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Climbing Temps and Visitor Behavior: North Shore Tourism in Tomorrow's Climate

Photo: Aerial Lift Bridge. Photo by Chris J. Benson

Next week, University of Minnesota researchers are coming to Lutsen and Two Harbors, Minn., to talk about the results of a study focused on the future of tourism with respect to the area's projected climate. The events run from 5 - 8 p.m. and will take place at Lutsen Resort (5700 W MN-61) on March 15 and at Grand Superior Lodge (2862 MN-61) on March 16. (March 16 POSTPONED due to weather. Rescheduled for May 5th from 5-7:30 p.m.) The events are free and community members are welcome but registration is required as space is limited. To register, contact Karen Katz, Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota, katzx096@umn.edu or 651-246-0974.

"Though we have more and more data around how climate will affect natural resources in northern Minnesota, we know very little about how climate will affect recreation and tourism resources," said Mae Davenport, Associate Professor in the University of Minnesota's Department of Forest Resources and the project's lead investigator.

Multiple studies have documented that climatic patterns are shifting over the Lake Superior Basin. With funding from the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program, Davenport and her colleagues from Carleton College and North Carolina State University localized a climate model and conducted a visitor survey to make inroads into understanding the relationships between visitor behavior and projected climate along Minnesota's north shore. They are also developing tools to help assess plans for managing crises such as extreme weather, fires or hazardous air quality.

"This information is critical to communities and business owners as they plan for the future," said Davenport who, along with her colleagues, designed the study to help local leaders anticipate future conditions.

Backed by climate models, economic data, historic park visitation data and surveys of recent visitors, the researchers report community leaders, natural resource professionals and visitors are concerned about what changes in snowpack, forest conditions, and species distributions mean for Minnesota's north shore tourism industry. The researchers have completed interviews with local leaders and are planning to conduct in-depth interviews with visitors and further response planning in 2016. Next week, however, they are planning to share project results and answer questions in Lutsen and Two Harbors. Find more information about the two events on the Minnesota Sea Grant website: www.seagrant.umn.edu/news.

Posted on March 9, 2016

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