The North Shore region has been defined, for this study, as the area immediately adjacent to Lake Superior’s shoreline from Two Harbors, MN to Grand Portage, MN. The North Shore Community Climate Readiness project is focused on the watersheds within Lake County and Cook County that drain directly into Lake Superior (i.e., the Baptism-Brule and Beaver-Lester watersheds). A dozen small communities exist within the study area with populations ranging from 176 to 3,666. Tourism contributes significantly to the transient population of the region; winter recreationists visit the region for a single day or up to several weeks seeking opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and ice-dependent (climbing, fishing, skating) activities.
Land cover is composed primarily of forested (fir-spruce-birch), rolling terrain (Sawtooth Mountains) inland and pebble beaches with a mixed overstory (aspen-birch-oak-pine) along the lakeshore. Snowpack (13.6 inches on average during the winter season), ice depth (an average of 18.7 inches at inland lakes), cold temperatures (an average daily high of 18.8⁰F), and extreme wind chills (average daily minimum wind chill of -9.2⁰F ) further define the study area’s winter season. Winter recreation service providers include dog-sledding and snowmobiling outfitters and guides, snowshoe tours and a major ski hill destination for both casual recreationists and competitive athletes.