Coastal forests provide many critical ecosystems services in the Great Lakes region, such as stabilizing stream banks, increasing infiltration, improving water quality, and providing habitat for wildlife like wolves, bears, and moose. In addition, Minnesota’s coastal forests support a thriving recreation and tourism economy, and many outfitters, restaurants, and lodges cater to the tourists who frequent the area each year.
Like many other landowners in the area, the Superior National Forest is trying to restore forests in this area through active forest management. The North Shore project has several overarching goals:
- to restore native vegetation communities, particularly through regenerating stands of birch and aspen and increasing conifers across the landscape
- to improve conditions in riparian areas by increasing long-lived conifers
- to improve growing conditions in white spruce and red pine plantations through thinning
- to reduce hazardous fuels, particularly in WUI areas
Climate Change Impacts
After going through the Adaptation Workbook, SNF staff continued to think about possible adaptation actions and refine the North Shore Forest Restoration Project. Importantly, the team recognized that many of the management actions they already had planned also had benefits for climate change adaptation. Also, northeastern Minnesota may turn out to be one of the best possible “refuge” areas in the region for boreal species like paper birch and white spruce. Therefore, the team ultimately decided to proceed with many of the original goals and objectives of the project. Several modifications were added to the Proposed Action to increase diversity and future management flexibility, and some of these included:
6.1. Manage habitats over a range of sites and conditions.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.