Category Archives: Projects & Organizations

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters: The family behind the legacy

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters: The family behind the legacy

There is an outfitter at the end of the Sawbill Trail where customers and staff return year after year, a network of people connected to the place and the family at its center. The Hansens, and now the Shirleys, have been running Sawbill Canoe Outfitters since 1957, where annual traditions, lifelong friendships and marriages have been born.
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New Water Trail Benefits from Collaborative Cross-Border Partnership

New Water Trail Benefits from Collaborative Cross-Border Partnership

This summer, Ontario Provincial Park wardens, the Gunflint Ranger District of the Superior National Forest and members of the Northwoods Volunteer Connection came together to work on a water trail that runs from Kenora to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Called the Path of the Paddle, it’s part of a larger effort to connect three oceans…
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What will it take to get you outdoors?

What will it take to get you outdoors?

In a recent article for the Star Tribune, writer Tori McCormick sums it up: “What will it take to get you outdoors and into nature? Can you be persuaded, either through a special event or an engaging social-media campaign, to visit a state or national park or hike a trail at a national wildlife refuge?…

YMCA Camp du Nord: The Family That Goes to Camp Together, Stays Together

YMCA Camp du Nord: The Family That Goes to Camp Together, Stays Together

All summer long, families stream to the North Arm of Burntside Lake, outside Ely, for a week at camp. There, for the past 54 years, YMCA Camp du Nord has provided opportunities to learn about nature, do arts and crafts, play silly games, acquire skills to explore the wilderness, and have profound shared experiences. The…

Northern Lakes Canoe Base

Northern Lakes Canoe Base

By Alissa Johnson Picture the Girl Scouts, and it’s likely that young girls selling cookies come to mind. And while that can be part of the experience, Northern Lakes Canoe Base is offering up a very different image of what it can mean to be a Girl Scout: girls working together to meet the challenges…

Laketrails Base Camp

Laketrails Base Camp

By Alissa Johnson When Laketrails campers arrive at base camp, costumed counselors greet them, singing and dancing, hooting and hollering, and banging on drums. “We’re famous for our welcomes of campers,” says executive director Sue Lemm. And it’s easy to imagine what a sight it must be, especially after the journey to get to Laketrails—simply…

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan: Generations of Exploration

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan: Generations of Exploration

On the pine-covered shores of Burntside Lake’s North Arm twenty miles northeast of Ely, Camp Widjiwagan has been a launching point for teenagers to explore wilderness since 1929. Today, some families are sending their fourth generation of campers to Widji, where the fundamental experience hasn’t changed much since their grandparents’ days. The camp still uses…

Eye to the Skies – the Raptor Migration is On

The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth held their annual Hawk Weekend Festival last weekend, and the results of their daily bird counts are coming in. The migration begins in mid-August with American kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks and broad-winged hawks, and continues into December with red-tailed and rough-legged hawks, northern goshawks and eagles. Peak migration at…

Camp Manito-wish—Where Kids Try it, Change it, and Try Again

Camp Manito-wish—Where Kids Try it, Change it, and Try Again

By Alissa Johnson When a group of campers from Camp Manito-wish YMCA approaches its first campsite in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Quetico Provincial Park, the counselors ask the group to pause on the water. They’ll float in their canoes and talk through everything that’s going to happen on land: how they’ll unload…

Northern Tier High Adventure Program

Steeped in 90 years of canoeing tradition By Alissa Johnson During the summer of 2012, the Northern Tier High Adventure Program helped 755 crews, most of them Boy Scouts, explore the wilderness of northern Minnesota and Canada. That’s 6,012 people starting and ending canoe trips at one of three base camps, and connecting with the…

Warming Water and Invasive Species Changing the Character of Quetico-Superior Lakes

The Lake Superior summer water temperatures are increasing more rapidly than regional air temperatures.  According to an article in the Ely Timberjay, the surface water temperatures of Lake Superior increased approximately 6 degrees F between 1979 and 2006. This is significantly greater than regional atmospheric warming. How this change will impact biodiversity and the proliferation…

The Heart Of the Continent Partnership Meets February 8-9 in Duluth

The next quarterly meeting of the Heart Of the Continent Partnership will be held February 7-8, 2013 at the Clyde Iron Works in Duluth, MN. The Heart of the Continent Partnership is a Canadian/American coalition of land managers and local stakeholders working together on cross-border projects that promote the economic, cultural and natural health of the lakes,…

Breaking Ground at the Bear Center

The North American Bear Center in Ely, MN, broke ground this week on its facility expansion. The project will double the size of the facility, which facilitates research, education and public exhibits. The center has raised nearly $560,000 of its $1 million goal–you can track progress and give a donation of your own on their…

Trust for Public Land: Protecting Gaul Island

Trust for Public Land: Protecting Gaul Island

How a collaborative effort is transferring private land to public stewardship. By Alissa Johnson In the summer of 2010, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) received an inquiry from the Listening Point Foundation. The owners of a 15-acre island across from Listening Point had notified the Foundation that they intended to sell their property. Gaul…

YMCA Camp Warren Turns 85

YMCA Camp Warren Turns 85

About two hours north of the Twin Cities, YMCA Camp Warren sits on Half Moon Lake near Eveleth, Minnesota. Once a summer home for the Warren Family, the land is now a second home to 85 years worth of summer campers. The Warren Family’s 1880s New England style lodge—affectionately called Homaji—is now the cornerstone of…

Working Together to Protect Wilderness

Working Together to Protect Wilderness

The Summer Issue of Wilderness News is in the mail and now online. The theme is Working Together to Protect Wilderness — check out a few highlights below.   Download a PDF here > Sign Up to Subscribe to print edition or email > What’s Inside: Voices for the North Country Readers respond to Wilderness News Read…

The Wilderness Canvas: YMCA Camp Menogyn

The Wilderness Canvas: YMCA Camp Menogyn

By Fred Sproat Wilderness is many different things to many different people; it can be a grocery store or a sanctuary, a playground or a classroom. It can be all of the above or something completely different. I have made the canoe country wilderness my office by turning passion into profession and working as a…

Heart of the Continent Seeks Communities

The Heart of the Continent Partnership, an association of land managers, researchers, government officials, and local stakeholders, is seeking to add representatives of the region’s communities to its collaborative effort.Continue Reading

Protecting a Scenic Entrance to the BWCAW

Protecting a Scenic Entrance to the BWCAW

Fall Lake Property on the Edge of the Boundary Waters to be Protected An 11-acre parcel of land on Fall Lake outside of Ely, Minnesota, will be protected thanks to the joint efforts of the landowners, the Forest Service and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Located just across the lake from a Forest Service…

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Last spring, the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness welcomed new director Paul Danicic. Paul recently shared his thoughts on the state of the wilderness and the Friends’ role in protecting it with Wilderness News contributor Alissa Johnson. Originally published in part in the Summer 2009 issue of Wilderness News, read the full interview here.Continue Reading

Update: Namakan River Dam Project

The Spring 2008 issue of Wilderness News covered a proposed dam at High Falls on the Namakan River west of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. A project with environmental impacts on both sides of the border, the Ojibway Power and Energy Group (OPEG) is preparing to release its Environmental Assessment as part of a proponent-led approval process.Continue Reading

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