North Shore: Highlands.

Our Literary Outdoors…
literature of the Sportsman’s Guide lifestyle.

If you love Lake Superior, North Country, or natural history in general, check out The University of Minnesota Press’s North Shore: Minnesota’s Superior Coast by Chel Andersen and Adelheid Fischer.

The book is over 600 pages and reads part like a coffee table book, part like a classroom textbook. Its sections are divided into the five interconnected areas of the North Shore watershed: Headwaters, Highlands, Nearshore, Lake Superior and Islands.  From chorus frogs to butterworts to pitcher plants to black bears and (trust me) everything in between, the book is a beautiful look at the past, present and future of the region from its glacial development to the impact of tourism.

Continuing to profile 10 facts from each section, here they are from the Highlands…the geography and some inhabitants:

  1. “Leaf Peepers”, tourists who visit the North Shore in September and October to look at autumn colors, account for significant percentages of yearly economy in various counties.
  2. The sugar maple has been prized not only for its sap but also how it can be crystallized into a sugary “candy”…especially among the Ojibwe.
  3. The area was impacted and shaped by multiple glacial lobes that advanced and retreated.
  4. The region is situated between the cold air from the polar jet stream and warm, moist air from the Pacific/Gulf. This can cause intense windstorms. But while older trees may topple, younger seedlings stay intact. As a result, it is likely that at least ten different age classes of trees can be present at once.
  5. In the early 20th century, the region was also marketed for its high agricultural potential. Unfortunately, those promises did not meet advertised claims of prosperity.
  6. Earthworms, which were introduced to the region via Europe and Asia trade, pose a threat to the forest ecosystem. From tire treads to discardings from anglers, the public needs to be aware of prevention solutions.
  7. Salamanders are prolific in the region and valuable to the ecosystem because of their high volume of biomass…once studied to be 2.6x higher than birds’!
  8. In the backcountry during spring, black bears like young grasses, skunk cabbage, and other new vegetation. In fall, they may head south to highlands and dine on acorns, hazelnuts, or berries.
  9. During winter, a star-nosed mole holds fat in its tail.
  10. The nose tentacle of star-nosed mole has over 25,000 Eimer organs, or sensory receptors. This makes the mole’s nasal structure one of the most highly sensitive touch organs among animals.

Stay tuned for facts from “Nearshore”. Interested in more? Click here for the Amazon link or here for the University of Minnesota Press‘s link to the book.

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