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MINNEAPOLIS—We've known for years that tiny bits of plastic, called microplastics, have become ubiquitous in the oceans and across the Great Lakes. We've also known that so many of these tiny plastic particles are floating around that they are ending up inside fish. Another recent study found plastic particles in many popular brands of supposedly filtered and purified bottled water drawn from multiple sources, including wells and springs.
GRAND RAPIDS, MInn. — Rick Horton of Grand Rapids was just back from a spring turkey when he noticed the ticks, about a dozen of them, dug into his skin. "They were several on my back, between my shoulder blades. And several in places I can't mention," said Horton, who spent three days crawling around in Kansas prairie grass to shoot a tom turkey. "I was camping out. No shower. I was literally crawling on top of ticks for three days. And I didn't do anything to prevent it."
DULUTH — It's been on every Minnesota walleye angler's mind for weeks now, ever since April came in more like February: Will the ice be out for the opener? The answer is a definite ... probably, depending on what lake you're watching. But things were looking much better last week after a string of warm, sunny days interspersed with south winds and some rain — the perfect recipe to melt lake ice. While lakes in southern Minnesota set all-time late ice-out dates this year, it appears most northern lakes won't hold ice as late as 2013, 2014, 1996 or 1950.
SUPERIOR, Wis. — At the height of the Husky Energy oil refinery fire Thursday, April 26, as a massive plume of smoke billowed into the sky for miles, Superior Mayor Jim Paine was asked by reporters if the air was safe for people. Yes, the mayor said, later repeating his claim. While Paine may have been right that the air at his location upwind of the fire was safe, multiple experts say the black plume of smoke from the refinery fire was almost certainly full of toxic fumes and carcinogens.
DULUTH -- Essentia Health said Friday, April 27, that its Duluth and Superior, Wis., hospitals treated a total of 16 victims related to the Husky Energy refinery explosions and fires the previous day. All patients have been released, except one listed in good condition Friday morning. St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth confirmed treating one patient Thursday. The Husky Energy oil refinery sustained a series of explosions and fires rocked the Husky Energy oil refinery, forcing massive evacuations and sending several people to local hospitals.
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.
DULUTH — After 38 years as the Duluth News Tribune's outdoors writer, Sam Cook is retiring Friday, April 27, 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.
ST. PAUL—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.
DULUTH — It has been the April of our cold discontent and the impacts of our frigid weather so far are going to last well into May, with near record late ice-outs expected across the Northland. That means if you have plans to fish open-water lakes in far northern Minnesota on May 12 — that's less than four weeks away now — you may want to remain flexible on where and how you fish. Maybe try a river. Or bring an auger.