I came across two different but related newspaper stories this week in regards to our beloved Northern forest areas. One involves a proposed 450 foot cell phone tower near Ely, about 1.5 miles from the BWCA. The other article involves climate changes that is and will continue to affect our woods.
Cell phone controversies are often in the news. The choice is the visual impact of the tower on the local landscape and the need for individuals to keep in contact with each other and in this case the need to call for help when needed.Â Friends of the Boundary Water Wilderness, an advocacy group, have filed a lawsuit to stop construction of the tower. They would like to see a shorter tower and are concerned at the visual impact of blinking lights and just the structure itself which can be seen from 8 lakes. They contend the allure of the area is simply its remoteness and that you need to assume some risks by going to the park.
ATT claims that a shorter tower would not suffice due to the hilly topography of the area. 250,000 visitors a year come to the BWCA and that safety is the number one concern. Even township officials where the tower would be built admit that 911 call service is spotty now and the tower would improve that.
The National Park Service say they are use to these concerns and have dealt with them nationwide. One example they use is the Grand Canyon, where only a small area of the North Rim receives cell phone service. Employees say everyday the spot is jammed with people attempting to get coverage.Â Discussion boards are full of opinions on this. (by the way…the above photo is a picture of a cell phone tower disguised as a tree which is being done around the nation).
The other story here is from an article that appeared in the Star Tribune titledÂ ”Northwoods Landscape Under Attack”. It talks about University of Minnesota report soon to be released that predicts that the praries are marching quickly North and East and that the forest of Northern Minnesota as we know them will look much different.
The author of the study, Lee Frelich is the director of Hardwood Ecology at the U. He says the combination of storms, fires, and invasive insects combined with deer and European earthworms reproduction will remove mature forests from the landscape by preventing tree reproduction. He thinks some tree species will die out in Minnesota. Jack pine, black spruce, balsam fir and aspen are already on the edge and survive partly because of the low temperatures. Any slight increase in average temperatures and these species will die. More insects will survive with the warmer temperatures and deer populations will devour many seedlings. With the worms, there will be less leaves and mulch making growing conditions much drier.
The paper calls the change in Northern forest the “savannafication” ofÂ the woods, with more grassland and scattered trees and brush and Minnesota’s land will resemble more like Missouri .Â Makes me wish I hadn’t taken down those Birch trees last spring. The small positive portion of the paper says new species may emerge and the lumber and paper industries are very flexible and innovative in using different woods.Â A slight hooray….