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A Green Thanksgiving

Boundary Waters Blog - 8 hours 7 min ago

It won’t be a white Thanksgiving but it can be a green Thanksgiving if we follow some of the suggestions from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. There is some great information about cutting down on food waste and other things you can do to help the environment. I learned how to store fruits and vegetables to make them last longer so hopefully I’ll have less spoiled food so I too can cut down on waste. Here’s wishing you a green Thanksgiving.

Simple ways to cut food waste

Of all the stuff we throw away in Minnesota almost 18 percent is food.

Wasted food represents wasted demand for water, land, and fuel. A more concrete way of thinking about this, however, is money: A family of four can save more than $30 a week by making changes in how they shop, prepare, and store food.

What would you do with $30 a week?

Whatever your answer, here is the how-to, with extra tips for holiday parties and meal planning. Most importantly, make a commitment–right now–to try one of these techniques in the kitchen this year. Which one will it be?

Before the meal

1.   Make a list with meals in mind. Create a shopping list based on specific meals. Choose recipes based on what you already have at home. Try out this Meals in Mind shopping list template from the Food: Too Good to Waste toolkit.

2.   Get help with portion planning. The fear of not providing enough to eat often causes hosts to cook too much. A handy tool for party planning is the “Perfect portions” planner from Love Food Hate Waste, a U.K. nonprofit that focuses on sharing convenient food reduction and reuse tips.

3.   Keep fruits and vegetables fresh by prepping ingredients for the week as soon as you get back from the store. Use both this fridge-friendly smart storage guide and A-Z storage guide from Eureka Recycling to extend the life of produce.

During the meal
4.   Use small plates and utensils. Simple tricks of using smaller serving utensils or plates can encourage smaller portions, reducing the amount left on plates. It is much easier and more hygienic to use leftovers from serving platters than from individuals’ plates.

5.   Allow guests to serve themselves, choosing what and how much they would like to eat. This also reduces the amount of unwanted food left on plates.

After the meal
6.   Refrigerate leftovers promptly.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that hot foods be refrigerated within two hours after cooking. Store leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more convenient to grab for a quick meal.

7.   Designate foods to eat first. Download and print this Eat First sign so that everyone knows and remembers.

8.   Create new meals. Check out Love Food Hate Waste’s creative recipes for using your food scraps to create new meals. Boil vegetable scraps and turkey carcasses for stock and soups, and use bread crusts and ends to make tasty homemade croutons.

9.   Compost food scraps. If you have access to a yard, you can start composting in your backyard (even in the winter!). Apartment and condo residents can consider composting indoors using red worms. Better yet, some Minnesota communities offer curbside pick up or drop sites for food waste–see the list of communities here. If you see your area listed, contact your city, county or garbage hauler to see what’s available.

10.   Donate extras. Food banks and shelters welcome donations of canned and dried foods, especially during the holiday season and colder months. For a list of Twin Cities programs, visit Rethink Recycling’s page on food recovery.

Categories: Member Feeds

Mining in Minnesota?

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 6:21pm

“Mining companies are unable to point to a sulfide mine that has not polluted.” “In 2010, the metal mining industry was responsible for 41 percent of all toxins released into the environment.” “Additionally, a loophole in the Clean Water Act allows mining companies to dump waste into wetlands.”

The above statements were found on the Mining Truth website.

Those are scary statements even if they are only half-true(I haven’t done any research and have no reason to doubt the validity) I’m just saying WOW!

Time is running out and your voice needs to be heard. If you enjoy the BWCA, fishing, wildlife and clean drinking water then you need to help protect the environment. You can help, here’s how.

Mining Truth


The following is a letter I received with some important information.

File your objection to PolyMet’s risky plan.

Despite years of citizens raising concerns about the impact PolyMet would have Minnesota’s clean water legacy, PolyMet’s plan hasn’t changed much at all. Considering that Minnesota’s clean water is at stake, PolyMet is not worth the risk.

Thousands of Minnesotans have raised reasonable questions about PolyMet’s potential for pollution with regulators. We’re disappointed that in each case, the latest version of PolyMet’s plan fails:

Predictions about where PolyMet’s polluted water would spread are not backed up by independent science. Only private contractors who stand to benefit if PolyMet is permitted have run the water models used to predict where pollution would flow.
PolyMet proposes storing billions of gallons of toxic mine waste behind a forty year old leaky dam. That’s the same approach that ended in disaster at the Mount Polley mine in Canada.
There are not detailed plans for securing a damage deposit sufficient to protect taxpayers from being stuck with a massive cleanup bill.
PolyMet would require treatment of polluted water “indefinitely” after closure. “Indefinitely” is a delicate way of saying “forever.”
Tell government regulators not to accept PolyMet’s risky plan – file your objection right now.

Minnesota can’t risk our clean water legacy like this. If we don’t speak up for Minnesota’s water now, we could lose it for the generations that follow. Take action today.

Paul Austin            
Conservation Minnesota

Paul Danicic    
Friends of the Boundary
Waters Wilderness

Scott Strand        
Minnesota Center for
Environmental Advocacy

Conservation Minnesota
1101 West River Parkway, Suite 250
Minneapolis, MN 55119

Not good for Minnesota

Categories: Member Feeds

More than luck needed to lower levy

Unorganized Territory - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:13am

Last week I wished Cook County commissioners luck in the quest to keep our tax levy from increasing drastically. They’ve done a pretty good job so far. From a 28 percent levy increase in April to an 11.2 percent increase in November, they’ve found a way to trim some expenses.

It would be nice if they could do more before the budget is finalized at the last county board meeting of the year on December 28. To do so commissioners need more than luck. They need the courage to make some tough choices and they need thick skin to face the inevitable criticism of those choices

But perhaps most importantly they need feedback from citizens on what can be cut and what the community can’t live without.

At a recent board meeting, Commissioner Frank Moe introduced an idea to reduce the county highway department budget by eliminating application of calcium chloride on the county’s gravel roads. Moe asked County Engineer David Betts if the $160,000 spent to keep dust down on unpaved roads was necessary.

The county engineer said yes, it is necessary. Calcium chloride is used for more than keeping vehicles dust free. Betts said applying calcium chloride reduces the amount of grading needed, saving money in labor and equipment costs. It also helps prevent washouts and ultimately decreases road maintenance costs.

So perhaps Moe’s idea is not feasible. But I admire the willingness to take a close look at county expenditures, to see if there are things we can live without.

This is where citizen feedback comes in. If you have an idea for a way the county could cut expenses, talk to your commissioner.

My husband Chuck has a pet-peeve that, if addressed could save the county some money. What is it that vexes him? The lights at the Cook County Community Center hockey rink—and more recently—at the tennis courts. Driving up First or Second Avenue West toward the school and YMCA late into the night, these arena lights are on. Often without a soul in sight.

If these lights were put on a timer or perhaps a motion detector to be used only when there were actually people using these county amenities, the county’s electric bill could be reduced. It’s a start.

I’ve heard from local business owners that the county could do more to make do with what they have. There are small business owners that are using desk chairs and file cabinets that they bought at yard sales years ago. There are entrepreneurs using hand-me-down copiers and telephone systems. And unfortunately, there are businesses that could use a new roof or windows or carpet, but delay those improvements because it’s not in the budget.

Perhaps the county could extend the time between replacing desk chairs and room dividers or between painting or changing window blinds. Not enough to reduce the budget alone, but every little bit helps.

I have a somewhat drastic suggestion. It’s not a novel idea, in fact, I’ve seen this budget cutting method numerous times in my working life. As an Army wife, I had a variety of jobs—library aide, retail sales associate, medical records clerk, cardiac rehab receptionist, secretary, customer service representative and more. In each of those jobs, at some point, management called for some kind of moratorium on spending.

At the library, when the end of the fiscal year was near, the librarian issued a directive— no new books or periodicals were to be ordered. The best sellers just had to wait. At the retail store, when sales didn’t meet goals, there were no new hires. Everyone pitched in to get the work done until finances improved. When the hospital I worked at reduced the cardiac rehab outreach budget, we temporarily halted our heart healthy education luncheon. As a secretary, there were times when a limit was put on office supplies. No, we didn’t need logo pens or fancy desk calendars.

The county board started down this path at the start of the budget process when it sat in meeting after meeting to talk about wants versus needs. Commissioners asked department heads to look for ways to cut their budget and some county staff found ways to do so.

The county board decided not to issue a mandate to department heads to make budget cuts. Commissioners noted that they didn’t want to micromanage or “nickel and dime” employees. I don’t believe they would have to. I think county staff, if asked to cut 2 percent or 5 percent from individual budgets could do so. It would take creativity, but it could likely be done.

There’s my idea. What do you think? What can the county do to keep our levy low? Let your commissioner know. As inflation rises and state and federal funding falls, they need all the help they can get. They need more than luck.


We must consult our means
rather than our wishes.

George Washington

Categories: Member Feeds

Opening the Banadad Ski Trail

The EDGE: Dirt from the Yurt - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 9:45am

Maintenance crews have been working hard to get the Banadad Ski Trails’ twenty-six miles open for skiing. This past weekend fifteen volunteers from the Minnehaha Academy Nordic Ski Team widen and cleared the center brush along the first two miles of the trail’s west end. While all the trees that had fallen on this section of the trail were cleared previously by the North Star Ski Turing Club on November 30, the ski team still had to clear several new down trees. That same day Andy Jenks, president of the Banadad Trail Association (BTA) and his wife Julie worked on the east end starting at the Meads Lake Portage the pair were able travel about one and three-quarter of mile.  They also had to remove some thirty newly fallen down trees from this section of trail. This section of the trail was completely cleared during the BTA’s Work Weekend on November 24. Both trail sections were in the BWCA. Volunteers also worked on several trail sections outside the BWCA.
The newly down trees, the volunteers found, likely had came down due to the soaking rain, wind and heavy wet snow that occure just after the earlier crews were on the trail.
Volunteers, since September, have now but in 277.5 hours clearing some sixteen mile of the twenty- six mile of the Banadad Trails. However it clear a lot of work remains before the Banadad can open for skiing. This remaining clearing will be taken-on be Boundary Country Trekking’s trail crews with some help by additional volunteers.
Categories: Member Feeds

Ham Run Makes the Top 50 List

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 11:39pm

What an honor to have the Ham Run Half-Marathon on the Gunflint Trail recognized as “the” race in Minnesota. It was recently named as one of the 50 Best Races in America! Congratulations Cook County YMCA. If you haven’t ran it then make this the year.

Minnesota: Ham Run Half Marathon

Distance: Half marathon, 5K
Month: May

For runners who want to unplug and abstain from the post-finish-line selfie, the Ham Run Half Marathon is for you. Deep in the Superior National Forest, there’s no cell service along the course, so it’s just 200 runners sweating it out in nature, no hashtags needed. The race follows the same route the Ham Lake Fire burned through in 2007, and it’s miles from civilization—quite the change-up from Minnesota’s more well-known Twin Cities Marathon. Even if you’re deeply attached to your iPhone, it’s worth trekking into the wilderness for the race’s scenic views. The fire route passes through the Gunflint Trail and ends at the Way of the Wilderness Canoe Outfitters, where finishers are offered all the ham and fixings their hearts desire.

Categories: Member Feeds

Ice on the Seagull River

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 10:18pm

Overnight the water on the Seagull River turned into ice. It was liquid on Saturday and Sunday it was solid. The temperature hasn’t gotten above freezing since the 19th and it dipped down to 11 degrees last night. That’s the coldest temperature we’ve had so far I believe. The small ponds are beginning to ice over as well. With temperatures like this it won’t be long until all of the lakes on the Gunflint Trail have ice on them.

Ice on the Seagull River



Ice on Gunflint Trail

Categories: Member Feeds

Frozen Lake

Sawbill Newsletter - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 10:54am

11/22/15 - Sawbill lake has officially frozen over. After several days of rain we are happy to have a nice fresh layer of snow on the ground. Keep your fingers crossed for some good wild ice skating as the lake ice thickens up.

Huckleberry, one of Sawbill's newest residents, is sad about the end of the swimming season but excited at the prospect of long runs on the ice.

Ice crystals make the newly solid lake shimmer.


Categories: Member Feeds

Just Another Reason to Love Our Home

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 11/21/2015 - 11:29pm

The traffic we encounter in Cook County is minimal to say the least. Even on the busiest of summer days we don’t have anything to complain about. Our population even with every resort and hotel filled pales in comparison to traffic in metro areas. The slowest drivers, people stopped in the middle of the road to look at moose, the leaf lookers and those hauling a trailer and boat are no match for what you find in the cities.

Sixty miles on the Gunflint Trail takes a little more than an hour to drive. It can be a bit longer with “traffic” but there are no stoplights or merging traffic entering the roadway to slow you down.

Driving in Florida this past week I encountered traffic. Stoplight after stoplight, ramp after ramp and vehicle accidents galore made for painfully slow travel.  Twenty to forty miles per hour on the Interstate was as fast as I could go and only for short bursts before I had to stop again.

It’s always fun to vacation different places but I’m always thankful to return home, especially when there’s no traffic!

Categories: Member Feeds

Colorado River Video

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 10:30am

A short informative video about the Colorado River.

Categories: Member Feeds

Weather Warnings

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 8:56pm

It’s that time of the year again!

Northern Cook / Northern Lake, Cook County Winter Weather Advisory issued November 19 at 3:24PM CST until November 20 at 12:00AM CST by NWS Duluth
Issued: Thursday, Nov 19 at 03:24 pm
Expires: Friday, Nov 20 at 12:00 am


Categories: Member Feeds

Winterer’s Gathering, Arctic Film Fest & Art Talks

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 6:07am

Waves of Lake Superior by Sierra Parsons.

Rain soaked the North Shore this week, overflowing waterfalls as if it were spring. This weekend is almost overflowing, too, with everything from Shakespeare, an Arctic Film Festival and the first of the Christmas bazaars.

First up is the launch of Community Conversations organized by the Grand Marais Art Colony. The conversations will be held at noon on the third Thursday of every month, November through February. The topics will vary widely, ranging from a discussion of art inventory software to art critque models. This Thursday, Ruth Pszwaro, the program director at the Art Colony, will lead a discussion entitled “Responses to Beauty.” The event is free and open to all. Feel free to bring a bag lunch.

A poignant scene from “As You Like It.”

Also on Thursday, the second (and last) weekend of the Grand Marais Playhouse production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” begins. This Community Youth Production directed by Marco Good has had good reviews and features a number of young actors as well as adult community members.

The cast includes Linnea Henrickson, Finn Garry, Erica Marxen, Kevin Kager, Robin Henrickson, Aurora Schelmeske, Santina McMillan, Shae Morowitz, Mark Abrahamson, Patricia Elfvin, Tina Krauz, Sam Kern, Janet Healy, Dick Swanson, Amelia Roth, Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux and Jackson Nickolay.

Performances of “As You Like It” at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts are at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 adults, $5 for students. Tickets are available at the door.

Winterer’s Gathering at North House Folk School features a winter tent camp.

This is also the weekend for the highly anticipated Winterer’s Gathering at North House Folk School. The event, which runs from Friday through Sunday, features lots of workshops, demonstrations and presentations as well as the Arctic Film Festival.  Highlights include the Snowshoe Shuffle Conta Dance at 7 p.m. Friday, the Great Gear & Ski Swap at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and the Deep Freeze Chili Feed at 6 p.m. Saturday as well as continuous screening of films throughout the event.

Tim Cope, author of “On the Trail with Genghis Khan” is the featured speaker at Winterer’s Gathering.

Tim Cope, an Australian author and adventurer, is the featured speaker this year and he will talk about his 6,000-mile journey on horseback across the Eurasian steppe following in the footsteps of Genghis Khan. Cope has studied as wilderness guide in the Finnish and Russian subarctic, ridden a bicycle across Russia to China, and rowed a boat along the Yenisey River through Siberia to the Arctic Ocean. Cope’s presentation, which begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, will be followed by a 45-minute selection from “On the Trail of Genghis Khan,” a film documenting his journey.

“Maina” is the featured film this year at Wunter’s Gathering,

The Arctic Film Festival features 15 films this year, ranging from short documentaries to full-length films. Friday’s featured film will be “Maina,” an award-winning movie that tells the story of the first encounters between First Nations and Inuits 600 years ago. Director Michel Poulette will be on campus to talk about it, too.

Here’s a link to the trailer.

And here’s a link to the complete schedule of events and movies during Winterer’s Gathering.

Some events are free, others require a $5 donation. A $25 pass gets you into everything plus a membership to North House Folk School.

“Cozy in Red,” a quilt created by Polly Erickson (right) with finishing touches added by the rest of the Cross River Quilters, including Dory Spence (left), will be raffled off on Saturday. .

Holiday celebrations begin this weekend with Holidays in Schroeder, featuring the North Country Creations Bazaar at the Schroeder Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and an open house at the Cross River Heritage Center with lefse and krumkake demonstration and a surprise visit from Mrs. Santa Claus.

Also on Saturday, Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery in Lutsen invites everyone to their First-Year Celebration at the gallery from 4-8 p.m. Eric Frost will play from 4-6 p.m., and Bentley Gillman will play from 6-8 p.m. Refreshments will be served. There will also be a bonfire and lots of new art to enjoy.

In Thunder Bay, two new exhibits open on Friday.

Kenojuak AShevak, (Inuit), Spirit Owl, from the Kenojuak Lithography series, is on exhibit at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.

“Unlimited Edition,”  an exhibit organized by the Kamloops Art Gallery in Kamloops, B.C. and curated by Tania Willard, opens at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery on Friday.  The exhibit, which features works by a number of indigenous artists, showcases prints that relate to ideas of cultural story, politics of land, and the beauty of Indigenous aesthetics.

Other exhibits at the gallery include “Form & Flow: Sculptures from the Collection,” “Permanent Collection Spotlight–Carl Ray” and “Preservation/Desire to Fill: Susan Kachor Conlon and Carol Kajorinne.” All the exhibitions continue through Jan. 10.

Mixed-media ainting by Quentin Maki.

The Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay will hold a gala reception from 7-10 p.m. on Friday night to launch two exhibits: “Sensibilia: Annual Regional Juried Exhibition” featuring works by 40 local and regional contemporary artists and Quentin Maki’s “Kurrents,” an exhibit of new work by the Thunder Bay artist who is a sessional faculty member in the Visual Arts Department of Lakehead University.

The gala reception features refreshments and music by Thunder Bay jazz virtuoso, Robin Ranger.


  • O Ole Night, a holiday festival, including the annual Christmas Parade in Grand Marais, will be held Nov. 27.
  • The New Standards Holiday Show, an annual musical treat, will be held at Papa Charlie’s at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27.  Click here for tickets.
  • The annual Hovland Arts Festival Christmas Sale will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28 at the Hovland Town Hall.
  • The 10th annual Holiday Market at Last Chance Gallery in Lutsen opens Nov. 28. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • The Grand Marais Playhouse will host a Curry Cook-Off and Broadway Musical Showcase at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts Dec. 12. This is a fundraiser for the Playhouse. For more info, email

In other art news:

This is the last weekend to see the Grand Marais Art Colony‘s Annual Members Show. The exhibit, which is in the Founders Hall, features a variety of work including painting, sculpture, pottery, mixed media and more. The Art Colony is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Neil Sherman will have his work included in the exhibit “North: An Exhibition of Paintings” at the Grand Hill Gallery in St. Paul opening Dec. 3 with a reception from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

“Silver Bay Fractures” by Dan Wiemer.

Sivertson Gallery has just received watercolor paintings by a new artist, Dan Wiemer of Red Wing. The collection includes original works as well as giclees. Wiemer, who paints en plein air as well as in the studio, is past president of the Minnesota Watercolor Society. He currently works as an artist, illustrator and workshops instructor.

The Grand Marais Art Colony is accepting applications for the Artists-In Residence program in 2016. The Art Colony hosts two, two-week residencies: one in the eco-friendly printmaking studio, and one in the multi-use Founders Hall studio. Artists will be provided with lodging, workspace and a weekly stipend.  Two artists may also apply to work in a collaborative residency. Applications are due Dec. 11.  Click here to see the application and/or call the Art Colony at 218-387-2737 with specific questions.

Jamie Rabold & the latest issue of Lake Superior Magazine.

Photographer Jamie Rabold, who founded the popular Frozen Photographers Facebook page, has six of his photographs published in the latest Lake Superior Magazine. Photographs by Michael Furtman and Christian Dalbec are also included in rhw issue. Members of the Frozen Photographers, including Rabold, have exhibited at the Johnson Heritage Post.

Here’s the music schedule for this week:

Thursday, Nov. 19:

Gordon Thorne, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 20:

  • Briand Morrison, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Evergreen Grass Band, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 21:

  • Jim & Michele Miller, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4-7 p.m.
  • Frozen Britches, Cascade Lodge Pub, 6 p.m.
  • Eric Frost, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
  • Evergreen Grass Band, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 22:

  • Timmy Haus, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 24:

  • Boyd “Bump” Blomberg, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.

Waterfalls were a theme this week for photographers, that’s for sure. Here are just a few of the images that were posted in the last three days:

Lyn Wermter took this shot of the Gooseberry on Wednesday, Nov. 18.


“Cascade Beauty” by David Johnson.


Mary Jane Van den Heuvel took this shot of the Beaver River on Wednesday afternoon.


Even small streams looked like they were carrying spring run-off.

Photo by David Johnson.


Lake Superior was “talking” a little, too.

L:ake Superior by Karen Sunderman.


Horseshoe Bay Nov. 12 by Sandra Updyke.


Wave Action by Christian Dalbec.


Sunrises and sunsets were pretty incredible, too. Here’s a selection.

Sunset Over the Beaver Pond by Paul Sundberg.


Red Sky in the Morning … by David Johnson.


Sunrise at Sand Island by Mike deWitt.

We also had our first dusting of snow. Travis Novitsky documented this in two lovely images.

First Snow at Teal Lake by Travis Novitsky.


First Snow at High Falls by Travis Novitsky.


Winter still hasn’t really arrived, though. Here’s proof. This photo was taken on Nov. 18 last year.

Blatnik Bridge, Nov. 18, 2014 by Gregory A. Israelson.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

















Categories: Member Feeds

Fearlessly moving on

Unorganized Territory - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 11:57pm

Fearless in summer 2014

For years I’ve shared stories about our golden retriever Fearless. Longtime readers— those who started reading Unorganized Territory more than 14 years ago—may remember that Fearless came to us as a Father’s Day gift from our son Gideon and his wife Sara.

The roly-poly puppy was to make up for the fact that they had taken our family dog— Gideon’s dog, Gizmo—away from us to their new home. The puppy had big paws to fill as we all adored Gizmo. But he quickly won our hearts with his silly antics, especially his anxious attitude. He was a nervous little pup, afraid of rustling garbage bags, balloons and of course, the vacuum cleaner.

For that reason, we decided to give him a strong name— Fearless. We thought he would grow into it. He eventually did, but not before I wrote a few columns about his fearfulness.

In April of 2002, when he was just a year old, I bragged that Fearless had easily slept through a major thunder and lightning storm. Of course there was a reason. He was tired from a terribly traumatic hike. We had taken our poor little dog, who trembled when you shook a trash bag before putting it in the garbage can, on a stroll on County Road 7. Unfortunately, some Good Samaritan had collected litter along the road. It started off as a very slow walk with Fearless cringing and pulling at the leash as we passed the first few bags. He eventually realized that the bags were inanimate and we were able to finish the walk, but not without a lot of laughter at his expense.

I wrote about his anxiety issues again in a column in January 2009, just after the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Because Fearless had so much energy, I thought he might be sled dog material. I decided to see if we could teach him to pull a sled around the yard to give the grandkids a ride. I started with something I thought would be simple—a little yellow toboggan left at our house by the kids. I carefully hooked the plastic sled to his collar and attempted to get him to walk beside me. It did not work. I forgot about the fear factor.

The sliding toboggan following him terrified him and he took off running, looking back frantically, his eyes filled with fright at the yellow thing chasing him.

It took several minutes to stop him and to get him untangled. It took several more minutes to get him to calm down. I decided he wasn’t cut out to be a sled dog. But it did make me laugh and it made for a good story for a mushing season column.

One year in a Halloween column I admitted that Fearless and I are both a bit cowardly. I shared my apprehension about being home alone. You would think having a big dog would help, but no, sensing my nervousness made Fearless skittish and he would bark at every little noise, scaring me even more. He would walk so close to me that the real danger I faced was tripping over him and breaking a limb.

I’ve mentioned Fearless in many more columns, telling readers about the difficulty of building a snowman with the grandkids when you are waylaid by a 70-pound dog who wants to roll around in the snow with you. I’ve written about his jumping on board Chuck’s four-wheeler and traveling the trails with us. I still chuckle when I remember writing a column about him stealing my mother’s walking stick.

The last time our old guy got a mention was last March, when he went for a nice long walk along County Road 7, where once a trash cleanup had scared him. I was amazed on that warm spring day that he made it as far as he did, huffing and puffing, but with a happy golden retriever grin on his gray muzzle.

I wondered, at that time, if we would be losing him soon. After all, he was almost 14 years old and that is old for a golden. He made it a few more months. On Halloween, we said farewell to our sweet old Fearless.

We knew it was coming, so all his human and canine friends came to say goodbye. He was too weak to jump up and bark in welcome, but he managed that happy golden smile as everyone— our kids, grandkids, my parents and friends—came to give him one last treat, to pet him and tell him one last time, “Good boy.”

At the end, he truly was fearless.


It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.


Categories: Member Feeds

Did You Lose a Camera?

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 8:05am

Someone found a camera on a portage in the BWCA and wants it to find its owner.  Here’s the scoop from Kare 11!

Camera lost in BWCA needs its owner Dana Thiede, KARE 3:47 p.m. EST November 16, 2015

HASTINGS, Minn. – If a picture is worth a thousand words, a camera that was dropped in the Boundary Waters late last summer has a lot to say.

A man from Hastings was walking a portage between Low and Dry Lakes over Labor Day weekend when he found a camera in a camouflage waterproof case laying in the trail. The camera inside is a white Nikon Coolpix with more than 100 pictures on it, most of them chronicling the trip the owner and three of his buddies were on before he lost it. There are also some photos of a wedding the owner attended.

This picture was found inside a camera lost in the Boundary Waters over Labor Day weekend. The person who found it wants to get the camera back to its rightful owner. (Photo: KARE)

The person who found it isn’t too tech savvy, so he gave the lost camera to his assistant so she could find the owner. She, in turn, contacted KARE 11. Take a look at these photos, and if you know anyone in them contact KARE 11 by emailing We’ll help get the camera back in the rightful owner’s hands.

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Hiking from Warren’s Road to the Gunflint Trail, via Magnetic Rock

Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters News - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 2:21pm

With a plethora of hiking trails in Tuscarora Lodge and Canoe Outfitters’ Gunflint Trail backyard, it’s no surprise that we’re frequently asked for hiking recommendations. More often than not, hikers want to know which trail we prefer: Centennial or Magnetic Rock?

On paper, the two hikes appear pretty similar: Magnetic Rock is a 3 mile round trip easy hike, versus Centennial’s 3.3 mile moderate loop and their parking lots are kitty-corner from each other on the Gunflint Trail. I’ve made my preference for Centennial well known. While there’s nothing wrong with Magnetic Rock Trail (and the concept of a three-story tall rock that you can stick magnets to and that can spin around your compass is pretty impressive), I’ve just always found the Centennial Trail a more interesting and invigorating hike.

But sometimes, all you need to get re-excited about a destination is to completely flip around how you go about getting to that destination.

When my family was up earlier this month, we decided to get to Magnetic Rock . . . backwards. We left one vehicle at the Magnetic Rock parking lot and then all six of us piled into the truck to park at the Superior National Forest’s Border Route Trail pull-off on Warren’s Road (Gunflint Narrows Road, USFS 1347). To find the pull-off, drive down Warren’s Road about one mile, right past/through the gravel pit and then down the narrow, one-lane road a little ways. You should spy the Border Route sign just north of the small parking area which has room for two compact cars or one large pick-up truck.
The first mile of the hike cuts across a rock outcropping which offers beautiful panaramic views of Gunflint Lake to the southeast. You can spy the cliffs on Arrow and Rose Lakes at some spots on the trail in this section. Just beyond the trail on the north side lies a deep valley.

Of course, you can only walk on the rim of a valley for so long; eventually you’re going to have to go through it. We did the hike on the first sunny day after a week of drizzle and although there was only one significant wet section of about 30 feet, it was very mucky. If you do this hike in the spring or late fall, definitely wear waterproof footwear. You also might like to have a hiking stick for additional stability in this section.

Once you cross through the little slough, you’ll hike about another half mile, mostly through lower ground and then, if you’re looking carefully, you’ll be able to spy the tippy top of Magnetic Rock to the northwest.

It’s a 1.8 mile hike from the parking area on Warren’s Rock to Magnetic Rock. From Magnetic Rock, it’s another 1.5 mile hike out to Magnetic Rock parking lot on the Gunflint Trail for a 3.3 mile hike total. Past Magnetic Rock, there are several more stunning overlooks to the north, as well as many groves of healthy jack pine saplings.
This is a great hike for a big groups because you really need two cars to pull off the hike (unless you just want to get to Magnetic Rock and turn around) and because the hike never crosses into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness so you don’t need to limit your group size to nine people to comply with U.S Forest Service regulations. When you reach the Magnetic Rock parking lot, you’ll have to send two people to fetch the vehicle on Warren’s Road, but the rest of the group can continue hiking towards Tuscarora by heading down the Gunflint Trail and then cutting down the snowmobile trail that connects the Gunflint Trail and the Round Lake Road.  If you hike all the way back to Tuscarora, it’s a perfect 5 mile hike.

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The Magic of Disney

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 8:37am

Disney World is a magical place but is all magic good? I’m experiencing Disney right now with my daughter and niece who are both teenagers. On the way to Magic Kingdom yesterday we were listening to the radio and they were asking people to call in with their pet peeves. We had a good laugh listening to the things people came up with and it made for a fun rest of the day.

We came up with an overwhelming number of pet peeves over the course of the 12, yes 12 hours we spent in the Park. I am not a crowd loving person, I love my time alone in the woods and I like my personal space so Magic Kingdom is not the ideal place for me to spend 2 hours let alone 12 hours. I do love the idea of Disney and would enjoy the experience much more if I could rent the park out for me and my closest 30 friends. Since I can’t afford to do that, here we are.

There are a number of great websites out there for planning your Disney Trip. One even tells you the crowd levels, travel patterns, expected wait times and anything you want to know. If you’re considering a Disney vacation then I suggest checking it out.  I have no clue how many people were in attendance yesterday but for me it was too many.

Back to our pet peeves. We came up with a few of them I will share, some I won’t because they might offend someone, no, they would for sure offend someone and the ones I’m sharing might too, sorry!

Pet Peeves

Phones- In a dark auditorium after the announcer tells you to turn off phones and not to use flash it is annoying to see a lighted screen. People stopping mid-stride to take a selfie is even more annoying. Someone walking smack into you because they are filming fireworks while walking is really not “OK.”

Strollers- At the beginning of the day only a triple stroller or a big kid in a stroller caught our attention but by the end of the night any stroller became a pet peeve because you feared being ran over by the ragged parent pushing it.

Motorized Carts- In the morning only people trying to run us over and then making it look like it was our fault bothered us but by the end of the night just the sight of one had us running the other way because we knew some of those people were really trying to run us over.

Swords & Light Sabers- Kids wielding sabers pretending they are a jedi are cute in the morning even when they poke you in the face 6 times but when the sun is gone and the moon is high bring one out and you might “rhymes with dye.” Some of those cute kids look different beneath the light of the moon and it isn’t a good look either.

So, there are a few of our Pet Peeves we accumulated at Magic Kingdom yesterday, I hope you enjoyed them. Today is another day and we’ll see what sort of Disney Magic we experience today.

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Wenonah Solo Canoes

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 7:37am

Black Friday and the holidays are right around the corner. There’s no better time to buy yourself a present then now(I don’t really believe that, but it sounds like a good commercial).

I like to buy experiences rather than things when it comes to spending my money. However, some experiences require things. Example- A Boundary Waters Canoe Trip is the perfect experience for gift giving and receiving. If you are into self care, want to buy yourself something, then a solo canoe would be a great thing to purchase.

Wenonah Canoe located in Minnesota is the best place to purchase your canoe. They have a great variety of solo boats that are lightweight even with the heaviest coating you can choose. At Voyageur we rent out the Prism and the Canak but we might have to look into purchasing an Encounter.  A canoe is a gift that keeps on giving!

I’ve copied and pasted the information from the Wenonah website to share with you. You can find more information on their website. 

Encounter 17″ length 31.5″ width-  Go ahead, plan your trip – circumnavigate Prince Edward Island, or cruise the St. Lawrence to the sea. The Encounter was created for long, solo expeditions with ample gear. It tracks straight and carries weight easily over rough water. Roomy enough for large people and buoyant enough for heavy loads, the Encounter is a specially engineered craft. But it’s engineered for comfort, too – with the standard sliding bucket seat and foot braces, you can easily adjust the canoe to fit you and your load.

Prism 16.6″ length 30.75 width-  The Prism is our most popular composite solo canoe. Incredibly versatile, it’ll take you comfortably over all kinds of waters. Blending efficiency, stability, capacity, and finesse, it’s ideal for cruising with a light load, but also has the volume needed for medium-length trips. Canoe & Kayak Magazine said it well when they wrote, ” The Prism is all about glide and speed. It’s a lean boat that tracks the best of those reviewed, yet will turn quickly enough, and returns to a stable position more readily than other fast canoes.”

Canak 16″ length 30″ width- With a hull shape similar to that of our most popular solo canoe the Prism, the Wenonah Canak is great for solo lake camping when the capacity and portability of a canoe is needed, and the touring ability of a kayak is desired. The one of a kind bow and stern storage compartments are spacious and more accessible than standard kayak hatches for easy loading and unloading of canoe camping sized packs (rectangular packs up to 5500 cubes fit in the bow and 7000 cubes fit in the stern). The slip over covers provide a dry ride no matter the weather conditions. The floor mounted sliding seat and adjustable kayak style foot braces make this boat as comfortable as any large cockpit kayak. Choose from our eight composite colors for the deck, the hull is skin coat. No options. Cockpit size is 41″ x 21″ (104.14 cm x 53.34 cm).

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America Recycles Day

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 8:34pm

Today is America Recycles Day. “America Recycles Day, a program of Keep America Beautiful, is a nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.”

We can all do more to when it comes to recycling. We can also re-use more items and make better purchasing choices so we have fewer things to recycle.

America Recycls Day

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Snow at Voyageur

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 11/14/2015 - 8:01pm

Matt snapped this photo of the Seagull River with the newly fallen snow. The open water and snow always makes for a beautiful scene.

Snow at Voyageur

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Council Meeting Friday the 13th!

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Sat, 11/14/2015 - 12:43pm
Due to the Veteran's Day holiday (all government offices are closed... Thank you to those who have served our country!) the City Council rescheduled our Wednesday the 11th meeting to Friday the 13th at 4:30pm.

*The next meeting will be Tuesday the 24th at 4:30 as well. The Council concluded that having a meeting the day before Thanksgiving wouldn't result in a quorum, so we found a date that worked.  That meeting will simply be to pay bills and attend to necessary business. It is expected that nothing of much substance will be handled at that meeting.

A little about rescheduling meetings:

It is in City Resolution that our meetings will be the second and last Wednesday of each month, commencing at 6:30pm. This is important so that the public both knows when business will be conducted and so that they have the opportunity to weigh in on it. When we have to change meetings a few things change with it:

1. It is considered a SPECIAL meeting. We HAVE to have a set agenda. This is so that the public knows what is being discussed at the meetings and so items can't be "slipped in."  All agendas have to be published before the date of the meeting. You can get a copy of the agenda for any of our meetings at City Hall right on the front counter.

2. The structure of the meeting can be different. We don't technically have to take public comment for a special meeting. We usually do. Largely this is to keep special meetings short and to the point because special meetings are usually to discuss special issues. For us, our rescheduled meetings will follow the same structure as regular meetings because that is how we conduct business...


Ok, on to the meeting!

The meeting was called to order at 4:33pm with all members present except for Councilor Moody, who had told us he would be absent.


We moved on to the Consent Agenda, which contained the usual 3 items: Approval of the Agenda, Approval of the previous meetings minutes, and payment of the City's bills.  Hearing no need for discussion, the Consent Agenda passed unanimously.


We moved on to an exciting and new request for fireworks!  Our own Bob Spry, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and the Lion's Club are going to put on a fireworks display to go along with Visit Cook County's Christmas kickoff on November 27th. Seeing that the request was in order, the Council quickly approved the request, so there will be fireworks in November!


The next conversation was the bulk of the meeting. The Council re-visited the City Budget with some updated information from Administrator Roth. The previous number that the Council was presented with, a 12.2% increase in the tax levy, was revised downward due to a few changes in staffing and administrative costs as well as a revision upward in the revenues from the Rec. Park. The new number that was brought before the Council was 6.87%, roughly half of the previous amount.

*There was a motion at the END of this long conversation to use the 6.87% as our new number for consideration, which effectively lowers the maximum levy to that 6.87% number. I wanted to say this right off of the bat, but will get into the conversations now.

There were really two parts of the conversation: 1.) Revenues from the Rec. Park and 2.) How do we fund our capital improvements in the future?

Starting with #1.

Revenues from the Rec. Park have been on an upward trajectory for at least the last 8 years. Some years the growth is faster than others, but even in poor years we have managed to meet or exceed the previous year. This is good news for the City and shows that the Rec. Park is still performing very well. With that said, we have heard from users of the Rec. Park this year that there are many elements of the experience there that need to be improved or addressed. The City currently allocates $145,000 to improvements in the park every year and would be interested in increasing that number if the Park Board decided that it wanted it. Our current best estimate of the positive revenue the City gets off of the Rec. Park is somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 and $300,000, which goes directly to the general fund, which results in property tax relief for residents. If we increased the amount allocated for improvements at the park, that would increase the value of the park, but would decrease the amount of that money going to property tax relief, which would have to be accounted for by either increasing some other revenue source (taxes, or increased sales at one of the City Enterprises). It was the popular belief of the Council that investing more money in the Park would be a great idea, but it has to be asked for and planned for by the Park Board. Currently all of the identified projects in the Rec. Park can be paid for by the current allocation, so that conversation will have to continue!

For 2016 the Council is going to assume a conservative gain in the Rec. Park's revenues to continue with the 8 year trend we have observed. This protects us in the case that we have a bad year, we won't lose too much from the general fund and if we have a good year we will end up with a surplus that we can reinvest in either capital improvement accounts or the Rec. Park.

Good performance at the Park for 2015 caused us to raise our estimate for income for 2016 from what we thought we would get, which lowered the levy amount somewhat.

#2. Capital Campaigns:

The City has identified major projects for each of the next 5 years that will cost the City some money and thus we need to plan for. Here is a brief summary of those projects:

2015-- Electric Service Truck (Paid for by the Electric Utility)
2016-- Public Works Facility (Garage- shared expense)
2019-- Electric Digger/Derrick (for digging in power poles)
2019-- Highway 61 Project (Shared expense)
2020-- 1st St. Reconstruction (Shared Expense)
????-- 5th Ave. Reconstruction (Shared Expense)
????-- City Hall and Liquor Store (Paid for by Liquor Store Reserve)

These projects are funded by a combination of cash payments from the City's reserve accounts and borrowed money. Since the City has a "AA" credit rating and healthy reserves, which are very good, borrowing money isn't that expensive for us, but it will get more expensive as general interest rates increase, so it would be financially a pretty good idea to plan for higher payments in the future, which, again, can be paid from reserves or from taxes or rate increases on public utilities etc.

We sock away a pretty good amount every year for our reserves, partly because it is City policy to keep a certain balance in each of those accounts and to a certain extent it is mandated that we have money in reserve so we can pay for any emergencies we run into. The Council wanted to maintain these amounts and try to grow them modestly to keep up with the interest rate increases that we are expecting in the coming year as well as to accommodate future projects.

**A reminder: Our Public Utilities are non-profit. They are on a break-even budget with their reserve contributions. Their budgets are calculated off of known costs (labor, benefits, materials, reserve contributions) and anticipated costs (planned projects, etc).

WHEW! You still following??? There was conversation about whether or not we should raise the levy at all since the Rec. Park and Liquor Store have been performing well, but taking a look at the historical levy information versus spending the Council seemed to lean toward a raise of some sort to offset rising costs that the City incurs (benefits, union negotiations, rising cost of materials, etc). If we don't do that then we risk eroding our reserves, thus shooting ourselves in the foot in the future when we want to get some projects done and need to borrow more money at a higher rate... So that is the general direction that the Council is moving for the tax levy: an increase of some kind, but likely between the 4.08% increase in general fund spending and the 6.87% estimated levy increase we were presented at the meeting.

One last piece to be discussed with the budget: Tennis Courts. There was a conversation about how much, if any, the City should put toward the rebuilding of the 2 tennis courts up by the school and YMCA. It was made clear that the courts are owned by the County and that the County has pledged money to their rebuilding and also has allotted $7,000/year for the maintenance of the courts. The Cook County Tennis Association heads up the efforts for rebuilding and has gathered over $100,000 for the job. After the previous conversation about the City's budget, the Council was ready to discuss how much we could put toward this project. Councilor Mills made a motion to allocate up to $20,000 for the project, as their needs for the project required. There was some lively conversation about what that meant with the statement being said that if we pass that motion we should expect to be paying $20,000 toward the project. Councilor Benson expressed her feelings that she was uneasy about allocating funds without creating some kind of structure for entities seeking funding from the City, suggesting that if all entities have to do is come and ask, then the allocation is pretty arbitrary. Administrator Roth suggested that if we had a process to do this we would probably have more requests for funding because then there would be a set process for it... Either way, the message that the Council needs to sit down and plan this out was pretty clear.

That motion, to allocate $20,000 to the reconstruction of the tennis courts, ultimately failed with a 2-2 vote. I was the swing vote on that one and embarrassingly took a long time to weigh in. When the motion failed, however, I proposed a counter motion to allocate up to the $17,000 that the CCTA identified was the money they would be short when all of their grants came in. This means that the City could not pay any more than that amount, but potentially could pay less... but we should be prepared to pay the whole amount. This amount was the direct balance between the bid on the project and the money the CCTA has already rounded up. This motion passed 3-1 with Councilor Benson voting Nay because she feels it is premature to be allocating monies without a process.


In another important conversation, the Council looked at proposals for increasing the benefit amount for the Grand Marais Volunteer Fire Department employees. Currently the fire department employees receive $1250 per year they have served in the fire department as retirement benefit. They get this money at the point of their retirement in a payment from the firefighter retirement plan through PERA (Public Employees Retirement Account). A few months ago the Council requested to see what an increase of that benefit to $1500 per year of service would cost the City. We were pleased to see that at the current rate of growth and interest in the PERA account we would be able to increase the benefit for the firefighters to $1500 without seeing an increase in the expense to the City. Increasing the benefit amount DOES increase the risk that the City would have to pay into the account in some amount at some point in the future, but the Council saw that risk as acceptable for the services that we get from the employees of our fire department. This increase puts the Grand Marais Fire Department on par with the benefits that the Lutsen Fire Department gets.

*We chose to do this so that we could continue to attract young people to apply as employees of the Fire Department. We are currently well staffed in the department, but have a handful of firefighters nearing retirement so need to start planning for replacing them! The Fire Department meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month for training. If you are interested in applying to become a part of the department, talk to Chief Ben Silence or stop by City Hall to complete an application!


The final item on the agenda was a housekeeping item to remove a signatory from the City accounts. The Council moved to do so, and that was all done!


On to Council Reports!

Councilor Moody was absent, so no report from him.

Councilor Benson had no meetings in the past weeks.

I reported on a very productive Library Board meeting where we discussed the writer's conference (done by the Art Colony) which was a HUGE success, continuing education for members of the Library Board to learn what it means to be a board member, new work to begin a tribal library up at Grand Portage (This is really exciting actually. There is a lot of funding available for this and it would be a great resource for the community!), updated usage numbers (we got a door counter for the library that has shown usage is WAY higher than we thought!), upcoming Film Nights at the library (starting November!), efforts to make the library more welcoming to gay, lesbian, and transgender people, as well as the success of the borrowed 3D printer. A few of the Council members also went to a joint meeting of the County, City, Hospital Board, School Board on Thursday the 12th where updates were given from the different entities and the School Board spoke about their upcoming challenges due to the referendum failure. The group scheduled another meeting on February 29th to discuss future options for daycare, early childhood education, special education, etc.

Councilor Mills reported on a YMCA meeting where they appointed Hillary Freeman as the next Chairperson of that group and that the YMCA is experiencing delays in getting their daycare licensed to the level that they are seeking.
The Park Board is working on revising the naming of some of the site descriptions as well as finalizing rate changes for the 2016 season. He spoke about how the rate structure is complicated because it is based on the length of stay, storage, site location, etc.
The Northwoods Food Project is preparing some information for a presentation to the Council of the Green Dollar Survey... so stay tuned for that!

Councilor Kennedy reported on continuing work by the Planning and Zoning Commission to revise the definitions for properties in the zoning ordinance, such as hotel/motel/B&B/boarding house/vacation rental. He also reported that the County Task Force on Vacation Rentals has met and will continue to meet to create a plan for the County. Safe Routes to School is going to focus on assisting with the City Comprehensive Plan, Workers on Wheels Program, and the Healthy Food Project. These are all exciting projects for the community.


Well folks, that is about it. The meeting was almost exactly 2 hours long and we felt like we got through a lot of good information.

As always, give me a call or send me a message if you have any questions or concerns!
Categories: Member Feeds