Effects of climate change appear in national parks near Great Lakesby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — National parks around the Great Lakes are showing early and damaging signs of climate change, according to a new report from two environmental groups.
The report, which details more frequent severe weather, less ice cover, and stressed wildlife at parks such as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, is by the Natural Resources Defence Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and part of a series on parks around the country.
Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency, said Stephen Saunders, a former National Park Service administrator co-authored the report.
Early signs of climate change are visible in national parks because they're among the most ecologically fragile places, he said.
"We've already had wind speeds go up over the lakes, we've had water temperatures go up, we have more heat waves, we have more downpours producing heavier quantities of water falling out and more flooding."
The report says warmer temperatures contribute to lower lake levels, the spread of invasive species and pathogens, and declining numbers of moose and wolves on Isle Royale. The tick that causes Lyme Disease was found on Isle Royale for the first time last year.
That worries the mayor of nearby Bayfield Wisconsin, Larry MacDonald, who wants the government to act to reduce the threat of climate change.
"Temperature increases are a negative to us — less ice is a negative, lower water levels are a negative, reduction of wildlife and birdwatching are problematic for us," MacDonald. "We truly face the financial reality that climate change may bring tremendous economic challenge.