MINING THE BOREAL NORTH
Click on images to learn more about the different projects.
How can communities sustain the health of Lake Superior in the face of climate change, mining, invasive species, and emerging chemicals of concern?
The challenges facing Lake Superior are many--yet local, regional, and international communities overcame enormous threats to the lake's ecosystems in the past century. My research asks: what can we learn from the extraordinary conservation recoveries of Lake Superior over the past century, as we face new interconnected challenges?
Fish, Forests, & Toxics
Lake Superior seems pure, cold, lovely, wild, and vast: a wilderness. Yet it’s under threat. Water levels have been dropping, water temperatures have been rising, and development has been fragmenting forests, draining wetlands, and cutting estuaries off from the lake.
Exotic species, particularly zebra mussels and sea lamprey, continue to wreak massive changes in food webs and entire ecosystems, and asian carp seem poised to invade the lake. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) remain, even though many of them were banned decades ago, while new synthetic endocrine-disrupting chemicals make their way into the lake.
The Lake Superior watershed is undergoing a new mining rush as demand and prices for metals increase. While new mines may mean new jobs, they can also undermine the health of human and environmental communities.
What can we learn from the history of past mines in the watershed as we try to decide whether new mines are justified? For example, do the old taconite mines on Minnesota's north shore that are currently leaching sulfate into the St. Louis River estuary and releasing mercury into the atmosphere offer us any insights into the Penokee mine in the Bad River Watershed that Gogenic Taconite is proposing?