The effort to reshape the forest along Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior is advancing, now with the U.S. Forest Service moving to help conifers reclaim their historic dominance along the lake.
The Duluth News Tribune reports Superior National Forest officials are preparing an environmental assessment of the so-called North Shore Restoration Effort. It’s part of the larger North Shore Forest Collaborative that includes private landowners, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, and county and tribal forestry agencies.
The Forest Service has scheduled a public open house on their plans for Jan. 10 in Grand Marais.
The problem is apparent to anyone who has driven along Highway 61 over the past 25 years. Acres of dead and dying birch trees are replaced by a sea of grass, shrubs and deer. An estimated 600 square miles of forest along the lake — from the shore to the top of the ridge, stretching from Two Harbors to Pigeon River — have been affected by the change in forest cover.
Unlike inland forests, about 70 percent of the North Shore forest is owned by private landowners.
The Forest Service part of the effort will focus on using selective logging and reforestation to restore white spruce, white cedar and white pine on nearly 40,000 acres (62 square miles) of federal land in the area, mostly along the upper ridge along the North Shore.
Nancy Larson, Gunflint District Ranger, said that experts from the NRCS, DNR and consulting foresters will be available at the open house to answer landowner questions about restoration activities on private property.