Greener Shores: Bringing Plant-Scale Knowledge to Shoreline Habitat Practitioners in the Lake Superior Basin

Along Lake Superior, coastal managers, property owners, and waterfront operators are grappling with the impacts of climate change in a highly dynamic system. Within this setting -- and in the face of limited resources to support long-term resilience strategies -- there is an emerging need for responsive habitat restoration approaches, such as the use of native plants that thrive in northern climate coastal ecosystems. At the same time, there is an increasing need to preserve cultural knowledge of and access to plants for subsistence, medicinal, cultural, and ceremonial use in Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) unceded and ceded territories along Lake Superior. Through participation in coastal training workshops and local discussions, the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve has observed that coastal landowners and managers show an interest in nature-based shoreline management practices and the co-benefits that bank-stabilizing green infrastructure along the shoreline can provide, such as habitat provision, cultural sustenance, and aesthetic appeal.

To address multiple needs identified by community members and coastal practitioners, this project will pair institutional science and Indigenous ecological knowledge at the plant scale through the creation of a professionally designed regional shoreline planting guidebook for coastal and estuarine environments. By integrating expertise from core coastal stakeholders  including Indigenous perspectives and resource managers, the team will develop a coastal plant selection guide that is accessible and useful to landowners, shoreline managers, and educators in the region and reflects, supports and elevates Ojibwe knowledge and lifeways.