Separate Efforts – Binational Progress
Separate efforts in Canada and the United States have had the combined effect of protecting a rare resource: Lake Superior coastal wetlands.
In September the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announced that they had purchased 3,170 hectares (7,835 acres) on Lake Superior’s Black Bay Peninsula in Canada. The NCC is interested in preserving the diverse ecology of western Lake Superior and the protected area includes more than 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) of coastal wetlands and almost 1,900 hectares (4,700 acres) of coastal forest on both the Black Bay and the Nipigon Bay sides of the Black Bay Peninsula. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation played a critical role by supporting the purchase through private donation.
This is the largest NCC project to date in western Lake Superior, and the Canadian organization notes in a news release that:
With a mosaic of typical north shore habitats, including rare coastal wetlands, upland forests, rivers, creeks and coastline, the Black Bay project is part of a much larger Provincially Significant Wetland located across the top of the Black Bay Peninsula. This provincially designated wetland is the largest on the north shore of Lake Superior.
Also in September, the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy (SWP) announced the permanent protection for two unique coastal properties on Lake Superior totalling over 3,100 ft (~945 m) of sand beach that comprises sensitive dune and swale habitat, coastal wetlands and stands of old growth forest. Less than 13% of Lake Superior coastline is composed of sand beach with even less open to the public. The SWP notes that the new protected Lake Superior beaches will soon be open to local residents and tourists alike.
The Eagle’s Nest Community Forest is located 7 mi. (~11.3 km) west of the city of Marquette and includes a variety of forest types and coastal wetlands including 1,130 feet (~344.4 metres) of Lake Superior sand shoreline. Previously owned by the same family since the 1870’s, the property was acquired by Superior Watershed Partnership who is currently developing a management plan. As a regional land conservancy the SWP will keep this property from proposed subdivision and development in perpetuity. The community forest will provide multiple educational and recreational opportunities for area residents and visitors year-round including: hiking and cross-country ski trails, nature-watching opportunities, and public access to unique and varied coastal ecosystems. The SWP Great Lakes Conservation Corps (GLCC), which employs young adults (18-25 years), will assist with trail design and trail construction for public access.
Recently the SWP was awarded a second GLRI Community Forest grant of $400,000 USD to acquire a high priority Lake Superior coastal property in Alger County including the mouth of the Laughing Whitefish River. The Laughing Whitefish Community Forest is located approximately 20 miles (~32.2 kilometres) west of Munising and is dominated by forested uplands including old growth white pine, coastal wetlands, over 1,200 feet (~365.8 metres) of the Laughing Whitefish River and over 2,000 feet (609.6 metres) of Lake Superior sand beach. The Laughing Whitefish Community Forest will also preserve important coastal ecosystems and provide educational and recreational opportunities for area residents and tourists.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada
The NCC is Canada’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (~2.8 million acres), coast to coast, with more than 74,400 hectares (~184,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) manages the program. Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under through the program enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.
The Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy
The Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy is a local Great Lakes organization serving the communities and tribes of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with emphasis on protecting and restoring the landscapes and rivers that drain to the surrounding waters of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The organization is headquartered in Marquette, Michigan. As a local organization the SWP includes over 30 seasonal Great Lakes Conservation Corps employees who complete a wide variety of environmental protection and restoration projects including; habitat restoration, trail construction, tree planting, wetland restoration, dune restoration, invasive species removal, water quality monitoring and community pollution prevention projects. As a local land conservancy the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy prioritizes the permanent protection of high quality riparian and coastal habitats of the Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron watersheds located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Learn more at: www.superiorwatershed.org