A Closer Look at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

A Closer Look at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

An attempted river selfie with some of my field supplies.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was authorized as the nation’s first national lakeshore in 1966. The mission of the park is to preserve the shoreline, cliffs, beaches, and dunes, and to provide an extraordinary space for recreation. The park is divided into two zones: the Lakeshore Zone, consisting of federal land managed by the National Park Service; and the Inland Buffer Zone, which is a combination of federal, state, and private ownership. This distinction has already made for some interesting management conversations at the park-wide trainings – for example, it was cool to hear the employees have a discussion with the superintendent on the park’s plan to start charging use fees. For my specific project I am working in the Beaver Basin Wilderness area of Pictured Rocks. Beaver Basin is a 12,000-acre area protected under the 1964 Wilderness Act and contains forests, streams, lakes, wetlands, and 13 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. The purpose of wilderness designations is generally to provide stronger protections for the land’s natural conditions, opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, as well as scientific, educational, and historical values. That being said, there are six dams in Beaver Basin that directly conflict with these wilderness values. Hence, my supervisor and I are interested in collecting data to assess changes that have been caused by the dams and to predict changes that may occur if the dams are altered or removed. More information about my specific project coming in the next post! 

This week I was able to visit two of the dam sites. At each site I recorded water temperature, water level, and stream discharge (the amount of water flowing past a given point, typically in cubic feet per second), and performed routine maintenance on data loggers set up at each site. I loved getting out in the field, wading in the stream, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the hardwood forests of Beaver Basin. 

One of the dams in Beaver Basin.
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