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North Shore Morning

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News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!

 


What's On:
Star Map Aug 2020

Northern Sky August 1-14

"Northern Sky" by Deane Morrison for August 1 - 14, 2020.

Deane is a science writer at the University of Minnesota and authors the Minnesota Starwatch column.
 

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Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - July 31

"Superior National Forest Update" with Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest.

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 31

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
July 31, 2020    
           
“A” is for August, and the territory bids July adieu. We have cruised through July not paying much attention amidst Pandemic confusion.  “Where goes July, there goes summer” as the old saying goes. Sad to say, August will likely escape us as well, so we’d better not blink twice.                                                                                                                                                                                             

All kinds of memories linger about month eight. Autumn oozing in, Indian summer days, fewer mosquitoes and back to school are but a few. Whereas back to school as we remember is only a “maybe” under current circumstances, the onset of fall is more certain.                                                                                        

While late summer and early fall blooms are mutually converging with an array of colors, in the past days I have noted the first flora signs of things to come. Fire weed is fading and a few sprigs of dog bane and a scattering of ferns have turned from green to golden along back country roads,                                                                                                                        

Another weekend of hot and sticky kept moose in the bays and evergreen shade. It seems this area is stuck in a rut as border country had a third straight weekend of annoying perspiring. However, the “mom” looking over us, favored another reprieve with more normal coolness over the past few days. Thanks to “Mother N.”                                                                                                                           
Winged things have had my attention over the past week. The Monarch daycare at Chik Wauk Nature Center is excited to announce caterpillars are munching milkweed and chrysalis are emerging into the next generation of butterflies. Screened nurseries have about two dozen miracles in the waiting.                                                                                                                                                        

They should be due to break-out in just a few days, with this generation not too long from heading toward winter quarters. The question of the week is how fast can a Monarch fly? The Naturalist up there tells me, it is five miles per hour. That’s a lot of time in the air, and energy, to cover countless miles to their warm destination.                                                                                                                            
If listeners can’t go up to see this marvel of the natural world, keep track of the happening on Chik Wauk.org via Facebook.                                                                                                                                                                 

Meanwhile, hummingbird arrivals and departures at Smith’s international nectar bottle seem to have doubled since last weeks’ report. The hungry hummers are now consuming over two bottles per day (the equivalent of two plus cups). They must be near tipsy with a sugar high. It is obvious they must not have any dietary issues with the sweetness.                                        

The other day a couple of them pestered me as I re-filled the container while outdoors among them. They were close as a few inches from my hands trying to get a slurp ahead of their ravenous competitors while I finished the pour. What an amusing and interesting experience. I can’t think of a quicker being in creation.                                                                                                                                                                          

Over the past several days, “Woody” the chuck has paid us a visit. While I do not have a garden menu from which it could be pilfering, the plump rodent nestles right in with its squirrely cousins for a munch-along on seeds I’ve thrown out on the ground. Of interest, neither of them is bothered with each other’s presence, but will not allow chipmunks a place at their table.                                                                                                                                                   
If you might be thinking I’m asking for a bear visit, I’ve been doing it for several years and have had not a trace. Further, when this gang of seed crunchers finishes in a couple hours each morning, there is nothing but shells. So if a bear has happened by in darkness hours, there’s nary a crumb left.                                                                                                                                                                   

Folks who travel the Trail with any regularity should be smiling due to the speed with which the road re-construction is progressing. While the one-way traffic delays have been troublesome at times, they have not been overly long in my opinion. Visitors from Metropolis probably would disagree however.                                                                                                           

With the apparent first lift of asphalt laid in both lanes over the five mile stretch, it is already a vast improvement over the washboard we’ve been accustomed to for many years.                                             

Thanks to the project contractor and Cook County Highway Department for their diligence in moving this endeavor along.                                                                                                                                                          
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is an up-lifting exposure, to the wonders of creation!
 

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North Woods Naturalist July 28

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now. 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 24

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
July 24, 2020    

           
The territory got another reminder of what July can be like last weekend, with another dose of hot and sticky, just as I predicted. It was short lived, however as “Mother Nature” stepped up to end our whining.                                                                                                                           

The Saturday night into Sunday morning saw the “gal” in charge of natures’ things flipped the switch to cool and nice by mid-day Sunday. Perhaps one of those lightening charges from the heavens recharged our natural air conditioning.                                                                      

Severe storm warnings were touted for hours over the County, but area residents were spared predicted damage as there was more “bark than bite” from the rumbling clouds and celestial fireworks. And, precipitation along the Mile O Pine was rather piddly once again, with less than a quarter inch at Wildersmith.                                                                                                                                         

While the stormy “apocalypse” did not happen, interestingly enough, the upper Trail turned around from gasping for a cool breath on Saturday, to long sleeves, sweaters and closed windows on Sunday. “What a difference a day makes.”                                                                                        
Those gale force northwest winds off Gunflint Lake on Sunday were “bullish” or better, “wolfish.” Gusts culled the forest of weak limbs and trees like the Canid pack has done to the white trail population out this way.                                                                                             

Speaking of water, levels continue to dwindle around the region. The weekly measurement recorded at my dock will soon fall below the last tick on the DNR gauge. This usually happens in September. So unless the skies break loose with an unusual deluge in the watershed during the next couple months, Gunflint Lake and maybe others will be at frightening low levels by the time we start thinking about ice.                                                                                                                                     

The summer hiatus of ruby throats has ended at Wildersmith. The streaking little birds are attacking the sweet stop-over with a vengeance. One can barely land and gulp a swallow, before being driven off by others. There’s no calm hovering in line for a turn. They are consuming a bottle of nectar a day.                                                                                                                                                    

An interesting sidelight at the sweetness station finds rusty back bumble bees engaged too. I found this out by accident a few days ago when retrieving the bottle for a refill. One of the stinging critters refused to separate from its position at the fake floret and rode inside the house, only to be dislodged when I began the daily rinse out.                                                                               

Mr. Bumble was none too happy, but luckily for yours truly, the bee decided to escape by buzzing into the window screen. A handy dish rag covered the angry insect, and I transported it back outside. Neither the bee nor I were harmed. Then it happened again, a day or so later.                                                                                                                                    

Perhaps this bee has developed affection for me, much like the squirrel that greets me every day at the woodshop door to demand seed time. Guess I should smarten up and pay more attention before luck gives way to a stinging confrontation.                                                                                                                     

Each Saturday, I volunteer in the Nature Center on the Chik Wauk Campus. In addition to working with visitors along with the Naturalist/s, it is my goal to learn one new component about our natural world, no matter how trivial it may seem.                                                                            

It goes without saying I don’t have enough days to put a dent in the uncountable happenings of our ecosystem. Nevertheless, learning there are over 100 world-wide species of mosquitoes, to three species of thistles found in this area and countless invasive plants trying to take-over border country, I’m invigorated by the things happening that I have never thought about.                                                                                                                                                                
This past weekend, the question was raised about bears eating berries. Specifically, how many berries do you suppose a bear can eat in a day?                                                                        

Through investigative research from the North American Bear Center, the Chik Wauk interns found that bears can eat as many as 30,000 berries a day. That would be mostly blue berries at this time, up this way. Doing some dimensional analysis, based on approximate numbers of berries in a commercial 12 ounce container, this calculates into 161 pounds per day, or the equivalence of three shopping carts full.                                                                                                                               

Now I can’t imagine who might be willing to get close enough to research this tidbit, but if it is near accurate, folks better be getting out there soon, or the blue gems will be gone with a few big bear gulps.                                                                                                                                                                             
In a related matter, the annual biggest blueberry contest is under way along the Trail. Weigh-in stations are located at several resort locations and Chik Wauk. An even nicer rain, this past Tuesday will likely help pump them up, so get a pickin’.                                                                       

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is an awesome refuge from the ills, of humanity!
 

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North Woods Naturalist July 21

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now. 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 17

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
July 17, 2020    

How can this be happening? We have surpassed the half-way point of July, and it seems the calendar just flipped over into 2020’s seventh segment. Although the calendar says we have plenty of warm season left, summer looks to have started its’ slide with the Independence Day celebration. I know some folks who declare summer is over after the 4th fireworks.        

Summer character released its hot, sticky grip on the Gunflint territory over the past few days. Daytime temps slipped back into the low seventies in this neighborhood, and night times into the fifties. While it has been a pleasant relief for the moose and me, we are likely to get another dose with August peering around the bend.                                                                                                     

Whereas forest management agencies have abandoned the campfire ban and other burning restrictions, claiming widespread rain, it seems ill-advised as rain has been spotty in the upper Gunflint.                                                                                                                                            

While places in the mid-trail area got deluged recently, if the area around Gunflint Lake and northward had been assessed, it is evident fire danger has not been suppressed to any extent. At Wildersmith, two separate rain events in the past week trickled a mere total of one-third inch.                                                                                                                                                                              

This is not exactly what one would call a drought terminator. It is prudent for residents to be diligent with regular sprinkler system applications to their property. The forest is still crunchy dry and most streams have dried up.                                                                                                                   
With the scarcity of rain in the past weeks, amazingly the berry season is getting under way. I’m told hikers are finding blues along some of their treks, and wild raspberries are coming on. I’m keeping eyes on a secret patch of Juneberry bushes, but they have a ways to go. In any case, there’s a good chance the berry harvest will be discouraging unless the heavens provide some kind of juice.                                                                                                                                                

The Mile O Pine neighborhood has experienced some candid animal sightings in the past week. A lone wolf made its’ presence known on a couple different occasions, while a momma bear scared the “hee bee jee bees” out of a gal as she walked down the MOP unknowingly past her cubs.  Guess the worrisome momma bear stood upright and grunted a warning, but otherwise made no aggressive moves. No harm, no foul as the lady moved on without further interruption.                                                                                                                                                                           
Another one of those serene north woods mornings caught my attention a few days ago. The day began with sun peering through uncountable foliage openings to spotlight an equal number of golden splotches on the forest floor.                                                                                                              

It was cool enough to condense moisture on every green component, including a night time installation of arachnid fiber art. Air currents were minimal, but just enough to make the fiber sway at times, glistening as beams lit up teardrops of joy, celebrating another dawning.           

Moments of quiet, calm, unassuming, beautiful peace! So comforting in a world oppressed with human turmoil!                                                                                                                                   

On a concerned side of the ledger, serenity as we know it throughout the Superior National Forest and BWCA is about to be diminished if a telecom behemoth has its’ way. Word is silently permeating about in regard to a bigger communications tower being erected above Gunflint Lake that will include wilderness connectivity for cell phones. The current tower will be replaced with a new, even taller structure.                                                                                                                              

While some advocates will swear the need for such, a good many more will be aghast to think our border country natural world is now succumbing to electronic tentacles of civilization. The spread of this telecom connectivity threatens the cherished wild character of serenity and presence, dictating “digital roads” everywhere and beyond, all to the benefit of corporate telecom profiteers.                                                                                                                                   

At the expense of ever diminishing, precious, protected land, one has to wonder how this can happen when the Wilderness Act stipulates, there shall be no commercial enterprise in the designated wilderness. The intrusion of cell phone noise pollution into the solitude would also seem to be in violation of federal laws, specific to the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. Food for thought, Gunflinters!                                                  

In closing, big thanks go out to new and renewing members of the WTIP family. Once again, you have stepped to the plate during these uncertain times in support of your Community Radio station. You met the goal! Over $30,000.00!! It goes without saying, you are the greatest!                                                                                                                                                                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day, is, an incredible blessing!
 

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North Shore Health Care Foundation Update - Valerie Eliasen

WTIP's North Shore Morning host, Mark Abrahamson talks with Valerie Eliasen for the North Shore Health Care Foundation update.

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North Woods Naturalist July 14

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now. 

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Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - July 10

Superior National Forest Update with Education and Interpretation Specialist, Steve Robertsen.
July 10, 2020

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