North Shore: Headwaters.

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.

The book took 17 years to complete! So I will profile 10 facts from each section, starting with “Headwaters”.

  1. The Wisconsin glacier created the variety of distinct land forms that support the diversity of plant life in the region.
  2. Black spruce swamps host a variety of mossess that serve as a kind of sponge through which water is captured, filtered, and slowly released to surrounding lands and waters.
  3. The beaver population in the headwaters has rebounded from the European demand for their pelts during the late 1800s.
  4. 1800s timber companies focused on northern Minnesota after exhausting the pines of Michigan and Wisconsin.
  5. White pine slash from severe logging is highly flammable, and it led to intense fires such as the violent “cyclone of fire” that incinerated Hinckley, MN in 1894.
  6. 155 species of birds nest in the Superior National Forest, with 43% migrating from as far away as Peru. The reason? FOOD! There are LOTS of bugs in these woods…
  7. Minnesota leads the nation in the production of holiday wreaths. According to a 2007 report, annual profits topped $23 million.
  8. S. purpurea, or the “pitcher plant”, thrives. The plant is known for enticing insects inside with its nectar, only to have the insect become trapped and drowning in it.
  9. Efforts take place to grow a depleted coaster brook trout population in the area. This includes digging nests into clean gravel riffles and inserting fertilized eggs.
  10. Mining, tourism, overfishing and other factors all impact healthy fish populations.

Stay tuned for facts from “Highlands”. 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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