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North Shore Weekend

  • 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:
Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update by Steve Robertsen
July 16, 2021

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Woodcock_photo by MarciaRoepke.jpeg

Trail Time - Marcia Roepke

Trail Time
7-15-2021
By Marcia Roepke
 
 
This morning the loons were singing a beautiful chorus of multiple voices. There’s no better sound than this for bringing to mind some of the Boundary Waters trips I’ve been on —creating in my mind a collage of images and memories of different lakes, portages and, of course, all kinds of weather and challenges.
 
 We have our favorite canoe routes. And sometimes it’s just impossible to get permits for the first choice. But a few trips where the weather or the route were less than perfect have become some of the most vividly memorable. Today I’m thinking of one canoe trip that became what my younger daughter called “a miracle a minute” day.
 
It was late in the day and the weather was hot when my daughter, my husband and I got to our first campsite. The lake had a simple shoreline that held few secrets and I was feeling quite underwhelmed by the aesthetics of the place. My husband, Lars the Maker, quickly made the campsite more appealing. He has that knack. No sooner had we got settled than the sky began to grow dark. The rain tapped on our tarp as we huddled underneath, slapping mosquitoes and watching the rain and the lake.
 
 After a while, a beaver swam by. Then as the rain eased, a mayfly hatch began. We sat in awe as hundreds of mayflies wafted up before our eyes — they were like gossamer fairies dancing in the air. A rainbow appeared in the sky above the lake, framed by the trees on either side of our landing area. A turtle emerged out of the water, waddled up to a sandy patch near us, started digging and then laying her eggs. I am not making this up. Truly it was a “miracle a minute” kind of day. And it happened with a second choice route on an “uninteresting” lake.
 
 
Our miracles are generally more of the one-a-day kind here on the Gunflint Trail. Yesterday a family of three ospreys flew overhead while the youngster appealed to the parents to ... to what? Slow down? Speed up? Catch dinner? Maybe the young osprey was expressing newfound joy and surprise at being airborne. Maybe, like me, they couldn’t help expressing their feelings through their voices.
 
One day I discovered a woodcock (or would it be a wood hen?) sitting on a nest while I was searching for the white pine saplings we had planted the year before. For a millisecond I thought I had spotted a snake, but I quickly recovered and just stood there quietly, gazing at this odd-looking bird. I suppose it was the three dark stripes on the back of the head that had alarmed me in some primitive part of my brain.
 
Woodcocks have a roundish body with legs set far back that give them a curious walking gait. A long bill with a flexible tip probes underground for worms and grubs. In the spring, we hear their distinctive “winnowing” sound almost nightly during the darker side of dusk. The male woodcocks fly up above meadows and then dive toward earth, making a distinctive sound with their specialized wing feathers. The first time I heard it I wondered (or hoped) if it could be the sound of a boreal owl, which I have never encountered. We walked up the hill and saw their shadowy shapes flying above the brushy tree line, the sky almost too dark to make them out. And there it was: Another miracle flying toward earth, right here on the Gunflint Trail.
 
When I first started coming to the Gunflint Trail thirty plus years ago, I saw it as an entry point to wilderness, an escape from city life and work pressures, and a way to connect to the part of me that thrived in solitude, quiet and nature. Over time, I came to know a few people at the resorts and outfitters. It’s only since I’ve lived here full-time that I’ve realized that there are a lot more people here than I ever imagined when I was a visitor. The year-round human population swells in the summer with cabin owners, guests at lodges and of course, campers in the Boundary Waters and campgrounds. In this season of hot, dry weather, all of us have to think of fire danger. 
 
The smoke from multiple forest fires in Ontario is gives us stunning sunrises and sunsets but reminds us daily of the very real danger that exists here. As of July 10, campfires are banned throughout the Boundary Waters. Campers are allowed to use fuel stoves for cooking. Multiple lakes and two entry points have been closed due to forest fires in the Ely area. For campers outside the Boundary Waters, campfire updates can be found at Superior National Forest home page.
 
The Gunflint Fire District is served by the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department (GTVFD). It includes EMTs, EMRs and firefighters in the member roster. These amazing folks volunteer to respond to structure and wildland fires, medical emergencies and search and rescue calls. Learn more about this vital service and emergency preparedness at www.gunflint911.org
 

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Marcia Roepke is a WTIP contributor from the Gunflint Trail

Trail Time - Marcia Roepke

Trail Time

Hi. I’m Marcia Roepke and I live on the Gunflint Trail. Recently, Fred Smith ended his eleven years of reporting from the Trail and I’ll be continuing in his rather large footprints to bring you a little flavor of the Gunflint Trail wherever you might be.

I asked Fred what the biggest change was in his 22 years. He said that with the exception of the Ham Lake Fire of 2007, the biggest change was the creation of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and the opening of Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center in 2005. Chik Wauk is dedicated to the preservation of the cultural and natural histories of the Gunflint Trail and has a variety of exhibits and events, as well as volunteer opportunities, throughout the summer.
This summer is shaping up to be one of the lushest and greenest of recent memory. A dry spring gave way to a series of rainfalls that lowered the fire danger to moderate. Earlier this week, however, I saw that the fire danger had been set to high once again. So everyone: residents, visitors and campers need to be extremely careful with fires where and when they are allowed.

Now that we are past midsummer, the anemones and trilliums and other spring flowers have disappeared, but the daisies, fireweed, buttercup and lupines are blooming in abundance with the recent rains. Soon some of our native orchids will be poking their heads above the soil in their secret places. The tiny flowers of the hazelnut shrubs have now yielded a promising future supply of nuts for red squirrels and bears to feast on this fall. Good luck beating the squirrels and chipmunks to the hazelnuts when they are ready to pick! The animals seem to know to the second when harvest time is here and they almost always beat me to it. No hard feelings, though, since the beaked hazelnuts that grow in our area are covered with tiny prickly hairs that burrow into human skin and itch like crazy. They require a lot of work before we humans can eat them.

Chokecherry, pin cherry and raspberry bushes are loaded with early green fruit. I noticed lots of wild strawberries in flower early this summer but I totally missed that harvest. As for blueberries, the word is still out on whether this will be a good blueberry year. A late frost nipped the blossoming plants in some areas. Hopefully there are pockets of good fruit that will yield that prizewinning blueberry in time for The Gunflint Trail’s Biggest Blueberry Contest. See if you can beat the bears to that big one!

We haven’t spotted much moose lately, but we see their signs, especially the young birch trees that they break down to get to the tender tips of the branches.

There are some smaller creatures that have been fascinating me this year: The first is the Hummingbird Clearwing, a sphinx moth, that I watched hover around the blossoms of a wild apple tree earlier this spring. This beautiful insect is easily mistaken for a hummingbird from a distance. It moves a little more slowly and delicately than its little namesake bird. It has a long proboscis that curls under its chin and unfurls to sip the nectar from the blossoms.
The second creature is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. They appear so very early in the year that I wonder what they find to eat besides the nectar available at hummingbird feeders that hang by cabins up and down the Trail.
I’ve been privy to the hummingbird’s mating dance quite often this year. The male flies in a surprisingly large swooping half-circle, buzzing at the tip of the arc, trilling at the low point, over and over again. I’ve even seen the female sometimes sitting demurely on the ground, sometimes perched in a nearby chokecherry bush, during this display. I wonder if the hummingbird is communicating more than “Pick me – I’m the best” for the male’s part or “Convince me” for the female’s? Last week my neighbor Don the Duffer shared the results of a study of prairie dog communication. After biologists had recorded events and chirps, the data was analyzed. The findings indicated that the animals had communicated in far greater detail than was previously thought. Not only were they warning of “predator approaching,” they were also sharing information such as “coyote coming!” or “tall human in yellow shirt approaching from the north!”

So I wondered while observing the hummingbirds, what else could he be saying to his lady love? Is there poetry in a hummingbird’s communication? I certainly see poetry in their movements. I think there’s poetry everywhere in the woods and waters of the northland; poetry and abundance. There’s an abundance of space and solitude as well as plenty of neighborliness here, where time seems to slow down and expand, here on the Gunflint Trail.
You can learn more about Chik Wauk Nature Center at gunflinthistory.org and about the Biggest Blueberry on the Gunflint Trail at visitcookcounty.com.
 
 

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LSProject: Did extensive logging impact Lake Superior fishing?

Northeast Minnesota experienced extensive "slash and burn" logging during the late 1800s and early 1900s. As a result, streams and rivers became highways for moving the logs, and the "slash" from logging covered the landscape resulting in soil erosion and forest fires. In this two-part series, producer Martha Marnocha talked with Dr. Michael Risku to learn about the impact of the logging industry on the North Shore's whitefish and lake trout populations during the early 20th century.

 

 


 
Photo by Rosie Rosenberger via Flickr and Creative Commons (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)

North Woods Naturalist: Summer Has Arrived

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.

In this edition of North Woods Naturalist, Chel describes her recent observations as we enter into the summer season.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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Sky Map June 2021

Northern Sky: June 19 - July 2

Northern Sky by Deane Morrison
June 19 – July 2, 2021

Summer is officially settling in. The summer solstice arrives at 10:52 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. At that moment the sun reaches a point over the Tropic of Cancer, and ends its annual journey north. Then it reverses and starts heading south again. Slowly. When the sun is near a solstice, it moves at glacial speed. It seems as though the sun is at its maximum height, and the days are about as long as they get, for two months centered on the summer solstice. In fact, the word “solstice” comes from the Latin for “sun standing still.” On that day the Earth will be lighted from the Antarctic Circle up to the North Pole and beyond to the Arctic Circle on the night side of Earth.

On June 24th, we get the last of this year’s three supermoons. This moon rises at 9:33 p.m., about eight hours after the moment of fullness. It may not look perfectly round, but it’ll be close to Earth and quite bright. It travels the night sky in Sagittarius, sitting right at the juncture of the lid and the handle of the Teapot of Sagittarius. 
 
On July 2nd, Earth reaches aphelion, its farthest distance from the sun. Earth orbits more slowly when it’s farther from the sun, which means that as I speak, we’re slowing down.  

This time of year, the stars and planets get barely six hours to strut their stuff. Venus gets much less; it shines through the sun’s afterglow, very low in the west-northwest, for barely an hour before setting. In the east, Saturn, and then Jupiter, rise around midnight. Saturn is in Capricornus, the sea goat, and Jupiter has moved into Aquarius, the water bearer.  
At nightfall, you’ll see a brilliant star high in the south to southwest. This is Arcturus, the brightest star in the kite-shaped constellation Bootes, the herdsman. Below Arcturus we have Spica, the only reasonably bright star in Virgo, the maiden. Low in the south is the S-shaped body of Scorpius. Its most salient feature is Antares, a gigantic red star at the scorpion’s heart. Just east of Scorpius is the Teapot of Sagittarius. 

Finally, a recent article in Astronomy magazine reminded me of a story I heard a long time ago. A reporter was covering a meeting of astronomers—where, I don’t recall—but there was, as usual, a room where lots of graduate students were standing by poster displays of their research. The reporter saw one who had a small table by him, and on it was a jar of dill pickles. So the reporter asked, what have dill pickles got to do with astronomy? And the grad student explained that the vinegar in the pickle brine was based on acetic acid, and his group had detected acetic acid in space. Well, now lots of organic molecules have been detected in space, including amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and precursors of DNA. And Astronomy magazine just reported that scientists have found another one. 

Ethanolamine, an essential component of the membranes that enclose our cells, has been found in a cloud of gas and dust just 390 light-years from the center of the Milky Way.

This gets at the question of how life arose on Earth and perhaps elsewhere. Was life seeded from space? Seeded in the form of essential molecules that were synthesized in space, including ones like ethanolamine, which could have assembled themselves into membranes that encapsulated and protected the other essential molecules by forming little protocells? I’m going to stick my neck out and say this question won’t be resolved any time soon.

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The University of Minnesota’s public viewings of the night sky at its Duluth and Twin Cities campuses have been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, see:

Duluth, Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium: www.d.umn.edu/planet

Twin Cities, Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics: www.astro.umn.edu/outreach/pubnight

Check out astronomy programs, free telescope events, and planetarium shows at the

University of Minnesota's Bell Museum: www.bellmuseum.umn.edu/astronomy

Find U of M astronomers and links to the world of astronomy at: http://www.astro.umn.edu

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Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - June 18

Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the Superior National Forest, gives us the latest news from the SNF.

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North Woods Naturalist: Fireflies & Luna Moths

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.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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North Woods Naturalist: Spring into summer

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.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - June 4

Superior National Forest Update is a weekly feature on WTIP's North Shore Morning.
Joanna Gilkeson is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Superior National Forest.

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