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If you go from snow shovels to fire hoses in one week, you know you live in the Northland. Spring wildfire danger has crashed upon Minnesota and Wisconsin in recent days just a week after one of winter's biggest wallops. April is usually the region's most intense months for wildfire, after snow recedes and before new green growth appears later in May. Last year's dead grass and leaves dry quickly after a few days without rain. And any warm, sunny days with high winds now raise the chance that small fires will grow big.
NISSWA, Minn. — Weather turned fast in the Brainerd lakes area, going from snowstorm season to fire season. Snow cover took a beating over the weekend with temperatures in the upper 50s to lower 60s. Monday's high reached 70 degrees—resulting in perfect conditions for fires. And fire season indeed arrived, as flames and smoke moved rapidly through a row of pine trees and grasses Monday afternoon along Crow Wing County Highway 4, burning close to 20 acres in Lake Edward Township, east of Nisswa.
Jim Brandenburg, Minnesota-based photographer for National Geographic, said "it goes without saying (Sam) will be greatly missed, not only by all the readers in and around Minnesota but especially at the News Tribune.
After 38 years as the Duluth News Tribune's outdoors writer, Sam Cook is retiring Friday to pursue, well, pretty much what he's always pursued. He'll spend more time sleeping on the ground in tents. More time paddling with his wife, Phyllis. More time following his yellow dog around chasing pheasants. Maybe more trips out west. Only now, he won't have to rush back to the newsroom and write about it. That's our loss, his gain.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson says he has the votes on the House floor to pass a bill removing federal protection for gray wolves across the Great Lakes region. He just can't get the bill to the floor. His bill — with co-sponsors from both parties across the wolf range in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan — has cleared a committee but remains in congressional limbo.
Duluth officially topped 50 degrees Thursday for the first time since Oct. 23, nearly six months, and, not to jinx it, it appears spring has finally sprung. The National Weather Service reported 54 degrees at 5:55 p.m. at the Duluth International Airport and it couldn't have come soon enough for many folks. Even better news, high temperatures are expected to reach ito the 50s and even 60s for the next week.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted down the Coast Guard reauthorization bill that contained a provision exempting ships' ballast water from Clean Water Act regulations. The Senate vote on cloture — whether to stop debate and vote on the bill — needed 60 votes but failed by a 56 to 42 margin. The bill contained the controversial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act that would have exempted ships from Environmental Protection Agency regulation and instead given ballast water regulation authority solely to the U.S. Coast Guard.
It's not known whether the University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team might get invited to the White House to celebrate their 2018 NCAA Division I championship, or whether they'd want to go, but on Wednesday in St. Paul the Bulldogs were honored at the statehouse. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed Wednesday as "UMD Men's Hockey National Champions Day" in Minnesota.
The battle between Cleveland-Cliffs and Tom Clarke, owner of ERP Iron Ore and Mesabi Metallics, continues to be waged in courts and in the media. Cliffs and Clarke remain embroiled in a battle for a rich deposit of taconite iron ore near Nashwauk, battling in court and among Iron Range and state officials as well as union workers. But the two parties also are fighting over coal mine issues after Clarke purchased faltering coal mine operations from Cliffs a few years ago.
Earl Gustafson, a longtime Duluth attorney and state lawmaker who went on to become chief judge of the Minnesota Tax Court, has died. He was 90. Ben Gustafson, Earl's son, said his dad died Monday at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis. Gustafson served on the Minnesota tax court from 1977 through his retirement in 1995, the last three years as chief judge of the court.