Our changing lake: emerging water resource issues in the Apostle Islands

Changing Lake
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Unique among the world’s waters, Lake Superior lays an impressive foundation for our collective experience of the Apostle Islands. The lake is big, omnipresent, and seemingly resistant to change. However, a closer look reveals a variety of emerging issues and threats.

High lake levels and increasingly intense storms have caused significant coastal erosion and damage to coastal resources. Historic rainfall events have delivered excess nutrients and sediments to the lake, affecting its clarity and interacting with warming water temperatures to cause unprecedented blooms of harmful algae.

Discoveries of invasive mussel infestations and microplastics pollution have underscored the lake’s susceptibility to more widespread Great Lakes stressors.

During the last 50 years, challenges to Great Lakes’ health (e.g., species invasions, water quality degradation, water quantity threats, etc.) have been met with a mix of policy improvements and sustained management actions. The emerging water resource threats identified here emphasize Lake Superior’s continued vulnerabilities but also present new opportunities for its protection.

Brenda Moraska Lafrancois, National Park Service

Presenter biography

Brenda Lafrancois

Brenda Lafrancois is a regional aquatic ecologist with the National Park Service.

Although she works with parks throughout the Midwestern U.S., she is fortunate to be stationed along the shores of Lake Superior.

Brenda received her BS in Biology/Aquatic Sciences from UW-La Crosse and her PhD in Ecology from Colorado State University. She’s been working for the National Park Service since 2002, and lives in greater Cornucopia with her husband, daughter, and dog.

Co-authors and contributors (alphabetically): Jon Barge, Harvey Bootsma, Sandra Brovold, Anne Cotter, David VanderMeulen, Joshua Delvaux, Jay Glase, Sarah Grosshuesch, Chelsea Hatzenbuhler, Joel Hoffman, Mark Hove, Toben Lafrancois, Shania Leask, Roselynd Lin, Michael McCartney, Christy Meredith, Elizabeth Minor, Greg Peterson, Sara Okum, Erik Pilgrim, Kaitlin Reinl, Robert Sterner, Anett Trebitz, Benjamin Turschak, and Barry Wiechman.

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