UPDATE: Learn more about our work with partners along the North Shore in the January 2017 issue of Northern Wilds.
Sugarloaf is working hard with North Shore landowners and our partners to restore the North Shore Forest.
The Lake Superior Coastal Forest looks much different today than it did before European settlement. Logging and severe fires in the late 1800s and early 1900s removed most of the large pines and cedars leaving a forest dominated by paper birch and aspen. An ever-increasing deer population coupled with a lack of older pines and cedars to provide seeds has stalled the natural succession of the forest.
To restore and preserve our coastal forests and streams, North Shore landowners need to work together. Sugarloaf is working with partners to understand and plan for a changing North Shore forest. Our goal is a diverse and healthy forest for future generations to admire and enjoy.
Resources for landowners
Sugarloaf has produced three videos about the North Shore forest, tree id, and tree planting.
The History and Ecology of Lake Superior’s Coastal Forest
Common Conifers of Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior
This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program
Woody Plant Seed Manual – great resource for growing trees from seed
MN Extension has a helpful website that aims to help you diagnose problems with your trees or other plants. Check it out.
Dying Birch, blow-downs, invasive species, deer browse, and ice storm damage are among the issues impacting our forests and challenging the ecosystem along the North Shore. Although much of Lake and Cook Counties are publicly owned, 75% of the land within the North Shore Forest Collaborative planning corridor is private. This means that to make significant changes in the forest along the North Shore, private landowners will need to actively participate in the process.
Sugarloaf has learned through previous experience that the most effective way to accomplish on the ground restoration is to work one-on-one with the landowners, providing them with information, seedlings, and tree planting assistance.
Our Lost Forest program does this by creating awareness of the need to restore conifers, motivating participants to plant and to manage trees on their own property and motivating participants to be advocates in their community. To foster restoration of conifers, multi-session, cohort-based classes were held in 2005-6, in 2010-11 and in 2015.
Some of the most important aspects of the Sugarloaf Lost Forest Program have been the ability to engage people around their connections to the North Shore; creating an awareness of the need to take action; and providing the skills, training and support to take action. The educational process that links learning to action can be described in three steps: 1) create awareness of the need to act; 2) catalyze awareness of the ways to act and 3) provide knowledge needed to enable action.
One participant noted,
“One of the things I liked about the program is . . . it will develop an advocacy for the forest. . . . I feel like I am armed to talk about the forest more thoughtfully than I was before.”