Coming soon to Seagull Lake- 80-foot radio tower for your viewing pleasure!

WHAT? Someone decided it would be a good idea to place an 80-foot radio tower near the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department Hall #3 on Blankenburg Road near the Seagull Lake boat landing. I don’t have all of the details of the proposal but I plan to learn more about the proposed project in the next few days.  Here’s what I found via the USFS website.

Description: MnDOT has requested a communication site facility for the ARMER project located at the existing Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department Seagull Fire Hall #3 station. The site will house an 80′ communication tower, 12′ x 24′ equipment building.

According to the document a decision will be issued in 4/2018 with implementation 5/2018.

I hadn’t even heard about this proposal until this morning! I’m not sure why the project has been kept a secret or why a tower needs to be erected at Seagull Lake. It seems like we just had this argument a couple of years ago and now someone is just trying to push it through before anyone learns about it. Wouldn’t that be an unpleasant surprise for homeowners, cabin owners and visitors to the end of the Gunflint Trail?

An 80-foot tower would be seen from all over Seagull Lake and would not enhance the wilderness experience for the many BWCA users who visit Seagull Lake.  I’m sure the number of people who use the beach at the public landing for day recreation would not want to see a tower either. Nor any of the folks driving the Gunflint Trail SCENIC Byway.

I plan to find out more about this proposed project and will keep you informed. If you have questions or comments I’ve listed the contact information for the project below.

Contact Christina Tampio 218-663-8080

There is a meeting tomorrow at the Cook County Courthouse beginning at 5pm with time for public comment and discussion about towers (radio, cell phone service) in Cook County, including proposed towers up the Gunflint Trail. 



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Snowmobile Races on the Gunflint Trail

Here’s a nice video Josh Prom took of the snowmobile races on the Gunflint Trail last weekend.

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Snow in the Forecast and Ice Fishing Fun

Bring on the snow! There’s snow in the forecast and we’re hoping we get our fair share. Any snow we get now helps keep the trails for skiing and snowmobiling last longer. And it makes travel to fishing holes easier as well.

Matt and Cassidy have been able to get out ice fishing in the Boundary Waters and had some success the other day. Matt’s niece Avery is super fun to listen to in this short video clip.

catching fish in the BWCA

lake trout

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Rocking Robins

I didn’t see a robin but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible according to the Minnesota DNR.

Only 32 days till Spring . . .
The recent brief spells of warm weather have many people looking forward to spring here in the North Star State. While the season officially arrives on March 20, for many Minnesotans, the real arrival of spring is marked by the season’s first sighting of an American robin. But a February robin in Minnesota is not necessarily a sign of spring at all. Often it’s just a testament to a hearty and rugged bird that, like most of us in this state, possess the fortitude to stand up to Old Man Winter. Bold North indeed!

Like many other birds, some robins will stick around all winter, as long as there’s food and adequate shelter. For the robins that do fly south to places such as Mexico and the Caribbean, it has more to do with easy availability of food than with cold temperatures.

Winter robins here usually hang out in sheltered areas. Unlike in spring and summer, when their mating needs make them more territorial, they gather in large flocks. They move around from one area to another, wherever they can find trees and shrubs still bearing the berries and fruit that make up their winter diet. Sometimes these berries can begin to ferment and produce alcohol that actually causes the birds to get a little tipsy!

For the robins that migrate, the journey back to Minnesota will soon begin. Robins have several triggers that tell them to head north. The increasing daylight triggers hormones that urge the robin to establish a territory, mate and raise young. Waiting on the spring thaw and favorable south winds, the robins develop a restlessness that ornithologists call zugunruhe, a German word that comes from zug (migration) and unruhe (anxiety).

When you first hear a robin singing, that’s a real indicator that spring is just around the corner. Male robins sing to establish territory and lure females for mating. Their songs, coupled with increasing numbers of robins in the area, tell you that warmer weather is coming soon.

March is the robin’s peak migration month, so be on the lookout for the signs of spring. And if, in the meantime, you start to feel a little bit of your own zugunruhe, consider getting outside and visiting one of Minnesota’s state parks to see what else is stirring.

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Minnesota Moose Population Stable

From the Minnesota DNR

Moose population remains low but stable for a seventh year
Population estimate statistically unchanged from last year’s estimate

Results of the 2018 moose survey indicate the moose population in northeastern Minnesota remains stable but relatively low for the seventh year in a row, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“While the population appears stable, low numbers of moose are still a major concern for the DNR,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “We continue to pursue the best science, research and management tools available to us to help Minnesota’s moose.”

The 2018 aerial moose survey estimated 3,030 moose in northeastern Minnesota, statistically unchanged from last year’s estimate of 3,710. The survey is statistically sound, but there is inherent uncertainty associated with such surveys, because researchers will never see and count all of the animals across the 6,000 square mile survey area. Statistically, the DNR is 90 percent certain that the population is between 4,140 and 2,320 moose.

“The stability of moose numbers in recent years provides a reason for some optimism – after all, we’re not facing a significant decline,” said Glenn DelGiudice, DNR moose and deer project leader. “But this year’s results would be more palatable had they reflected the beginning of a turnaround in the population trend.”

Each year the population estimate is compared to 2006, because the state’s highest moose population estimate of 8,840 occurred that year. Currently, northeastern Minnesota’s moose population is estimated to be 65 percent lower than the peak estimate of 2006.

“While the trend of stability is encouraging, it does not allow us to forecast the future trajectory of the population,” DelGiudice said.

Reproductive success and adult survival have the greatest impact on the annual performance and dynamics of the moose population over time.

“Our field research has shown that annual pregnancy rates of adult females in this population have been robust,” DelGiudice said. “But it is a challenge to maintain a high number of adult females that can become pregnant, produce calves and rear them to 1 year of age.”

Survey results also indicate that calf survival to January has been relatively stable, but consistently low. Field studies have indicated that it is even lower by spring, translating to low numbers of moose calves living through their first year. Importantly, the DNR’s detailed investigations have shown that wolf predation has consistently accounted for about two-thirds of the calf mortality compared to one-third of the adult mortality.

Annual aerial moose surveys have been conducted each year since 1960 in the northeast.  Adjustments were made in 2005 to make the survey more accurate and annual results more comparable.

This year’s survey involved flying in 52 survey plots distributed across northeastern Minnesota’s moose range from Jan. 3 to Jan. 13. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and 1854 Treaty Authority contributed funding and provided personnel for the annual moose survey.

More information about moose is available on the DNR website at

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Cross-country skiing isn’t for everyone

Did you happen to read the article about cross-country skiing in the New York Times Magazine? Sam Anderson’s article titled, “What Cross-Country Skiing Reveals About the Human Condition,” paints a picture of people who participate in cross-country skiing.

The picture I created in my mind after reading his article was of a crazy-eyed, helmet wearing, tight encased, stiff body with a frozen expression of boredom on the face of a dead body.

What does a cross-country skiier really look like? It looks like an old bearded man happily enjoying a ski on a frozen lake or a thirty-year-old woman pulling her kids behind her on a snowy path through the woods. It looks like two old women wearing Columbia jackets and ski pants as they shuffle side by side on a groomed trail or a young man skate skiing his way from point A to point B.

Are there heroes wearing helmets, tights and goggles gritting their teeth in a form of self-torture looking for glory of some sort? I suppose there may be but during my twenty plus years of cross-country skiing I have yet to see one. I do see people enjoying the thrill of a steep downhill, smiling with happiness as they spot wildlife in the woods and enjoying being out in the quiet, white wilderness.

Is cross-country skiing a great spectator sport? Not according to Anderson who describes it as “the least glamorous, least pyrotechnic, least watchable of the major Olympic sports.” But then again, life is not a spectator sport and I’d rather be out cross-country skiing than watching any of the competitions of the Olympics. I haven’t watched any of the Olympics yet but if I do it will certainly be cross-country skiing.

Annie Porkane wrote a rebuttal to Anderson’s article and she describes the sport as, “Arguably the toughest outdoor sport in the world, it requires a unique combination of  strength, speed, and endurance. The lateral movements of skate skiing are at once unnatural and exhausting, while the technique for proper classic skiing leaves most untrained participants feeling like they’re just shuffling around. To succeed at racing uphill, athletes have to have ridiculous VO2 maxes, and put in 800 to 1000-plus hours a year of endurance and strength training.”
In spite of how difficult the sport of cross-country skiing is, almost anyone can cross-country ski and most people who try it enjoy it. You don’t have to push yourself to the limits or find the steepest hills to climb. You can travel at your own pace or the pace of a friend. I’ll take a ski on a zero degree day any day over trodding along on a treadmill staring at the world outside. And don’t worry, you won’t ever find me wearing tights, a helmet or goggles while I’m skiing and if you happen to come across my dead body in the woods it’s a smile I was wearing on my face when I died.


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Happiness is skiing with your son

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Frozen Superior in Grand Marais

Josh has been using his drone lately and shared some photos of the Grand Marais harbor.  It’s pretty neat to see the contrast from liquid, to partially solid to solid ice all from above.

Grand Marais Harbor[/caption]

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Enjoying the great outdoors when it’s below zero

Some people refuse to go outside to recreate when the temperature dips below freezing. That happens way too often in our neck of the woods so people learn how to dress to stay warm. When you’re exercising outdoors whether it’s skiing, snowshoeing or walking to a fishing hole your body creates heat. The last thing you want to do is work up a sweat if you’re going to remain outside for long.

You need to dress in layers that will wick away moisture, insulate from the cold, and keep out the wind and rain. The layer closest to your body needs to wick sweat away from your body so your skin stays dry. A good set of long underwear made from breathable material does the trick.

The next layer you put on over your long underwear should keep you warm. A polar fleece if it’s really cold outside or something lighter if you know you’re going to be working really hard. It’s nice to wear a garment that has a zipper on it so you can let out heat as needed. If I start to sweat I either remove this layer or the layer I have on over it.

The outer layer acts more like a shield to protect you from wind or precipitation in the form of rain or snow. This doesn’t have to be a thick bulky piece of outerwear and it should be worn loosely. A full zipper and vents in the jacket are great for letting out extra heat.

Most of the time a hat is too much for me when I’m cross-country skiing. I usually wear a polar fleece headband and neck gator both of which can be removed if I get too warm. If your going to stop for a picnic or to fish then it’s a good idea to bring along an extra pair of socks and a dry layer in case you do work up a sweat.

Winter outside

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#GLOAT Lake Superior Tweets

Have you heard about the Greatest Lake tweeting? I’ve been following for awhile now and it’s some of the best tweeting I have read. I usually mention the tweets to Mike and he always asks, “Who is it?” To which I reply, “I have no clue, but it’s super entertaining.”  A month or so ago Mt. St. Helen’s decided to tweet and the banter between the lake and mountain were hilarious.

MT. St. Helens…  I’m back bitches.

Lake Superior… Maybe, but you’re only half of what you used to be. And not as pretty.

Lake Superior… I’m not saying size is everything, but… would fit entirely on my third biggest island.

GLOAT stands for Greatest Lake of All Time!

Lake Superior… Sorry, couldn’t hear you, I’m busy making snow so kids can make snow angels and go sledding. What’s going to do, blow her top so people can make ash angels?

Here are a few other random tweets from Lake Superior.
  • I am unthawing.
  • I put the ‘lake’ in lake effect snow.
  • There are 117 million lakes in the world. Only 5 of them are great. And only 1 is superior.
  • Listening to “Oh! You Pretty Things” by David Bowie when I hear the lyrics: “You gotta make waves for the home of Superior” But when I looked it up, the lyrics actually read: “You gotta make way for the Homo Superior” And now I am really confused about my identity.

Kim Ode from the  Star Tribune just published a little interview she had with the tweeter so I thought I’d share.

He preferred to keep his answers fluid, so to speak, and his identity private. We agreed to play along, especially after hearing why Lake Superior seeks this thing called social media.

“Mom just left us here after the Wisconsin Glaciation,” responded @LakeSuperior. “She never came back.”

Also, the account, with more than 18,000 followers, appears to be more popular with Minnesotans than Wisconsinites or Michiganders.

Q: What prompted you to open a Twitter account?

A: It’s actually a funny story. You see, someone actually dropped their phone in me while fishing.

Of all the phones I collect, this one didn’t have a pass code and I was feeling especially curious that day. I was going through their personal information and apps when I came across Twitter. It looked fun, so I created my own account.

Q: Why did you engage with @MtStHelensWA?

A: Ah, yes, Helen was the first tweeting mountain that I had come across. I respect her for coming up with a viral tweet, but I was agitated by the profanity.

I found it to be a good opportunity to poke fun at the idea of how on Earth could a mountain tweet? I didn’t know all of her little mountain buddies would start to gang up on me.

[The profanity refers to the volcano’s profile — “Join me as I become the world’s biggest ash hole!” — and the bullying to other peaks such as @MtBakerWA, @MtRainierWA, @3SistersVolcano, and @GlacierPeak.]

Q: How would you describe your personality?

A: Some folks complain that I have a dry sense of humor. But I am a lake. How could I possibly be dry?


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