the individual tree: Stressed trees usually change color sooner than completely healthy trees. Does that mean you should worry about the birch in your yard if it turns early? Not necessarily, but you may want to investigate what could be stressing it and see if there is something you could do. Overall, this should be a good year for fall colors. Fall colors could be the silver lining of our somewhat cloudy and rainy summer. If you are driving looking at colors, please respect other drivers and let them pass if they want, and park where it is safe to do so. 

The other source of traffic will be some logging trucks. There are several active sales right now, and there are many roads which will be hosting truck traffic. On the Gunflint District, look out for trucks on Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Forest Road 1385, the Gunflint Trail, South Brule Road, the Lima Grade, Trestle Pine Road, Ball Club Road, Devil Track Road, Cook County 6 and 7, and Bally Creek Road. On the Tofte District there will be hauling on Dumbbell River Road, Wanless Road, Pancore Road, the Sawbill Trail, Clara Lake Road, and the Caribou Trail.

Added to that, there also may be vehicles from hunters parked along the roads. The bear season is active right now, and small game and grouse seasons both start on September 16. If you plan on hiking in the woods, this is the time to start wearing orange. 

All that makes it sound like a very busy season, which it is in some regards. This is the time of year though that we see use drop in the Boundary Waters and on other lakes. Boaters and canoeists need to be aware that you are less likely see other people, and you need to be prepared to be self-sufficient in an emergency. Carry a spare prop and paddles in your boat, and bring supplies enough to last a night, just in case. Make sure your trailer has a spare tire and that it is functional, and that you have the right size wrench along to put it on. Let people know where you are going and when you will return. If you’re canoe camping, make sure you are equipped for spending a day sitting out storms or wind. We may not get hurricanes up here, but fall winds can certainly bring conditions not suitable for canoeing.

Despite all those warnings and traffic, this is one of the best times to get out and enjoy the Forest. Bugs are low, temperatures are nice, and the scenery can be spectacular. 

Have a great week in the woods, and until next week, this has been Cathy Jasperson with the Superior National Forest Update.
 

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Fall color

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 15

Gunflint territory has been living “Indian Summer” at its best as I begin this week's news. The facts were never more evident than this past weekend when temps warmed under crystal blue following an early September cool spell.                                                                                             

Heading into week three, golden flurries of fall have started trickling down along back country roads. Along our Mile O' Pine, the passage of a few neighborhood vehicles is beginning to windrow an accumulation of flighty birch tokens.                                                                                            

With the start of leaf drop being our first chapter in autumn's fade-away, the second is seen in the sudden decline of hummingbird arrivals and take-offs from our deck side feeding terminal. It would seem most of the mini-drones must have departed the territory as the sweet juice container has remained half full for several consecutive days.                                                                               

The beat goes on for this autumnal passage. During a recent trip up toward Trail's end, I found a micro sampling of fall in full dress. It may be history by this airing, but the scene was glorious around the little waterfalls on Larch Creek just south of the U.S. Forest Service Seagull Guard station. Brilliant reds, orange and golds framed the liquid as it tumbled over the granite barrier. Ahhh, the beauty of border country, that’s why we live here!                                                                                                                                            

The Smiths at long last got an up close peek at the local momma bear and her four youngsters. Having heard uncountable reports of the family, we encountered them twice in less than 24 hours. Those little ones are so cuddly. Too bad they grow-up to be an occasional nuisance. Or do they become annoyances because we humans create the opportunity? I think we know!                                                                                                                                 
Another note from our natural world finds the staff at Chik-Wauk still awaiting the hatching of the snapping turtle eggs. If you will recall from a June Wildersmith column, the eggs were buried in a protected area of the parking lot near the museum entrance. It’s going on 90 days since momma laid them, so if it’s going to happen the little snappers should be cracking out any day. The average incubation is about 70 days, but can extend to up over 90, so internal nurturing is at the long end of this “shell game” process.                                                                                                                                          

A new historical display at the Chik-Wauk Museum this summer probably has not drawn the attention it should. Being located on the front porch, the exhibit is one commanding interest from both a natural and cultural point of view.                                                                                  

The subject of the display is a log which was salvaged from a dead red pine tree growing on Voyagers Island in Lake Saganaga. Through “cross-dating” the natural story can now be told about growth rings being matched to now living trees in the BWCAW. The inner most growth ring was formed in the year 1589 while the outermost solid ring was formed in the early 1900s thus making this tree over 350 years old when it died. Scars within the growth rings indicate the effects of fire that burned around the tree in 1659, 1743 and 1847.                                                                            

Culturally, speaking a large scar on the face of the trunk was created when bark was stripped off by mankind. This was likely done to induce the flow of resin which ultimately was used in the development of gum sealants for the building and repair of birch bark canoes. Tool marks remain visible to this day. Interestingly, now dead for somewhere over a century, small spots of resin can still be found oozing from the log. The peel on the tree seems to have been initiated in the 1770s giving credence to the influence of people in this area during the fur trade era and likely indigenous people before them.                                                                                                                                                   

Discussion of this thought-provoking exhibit leads me to announce a special program coming up at Chik-Wauk on Saturday, September 23. Evan Larson, an associate professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, will be on hand to enlarge upon this fascinating history of mankind in nature. Professor Larson discovered the log while conducting research connecting fire relationships and border country inhabitants in Sag Lake territory.                                                                                                                                                                                
The program will be held in the Nature Center facility beginning at 2:00 pm, and looks to be another in the great series of summer programs at Chik-Wauk. Residents and visiting “leaf peepers” are reminded to stop in, see the exhibit and listen to Mr. Larson.                                                                                                    
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, as autumn lights up our lives!
 
 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: September 8

Hi. I’m Steve Robertsen, Superior National Forest interpretation and education specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior. Here’s what’s happening for the week of September 8.

It’s hard to believe that summer is gone and autumn is here. Two sure signs are that the kids are back in school, and our fall color reports and photos have reappeared on our webpage. Our reports are not just the percentage of color and predictions on when the peak of color will be, but also include some musings on autumn and fall illustrated with photos from around the Forest. Check it out if you haven’t. 

Fall migrations are in full swing. There is a lot of bird activity, and it is good time to keep the feeders full as birds need the food to fuel their travels. Hummingbirds are still around, so keep those feeders full and clean as well. If you go out on a nice still, clear night you’ll be able to hear migrating flocks of birds chirping to each other as they navigate using the stars. 

There’s a bit of human migration happening this weekend as well. The annual Superior Fall Trail Race will be taking place on the Superior Hiking Trail this Friday and Saturday. If you’re looking to go for a hike, you may want to visit their website to find out where racers may be on the trail. Watch for people, spectators and racers at trail crossings, and take note of temporary ‘no parking’ areas in some locations. Running 100 miles, or even 50 or 26, on a hiking trail is a pretty incredible feat so best of luck to all the participants.

Bear season has begun, so there will be bear hunters out in the woods as well as the runners. Look out for both hunters and bait stations, and try not to disturb either. With small game season opening soon as well, it is a good time to start wearing your orange hat or vest when out and about. Our black dog always sports an orange vest of his own this time of year.

Speaking of bears, they are in their final fattening up stage before hibernation. They love fat-rich acorns right now, but are also happy to eat any human food they discover. Take your bird feeders in at night, close your garage doors, and safely store all your food and garbage when camping. Our fee campgrounds have dumpsters, but they don’t work unless the bars or chains are secure. In at least one campground, the bears have figured out the bar system, so there are additional pins through the bar to secure it in place. Make sure you secure the dumpster as much as possible when you are done using it.

There’s a fair amount of truck traffic happening out in the woods. On the Tofte District, there will be trucks using the Clara Lake Road, the Caribou Trail, the Dumbbell River Road and the Wanless Road. On the Gunflint District, look for trucks on the Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Forest Road 1385, the Gunflint Trail, the South Brule Road, the Lima Grade, the Trestle Pine Road, and, finally, the Ball Club Road.

Those trucks will be competing with the first of the leaf watchers. Expect to see slow moving and parked vehicles over the next couple of months when people come to look at and take pictures of the fall foliage. And, if you are one of those people, make sure to park in safe places and close the doors of your car when you get out. Pull over in safe areas to let faster moving cars pass you.

Enjoy the beginning of fall, and until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.
 

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