Propelled by wings, fins, legs, and the wind, life has found a way to Minnesota's North Shore for more than twelve thousand years. Some plants and animals have taken up residence in the region's ancient mountains, others in its lakes and flowing rivers. Together, they weave a living fabric of sublime and fascinating beauty. These organisms come to life in North Shore, a comprehensive environmental history of one of Minnesota's most beloved places.
The story of this region unfolds through the five interconnected areas of Minnesota's North Shore watershed – the meandering rivers of the Headwaters, the deep and dense forest of the Highlands, the rocky Nearshore, the drama of Lake Superior, and its mysterious islands, including Isle Royale and Susie Island archipelagos. Each section begins with an overview of the forces that have shaped the area, then the focus turns to a wide range of inhabitants, such as chorus frogs and star-nosed moles, butterworts and coaster brook trout, jeweled diatoms and pitcher plants, black bears and blue-spotted salamanders. Each chapter links to the region's broader history, from the sculpting of the land by mile-high glaciers to the role of scientific exploration, the advent of logging, the development of tourism, and the changing global climate.
North Shore reminds us that the natural history of this extraordinary region is still being created and that all of us – individually and collectively – are the authors of this ongoing narrative. Compelling and accessible, North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota's Superior Coast will provide readers with a science-based knowledge of the Minnesota North Shore watershed so that together we can write a new, hopeful chapter for its inhabitants, both human and wild.
"In North Shore, lovers of that sacred strip of scree and cold water finally have a definitive natural history. But they also have a meticulous and wondrous book that will entertain as much as educate, that demystifies even as it allows for the magical moments the North Shore is famous for inspiring. I've never felt so in tune with my favorite place as I did turning the last page of this book, and seldom have I felt so thankful."
– Peter Geye
"North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota's Superior Coast reads like a friendly and detailed journal that Great-great-great-great Grandmother Earth has been keeping from the very beginning. It tells the natural and cultural story of the North Shore: past, present, and future."
– Betsy Bowen, writer, illustrator, and long-time North Shore resident
Introduction: A Gathering of Waters
As Good As It Gets: Bird Diversity on the North Shore
Harvesting the Forest’s Bounty: Wildcrafting
Be It Ever So Humble: No Home Like That of a Pitcher Plant
Healing a Watershed for Coaster Brook Trout
The Case of the Missing Duff: Earthworm Invasions
The Secret Life of Salamanders
Stranger Than Fiction: Plant Galls and Their Makers
Black Bears and the Tettegouche Oaks
The Nose Knows: Star-Nosed Moles and a Life Down Under
North Shore Places: What’s in a Name?
Where Has All the Sewage Gone? Development and Water Quality
Hay Pickers and Grass Gatherers: Botanical Exploration along the Lakeshore
Between a Rock and a Lake: Life on the Cliff Edge
The Leading Edge: North Shore Bird Migration
IV. Lake Superior
Mapping Lake Superior: The Early Years
Searching High and Low: The Science of Lake Superior Exploration
Amphipods and Diatoms: The Big Lake’s Bread and Butter
How Much Water Is Enough? The Plumbing of Lake Superior
The Missing Link: The Lake Superior and Mississippi River Canal
The Rise and Fall of Seiches
The Chorus Frogs of Isle Royale
The Long View: Moose and Wolves on Isle Royale
Nature or Nuisance? Gulls in the Great Lakes
A Mansion of Many Rooms: The Return of Lake Trout to Superior
Epilogue: The Wild Card of Climate Change
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Chel Anderson came to live and work on Minnesota’s North Shore in 1974. Since then she has worked in various positions in the Superior National Forest, as a consulting ecologist and botanist in the private and public sectors, and with the Minnesota Biological Survey. In 2001 she received the Minnesota Chapter of the Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Award for her “tireless efforts to inventory northeast Minnesota’s plant communities, her work to support conservation action with sound science, and her extraordinary ability to inspire passion for wild things and wild places.”
Adelheid Fischer is a writer who focuses on natural history, ecology, and environmental history. She has written for many publications, including Utne Reader, Orion, Conservation, Places, and Arizona Highways. She is the coauthor of Valley of Grass: Tallgrass Prairie and Parkland of the Red River Region, winner of a Minnesota Book Award for Nature Writing. In 2014 she received the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award. A sixteen-year resident of Minnesota, Fischer now makes her home at the foot of South Mountain in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.