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Community briefs: May 2

Sign up for CodeRED

In early April, the Lake County Board of Commissioners voted to approve CodeRED, a new countywide emergency notification system that will replace the siren systems formerly used in some municipalities.

CodeRED sends out text messages, emails and automated phone calls to residents when there is an emergency, like an extreme weather event. The county is encouraging everyone to sign up to ensure that messages go out to as many residents as possible.

Sign up by visiting and clicking CodeRED.

The warning technology is used in many communities throughout the U.S., making it possible for travelers to receive alerts wherever CodeRED is used. A mobile app is also available and can be downloaded for this purpose. Visit for the app.

Help track water changes

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is looking for volunteers to help track water quality around the state.

More than 1,300 volunteers are already helping, but the MPCA says it needs more hands on deck. Volunteers are asked to perform a short, simple test at a designated lake or stream once per week throughout the summer. Equipment and training will be provided.

The data helps the MPCA track water quality changes and make water management decisions around the state.

For more information or to sign up, visit and search for “citizen water monitoring” or call the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District office at (218) 834-8372.

Granite Gear wins Gear of the Year

Two Harbors-based Granite Gear won an Outside magazine award early this month. The magazine named Granite Gear’s Nimbus Trace Access 70 backpack the best pack in its summer buyer’s guide. It’s a multi-day pack that weighs just four pounds, has a capacity of 70 liters and can hold up to 60 pounds.

Granite Gear co-founder Dan Cruikshank said the pack is the result of 15 years of research and testing and was inspired by wooden-core skis. The pack debuted this winter.

Heart of the Continent and National Geographic seek local input

The Heart of the Continent Partnership along with National Geographic Geotourism Maps division are asking for help identifying points of interest to be included on the geotourism website. The web site is designed to promote and celebrate the area’s abundant scenic, cultural and historic attributes from the unique vantage point of those who live here. The site is now up and running and the partnership is accepting nominations.

“We need your input. We’re now inviting local residents and visitors to nominate for inclusion in the Web-based MapGuide the landmarks, attractions, activities, events and even local foods that define the region’s character and distinctive appeal.” said Bret Hesla, H.O.C.P. Coordinator.

According to the H.O.C.P., the 5.5 million acre area is comprised of a blend of working forest, rugged scenery, pristine watersheds, abundant wildlife and outstanding biodiversity. While the area includes quintessential destinations such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park, the web site will also draw attention to the numerous Minnesota state forests and parks.

H.O.C.P. Steering Committee Chair Frank Jewell said that participation by local residents is critical to the project’s success.

“Our goal is to get nominations from across the region that identify the things people love best, those must- see places that range from an incredibly beautiful hike to an historic downtown with exceptional galleries and restaurants.”

Wolf Ridge Executive Director Pete Smerud is part of the design team that created the website. Smerud is also seeking public input.

“The web site is now accepting nominations. Anyone can do it. Let’s make sure this site is an accurate reflection of our great attractions and services.”

Nominations may be made through June 15, 2014, at