Coastal recreation and tourism along the North Shore of Lake Superior is a driving force of the region’s economy. Compared to Minnesota as a whole, the North Shore’s Lake and Cook counties rely more heavily on tourism for employment and tax revenues. Tourists engage in a variety of seasonally dependent recreational activities, including hiking, boating, scenic driving, fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling. The North Shore is a gateway to the Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Grand Portage National Monument and several state parks and forests. Coastal recreation, cultural and natural resources are particularly vulnerable to climate-related impacts. Thus, nature-based tourism and outdoor recreation providers in coastal regions need to be aware of how increasingly variable environmental conditions are likely to impact the perceptions and behaviors of recreationists and tourists.
The North Shore Community Climate Readiness project is a multi-methods research and outreach project focused on exploring how projected hydroclimatic conditions will affect the behaviors of recreationists and tourists and impact local economies. The project combines hydroclimatic modeling with a diverse array of social science methodologies to estimate shifts in the demand for recreation and tourism under alternative future emissions scenarios. Researchers from across the geophysical, economic, social and spatial sciences are currently engaged in the research and outreach project. The project team consists of members from The University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University and Carleton College; the Minnesota Sea Grant program funds the project.
The overarching goals of the project are:
1) to assess the capacity of local communities to adapt to
changing climatic conditions using stakeholder interviews,
workshops, and a content analysis of local management plans.
2) to determine the risks to nature-based recreation resources
and tourism destinations using hydroclimatic modeling, past
visitation data and on-site visitor surveys.
- Together, the findings from the adaptive capacity and destination risk assessments will allow researchers to work with local communities to
3) identify scientifically-grounded planning and management
recommendations to be used by local community planners,
natural resource managers and elected officials.
We've collected and analyzed a series of "community climate narratives" to understand how residents and resource managers feel about climate change and its impacts to the North Shore.
Using data collected from on-site surveys delivered to visitors across the North Shore, we have estimated the economic contribution of outdoor recreation and tourism to the region's economy.
Outdoor recreation on the North Shore is dependent on hydrologic and climatic conditions. Using advanced hydroclimatic modeling, we've developed a region-specific set of hydroclimatic conditions.
The North Shore region means a lot to both local community members and tourists. Using data collected from Instagram, we're determining what the most personally meaningful activities and resources are.
The North Shore has a variety of policies designed to ensure the provision of public goods and services. We've evaluated those policies to determine whether or not they can address climate-related impacts.
After conducting nearly 2,000 surveys with visitors, we've compiled critical information on both how the region's recources are being used now as well as how use will shift as the the region's climate changes.