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The Great Lakes Forest

The Great Lakes Forest: An Environmental and Social History

Susan L. Flader Editor
Copyright Date: 1983
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 372
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  • Book Info
    The Great Lakes Forest
    Book Description:

    The Great Lakes Forest was first published in 1983. The upper Great Lakes region is an area with a common natural and human history in which the forest has been a prime factor. Known as the Laurentian Mixed Forest in the United States (it is a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees) and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest in Canada, it was subject to massive exploitation in the second half of the nineteenth century, when loggers cleared the forest’s pines to build the railroads, farms, and cities of the Middle West. Another distinctive trait of the region is the fact that it lies north of the effective limits of agriculture. Generations of native Woodland Indians adapted to life in the forest, but the failure of white settlers to understand the area’s agricultural limitations resulted in decades of wrenching social and institutional adjustment in the twentieth century. The 18 papers in this book were written in an effort to understand the relation between social and environmental change in the Great Lakes forest, a region that includes northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and adjacent parts of Ontario. Contributors from the biological and social sciences, the humanities, and the management professions view the forest as a dynamic ecosystem that includes people, with their attitudes and institutions, as well as forest vegetation, waters, and wildlife. This multidisciplinary approach provides fresh and provocative insights into the history of the region. An introductory chapter by Susan Flader explores the concept of the dynamic ecosystem, contrasting it with earlier notions of human-environmental relations and showing how the concept serves as the book’s organizing principles. The first if five major sections describes the Great Lakes forest from the perspective of the biological sciences and examines processes of change in vegetation and wildlife over time. These authors agree that human disturbance of the forest has had irreversible effects that now lock us into continued management in order to avoid even more costly and destructive changes in the ecosystem. Papers in the second section deal with the relationship of the Menominee Indians of Wisconsin to their forest homeland. The Indians have tenaciously protected this forest from dismemberment and exploitative logging, and today it remains the largest block of old-growth timber in the Lake States. The economic, social, and public policy implications of the logging era and its aftermath are examined in a section which also points to the contrast between land-use and resource policy in the U.S. and Canadian portions of the forest. “Status and Prospects” looks at present and future land use in the forest, and a final section, “Perceptions and Values,” is a fascinating evaluation of human attitudes towards the forest. The Great Lakes Forest is published in association with the Forest History Society.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5526-7
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Photo Essay
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Introduction: An Ecosystem Perspective on Environmental and Social Change
    (pp. xix-xxxii)
    Susan L. Flader

    The draining of Glacial Lake Duluth, the killing of mammoth and mastodon by early human hunters, the oscillation of birch, pine,and hemlock at Hell’s Kitchen Lake, the explorations of Cartier, Nicolet, Radisson, and Marquette, the logging of Saginaw pine, the impatient confidence in productivity and the assumption that the plow would follow the ax, the invasion of sea lamprey, the establishment of Voyageurs National Park, the tall stack of the Sudbury smelter—all are aspects of environmental and social change in the Great Lakes forest. They constitute elements of a comprehensive approach to the history of the region.

    The purpose...

  6. Part 1 Forest Ecosystems:: Millennia of Change

    • 1 The Forest the Settlers Saw
      (pp. 3-16)
      Eric A. Bourdo Jr.

      In the popular notion, the United States east of the Mississippi River is imagined to have been at one time an unbroken expanse of dense forest. However, current recognition of such features as Transeau’s “prairie peninsula,” which penetrated east as far as Ohio, and the existence of prairie enclaves even in southern Michigan and Wisconsin attest that this was not wholly true. Moreover, conflagrations (whether set by Indians or by lightning) contributed to the maintenance of vast expanses of pine forests and must certainly have left large areas almost bare of trees for a time.

      A considerable literature concerns attempts...

    • 2 New Light on the Changing Forest
      (pp. 17-32)
      Orie L. Loucks

      Most of what we know of the changing forest we have learned from direct examination of remnants of both modern and presettlement forests distributed across the landscape. Most of these are as we see them in postlogging times. We look at species composition, size distributions of the stems, the species making up the largest stems, and the composition of new seedlings. From observations such as these, scientists constructed ideas of forest succession. Much has unfolded in the past two decades to modify our views of how the forests of the Great Lakes region are coupled to their environments. In this...

    • 3 The Human Impact on Northern Forest Ecosystems
      (pp. 33-51)
      Clifford E. Ahlgren and Isabel F. Ahlgren

      Long before Thoreau first used the term forest succession in 1860, people were aware that the forest was not static, that various species succeeded one another. The reason and order of this succession has been the subject of ecological deliberation for many years. In the northern coniferous forests of the Lake States, perturbation has interrupted natural progression of species and kept the forests returning to early stages of succession for many centuries. In the conifer forests of Wisconsin (Stearns, 1949), Michigan (Graham, 1941), and Minnesota (Nordin and Grigal, 1976; Heinselman, 1973), that state of ecological homeostasis referred to as the...

    • 4 Wildlife in a Changing Environment
      (pp. 52-80)
      David M. Gates, C. H. D. Clarke and James T. Harris

      There has never been anything static about the environment, nor will there be. This is true of the changes in wildlife in the Great Lakes region. The natural course of evolution had resulted in a rich fauna by the time the region was repeatedly overwhelmed with ice. The melting of the last ice cap provides a convenient time to start our history. Present living resources reflect the earlier fauna as influenced by the vast changes that have occurred over the past 10,000 and more years.

      When the last, or Wisconsin, glaciation began to retreat, plants and animals on the fringes...

  7. Part 2 The Indian Experience

    • 5 Indians in a Changing Environment
      (pp. 83-95)
      Charles E. Cleland

      Anthropologists and archaeologists have long referred to the native peoples of eastern North America as Woodland Indians. This general appellation indicates not only that they were forest dwellers but also that they were superbly adapted to the use of forest resources. Both directly and indirectly, these Indians were dependent for their survival on thousands of forest plants and plant products. The use of each species required precise knowledge and specific sets of extractive skills, which were developed by trial and error through hundreds of generations. In every sense, the cultures of upper Great Lakes Indians of historic times—such as...

    • 6 The Significance of the Menominee Experience in the Forest History of the Great Lakes Region
      (pp. 96-112)
      Duncan A. Harkin

      Anyone who drives through Menominee County, Wisconsin, or flies over in an airplane, can hardly fail to be impressed that something distinctive happened there. The land-use pattern is unlike that of surrounding counties. Ninety-three percent of the land there is forested, whereas the surrounding counties share an equal mixture of farm land and woodland. Moreover, the forests in Menominee County carry three times the board-foot volume per acre of the average Wisconsin woodland. Menominee County, the reservation of the Menominee Indians since 1854, with its dense stands of tall white pines, stands of large northern hardwoods, and mixed stands of...

    • 7 A Menominee Perspective
      (pp. 113-118)
      Robert E. Deer

      “We accepted our present reservation when it was considered of no value by our white friends. All we ask is that we are permitted to keep it as a home” (Shames, 1972). These thoughts are as relevant today as they were when spoken by Menominee Chief Neopit in 1882 as he looked out upon the land of the Menominees.

      In making these statements, Chief Neopit was reflecting the feelings of his tribe and past Menominee chiefs such as Running Wolf, Roaring Thunder, Calumet Eagle, and Bear, who fought for generations to protect their Indian homelands. The history of the Menominees...

  8. Part 3 A Century of Change in the Institutional and Social Environment

    • 8 The Lumbering Frontier
      (pp. 121-136)
      Charles E. Twining

      When one wonders if anything new might be said about frontiers in America, one wonders to good purpose. One can, however, offer impressions and respond to what others have said or failed to say. That most of the following discussion pertains to the American side of the border with Canada is more the result of the author's familiarity than anything else. The frontier process, its progression and, in many cases, the participants paid no more attention to political distinctions than did the pine tree. As the Nova Scotian statesman Joseph Howe remarked to an 1865 commercial convention in Detroit, “The...

    • 9 The Institutional Environment of the Logging Era in Wisconsin
      (pp. 137-155)
      James Willard Hurst

      Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin began their growth in the first half of the nineteenth century endowed with a great forest resource including immense stands of pine and hardwoods. Public policy embodied mainly in legislation and in common (judge-made) law materially affected how they used this resource. But factors outside the law powerfully shaped the use of the forest, so much so that often the law was only an instrument or reflection of these external elements. Particularly important were certain attitudes and values broadly shared throughout the community. This consensus ran so deep that people accepted it as unquestionable common sense,...

    • 10 Changing Land Use and Policies: The Lake States
      (pp. 156-176)
      Raleigh Barlowe

      Students of land resource policy often argue that successful policies and programs call for the operation of a threefold framework. First, there must be a physical and biological base capable of supporting the contemplated development or program. This test of physical and biological capability has a double significance. There must be a resource base that can support the desired activity, and those who use the resources must respect the ecological laws of nature and protect the resource base if the activity is to continue over time.

      A second necessary test involves the technological and economic feasibility of a policy or...

    • 11 Forest Land-Use Evolution in Ontario’s Upper Great Lakes Basin
      (pp. 177-193)
      R. J. Burgar

      The Canadian portion of the upper Great Lakes basin (the Georgian Bay and the northern Lake Huron and Lake Superior watersheds) lies entirely within the Province of Ontario. When Canada became a self-governing nation under the terms of the British North America Act of 1867, Ontario assumed the responsibility for both social development and land-use policy within the province. Major changes in the province's use of the forest have occurred in the little more than a century since the 1867 Confederation. The purpose of this chapter is to describe Ontario's use of its upper Great Lakes forestland and to discuss...

    • 12 The Response of Forest Industries to a Changing Environment
      (pp. 194-204)
      Lynn Sandberg

      “Why do you want to be a forester, boy? We cut all the pine!” The time was the mid 1930s. The speaker was a grizzled old man, with a big erect frame and powerful arms and shoulders, despite his seventy-odd years. Those gnarled hands had carved a homestead in the pine and hardwood forest of northern Wisconsin, guided a team of horses snaking logs through the snows to the river, and wielded a peavey on the spring log drives of long ago. He was typical of the pioneering breed that opened up the Great Lakes region to settlement, and he...

    • 13 Social Adjustments to a Changing Environment
      (pp. 205-220)
      Hazel H. Reinhardt

      The development of the Lake States revolved around logging, mining, and agriculture. The interrelationship of these activities gave the region a unique experience and produced profound social adjustments. The economic development of the northern counties of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota took place in the context of the booming American economy of westward movement and settlement. Although many settlers passed by the wooded areas of the Lake States for the prairies, the easily accessible and abundant white pine timber provided a prosperous economic base for this northland. This timber made possible the construction of the farms and cities of the prairie....

  9. Part 4 Status and Prospects

    • 14 A Status Report on the Great Lakes Forest: New Resource Concepts and Management Issues
      (pp. 223-242)
      Richard A. Skok and Clarence B. Buckman

      Although defined on the basis of its forest characteristics, the Great Lakes forest is part of a political, social, and economic network shaped and characterized by its geographical association with the major world crop and food production area, by important industrial and manufacturing complexes, by major existing and potential mining activities, and by large metropolitan centers immediately to the south and east. It is easier to discuss the biological and physical aspects of this forested region than its social and economic dimensions. The institutional differences that exist between countries, states, and even counties render generalizations somewhat hazardous. This point needs...

    • 15 The Future of the Great Lakes Forest Region: Integrated Scenario from a Delphi Study
      (pp. 243-250)
      Susan L. Flader

      In conjunction with the “Symposium on Environmental Change in the Great Lakes Forest,” symposium planners conducted a Delphi study to focus serious attention on potential changes, problems, and policies in the future of the region, as a complement to the historical emphasis of most of the symposium papers. The Delphi technique is a method of systematic collation of judgments on a particular topic through a series of questionnaires incorporating feedback of opinions derived from earlier responses. The panel of respondents was composed of more than fifty individuals selected for their special expertise in various aspects of environmental change and public...

  10. Part 5 Perceptions and Values

    • 16 Thinking about the Forest: A Comparative View from Three Continents
      (pp. 253-273)
      Michael Williams

      Environmental change is best appreciated and understood against long time perspectives and broad horizons. Proposed here is a wideranging comparative perspective of the western view of change in the forest environment in three different places America, Britain, and Australia. It is true that each country is different, with its own distinctive assemblage and system of vegetation, climate, and soils. Each has a different history of use, and each has a different set of institutions and administration that has grown up in response to particular national needs and aspirations. But it is evident that each is linked by a common language...

    • 17 Changing Conceptions of the Great Lakes Forest: Jacques Cartier to Sigurd Olson
      (pp. 274-294)
      Peter A. Fritzell

      If history is viewed as an attempt to account not only for actual states of past environments but also for their figurative states in the images and conceptions, graphic and verbal, of people engaged even distantly with those environments, then Great Lakes forest history—no less than any other history—is as much a study of the manners and styles in which people composed the forest as it is a study in the actual composition of the forest. The results of such a two-dimensional study tell a story in which exploratory preconceptions dominate discovered actualities for almost three centuries, from...

    • 18 Human Choice in the Great Lakes Wildlands
      (pp. 295-318)
      Samuel P. Hays

      This chapter offers historical perspective on the most critical factor in future policy with regard to the Great Lakes forest—the human perceptions, values, and institutions that constitute the major setting in which choices are made. It concerns choices made by people in their daily lives as they have come into direct or vicarious contact with forests, choices made by wood production companies, by forest professionals and managers, by local, state, and national public officials. And it asks how and why these choices changed over the course of time.

      Policies regarding the Great Lakes forest stem primarily from this human...

  11. Glossary of Scientific Names
    (pp. 319-322)
  12. Index
    (pp. 325-332)
  13. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 333-336)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 337-337)
  15. [Maps]
    (pp. None)