Boreal Voices Archives

Trying Something New

Boreal Voices is a new occasional feature on Boreal's home page that will highlight current topics of interest to the community and strive to provide a platform for civil, constructive conversation around these issues. We will seek to invite guest experts to provide context for our community discussions. Please review our comments policy before posting. We are testing the same comments/discussion platform used by MPR and CNN; please give it a try and leave your comments below.

Tomorrow we will start off by featuring information received from Mn/DOT regarding the rumble strips on Highway 61 and invite residents to provide feedback.

We welcome your constructive comments.

Rumblings on the North Shore

Rumble StripThe recent addition of rumble strips along Highway 61 has prompted many residents who live within earshot of its corridor to express opposition to the noisy safety devices. Letters have been written, articles have been published, commissioner meetings have been attended.
When concerned citizens contacted Mn/DOT about the use of these strips on Highway 61, they received the response that is reprinted below.
Boreal offers this space as a place for interested and concerned citizens to weigh in and constructively discuss the issue. Please review Boreal's comment and discussion policy before posting.

Join the Discussion on Septic System Ordinance Changes

Septic systemAs an icon of our independent natures and an expression of the
importance many of us place on the freedom of choice, septic systems
can be a hot topic around here. Cook County is in the process of
revising its Subsurface Septic Treatment System Ordinance, which has
generated much debate and discussion.

WTIP hosted an indepth conversation on this subject with Planning and Zoning staff as part of their Third Thursday Community Conversations. The audio for this program can be found at the following link: WTIP Third Thursdays

Other links for background information:

Cook County Proposed Subsurface Septic Treatment System Ordinance

St. Louis County is facing similar issues - Duluth News Tribune article

Shipping News....

Have you ever looked out on the big lake and wondered about that ship going by? We sure have. Thank you to the observant readers who have called and emailed with their excitement and appreciation for our answer to that problem; the new Shipping News feature on the Boreal Community home page. For those who haven’t caught it yet, when a ship enters an area of Lake Superior that is close to Cook County, an alert will pop up at the top of the Boreal page that identifies the ship and gives a link to a map and more information about the vessel. Since we learned there are other curious souls out there just like us, we thought some might be interested in a little history behind the project.

Automatic Identification System, or AIS ( is a world-wide system for tracking the location of ships around the globe. Boreal discovered not so long ago that, while AIS is used on Lake Superior, when ships came by our front door, they didn’t appear on the map. What’s up with that? We investigated and found out that the system depends on land-based receivers that pick up the signals from the ships and are connected to the internet to send the data back to the maps.

Fast forward a couple of months and we wrote to Demitris at the University of the Agean in Greece, who developed a project called,  and volunteered to host one of their receivers here in Grand Marais. Low and behold, a month later a package arrived (from Cyprus no less!) with our new receiver. Not long after that, we headed up to the tower above Grand Marais, with donated antenna and new radio in hand. It took a little trial and error, but Boreal now hosts the equipment that serves over 700 square mile of the western end of Lake Superior!

Propane Shortage

Propane supplies are limited, pricing is on the rise and some North Shore residents are being faced with tough heating decisions.

Governor Mark Dayton has declared a Peacetime State of Emergency in Minnesota in response to a severe shortage of propane and other home heating fuel supplies statewide.  The full order, Emergency Executive Order 14-02, can be found at

People are also being asked to:

  • Conserve energy as much as possible. Turn down thermostats.
  • If you think you might run out of fuel, plan ahead where you will go. 
  • Check on your neighbors, especially the sick or elderly.
  • Be extremely cautious if you are using auxiliary heat sources.
  • Check on the availability of assistance before a crisis occurs by calling our area Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA): 1-800-662-5711

How are you being affected by this situation?  What are you doing to cope?  Do you have any ideas on what we as a county and we as citizens can do to help alleviate the situation?  Please post your comments and ideas here.

Also, Thursday, February 6 at 7 pm WTIP’s Jay Andersen joined emergency and heating specialists to help you understand the crisis and your options for dealing with it. You can listen to the broadcast by clicking here.