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North Shore News Hour

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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.


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Brown creeper

North Woods Naturalist: Brown creepers

They’re small and well camouflaged, with a distinctive tree climbing habit. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about brown creepers.

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West End News: May 25

Happy Memorial Day weekend! With holiday weekends, long days and sunshine, summer is upon us. If you have a West End kiddo still looking for summer activities, Birch Grove still has some openings for both Summer Saplings and Campfire Kids. Saplings is for kids ages 3 to 5 and is open June 12 to August 29, with the exception of the Fourth of July. The program runs Monday through Friday, 7am to 5pm. There are weekly nature themes, projects, activities and lots of time to play outdoors. If you have elementary aged kids, then they would enjoy the campfire kids program. It runs the same time as the Saplings and will include filed trips, bon fires, and cookouts, plus a fun overnight at Lamb’s Resort.

The qualified and caring staff at Birch Grove always put a lot of effort into these programs, so it’s worth checking them out. You can find out more information on the school’s website www.birchgroveschool.com under the Community Education tab, or by calling 663-0170, extension 26.

The Gala for the Grove is also coming right up on June 3. There are only a handful of tickets left to this wonderful event held in the Lakeside Ballroom at Surfside in Tofte. This event is a fun and spirited opportunity to socialize for a good cause. Dinner, drinks, and a live auction are all not to be missed. Call Birch Grove to snag one of the last tickets.

I often make mention of the great music opportunities here in the West End and this week is no exception. On Friday, June 2nd, there will be a unique show happening at Papa Charlie’s. Jeremy Messersmith is bringing his micro tour to the Papa Charlie’s deck. What’s a micro tour? As far as I can tell, it’s something Jeremy Messersmith made up. This summer he will be travelling around Minnesota performing 30 free, open to the public pop up shows. The shows will each be 15 minutes of unamplified music in a scenic and notable public place. All the songs can be found in his songbook titled 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs for Ukelele. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own instruments and also to sing along. All the micro shows will be live streamed on the web. The view of Lake Superior and Lutsen Mountains from the Papa Charlie’s deck is nothing if not scenic and I’m sure the micro show will be a hoot. Again, it’s happening on Friday June 2nd at 6pm, don’t be late!

You can usually tell it’s Memorial Day because the blackflies and mosquitoes seem to arrive along with the visitors. Up in the woods here, the bugs aren’t quite out yet but a few have made their presence known here and there. The fish also seem to be waking up and the walleye are beginning to be enticed by a well-placed jig. For many of us, longer hours of sunlight each day mean a few more moments lingered in the woods or on the lake shore. Cheers to the season friends.

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

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A piliated woodpecker has been at work here.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 26

Month five along the Gunflint is dwindling. Where has May gone? Gone to re-birth everywhere. By the next time we meet on the radio, June will have taken over.                                                

For those outside the territory, wimpy as our winter has been, the last of lingering character remains in a few piles here and there along back country roads. I count three such semi-white heaps slow to melt along the Mile O' Pine. Whereas the brunt of our cold season seemed short, it’s amazing we still see reminders with month six but days away. A good bet will find warm season in full command soon, and snow pilings will be history.                                                                                                                                                                             
Full-fledged gardening up the Gunflint continues to see planters stymied with some frosty upper Trail mornings during the past week and only intermittent sunshine. While a little moisture has been added, most days have been gray and damp.              

In spite of the atmosphere seeming less than favorable for growing things and a few returning migrants, this is the season of birds and blooms. A sure sign of better things to come is noted in a return of the ruby throats. These hardy “hummers” know when it’s time, and they came into Wildersmith for the first stop-over last weekend, though most likely shivering.                                          
Rains in the past ten days, although light in this neighborhood, have jump started the leaf-out almost overnight. A lime green haze has been cast over our granite hillsides as fronds of “Quaking Aspen” are trembling at the slightest breath of air.                

At ground level, tough wild perennials are blooming in defiance of extended coolness. Siberian squill, violets, marsh marigolds, wild strawberries, and of course, dandelions are lined up in prelude of Technicolor to come. I’ve also noticed fiddlehead ferns un-coiling along the MOP, while rhubarb has popped up in the sunny spot lighted places.                                                                      

As all creation's beings are in a constant state of searching for nourishment or the shelter of a place called home, it is never more evident than with “wild critters” out here in the forest. An interesting location along the Mile O' Pine provides proof of both a quest for edibles by one species emerging as a new housing development for others.                                                                

In this case, a towering aspen having reached the end of its time has come under attack by the neighborhood pileated woodpecker.  As a source of easy insect protein, during the pecking/hammering process, this “Woody” woodpecker look-alike has created a pile of sawdust and shavings the like of which resembles a wood milling operation at the tree base.                                                                                                                                                                   
In offering the appearance of potential living quarters for any number of flying folk or small rodent creatures, this has been an interesting exercise in wood shaping skill. A digital rendering is provided with this column on the web at WTIP.org.                      

The blackfly season is off to a tortuous start. While getting after outdoor chores, the biting warriors have been tormenting to say the least, and mosquitoes are waiting in the wings. So far I’m winning the battles under my trusty bug net. But any slip-up and I’ll pay the price.                                                                                      

More on stinging things, the May-June issue of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer has an informative article on wasps. It is titled Wonderful Wasps and the commentary offers some interesting insights into these winged critters of which we are often so fearful.                                            

Did you know “there are more than one hundred thousand species or kinds of wasps world-wide?” It is suggested reading for folks who tramp around in our northern back country.                                                                                            

As we celebrate Memorial Day be reminded again “the” destination at end of the Trail opens for the season. Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center are places of special north woods magic, sharing stories of mortals and the natural world shaping their times along the Gunflint Trail.                                                                                                                                                                    

Make a date for a visit or two during the coming season and watch for special programming announcements, too.                                                                                                                      
Another holiday weekend notice goes out to one and all for the YMCA Camp Menogyn pancake breakfast fund raiser.  Be on the shores Sunday morning for the pontoon trip across West Bearskin Lake for food, fun and conversation at yet one more rite of spring on the Trail.    

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, and “silence roars, in the northern woods.”

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School

School News from Sawtooth Mountain Elementary: May 25

Kyli, Landon, and Isaak report the latest school news.

Click here for more school news. 

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A turkey on the Gunflint Trail

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 19

The Trail is a happening place, both for us human invaders and the natural world. On the mortal side of things, spring means house cleaning time for us. 
                                                                       
It’s time to grab a few garbage bags and hit the Trail. The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee is encouraging volunteers to do a pick-up of winter's trash along the Trail during the next week, beginning this Monday, May 22. Many of our friends and neighbors have already picked a stretch, but there are several sections closer to town needing attention. If you can lend a hand, please give Nancy Seaton a call (388-2275) and sign up. Clean-up days run through Thursday, May 25, with the County scheduled to round up the accumulated roadside bags on the final collection date. Let's get the byway spruced up as another example of Gunflint Community power!      
                                                 
Meanwhile, on Mother Nature's side of the ledger, deciduous green bud tips of seven days ago are slowly beginning to unfurl. Most notably are the aspen (popple), with a few birches starting to follow suit. Coniferous tree cousins, particularly the red pines, are showing buds at the wick stage of their candling toward the next generation of branches.

At this writing the territory has grown quite dry again. Until a brief dampening in the past couple days, there’s been little to no precipitation around here since the “May Day” frozen stuff.  If the rain gods would cough up a decent rain, all things green would really pop, and fear of someone setting off a fire would be eased.                                                                                                    

Not only has our great weather of late lifted people's spirits, members of the “wild neighborhood” are making increased candid appearances. A couple reports have come in telling of momma bears herding their multiple winter deliveries through the forest.                                    

One such is a momma bear with a foursome of fur balls. Then another tells of a trio of cubs following their mom across the Trail around the Fox Ridge Road/Trail intersection. No doubt there are many yet to be revealed twin sets out there, too. So it looks as though the deity of fertility has favored growing the Bruno population in ’17.  

I’ve received no reports of bear vandalism yet, but knowing they are hungry, it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be tempted by an ill-prepared resident or unsuspecting visitor.      

Speaking of more forest newborns, a couple fellows have been in the right place at the right time to see moose cows with calves. One observation was a singleton while the other was a set of twins. Hurrah for moose regeneration!                                                                                                                    
Although it is not open to the public yet, good news from Chik-Wauk Museum staff is shared concerning the annual loon return. The iconic couple is back, and they have been sitting on the nesting platform for going on two weeks. With all incubation things going as hoped, new chicks should be hatching shortly after the Chik-Wauk opening Memorial Day weekend.                                                                                                  

On an added Chik-Wauk note, a wonderful new temporary exhibit featuring history of the Ham Lake Fire will be ready for viewing on opening day. There’s also some great programming on tap for the coming season. Check the Chik-Wauk website for a weekly event menu, and for GTHS members the recent newsletter release includes many special event listings. The Museum and Hiking Trails will be open daily 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., while the Nature Center is open 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.                                                                                                                                                               
While some think there are plenty of “turkeys” living out here in the woods, none of these would garner attention from the DNR. A report has come my way that an honest to goodness wild bird of the turkey species has been spotted by a couple living over on Leo Lake. It was noticed on their road recently, and luckily they were able to get a digital record for verification.                                                                                                                                                                    
Gunflint nature photographer, Nace Hagemann, has also told of seeing one in about the same vicinity. Perhaps it was the same bird. Nace further tells he’s heard of several additional turkey sighting reports from around the county. Community radio listeners can get a glimpse of the mid-Trail wild gobbler posted alongside this column on the web at WTIP.org.                                                                                                                                              
While it’s considered unusual to see one this far north, trends have been growing to indicate the “big birds” are moving this way with warming climatic conditions. So we might expect to see more of these critters strutting about in the years to come. Hmmm, looks as though there could be some new “fast food” opportunities in store for carnivores of unorganized territory.                                                                                                                                                               
It’s with sadness I report the passing of two long time Gunflint territory residents. News comes on the recent passing of Donna Preus and Mary Katherine (Kate) Lammers Blank. Both of these two ladies resided with their families along the shores of Gunflint Lake for many decades. Their Gunflint Lake and Trail Friends and neighbors extend deepest condolences to the families on their loss.                                                                                                                                                  

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with angler tales of the one that got away, growing by the inch.

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Superior National Forest Update: May 19

Hi. I’m Steve Robertsen, interpretation and education specialist on the Superior National Forest, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of May 19, here’s what’s going on out there.

The wave of spring green is slowly pushing northwards. There is quite a difference in the amount of green in different areas right now, and it is sort of like traveling in time driving on 61 between our offices in Grand Marais and Duluth. As green leaves appear, the moisture content of the woods increases, and fire danger lessens. Our recent rainy spell has really helped with fire danger as well, but spring is still a season to be extra careful with fire, especially if you are in an area which is still dominated by last year’s brown leaves and not this year’s green ones.

That line of green creeping north has brought with it another pulse of migrating birds. This past week saw the return of many warblers to the woods, as well as the return of our hummingbirds. Orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks are back, adding some larger splashes of color to the mix. It’s a good time of year to feed birds, but with the rain, make sure to check that your feeders stay clean and the seed doesn’t start to mildew.

Despite the rain, some road weight restrictions have been lifted allowing for more truck traffic in the woods. You may encounter logging traffic near the Trapper’s Lake Road near Isabella, and in other areas as weight restrictions continue to be lifted. If you’d like to check on current restrictions, there is a link under the Current Conditions section of our website to the county and state DOT websites.

All our campgrounds on Tofte and Gunflint are now fully open with water and garbage pick-up, and are collecting fees. As a reminder, dumpsters in campgrounds are for use only by campers. Make sure all your garbage is in the dumpster, not piled alongside, and then make sure that the dumpster lid is fully secured with bars or chains to keep the bears from getting in. Most of our bear problems at campgrounds start with bears and unsecured garbage, so keep a clean camp and put all your garbage and food into secure areas such as the trunk of a car or the closed dumpster. If you drive an SUV or other vehicle with no trunk, use a blanket or luggage cover to hide your coolers. Some bears actually look in vehicles for food, and will try to break in if they see coolers or obvious food. Never store food or garbage in your tent, and don’t assume the screen door on an RV is secure against a hungry bruin. If you do have a bear encounter at a campground, please let us know at one of the district offices as well as telling the campground host
and concessionaire.

If your plans are to camp in the Boundary Waters, make sure to keep things bear safe there as well. Our website shows several methods of hanging food safely, or you can use a bear resistant food container…but, the popular blue plastic barrels are not bear resistant, so don’t count on those to really even slow down a bear. Our seasonal wilderness ranger staff has begun patrols, so if you see them, be sure to say hi. The rangers report that mosquitoes are still rare, so it’s a great time to get out. Black flies are starting to get annoying though, and there’s been plenty of ticks, so watch it.

Have a wonderful spring weekend, and enjoy the currently bug free forest. Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School

School News from Sawtooth Mountain Elementary: May 18

Sofi, General and Ruby report the latest school news.

Click here for more school news. 

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West End News: May 18

The Forest Service took advantage of the recent wet weather and completed a couple of prescribed burns that have been on their to-do list for a little while. One burn was in our neck of the woods, just off The Grade road, otherwise known as Forest Road 170. This fire was used in timber harvest units where logging activities have been taking place. The prescribed fire was used as the method to consume residual slash from the timber sale and to remove hazardous fuels. It also served to prepare the area for seeding and planting, and restored fire to the ecosystem. This particular area hasn’t seen a wildfire in modern history, so what the agency is doing to help manage our Forest ecosystem is much, much needed. We drove by the burn while it was in progress, and the many firefighters on site appeared relaxed, which we were glad to see.

Coming up this weekend on May 20 is the Superior Trail Races in Lutsen. These races are for the foolhardy who enjoy running 25 or 50 kilometers through extremely hilly, rugged and technical out and back trails traversing the Sawtooth Mountain Range on the Superior Hiking Trail. The course parallels Lake Superior, climbs up to nearly 2000 foot heights, crosses rivers and streams - all while meandering through our boreal forest. The races start 7 and 8 a.m. on Saturday, and will be finished by 4 p.m. Which seems impossible. But I guess if you are familiar with the ultra-running world this doesn’t surprise you.

Spectators are welcome to visit the Oberg and Sawbill aid stations in Tofte. Please though, no parking in the trailhead parking lots. There will be signs and volunteers to direct you to safe parking areas at both locations. The races will begin and end at Caribou Highlands in Lutsen. There is a 4 p.m. finish cutoff time, after which is a free post-race event with food served. So come on down to cheer on some crazy runners.

If you’re one of the lucky few who gets some time off during Memorial Day weekend, be sure to check out the Art Along the Lake event. Various galleries and businesses along the North Shore from Schroeder to Grand Portage will be hosting demonstrations and events next weekend, Friday, May 26 through Sunday, May 28. Of particular interest in the West End, the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder will be hosting demonstrations by Mary Jane Huggins, Kathy West, Orlene Fisher and many more starting at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Kah Nee Tah Gallery in Lutsen will have demonstrations in precious metal clay and silver and raku with Judy Christensen and Maggie Anderson at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Kah Nee Tah has also recently had an update to the interior of their second gallery so if you haven’t been in a while, now is a great time to stop in. Other participating west end art stops worth a visit are the Last Chance Studio and Gallery in Lutsen and the Thompsonite Beach Jewelry Shop between Lutsen and Grand Marais.

If like me you don't get the holiday weekends off, I hope you will take some time for your own trail run or art. Maybe don't play with fire, though.

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

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Bloodroot

North Woods Naturalist: At long last spring

Spring is definitely making itself known. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about spring sneaking into the Northland.

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Io

Northern Sky: May 13 - 26

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

One of Jupiter's moons, Io, is the site of a powerful volcano. Saturn starts to be bright in the night sky, and on May 13-14, a bright moon follows close behind Saturn. In the middle of June, Saturn will be visible throughout the night.

Photo is courtesy of NASA/University of Minnesota

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