Our Literary Outdoorsâ€¦â€¨literature ofÂ the Sportsmanâ€™s Guide lifestyle.
If you love Lake Superior, North Country, or natural history in general, check outÂ 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.Â Its sections are divided into the five interconnected areas of the North Shore watershed: Headwaters, Highlands, Nearshore, Lake Superior and Islands. Â 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”.
- The Wisconsin glacier created the variety of distinct land forms that support the diversity of plant life in the region.
- 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.
- The beaver population in the headwaters hasÂ rebounded from the European demand for their pelts duringÂ the late 1800s.
- 1800s timber companies focused on northern Minnesota after exhausting the pines of Michigan and Wisconsin.
- 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.
- 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 woodsâ€¦
- Minnesota leads the nation in the production of holiday wreaths. According to a 2007 report, annual profits topped $23 million.
- S. purpurea, or the “pitcher plant”, thrives. The plant is known for enticingÂ insects inside with its nectar, only to have the insect become trapped and drowning in it.
- Efforts take place to grow a depleted coaster brook troutÂ population in the area. This includes digging nests into clean gravel riffles and inserting fertilized eggs.
- Mining, tourism, overfishing and other factors all impactÂ healthy fish populations.