Forestry expert discusses changes to BWCAWDr. Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Hardwood Ecology, will talk about how climate change has, and will, affect one the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the River Falls Public Library.
Dr. Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Hardwood Ecology, will talk about how climate change has, and will, affect one the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the River Falls Public Library.
Frelich has studied trees in the BWCAW than 18 years. Specifically, he studies the disruptive forces that affect the forest, like animals, forest fires and logging.
Deer are changing the nature of the BWCAW forest by chomping white pine and northern white cedar, but they wouldn’t be there if not for logging and road-building.
Some of these disturbances are vital to the survival of the forest as we’ve come to know it, Frelich says.
And other forces threaten to change the BWCAW until the area becomes something unrecognizable, perhaps in a single lifetime.
The biggest disturbance of all, according to Frelich, is global climate change, a natural response to human actions. By his estimate and in the judgment of other ecologists and climate experts, the BWCAW will change dramatically within this century. Gone will be the moose; once vast stands of spruce and jack pine will dwindle to the point of nonexistence.
Earthworms and other species will increasingly invade.
Climate change is already affecting the appearance of the forest in ways so subtle most people don’t notice. Red maple in the heart of the BWCAW is one sign. Another is the dieback of birch trees due to too-warm soils, most apparent along the Minnesota North Shore but reaching north into the BWCAW.
Within 100 years, Frelich says, the BWCAW, one of the last, best examples of the great North Woods, will perhaps look like southern Iowa.
Frelich received a Ph. D. in forest ecology from UW-Madison in 1986. He has published numerous papers on forest ecology and is listed among the top 1% of all scientists in the world in the Science Citation Index, Ecology and Environment Category.
He has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, National Geographic and on many Minnesota TV and radio stations.
His appearance at the library is part of an ongoing gallery exhibit, “Paradise Lost? Climate Change in the Northwoods.” The free exhibit is generally open during regular library hours and will continue through Sunday, April 26.
Call the library at 425-0905 for more information or go to: www.riverfallspubliclibrary.org.