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Visit the Ice Caves?

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 6:35am

Remember the craze over last year’s ice caves near the Apostle Islands? I do because I really wanted to visit them. The day I planned to visit them was super cold and windy and I ended up not making the ice hike out to see them. However, hundreds of thousands of people did make the trek, so many in fact the National Park Service decided to charge visitors for the experience this year.

When the announcement to charge a fee to visit the ice caves was made it rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like it was a little bit greedy. I know staff had to manage the parking lot and maybe pick up some garbage or give people directions or guidance but what else did they have to do? The fact the lake doesn’t always freeze over good enough to visit the ice caves anyway just made charging a fee seem a little bit ridiculous.

I know that it was just my personal opinion but sometimes Mike thinks I can cast a curse on things I don’t approve of.  So far this year no one has been able to see the ice caves because the ice to get there hasn’t been good enough.  I feel badly for the local businesses because they were able to make money in a normally slower time of the year last year and I’m sure they were hoping for a repeat of last year.

There’s not too much time left for the ice to form solid enough so visitors can pay their $5 each to see the ice caves this year. Is Mother Nature taking my side and trying to teach someone a lesson about implementing a fee?  Probably not, but I can think that anyway and if the ice does form, I’ll be in line with my $5 bill, reluctantly handing it over to make the voyage to the ice caves.

Ice caves on Lake Superior

 

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A Fun Weekend Coming Up

North Shore Art Scene - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:37pm

David Johnson took this incredible photo of the ice build-up in the Grand Marais Harbor recently.

This is a potpourri weekend — there’s theater and lots of music, outdoor fun, like fat tire bike racing, downhill and cross county skiing as well as great opportunities for  ice photography … and beer tasting: Voyageur Brewing Co, the new brewery in Grand Marais, has opened, and the reviews are great.

Detail of a quilt by Benedicte Caneill, one of the quilts in the Art Colony exhibit. The exhibit continues through March 9.

There’s also a fun Art Quilt Show at the Grand Marais Art Colony and lots of wonderful paintings on display by Howard Sivertson, Liz Sivertson, Dave Gilsvik and Tim Pearson at Sivertson Gallery. All four artists were featured at the Fireside Chat Weekend at the gallery last weekend.

WTIP is holding its winter membership drive this week with lots of live music scheduled in the studio. (See music listing, below). There’s also some special programming planned, including an interview with adventurer Noah Horak and DJ Beavstar (Andrew Beavers) at 7 p.m. Thursday night and a Radio Waves Music Festival special from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Hosted by Cathy Quinn and Deb Benedict, the program will feature live recordings from the popular fall music festival.

Also this weekend, the Frostbiter Fat Tire Bike Race for Easter Seals Kids will be held all day Saturday in Grand Portage at the Grand Portage Lodge & Casino.  The timed event features a 20-mile loop and a more adventurous 40-mile loop.  For more information,contact Rhonda Harrison at 807-345-7622 ext. 4 or rharrison@easterseals.org. Lunch at the Lodge is included.

Jamie Rabold on this photo of the Frozen Photographers Winter Gathering last year: “A cool shot showing a bunch of crazy photographers making a plan to attack the pile of ice!!”

For those who really like to get out there in frosty weather, the Frozen Photographers Facebook Group is holding their Winter Gathering at Gooseberry State Park on Saturday. More than 40 people have signed up so far, said Jamie Rabold, who started the group, and more could show up.

Frozen Photographers now boosts more than 1,400 members. The only requirement … prove that you have had to get cold to take some photos. The group will meet in the lake view warming house on the park grounds and several local photographers, including John Gregor and Brian Rauvola, will give presentations. Light painting and steel wool burning are also planned for night shooting.

Rabold said in a chat message that this will be an annual event for members of Frozen Photographers for sure. “Frozen Photographers need to get together in the cold to get our cards punched!” he wrote. Stay tuned to see a few photos from the gathering next week.

Catherine Glynn will perform “The Belle of Amherst” at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts on Saturday night.

Then, this Saturday night, Emily Dickinson fans will have a treat when Catherine Glynn performs “The Belle of Amherst” by William Luce. The acclaimed playwright weaves Dickinson’s poems, diaries, and letters into a portrait of one of America’s greatest and most prolific poets. Luce mixes her encounters with close friends and family with the poet’s own, often amusing observations. “Full of passion and poetry and heart,” wrote the New York Daily News.

Glynn is an accomplished performer and has acted with the Austin Shakespeare Festival, Riverside Shakespeare, The Rude Mechanicals, Collaboraction, SPAC, The Commonweal, Chicago Dramatists and The New American Theatre. The performance is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $15 adults, students are free. The performance is brought to the ACA by the Grand Marais Playhouse.

In other art news, photographs by Travis Novitsky are being shown in “Spirit Tree, Spirit Place” exhibit at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul. The exhibit also includes drawings and artwork by Hazel Belvo and Marcia Cushmore as well as words from poems by Joanne Hart. The exhibit continues through Feb. 22, and is being held in conjunction with the Minnesota History Center’s exhibition: “Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison,” which continues through April 26.

The Grand Marais Art Colony is hosting a weekend art excursion to the Twin Cities April 24-26. The tour includes an exclusive guided home tour of Minnesota art collector Tom Arneson, a private tour of NE Studios with Grain Belt Building artist Lynn Speaker and a guided tour of George Morrison’s exhibit at the Minnesota History Center, to name a few. For more info and to register, contact the Art Colony at 387-2737 or visit www.grandmaraisartcolony.org.

A Kickstarter campaign has started to develop Bravissimo, the Music Game.

Ellen Sandbeck of Duluth has started a Kickstarter campaign to further develop a board game she invented to teach children (and adults) how to read music. She and Duluth composer Tyler Kaiser are working to improve and expand it. The game is called Bravissimo. Learn more about it here.

And last, but not least, Grand Marais is still leading the national contest to determine America’s Coolest Small Town — but not by much. Vote here and vote often until Feb. 25 and let’s win this thing!

Visit Cook County won the Travel Marketing Award of Excellence at the Explore Minnesota Conference recently for it’s public transit-based awareness campaign. The award was accepted by Visit Cook County executive director, Linda Kratt, on behalf of Visit Cook County staff and its marketing agency Giant Voices of Duluth.

“We have a great partnership with Giant Voices, our marketing agency in Duluth,” says Kratt. “We received the Explore Minnesota award for wrapping Twin Cities bus shelters with scenes from Cook County, so bus riders could experience in a small way the feeling of being surrounded by the beauty of our area.”  Bravo!

There are lots of opportunities to listen to live music this weekend, too. Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, Feb. 19:

  • Eric Frost & Bill Hanson, Live on WTIP, noon
  • Gordon Thorne, Live on WTIP, 4 p.m.
  • Eric Frost & Bill Hanson, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.
  • Eric Frost, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Mills, LaVigne & Viton, Live on WTIP’s Thirsty Boots, 8 p.m.
  • Dance Party with DJ Beavstar, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 20:

  • Pete Kavanaugh, Live on WTIP, noon
  • Timmy Haus, Moguls Grille, 4 p.m.
  • Pete Kavanaugh, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
  • Eric Frost, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Al Oikari & Rod Dockan, Voyageur Brewing Co., 8 p.m.
  • Clearwater Hot Club, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Timmy Haus, Papa Charlie’s, 9 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 21:

  • Roxann Berglund & Brian Morrison, Live on WTIP, 2 p.m.
  • Al Oikari & Rod Dockan, Live on WTIP, 3 p.m.
  • Chris Silver, Papa Charlie’s, 3:15 p.m.
  • Pete Kavanaugh, Moguls Grille, 4 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik & Briand Morrison, Live on WTIP, 4 p.m.
  • DJ Beavstar, Live on WTIP, 5 p.m.
  • Clearwater Hot Club, Live on WTIP, 6 p.m.
  • Jim & Michele Miller, Papa Charlie’s, 6:45 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Sven & Ole’s Pizza, 7 p.m.
  • Maria Nickolay, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
  • Clearwater Hot Club, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Big Wave Dave and the Ripples, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 22:

  • Good Intentions Bluegrass Band, Papa Charlie’s, 3:30 p.m.
  • Classical Evening of Flute & Harp with Betty Braunstein and Janell LeMire, Bluefin Grille, 6 p.m.
  • Jim & Michele Miller, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 23:

  • Pete Kavanaugh, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Barbara Jean, Songwriter Series, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 25:

  • Open Mic Night, Gunflint Tavern, 5 p.m.
  • Jerree Small, Spotlight North, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.

There were lots of great photographs posted this week, too.

Here is a collection of ice photos.

“North Shore Ice at Tettegouche State Park” by Paul Sundberg.

 

“Plate Ice Paradise” by Travis Novitsky.

 

“Rock, Ice & Water — Gooseberry Falls” by Jeff Henry.

 

Frozen Wonderland at Tettegouche State Park by Bryan Hansel.

 

Ice piles at  Split Rock. Photo by Christian Dalbec.

 

An icy landscape by Don Davison.

 

“Ice Sunset” by Jamie Rabold.

 

“Frozen February” by Travis Novitsky.

 

“Last Light” by Jeff Henry.

 

The Northern Lights were popping this week. Here are a few photos we found.

Jamie Thomas Swanson said she took this out of her bedroom window.

 

Photo by Bruce Johnson.

 

Northern Lights Pillars by David Johnson.

 

And we found some incredible sunrise/sunset shots.

Photo by Mary Lou Williams.

 

“Sunrise in Two Harbors” by Christian Dalbec.

 

“This Morning,” by David Johnson.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music:That’s Bug Lite!
Voyageur Brewing Company
Friday & Sat
Feb. 20th & 21st
8pm star

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Vote and Vote Again for Grand Marais

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 2:35pm

Grand Marais, Minnesota is a cool town. This morning it was especially cool with a temperature of negative 11 degrees but that isn’t the “cool” I am referring to. I’m talking about the Budget Travel contest where you can vote on America’s Coolest Small Town. Grand Marais is close to winning the contest that ends next week but ponies and beaches in the state of Virginia are threatening to beat us out. In order to prevent that from happening everyone needs to cast their vote for Grand Marais, Minnesota today, and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, and the day after that and so on until we are declared winners on February 26th, 2015.   PLEASE help us win the title, because after all, we really are cool, in so many ways.

Grand Marais, Minnesota

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Another Reason to Visit Voyageur Brewing Company This Weekend

Voyageur Brewing - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 7:23am

A big THANK YOU to everyone who visited us last weekend on our opening in Grand Marais, Minnesota. We were so happy to see all of you and hear the wonderful compliments you had about our food and most importantly our beer.  We are very thankful for all of the support we have had from our community and beyond.

We will be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm-11pm and on Saturdays from noon until 11pm for the winter season. We are also offering tours by reservation only on Saturdays at 11:00am. You can reserve a spot on a tour by visiting our website and confirming your place. There is no fee for the tour but we will accept donations that will be given to different organizations throughout the year.

For a special treat this weekend we’ll be having live music from 8pm-11pm on both Friday and Saturday evening. We’ve invited one of Cook County’s favorite musical acts,  Al Oikari and Rod Dockan.
We hope you will come see us soon.

Craft Beer in Grand MArais, MN

 

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Moose Population News

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 9:19pm

I haven’t been following the moose population study as closely as I normally do.  Hopefully I’ll have some time to read more about it but for now here’s the DNR press release with a link for more information.
Minnesota’s moose population remains at low levels

Data from the aerial moose survey just completed indicate that the downward trend in the statewide moose population continues, even though there has been no statistical change in the population during the past few years.

Results of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ annual aerial moose survey place the 2015 statewide moose population estimate at 3,450. This compares with estimates of 4,350 in 2014 and 2,760 in 2013.

“All wildlife population surveys have inherent degrees of uncertainty,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “Long-term trend and population estimates are more informative and significant than annual point estimates.”

Overall, the number of moose is down approximately 60 percent from the 2006 estimate of 8,840.

The DNR has conducted aerial moose population surveys in northeastern Minnesota since 1960. A spotter counts moose as a pilot flies a helicopter across 52 randomly selected plots of 13 square miles.

“Survey conditions this year were generally good across moose range, although there was much less snow compared to last year,” said Cornicelli.

The DNR’s ongoing moose mortality research project also is providing important information on population status.

“This year, 11 percent of collared adult moose died, as compared to 21 percent last year.  Although adult mortality was slightly lower, which is good, the number of calves that survive to their first year has also been low,” Cornicelli said. “This indicates the population will likely continue to decline in the foreseeable future.”

The adult and calf moose mortality studies are in their third year. As part of several studies, researchers will radio collar an additional 36 adult moose in the next couple of weeks. Another 50 newborn calves will be collared this spring. Researchers hope information and insights gathered during the studies will help identify potential population and habitat management options that may stop or slow the long-term population decline.

Final decisions about moose hunting are made after the DNR consults with the affected Chippewa bands in the 1854 Treaty ceded territory of northeastern Minnesota. The DNR discontinued moose hunting in 2013 until the population could support a hunt.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the 1854 Treaty Authority contribute funding and provide personnel for the annual aerial survey. Most of the funding for the ongoing moose research project is provided by the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

A copy of the 2015 aerial survey is available online at www.mndnr.gov/moose. The Web page also provides information on the DNR’s ongoing moose mortality research project.

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Great Snow on the Gunflint Trail

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 10:19pm

If you’re looking for a place to cross-country ski or snowmobile this winter then come to the Gunflint Trail. It’s a winter wonderland and there is plenty of snow to enjoy your favorite winter activities.  Folks have been out on the cross-country ski trails and are raving about the awesome condition of the trails. I have yet to get out and enjoy them my self but I’m thinking this is the week. The forecast looks favorable, I have my ski pass and I’m ready to go.  Now I just need to carve out a little bit of time so I can experience the wonderful trails myself.

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Presidents Day 2016

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 8:07am

President Theodore Roosevelt at Yellowstone.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Presidents Day was set up to commemorate Washington’s birthday. When I was a kid…and maybe when you were a kid…there were two presidential holidays: one for Washington’s birthday on Feb 22 and another for Lincoln’s on February 12. In 1971 they combined the two for a holiday, even though they still have the birthdays separate in some states. It is now a day to commemorate all presidents.

So many presidents have done a bit for the outdoors and environment. Theodore Roosevelt established the first National Park: Yellowstone. And he formed the National Park System. LBJ, or more so Lady Bird Johnson, started a whole program to beautify America and clean up our roads. I remember as a kid driving to Colorado in the summer and seeing trash in all the ditches. Heck I remember dumping my ash tray out at a stop light (yes I was a pig). Lady Bird turned the whole country’s consciousness to beautifying our roadways. And Bill Clinton was great at establishing National Monuments.

So the question is, how to approach? My suggestion is a small history of the holiday, starting this year with Teddy Roosevelt. I can admit by bias here: he is one of my heroes. Next time we can point out someone else.

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A Day Off

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 10:38pm

No school for the kids tomorrow so that means I don’t have to get up early. Yippeeeee! The older I get the more I value sleep. I can’t wait to sleep in.

Not sure what else is on the agenda tomorrow but with temperatures below zero I can’t think of any pressing reason to get up early!  Hope you enjoy your day off if you have it off.

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A good foundation at Birch Grove

Unorganized Territory - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 4:24pm

Since this issue of the Cook County News-Herald is our Valentine’s Day edition, I should write a column about the joy of receiving truffles or roses or handcrafted valentines from the grandkids. But instead I’m going to write about something else near and dear to my heart—our local schools. We have some amazing schools, thank you teachers and staff at all of our schools! Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m thinking of Birch Grove Community School in particular today because as I write this Unorganized Territory, the West End elementary school is preparing for a public meeting.

The meeting is one of hundreds that have been held to discuss the future of the little school in Tofte. Maybe thousands, since the land was donated to the community in the ’60s; since it was closed and then reopened in 1985; since it was reopened as a charter school in 2004.

A wonderful tradition at Birch Grove Community School — on the first day of school every student gets to ring a bell to announce that school is in session!

I’ve been at more meetings than I can count since I started reporting West End news as a freelancer for the News-Herald back in 1995. I wasn’t around for those early days when the building was built. But having heard the history; having seen it reported on in our Down Memory Lane feature week after week; I know West End citizens worked incredibly hard to make sure the kids in the community had a school within a reasonable riding distance. I know parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends worked hard to keep what many felt was “the heart of the community” in the community.

I was around during the struggle to keep the elementary school open during the final years as a School District 166 facility. There were many, many, many meetings to try to find a way to fund the little school in Tofte. There were a lot of hard feelings between the Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder town boards and the ISD 166 administration. ISD 166 had good reasons to cut staff and services, declining enrollment the biggest issue. West End citizens had good reasons to keep the school open—the long bus ride for little ones, the ability for parents to be close to participate in school activities and of course the need to have a school in the community for families considering a move to the West End.

There were major fundraising campaigns in those final days, from 2000 – 2003. I bought a brick myself for the Cook County News-Herald as part of the effort to keep teachers on staff and class sizes small. For full disclosure, I should mention that my daughter-in-law Sara now works at Birch Grove and my granddaughter Eloise goes to preschool there. Although the fact that they are both happy and thriving at Birch Grove, I was a supporter long before they became involved with the school. “My” brick long predates that familial bias.

I have always been impressed with the way the West End community came together to keep its school going. It wasn’t easy to gain charter school status. There were many more meetings and a huge learning curve, but after years of effort, the Birch Grove Community School was officially opened as a charter school, under the auspices of the Volunteers of America. Birch Grove Community School was for once and for all, a school owned by the citizens of Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder.

The school has done remarkably well. It has received the Minnesota Department of Education financial award at least five times. It has grown its offerings to include the Saplings preschool that my granddaughter loves. Just this week, Birch Grove Community School was recognized by the Minnesota Department of Education (along with Great Expectations School in Grand Marais) as a “High- Quality Charter School,” one of only 22 schools in the state so honored.

However, sadly, there is a downturn in enrollment. I don’t think it’s a reflection on Birch Grove Community School. This is a problem for all of our Cook County schools. When enrollment goes down, so do the dollars from the state for operation of the school. All of our schools are struggling, because whether there are 10 students or 30, the lights and heat need to be on, teachers need to be paid, the sidewalks shoveled, and special education needs must be met.

The major reason for our declining school enrollment is that the demographics of our county are changing. Just last night at the Cook County/ Grand Marais Economic Development Authority meeting, I listened to a summary of an affordable housing study being completed by that group. According to the most recent census, it appears that only one in eight households in Grand Marais is a “family” unit—parents and children. I think that demographic is pretty true for the entire county. Overall we are becoming a community of seasonal residents or retired, empty nesters. That’s not a bad thing. These folks contribute greatly to our communities through their property taxes, their buying power, and for many, their volunteer efforts.

But it is bad news when it comes to our schools.

There is work under way to try to change things. The EDA is working to develop affordable housing. The UMD Small Business Development Center, working with the EDA, and the Cook County Chamber are working to make businesses successful so young families can find jobs.

All of our schools are thinking outside of the box to find funding to support various school programs. Birch Grove has done a good job of finding funding in the past. They have sought grant after grant. They participate in little things that add up like the Target for Schools, Box Tops for Education, and Soup Labels for Schools programs and more. They host fun fundraisers—food at the Tofte 4th of July celebration, a wonderful, family-friendly dinner and silent auction at Papa Charlie’s and the elegant and very successful Gala for the Grove at Surfside on Lake Superior.

Unfortunately until enrollment goes back up—as I’m confident it will—Birch Grove will be struggling. I hope that the West End community will impress me once again. I hope township residents will come together once again to support the little school, even if it means an increase to the township levies.

I’ll do what I can by participating in the Birch Grove Community School fundraisers. But the school needs more. It needs continued community support. After all, even for an amazing cause like a community school, you can only sell so many T-shirts and glasses of wine—and bricks.

********************************

A good school teaches you resilience – that ability to bounce back.

Kate Reardon


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A Winter Weekend

Gunflint Lodge - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 2:27pm

We are back from what I hope is our last short trip this winter.  Robert’s boy, Zach, is now officially 15 years old.  I am not sure how it all happened.  My favorite story about him occurred when he was about 2 and down with me for breakfast.  Zach was helping to clear the table when we were done eating.  He dropped a small glass which bounced once and then cracked to pieces on the second hit.  He looked at me and said, “Now I’m in trouble.”  Well what grandmother could do anything but laugh.
Our trip home from Missouri was great on Monday.  We had a full load inside and outside the truck with a ton of hickory for Don’s smoking.  The driving the first day was wonderful – clear skies and almost no wind.  Tuesday was horrible driving.  The normally 3 ½ hour drive from Minneapolis to Duluth took us 6 hours.  There was lots of traffic, snow and wind.
Of course, the snow dropped 6-8 inches on the Gunflint Trail.  The result is ski trails that are in wonderful condition.  We have had guests out all weekend even though it was cold.  The skiers have been joined by snowmobilers and fishermen.  It is a holiday weekend and everyone has headed up here for winter sports.  The cold outside temperatures have made the lodge seem more warm and cozy than usual.  Add in Mark’s live keyboard and you would think you were at a ski resort.
Last week some guests had quite an experience.  They had come up from Texas to see the deer.  One night they were up late watching a movie.  A deer ran past their cabin.  They looked out the window to see a large pack of wolves (12 by actual count) taking down one of the deer.  It is a once in a lifetime experience with both good and bad feelings.  We all know that the wolves need to eat deer to survive.  On the other hand you can’t help hoping that somehow the deer could get out alive.  It didn’t happen.  The wolves and crows all go their dinner that night.  The situation had no right or wrong but most of us hate to see the deer die.
The birds are coming into our feeders on a regular basis.  For some reason a flock of redpolls has been hanging around.  Although common to this area we don’t usually get them at the feeders.  Who knows why they have decided to stop.  A  pine martin has also decided to eat off the feeders.  Bruce thinks that there is a second one around.  While the first one is eating, he keeps looking toward an area off to his right.  Maybe we will have a whole family in the area in the spring.
While in Missouri I bought our seeds for the vegetable garden.  It was 70 degrees there and I was getting the itch to plant.  Naturally it will be a bit before those seeds get into the ground here.
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A Decision Made on Snowmobile Trail

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 02/14/2015 - 11:05pm

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it then does it make a sound? Some argue the answer is “Yes” while others say, “No.” If a snowmobile drives alongside the BWCA wilderness and there is no one there to hear it then does it make a sound? According to a Judge, not a loud enough sound to matter to the people who aren’t there. I tend to agree with the Judge.

There’s no one there to hear the noise so it really isn’t noise.

Judge rules in favor of proposed snowmobile route bordering BWCA
  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 14, 2015 – 1:07 AM

Judge rules that noise will have a minimal effect on wilderness area

Royal River cliffs rise above where a snowmobile trail bordering the BWCA.

Photo: Rick Brandenburg,

In a decision that will reverberate through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, U.S. District Judge John Tunheim ruled Friday that a proposed snowmobile route near the Canadian border will not violate the federal Wilderness Act.

The ruling climaxes an intense legal battle that has been waged for nearly a decade, pitting snowmobile enthusiasts and local community organizations against environmental groups who claim the route would spoil the pristine quiet of one of the state’s and nation’s most cherished and undeveloped areas.

The proposed route to be built by the U.S. Forest Service would come within about 400 feet of the edge of the BWCA.

While acknowledging his decision was “a close one,” Tunheim determined that the increase in sound from snowmobiles is “not significant enough to constitute a Wilderness Act violation.” He said the snowmobile noise from the route that would connect McFarland Lake to the popular ice-fishing attraction of South Fowl Lake was no louder than a “moderate rainfall” and would affect only a small portion of the wilderness.

“Indeed,” he wrote, “in any area that has been surrounded by snowmobile and other motorized traffic since the time it was designated as wilderness … there are few winter visitors and the expectation of solitude is slim.”

Tunheim’s decision drew dismay from environmentalists who first filed their suit to block the route in 2006.

“We are deeply disappointed in the judge’s ruling and we believe this new snowmobile trail will definitely impact the wilderness,” said Kevin Proescholdt of Minneapolis, conservation director for Wilderness Watch, a national organization. “Our fear is this will be another cut in the death of a thousand cuts to the Boundary Waters.”

Supporters of the Forest Service proposal said it was about time that the trail be built.

“I am very pleased with the judge’s decision,” said Nancy McReady of Ely, Minn., and president of Conservationists with Common Sense. “It just shows the common sense of the judge’s decision that there are motor noises already there that you hear in the Boundary Waters. … It would be nice to have this trail started as soon as they can.”

A divided community

Nancy Larson, district ranger for the Gunflint Ranger District of the Superior National Forest, acknowledged that the community has been split.

She said there were “lots of local interests” who wanted to see the trail constructed, “and we have had a cadre of people who have concerns about it.”

Larson said she was “glad to have a decision of the court” and her staff would begin to review the project and develop an action plan to implement it.

“In light of the time that has passed, I recognize there is going to be a lot of interest in constructing it as soon as possible,” she said. “I am guessing the action plan will identify opportunities for volunteers to contribute to trail construction.”

However, how quickly that occurs could depend on whether the environmental groups appeal the case to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Those groups include the Sierra Club Northstar Chapter, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, Wilderness Watch and the Izaak Walton League.

Kristen Marttila, the groups’ attorney, said the organizations will have to discuss what to do next.

They have 30 days to file a notice of appeal, and if they do, she said that would include a motion to delay construction of the trail pending a decision by the Eighth Circuit.

Marttila was involved in the original suit filed in 2006.

“This case predates my marriage and my child,” she said. “I’ve been working on this case for a long time.”

Snowmobiles are almost entirely banned in the Boundary Waters, although there are several exceptions written into the original act.

But restrictions on motorized vehicles have been a source of fierce dispute for decades.

The fight over the snowmobile route dates to the winter of 2002-03 when forest rangers discovered people were using an illegal trail through the BWCA to get from McFarland Lake to South Fowl Lake, where ice fishing is better.

That led to confrontations between rangers and snowmobilers, even after a fence was built to block use of the illegal trail.

Eventually, the previous Gunflint district ranger proposed the route that became the target of the lawsuit.

‘Minimal at most’

The fight over the trail was stalled in court while the Forest Service, under pressure from the environmental groups, was forced to conduct a complex noise analysis.

Tunheim wrote that the Royal Lake and the Royal River area where the impact of the proposed route would be “the greatest” is virtually unvisited during the winter. “Indeed, the record shows that Royal Lake is difficult to reach at the time of year when snowmobiles will be in use. … Therefore, the practical effect on wilderness visitors during the entire winter is minimal at most.”

He said that regardless of whether visitors are present, “the increase [in snowmobile use] by as much as three hours per day for three days out of the week is not sufficient to establish that the Forest Service’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.”

In their suit, the environmentalists argued that the Forest Service picked a route combining two alternatives without the required analysis.

But Tunheim ruled it was harmless error. “The amount of analysis that was done and breadth of information on which the public had the opportunity to comment make it likely that the error had no practical effect,” he wrote.

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2/14/15 - Here is three week's worth of Cook County West End News

Sawbill Newsletter - Sat, 02/14/2015 - 10:17am

2/14/15 - Here is three week's worth of Cook County West End News on this cold, windy Valentine's Day! - Bill

West End News 2/12/2015

West End News 2/5/2015

West End News 1/29/2015

All from WTIP-FM, North Shore Community Radio.

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A Valentine’s Day Treat

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 10:44pm

This weekend is a special weekend with Valentine’s Day on Saturday and President’s Day on Monday. It’s a long weekend and it’s going to be chilly on the Gunflint Trail, perfect for snuggling up with a sweetheart.

Unfortunately I won’t be on the Gunflint Trail nor will I be with my sweetheart. Abby has a 2-day volleyball tournament in the Twin Cities and Josh has a hockey game in Moose Lake on Saturday. I’m with Abby and Mike is with Josh, at least it’s going to be warmer in the cities so I won’t need to snuggle for warmth:)

Tony and Hannah get to be together and at the end of the Gunflint Trail. I’m sure they’ll spend some time outside before snuggling inside.

Wherever you are, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Local ‘Safe Routes to School’ Efforts Advanced with MnDOT Mini-Grant

Moving Matters - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 10:36am

This spring will bring more than warmer temperatures and greenery; it will also bring a stronger Safe Routes to School program in Grand Marais. Sawtooth Elementary School and Great Expectations School received good news this past week: both schools would receive a mini-grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. The schools have been working collaboratively on Safe Routes to School since 2009 and this year will be kicking off in-school bike education for 3rd grade students.

“We’ve already seen benefits from previous SRTS efforts,” says GES Director Peter James. “This award creates an exciting opportunity to expand cooperation between the schools and our community through the development of an on-going program that will provide bicycle safety instruction to all third grade students.”

The mini-grant will provide support for implementation of the bike education in both schools, two bike racks, and supplies for the monthly Walking School Buses.

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary Principal Gwen Carman expressed her support for the program. “It is wonderful to continue to be able to work with other community programs to support the education of our students. We know that being healthy and active promotes students’ success at school!”

Grand Marais Safe Routes to School (SRTS) strives to improve the health of students and the community by making walking and bicycling to school safer, easier, and more enjoyable. In addition to coordinating Walking School Bus days in the fall and spring, SRTS offers the annual bike rodeo each May, new in-school bike education, and works to create safer routes with improved pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure, crossing guard equipment, and community signage (such as the “Slow Down & Smile! Kids on the Move!” signs). In 2015, the Safe Routes to School group is also updating its SRTS Plan to better meet the goals of the program and the needs of the community.

For more information about Cook County Safe Routes to School, contact SRTS Coordinator, Maren Webb, at maren@sawtoothmountainclinic.org or 218-387-2330.

Published in the Cook County News-Herald, 2/14/15 edition.

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Fireside Chats, Northern Fibers Retreat & Adrian Legg

North Shore Art Scene - Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:06pm

“Fresh Snow” by Howard Sivertson. Howard, Liz Sivertson and David Gilsvik will be the featured speakers on Saturday  during the Fireside Chat Weekend at Sivertson Gallery. The panel discussion is at 6 p.m. All invited.

There’s a very busy weekend coming up — that’s probably the understatement of the winter. In short, there’s plenty to do, both indoors and outdoors, for everyone. Plus that, Saturday is Valentine’s Day, so plans are being made all over the county to celebrate the romantic day.

For outdoors lovers, there’s lots of snow in the woods and the ski runs are great at Lutsen Mountains.

Cross-country skiers celebrate winter this year with the Pincushion Mountain Winter Festival. It has been pared down somewhat due to predicted cold weather and nasty wind chills this weekend, but there is still plenty to do. The festival is sponsored by the North Shore Ski & Run Club to benefit youth ski programs.

The festival starts on Friday night with a Y-Ski Spaghetti Feed at the Cook County Community Center at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday, racing starts with kids’ races at noon (12 and under) followed by Classic races and the Skiathlon race at 2:30 p.m. On Sunday, Go Dog North Shore is sponsoring a casual and competitive Skijoring race starting at 10 a.m.  Everyone is invited to join in the fun. For more info and to register, visit www.pincushiontrails.org.

The Northern Fibers Retreat is Feb. 12-15 this year with lots of classes and workshops at North House Folk School, the Grand Marais Art Colony and other local venues. The Northwoods Fiber Guild is also co-hosting the event.

Highlights include a number of Community Gatherings, including a Lunch & Learn session with  Enid Gjelten Weichselbaum, who will demonstrate silk screening techniques at the Community Center at noon on Friday. At noon Saturday, Martha Owen, a sheep farmer and resident fiber artist at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, will give a Lunch & Learn presentation entitled “Wool in Song & Story” at the Congregational Church (across from the Art Colony). Preregistration is required for catered lunch. Call 387-9762 to register.

The Grand Marais Art Colony will hold an opening reception for  Fiber Revolution: Art Quilt Exhibit, from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, followed by a gallery talk by Enid Gjelten Weichselbaum, and then a Show-and-Share hosted by the Northwoods Fiber Guild.

At 7:30 on Saturday, the featured speaker for the Northern Fibers Retreat,  Anna Gunnarsdóttir, will present a talk entitled “Inspired by Nature: Felting from an Icelandic Perspective” at North House Folk School. Gunnarsdóttir is an internationally acclaimed artist from Iceland. The presentation is free.

Then on Sunday, there will be a Soup Potluck at North House at noon. For the complete schedule of classes and events, click here.

“My Place in the Milky Way” by Dave Gilsvik.

To top it all off, this is Fireside Chat Weekend at Sivertson Gallery. It’s a 3-day event starting on Friday night with a reception from 5-7 p.m. and a Trollbeads Party.

On Saturday, River Blend Studio (jewelry by Jesse Furo Pearson and paintings and prints by Tim Pearson) will hold a Trunk Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 6 p.m. there will be a Fireside Chat Panel Discussion with Howard Sivertson, Liz Sivertson and Dave Gilsvik. And on Sunday, the River Blend Trunk Show continues followed by a Fireside Chat with Tim Pearson at 6 p.m. The public is invited.

Adrian Legg performs at the ACA on Saturday night.

There’s also some great music this weekend when award-winning British acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg, performs at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Legg is a recording artist, performer, photographer and writer as well as being an innovator in guitar design. The concert is sponsored by the North Shore Music Association.

There’s a gala opening at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay on Friday night, too, featuring refreshments, artist talks and music by Nancy Pants, a wildy popular band from Montreal. The show includes short, animated films by Julia Potts as well as work by Carly Waito and Dagmara Genta. The exhibits at Def-Sup continue through March 14.

In other news, musicians Teague Alexy & Marc Gartman will perform on WTIP’s The Roadhouse on Friday night. The hosts will also interview Damien Fowler, the author of “Falling Through Clouds,” the story of the plane crash in Grand Marais in 2003, where Grace, 4, and Lily, 3, Pearson survived, but their mother and the pilot did not. “Falling Through Clouds” is about a young father’s fight for his family in the wake of the plane crash that killed his wife, badly injured his two daughters, and thrust him into a David-vs-Goliath legal confrontation with a multi-billion dollar insurance company and the resulting legal battles. The Roadhouse airs from 5-7 p.m.

And to really complicate matters, the Duluth Playhouse is presenting “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” Feb. 12-22 with a special dinner show catered by Blackwoods on Valentine’s Day. Call 218-733-7555 for reservations, or see www.duluthplayhouse.org

Oh, and if you think that Grand Marais is the coolest small town in America, you can vote here and vote often. The winning town will be featured on the cover of Budget Travel Magazine.

Here’s the music schedule for this weekend:

Thursday, Feb. 12:

  • Eric Frost & Bill Hanson, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne & Jim Ohlschmidt, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Dance Party with DJBeavstar, Papa Charlie’s, 9 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 13:

  • James Moors, Moguls Grille, 4 p.m.
  • Jim & Michelle Miller, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
  • Michael Monroe, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Teague Alexy & Marc Gartman, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne & Jim Ohlschmidt, Silver Bay Lounge, 8:30 p.m.
  • Timmy Haus, Papa Charlie’s, 9 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 14:

  • Eric Frost, Papa Charlie’s, 3:15 p.m.
  • Shane Martin, Moguls Grille, 4 p.m.
  • Pete Kavanaugh, Papa Charlie’s, 6:45 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne & Jim Ohlschmidt, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
  • Michael Monroe, Log Cabin Concert, rural Grand Marais, reservations at 387-2919.
  • Adrian Legg, Arrowhead Center for the Arts, 7:30 p.m.
  • The Mosspiglets, Gun Flint Tavern, 8 p.m
  • The SplinterTones, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 15:

  • Shane Martin, Papa Charlie’s, 3:30 p.m.
  • Classic Guitar with Scott Fraser, Bluefin Grille, 6 p.m.
  • Briand Morrison, Papa Charlie’s, 6:45 p.m.
  • Timmy Haus, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Sven & Ole’s Pizza, 7 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 16:

  • Shane Martin, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Meg Hutchinson, Songwriter Series, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 17:

  • Shane Martin, Poplar River Pub, Lutsen Resort, 6 p.m.
  • Open Mic Night, Papa Charlie’s, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 18:

  • Open Mic Night, Gun Flint Tavern, 6 p.m.

We found lots of great photographs this week.

Let’s start with some beautiful ice shots.

“Steamy Sunrise” by David Johnson.

 

Grand Marais at 30 Below by Steve Harsin.

 

Red Ice by Ken Greshowak.

 

Macro window crystals by Amanda Leigh.

 

Midwinter Panorama by Don Davison.

 

We found some nice sunrises and sunsets, too.

Lake Superior Sea Smoke Sunrise by Paul Sundberg.

 

 

Sunrise Panorama by Jamie Rabold.

 

Storm Wave Sunset by Bryan Hansel.

 

And here’s an amazing moonrise.

Split Rock Full Moon Rising at Sunset by Robert Cunningham.

 

And here is a change of view …

 

Lake Superior Cobble by Dave Grinstead.

 

Paul Sundberg caught this great shot during our last wind storm.

Grand Marais Storm by Paul Sundberg.

 

And here are some great shots of the blue hour.

Photo by Bryan Hansel.

 

Boat House at the End of the Blue Hour by Jamie Rabold.

 

And last, but not least, check out this awesome shot of a sun pillar by David Johnson.

Quite the Sun Pillar by David Johnson.

 

Enjoy your weekend! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2.11.2015 It just keeps snowing…

Bearskin Lodge Ski Trail Reports - Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:27am

Beaver Dam trail on 2/10/15. Photo by Karen Reynolds.

We’re in that standard mid-winter pattern now: snow, groom, snow some more, groom some more.  No rain, no ice, no warming temps,  no melting, just day-in and day-out of more snow.  The pine boughs have stayed coated in snow, so every day we are in a living Christmas card picture.

The following measurements from the Baumann family were taken yesterday, but of course it snowed again last night, as much as 6 inches in some spots.  The groomers are all out on the trails again today and it seems to be taking awhile this time — lots of fresh snow!

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 2-10-15

New Snow Last 24 hours:  0”

New Snow Last 7 days:  3.88”

Trail Base, Staked:  10” – 12.5” average

Snow in Woods, Staked:  Low 19”   High 22”

Groomed with classic tracks:  70 K

Groomed for skating:  53.4 K

Surface Conditions:  Fresh Packed Powder

Last grooming day:  2-8-15

Snowshoe trails:  Open

Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  60.43”

Comments:  Ski trails are in excellent shape! Our trail base is now averaging between 10” and 12.5” thick; nice and solid too. We added nearly 4 inches of snow over the past weekend and more is forecasted for today. Winter is in full swing on the Gunflint!

Please contact Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170) or Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203) for specific conditions and grooming information on each trail or route. Central Gunflint Ski Pass required.


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We’re Hiring! Museum Manager Opening at Chik-Wauk

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Tue, 02/03/2015 - 10:33am

The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is hiring a museum manager for the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center located at the end of the Gunflint Trail.

Responsibilities include oversight of various museum and gift shop daily operations, grant writing, planning and scheduling public programming, oversight of GTHS membership, managing social media, working with general public, reporting to the GTHS board.  A successful candidate will be an independent, self-directed, organized worker with strong interpersonal skills, the ability to learn specific software programs, and proficiency in writing and editing. Candidate must possess an interest in local history and be willing to learn the basics of historic preservation.

Application deadline: February 21, 2015. Click for full job description and application here.

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Summer Planning is Everything

Visit Cook County - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 5:06am

“Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

You know, it’s okay.

It’s okay if you’re not a winter enthusiast. Sure, this is the time of the year when snowmobilers, ice fishermen, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and dog mushers and sled dogs delight in the latest snow condition reports and weather forecasts of “more snow, more snow, more snow!”

But if that’s not you, if life in a veritable snow globe isn’t your thing, if it’s the thought of a glass smooth lake and lounging on a sun-warmed rock face after a long day’s paddle that really get you excited about Cook County and the Gunflint Trail, we understand.

And it’s okay.

Because, it’s never too early to start planning your summer visit to the Gunflint Trail. And in the last week, a few things have crossed our desk that are getting us really excited about the summer ahead.

First things, first: you can now book your Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness permit for the upcoming summer. If you’re dreaming of a big canoeing, fishing, swimming, portaging, (etc. etc.) wilderness adventure for Summer 2015, it’s time to start turning those dreams into plans. If you’re unsure where to start with planning a Boundary Waters trip, check out the VisitCookCounty.com BWCAW website for an overview or contact a Boundary Waters canoe outfitters, who can recommend routes and will even book the permit for you. Remember, there’s no rush for you to immediately book your permit; there will be great availability for the Gunflint Trail BWCAW entry points for many months. Pull out the guidebooks and maps and take a moment to really plan what you’d like your BWCAW trip to be this year. You’ve got time.

Planning to run the Ham Run Half Marathon or 5K that lets you race up the last 13 miles of the Gunflint Trail? Time to start looking into a training plan to follow. This year’s race will be held on Saturday, May 2.

We know fat biking is often thought of as a winter thing, but this article got us excited about biking possibilities on the Gunflint Trail during all four seasons.

What adventures are you planning on for summer 2015 on the Gunflint Trail?

The post Summer Planning is Everything appeared first on Cook County Minnesota.

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Day 3 – The Wonderful World of BIRCH!

Sivertson Gallery - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:16am

Birch MANIA!!!

 

Day three of Sivertson Gallery’s 12 Days of Christmas is an ode to our favorite North Shore tree, the birch!

Since we love birch SO MUCH here in the Northwoods, perhaps it is time to take a cue from our friends in Northern Europe. In this region of the world, as well as Russia & China, birch sap is sometimes used in the manufacture of wine and beer.

Huzzah!

However, if you’re feeling less ambitious and would rather simply sip out … read more

The post Day 3 – The Wonderful World of BIRCH! appeared first on Sivertson Blog.

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Day 2 – Lake Superior Sparkles

Sivertson Gallery - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:44am

There are few displays of color that affect me the same was as staring at the big open water of Superior early in the morning, but a beautiful gemstone that sparkles and shines is right up there! There is something absolutely memorizing about a rich piece of Opal. Similar to a cleansing dip in the big lake, the opal is said to bring its water energy to enhance self-esteem and sense of self-worth to the wearer. And don’t even get me started on Monica’s choice in Labradorite, with its purples, greys and … read more

The post Day 2 – Lake Superior Sparkles appeared first on Sivertson Blog.

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