Protecting and Restoring Minnesota’s North Shore is a report by the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition. The introduction appears below. To view the full report, please click on the link at the bottom of the page.
“The North Shore of Lake Superior is one of Minnesota’s greatest blessings. Over the decades, this rugged stretch of the world’s largest lake – and the many rivers and inland lakes that drain into it – has given millions of Minnesotans a taste of wilderness and a periodic escape from the stress of modern life. The roaring waterfalls, the quiet hiking trails, the public access to trout streams, the lakeshore preserved in state parks, and the endlessly changing and mesmerizing face of Lake Superior itself draw us here again and again.
The North Shore is a place that Minnesotans clearly love. Every year the North Shore is host to more than a million visitors. Whether you are one of the hundreds of thousands who make the trek north every summer, or keep a once-in-a-lifetime memory of the wild, cold shoreline tucked away, Lake Superior’s North Shore belongs to you. And it needs your help.
Lake Superior is so vast, so cold and so clear, that people find it hard to believe that it is threatened by pollution and habitat destruction. Standing at the top of a rocky cliff looking down on boulders that are visible fifty feet below the lake’s surface, it is hard to imagine that the stories we hear about the industrial regions downstream in the other Great Lakes have anything to do with Lake Superior.
But the truth is, Lake Superior is not immune from the problems that beset the other Great Lakes. Invasive species like the zebra mussel that ships bring up the St. Lawrence Seaway from other parts of the world are making their way into Lake Superior and our inland waters. The mouth of Lake Superior’s largest U.S. tributary, the St. Louis River, contains a series of sites historically contaminated by industry. Duluth sewers still periodically discharge raw sewage into the lake. The sprawling development that has degraded water quality and wildlife habitat on streams and lakeshore throughout the lower Great Lakes has arrived on Lake Superior’s North Shore.
Whatever your favorite Lake Superior destination – the Duluth harbor or Park Point, Knife River, Two Harbors, Gooseberry or Split Rock State Park, the Baptism or Temperance River, Lutsen and the Poplar River, the Cascade, Grand Marais – all suffer from the accumulation of historic pollution, the influx of invasive species, bacterial contamination, and polluted runoff from development. Because our problems are not yet as bad as those in the lower lakes, we have an opportunity that the lower lakes do not. The natural beauty and purity of Lake Superior can still be protected and restored in a way that may no longer be possible for the other lakes.
Help is in sight. The Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act of 2006 has been introduced in Congress to provide funding for common-sense solutions to the issues that face the Great Lakes, including Lake Superior.”