Answers Emerge About How Global Warming Could Affect North Shore Tourism

Odd scene on Lake Superior.
An odd scene on Lake Superior.

University of Minnesota researchers in the middle of studying how projected climate change could affect tourism and recreation on the North Shore of Lake Superior will present their findings so far at two events intended for people who live and work in the area.

The meetings will take place in Lutsen on March 15 and at in Two Harbors on March 16.

Based on data about climate, economy, and visitation, and including visitor surveys and interviews with community leaders, natural resource managers, and visitors, concerns are emerging about how snowpack, forest conditions, wildlife habitat and other parts of the ecosystem will change in the years ahead, and how it might affect the area’s tourism businesses and workers.

“Though we have more and more data around how climate will affect natural resources in northern Minnesota, we know very little about how climate will affect recreation and tourism resources,” said Mae Davenport, Associate Professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Forest Resources and the project’s lead investigator. The team also included faculty from Carleton College and North Carolina State University.

In the year ahead, the researchers, with funding from Minnesota Sea Grant, will conduct in-depth interviews with visitors and further develop plans to address anticipated changes.

According to Sea Grant, questions include, “How many trips, on average, do tourists make to the North Shore each summer? Will an increased risk of heat waves and fires put a damper on North Shore recreation and tourism?” The general themes of the research are:

  • Potential climate futures for the North Shore region
  • How visitors will respond to changing conditions
  • How the local economy will be affected
  • What community members are saying about climate readiness on the North Shore

The events run from 5 – 8 p.m. and will take place at Lutsen Resort (5700 W MN-61) on March 15 and at Grand Superior Lodge (2862 MN-61) on March 16. While the events are free, registration is required. Register by contacting Karen Katz, Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota, katzx096@umn.edu or 651-246-0974.

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