By Marie Zhuikov
The River Talk series moved across the St. Louis River to a new venue for a new season this week. The Clyde Iron Works Restaurant (a former brownfield site) hosted Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Coastal Engineer, Gene Clark, discussing, “Dredging: From Spoils to Soils and Muck to Smuck.” River Talk is a monthly informal series about the St. Louis River Estuary, organized by the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve and Wisconsin Sea Grant.
Clark explained that dredging has a large impact on the estuary and the economy – the Duluth-Superior port can’t operate without it. Dredging activities began in the early 1900s after storms demolished breakwaters built offshore of Duluth (near where the Veteran’s Memorial stands today on the Lakewalk) and after the Duluth ship canal was dug in 1871. Superior already had a natural opening on the Wisconsin side of the harbor, but Minnesotans wanted their own entrance.Read More...
By Moira Harrington
The 2014 Lake Sturgeon Bowl took place on Feb. 1, the day before Groundhog Day. For those familiar with the 1993 classic movie of the same name, parallels could be found—not so much in the form of acerbic TV weatherman Bill Murray stalking the competition rooms of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl qualifying event, but rather, in the deja vu nature of which teams end the day sitting atop the heap.
Wisconsin has held a Lake Sturgeon Bowl of 13 years. For 11 of those years, Marshfield High School has been the victor. In many of those competitions, Spring Valley High School nipped at their heels. In the last two years, Spring Valley has bested the team from central Wisconsin.
Although I have attended past bowls, watched John Karl’s great video, “The Lake Sturgeon Bowl” and listened to Chris Bocast’s entertaining podcast, “Singing Sands and the Sturgeon Bowl,” I have never formally plugged in. This year, I took the plunge and volunteered to be a rules judge. Saying yes to the responsibility was scary. At the same time, acting as a judge was loads of fun and quite inspiring.Read More...
January 27, 2014
By Marie Zhuikov
Despite a wind chill of 25 below zero, my son and some friends traveled to the sea caves in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore last weekend. We weren’t the only ones braving the weather to see this natural wonder on the south shore of Lake Superior near the town of Cornucopia. I’ve heard estimates that 2,000 people visited that day. Since the parking lot was full, a line of cars was already parked on the highway when we arrived. This added ten minutes to the 20-minute walk we were expecting across the ice to the sea caves.
Walking on the ice is one of the easiest ways to see the caves. In the summer, it requires kayaking or canoeing skills, or paying the price for a tour boat. A hiking trail runs along the top of the caves, but the view is nowhere near as spectacular as from the water.
I had seen the caves from water level, but never in winter. This year, the ice formations were more intricate and extensive than most, prompting widespread media coverage that piqued interest by the masses, including my friends and me. Before you venture to the caves, it’s a good idea to check with the Lakeshore’s Facebook page and check the Sea Cave Watch website, a UW Sea Grant project. The site features real-time images of the ice conditions at the caves, although the wave sensor has been pulled for the season. And if you want to know how much ice is safe to walk on, check our updated ice fact sheet.
Once we got to the lake, we joined the others on a hard-trodden snowy path along the shore. With the wind at our backs, the sunshine helped us feel warmer in spirit than perhaps in body. I guess it pays to dress in multiple layers — after about half a mile into the mile-long walk, I marveled at how warm my feet were. I thought my toes would be the first to go.
We were joined by snowshoers, skiers, dog walkers and people pulling sleds containing mounds of blankets, which, from the hats sticking out of them, must have contained children. For the most part, it was too cold to talk, so we walked in silence – pilgrims on our way to see a natural wonder denied us for five years due to poor ice conditions.
The caves, which were formed by the erosive waves of Lake Superior, are spread out along the shore for many yards. They provide countless opportunities to explore. Icy nooks, frozen waterfalls, tunnels, slides and hidden alcoves proved irresistible. No matter how stressful your preparations for a trip to the caves or how worried you were about the weather, once you’re there, nature will work its subtle magic.
One thing I want to mention if you go: please don’t break off the icicles from the caves. The conditions that formed them are not likely to happen again this winter, and it ruins the formations for those who will come after you. Take away memories, not icicles!