History of the North Shore Forest

Prior to European settlement, the North Shore of Lake Superior was comprised of a healthy mixture of conifer-dominated forests. Logging in the late 1800s and early 1900s removed most of the white pine and white cedar and the forest that grew back is heavily dominated by paper birch and quaking aspen. Current stands of birch and aspen have reached their typical age limits and as they decline, conifer regeneration is nearly absent in the understory due to fewer older pine and cedar trees to provide seed, increased competition to conifer seedlings from non-native bluejoint grass and heavy deer browse of select conifer seedlings.

Should the conifer component in North Shore forests disappear, this could trigger cascading detrimental effects to the entire ecosystem and the species that rely on this habitat such as bald eagles and large raptors who use white pine for nesting and wildlife that rely on conifers for shade, thermal cover and coarse woody debris. Cedar and yellow birch, two other species in decline, also provide high quality songbird habitat and enhanced cover and food sources for other wildlife species. The scope of the restoration needed on the North Shore to ensure a healthy and resilient ecosystem is extensive and will require many partners combining resources and multiple funding sources to accomplish shared goals across ownership boundaries.

Through the North Shore Forest Collaborative, Sugarloaf is working with agencies, other non profits, tribes, and private landowners to coordinate activities, provide education, offer technical assistance and seek funding opportunities to realize common goals. Projects are on-going and evolving, subject to available funds and participants. Visit the North Shore Forest Collaborative website, for more information.

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