In order to define the Northwoods as a region based on fishing and hunting license sales, it was necessary to find a source that could supply it. This source was the DNR (Department of Natural Recourses). The Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota DNR sent their data via e-mail in an Excel spread sheet format. Some states were more willing to supply their data than others, which led to a few delays in the production of the final product. Each state’s data was compiled in different formats, in order to utilize this data it was necessary to manipulate and restructure the data to one uniform formats. The data was now ready to be uploaded to ArcGIS™ to create several maps for analysis. To define the Northwoods by resorts on lakes, criteria was set to decide what lakes were included in the analysis. Criteria applied included: size of 35 square kilometers, the lake must have a name, Great Lakes are excluded, and water body must be a lake not a stream, marsh, ditch, or pond. Using Google Earth the locations of each resort on the lakes that met the criteria were found and the data was recorded by latitude and longitude in an Excel spread sheet. The data was then converted from hours minutes and seconds to decimal degrees to be uploaded to ArcGIS™ for cluster analysis.
Is the Northwoods a distinct region in the United States? This simple question has been the basis of this study for the past three months. The question is answered with a simple yes or no. In the minds of the researchers the answer was a definite yes, but why? This thought-provoking one word question led to the investigation to prove or disprove this theory. This particular study researched data from the DNR offices from the states of Wisconsin Michigan and Minnesota. Using this data 16 maps were compiled.
Figure 1: This map could not be created until after all of the data was compiled. Once that was finished this version came to be “The Northwoods” based on hunting and fishing license data and lake criteria. All the data was gone though from the maps created and noted all the counties that repeatedly had high numbers of information and from there this outline was created. There will be a few counties that show up in some maps, but they are just anomalies and couldn’t be included in the region. Counties with high populations tend to do this. This map will play an important role in helping show how our data defines the Northwoods.
The results of three months of research led to the creation of Figure 1. All of the data other than the resorts and lakes data are accurate to the county level. It became clear that the borders for the Northwoods region should be based on political boundaries. 51 counties are within the Northwoods region. This led to others questions such as, how did this conclusion come about? The remainder of the discussion will describe what brought about this conclusion.
Figure 2: In this map the lake shapefile was taken and with the lakes layer selected down to lakes that were greater than 35 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 8500 acres. This may seem very large, but the question of can the Northwoods be defined by lakes, came up. With the lakes that met the criteria select, Google Earth was used to locate resorts and lodges located on the selected lakes. After finding the latitudes and longitudes for each resort, they were converted to decimal degrees using Microsoft Excel™, and exported into ArcGIS™, once the projections coincided; this above map came to be. As you can see a majority of the resorts show up in the Northwoods region. This is because a majority of the lakes that met the defined criteria also are located in our Northwoods region. Using this map, it can be proven that the Northwoods region is relatively defined by resorts on 35 square kilometer lakes.
Figure 2 is a depiction of the all resorts on lakes 35 square kilometers and larger. Based on the size, the vast differences in fishing techniques and life style, the Great Lakes were excluded in this study. After gathering all locations of the resorts from Google Earth™ and converting the latitudes and longitudes to decimal degrees the resorts layer on ArcGIS™ was created. Comparing Figure 1 and Figure 2 a visual cluster analysis shows that the vast majority of the resorts on these big lakes fall within the Northwoods. What about the lakes themselves, do most of them lay in the Northwoods? At what size does the pattern of northern lakes cease to exist?
Figure 3 shows the size lakes that were used in the resorts research and show the best depiction of a region. A clear pattern of big lakes being mostly in a northern area and grouped together can be supported.
When the size is reduced to 25 square kilometers, as seen in Figure 4, more lakes appear in the region however several more outliers pop up in areas away from the cluster. This makes it much harder to support the existence of a region.
As the size gets smaller more and more anomalies begin to appear as seen in Figure 5, and the region begins to fade off the map.
Other then the lower part of Michigan the region no longer can be determined from the location of lakes by a visual analysis.
At 10 square kilometers more lakes do begin to appear in the northern areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota, but with the abundance of lakes across the states the distinction of a region cannot be determined.
The lakes are broken down in size from Figure 3 through Figure 7. Figure 3 starts at the size lake that was used in the resorts analysis. Lakes of this 35 square kilometer size are clustered in a distinct area of the states. This area happens to be in the far north. As lakes are added and the size is decreased the northern trend starts to break down, and the lakes begin to disperse themselves across the states. Figure 7 shows the lakes at 10 square kilometers, this map displays a total lack of cluster and the region can no longer be distinguished from this data. The best cluster pattern was seen in Figure 3. The northern areas have lakes, and big ones, they also have many resorts on these lakes. This should mean that people in counties that are around this basic area buy more fishing licenses.
Figure 8 shows the number of licenses sold per county in total. This number is simply a raw number that can skew the perception of a region, because each county has a different population and different size. Urban areas will appear darker just because there are more people in that county. Other counties such as St. Louis county in northern Minnesota are very large and have lots of resorts which could mean many fishermen are buying licenses there from elsewhere.
Locals, that is who is being represented Figure 9. People who are residents of the state and buy a license in state are shown above. The data is very spread across the three states giving little evidence of a clear region. But this data is not normalized and urban areas are shining through once again such as Detroit, Grand Rapids and the Twin Cities.
Figures 8 through 10 display the total raw numbers of fishing licenses sold in the three states. These gross raw numbers don’t say too much for drawing up regions, but the numbers are an important step in the right direction and are bringing pleasing results to the playing field.
In Figure 11 and 12 the raw numbers that were gathered in Figures 8 to 10 were normalized against United States Census data to show usable numbers in the form of a percentage. Figure 11 tells the tale as a distinct pattern starts to emerge off the page. The percentage of people buying licenses in the northern areas starts to become apparent. Saint Clair county pops out however, this is an anomaly because it does not fit in with the other areas of density, thus it was excluded. With that county out of the picture a distinct region is beginning to appear in the north. Figure 11 combined with the resorts data in Figure 2, and the 35 kilometer lakes in Figure 3, a common trend of counties begin to appear in the north. A region is beginning to form from the data. Can the same be said for other outdoor sports such as hunting? If hunting license data is compared to fishing license data does the trend continue and support the existence of a region and furthermore support the location of this region?
All hunting licenses sold of any verity are shown in the map above. Not too much can be said about this data but if it is broken down in to its smaller categories and normalized against county population the same way the fishing license data was broken down will a region begin to appear?
In Figure 14, the state locals are represented by their purchase of a local license. This data is not yet normalized but is a good building block. If this data is normalized by population a trend may begin to appear.
The border-jumpers that live in Wisconsin and hunt the Upper Peninsula of Michigan are clearly seen in Figure 15. All the bordering counties between Wisconsin and Michigan stand out clearly. However, little regional data can be gathered.
Now that the residential hunting licenses have been normalized in Figure 16 a similar trend can start to be seen as compared to Figures 2, 3 and 11. This is especially true for the data seen in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The normalized data seen in Figure 17 shows a similar trend to that seen in Figure 16. Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin stand out as the trend that was seen in the fishing, lakes and resorts maps are starting to be supported by hunting normalized data as well. The Northwoods region basis on initial criteria is a plausible conclusion.
Figure 18 tells something about Michigan. Not many people per county buy archery licenses in fact only Saint Clair county shows up and that is due to bow hunting for carp. Wisconsin is the bow hunting headquarters for the three states and it supports the region in Wisconsin.
When the totals came in for Figure 19 the results are stunning. The percent of small game licenses sold in the three states shows a clear map that correlates with Figure 2,3,11. The common trend of northern counties is depicted clearly. By selecting counties that this trend seems to hold true the borders for the Northwoods Region can start to be drawn. With 4 solid supporting maps not only does a region exist, it’s clear where the region is.
The results seen in Figure 15 when normalized for Figure 20 really expose the Wisconsin to Michigan border jumpers showing this area in the darkest black. A similar occurrence happens in Figure 21 as the data is quite similar to Figure 20. The trend continues around the all the bording counties of each state showing people from neighboring states crossing the border to hunt. The center counties of Minnesota, Michigan, and parts of Central Eastern Wisconsin show hollow spots in the data. The data is interesting and fun to see other trends however it is does not bring out the Northwoods region.
Figure 22 shows the normalized data from figure 18. The results did not change very much and it shows that much of Michigan does not buy Archery Hunting licenses and Wisconsin stands out.
Why is there such an abundance of small game licenses sold in the Southeast of Minnesota? After some short research and thought, the realization of what lives in this area makes it apparent why it stands out from the rest. This is an area that is big in pheasant and prairie dog hunting causing this area to really stand out.
While not all the information provided proves the Northwoods area to be exactly what this project defines to be the Northwoods, the information as a total backs up the region. Hunting and fishing definitely is a part of the Northwoods. The maps that best define the region are Figure 11 and Figure 19, (Percent Residential Licenses and Percent Small Game Licenses) respectively. These two maps show extremely well the delineation of the Northwoods region. Hunting is a little harder to use to define the Northwoods region because with hunting you don’t need a lake or anything overly specific. Hunting can be done on farm land or in the woods, so hunting happens all over the three states. The other part of the project is the lakes and resorts defining the Northwoods as shown in Figures 2 and 3. From looking at the maps there are lakes that fall outside of the defined region, but for the most part the Northwoods can be defined by lakes and resorts. This lakes and resorts part really can coincide with all of the fishing license data. Where there are lakes there will be resorts that people will travel to and fish, whether they are in-state or out-of-state residents.
Johnston, R.J., Derek Gregory, Geraldine Pratt, and Michael Watts. The Dictionary of Human Geography. Malden: Blackwell Pub, 2000.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources. 2008 Hunting and Fishing License data. (Landsing MI) http://www.michigan.gov/dnr
Programs and tools: ESRI ArcGIS™, Adobe Illustrator™, Google Earth™ ,Microsoft Excel™ , Microsoft Visio™.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2008 Hunting and Fishing License data. (St. Paul, MN) http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/index.html
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 2008 Hunting and Fishing license data. (Madison, WI) http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/
Zelinsky, Wilbur. "NORTH AMERICA'S VERNACULAR REGIONS." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 70 (1980): 1-16.