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DULUTH, Minn. — Time is running out this winter for Lake Superior to ice over or even build enough ice to jig for lake trout off Duluth or walk to the sea caves near Bayfield. Lake Superior was only an estimated 14 percent ice-covered as of Wednesday, Jan. 31, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. The office uses temperature-sensing satellite data to estimate ice cover. A warmer, windy trend over the past two weeks has helped keep the big lake from forming more ice.
DULUTH — In yet another effort to untangle the mystery behind Minnesota's diminished moose population, renowned wolf researcher David Mech is reporting a stark correlation between wolf population levels and survival of moose calves. Mech was the lead author of a research paper published online this January in the journal Wildlife Society Bulletin that found rapidly increasing wolf numbers in Northeastern Minnesota from 2001 to 2009 coincided with the rapid demise of moose in the region — from nearly 9,000 moose in 2006 to fewer than 4,000 in recent winters.
GRAND MARAIS, Minn. — In a timber-framed building that smelled of freshly sawed wood and pine tar, Robb Rutledge and Pete Dulak were hammering brass rivets into their handmade Norse pram, a small rowboat of Scandinavian heritage. A wood stove crackled in the background, adding warmth to the brisk afternoon. A deepening fog shrouded the Lake Superior shoreline just outside the big windows.
ELY, Minn.—The U.S. Forest Service on Friday, Jan. 26, said it will not conduct the most-thorough level of environmental review of potential copper mining impacts on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota and will instead conduct a less-stringent study. The Forest Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said it will conduct an environmental assessment of the potential impact of copper-nickel mining on the 1.1 million-acre, lake-studded wilderness.
DULUTH — Cleveland-Cliffs had a good year mining and selling Minnesota and Michigan iron ore in 2017, the company reported Thursday, Jan. 25, and should have an even better year in 2018. Cliffs nearly doubled net revenue, hitting $371 million in 2017. That's up from $199 million in 2016 as the company and industry continue to rise out of the global iron ore doldrums of 2015.
NASHWAUK, Minn. — Tom Clarke leaned forward in a squeaky office chair in a drafty construction-site trailer, pulled out his phone and touched an app that exposed a countdown clock that flashed 171 days, 6 hours, 36 minutes and 28 seconds. "That's how much time we have to get this moving. I show it to everyone who is working on this project," Clarke said earlier this month. "But we're going to get there before that date."
DULUTH, Minn.—Some of the Lake Superior region's last herd of caribou got a free helicopter ride over the weekend as Ontario wildlife authorities rush to save at least some of the animals from certain death at the hands of wolves. Seven caribou, one male and six females, were tranquilized and taken aboard helicopters from Michipicoten Island on Lake Superior to the Slate Islands, according to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
DULUTH — A state administrative law judge has flatly rejected a plan by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to abandon the statewide 10 parts-per-million limit for sulfate pollution in wild rice waters in exchange for a lake-by-lake system with varying limits. Administrative Law Judge LauraSue Schlatter, in an 82-page opinion approved by the state's chief administrative law judge and released Thursday, Jan. 11, considered 1,500 written comments on the proposed changes in state law and held five public hearings that drew a combined 300 people.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.—The long-awaited restart of the former Magnetation operations just outside Grand Rapids could happen as soon as the summer, with more than 100 people back to work, months earlier than previously expected. New owner Tom Clarke said this week that he now has engineering plans ready and financing in place to complete an estimated $20 million in retrofitting work to the former Magnetation pellet plant in Reynolds, Indiana.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Tuesday, Jan. 9, said it plans to deny U.S. Steel a variance in its water pollution discharge permit for the company's massive Minntac taconite iron ore processing center in Mountain Iron. The preliminary denial is now open for public comment, with a public hearing set for Jan. 23 in Mountain Iron. Minntac asked for a 20-year variance for sulfates, bicarbonates, dissolved solids and other pollutants before any regulatory enforcement so it can develop affordable ways to control the pollutants.