Restoring the North Shore forestsCLOQUET — The forests along Highway 61 between Duluth and Grand Portage are constantly changing. In many areas, birch has replaced the spruce and balsam fir that were common to the area in the early 20th century. In the early 1900s, birch was found mixed with these conifers on moist soils. Logging, homesteading and fires created conditions for birch to expand.
CLOQUET — The forests along Highway 61 between Duluth and Grand Portage are constantly changing. In many areas, birch has replaced the spruce and balsam fir that were common to the area in the early 20th century. In the early 1900s, birch was found mixed with these conifers on moist soils. Logging, homesteading and fires created conditions for birch to expand.
Now, the birch is dying from the cumulative effects of periodic drought and age. Due in large part to heavy browse caused by a large deer and rabbit population, the coniferous trees are slow to re-establish.
You are invited to participate in a free community meeting for North Shore landowners. This is an opportunity to connect with other landowners, public land managers and private organizations to learn about current North Shore forest restoration activities and how you can become involved. The meeting will be held at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center on Friday, May 11, from 12:30-4:30 p.m.
The meeting will include a tour of Wolf Ridge, during which you will learn about efforts to establish white pine, cedar and spruce. You will also have an opportunity to take part in roundtable discussions about restoration projects and learn how you can be involved. Information about financial assistance programs for your restoration projects will also be available.
For more information and to register, please visit http://www.sugarloafnorthshore.org/landowner.php
Conifers such as spruce and balsam fir are important to wildlife, water quality and forest health. The North Shore forest has 84 wildlife species known or predicted to occur, and it is especially important for migratory songbirds and raptors. During extreme winters, conifers provide thermal cover for wildlife, such as moose, wolves and lynx.
This forest has the highest density of designated trout streams in Minnesota. Conifers play a critical role in shading these streams, thereby providing the cool temperatures that trout require. Restoring the forest’s diversity of conifer species will make it more resilient to possible future threats, such as drought, disease or climate change.
Highway 61 is a National Scenic Byway renowned for its beauty. The dead and dying birch detract from this beauty. Concerned landowners and visitors want to know what they can do to restore a healthy forest.
More than 70 percent of the land within one kilometer of the lake is privately owned. Effective forest restoration cannot occur without engaging the landowners, who value one-on-one assistance, training and materials to restore their North Shore forest parcels.
Informed private citizens have already restored over 500 acres to conifers and will continue to take action to restore their forest properties. Learn about these efforts and how you can help restore the North Shore’s forest. Visit http://www.sugarloafnorthshore.org/ for more information.
Source: Mike Reichenbach, Extension educator/specialist in Forestry, U of M Extension Regional Office, Cloquet; (218) 726-6470, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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