"Sitting miles offshore in Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park is about as good as you can get for a wilderness sanctuary in the interior of a continent.
But while the park's isolation has provided a perfect, controlled laboratory for its famous predator-prey studies of wolves and moose, the island is not immune to 'unnatural' threats, both from the air and the ground.
Mercury from air pollution is measurable in the fat of its inland-lake fish, and stowaways from hikers' boots - non-native, invasive plant species such as garlic mustard -- now sprout from its interior trails.
The problems facing Isle Royale are among dozens of threats documented in a decade-long study released Tuesday of 80 of America"s national parklands.
The 'sobering' findings by the National Parks Conservation Association: 'National park cultural resources are often ignored and consistently underfunded, many natural resources are being degraded, and throughout the (National) Park System, conservation efforts are failing to keep pace with the forces that threaten resources.'"
Dave Orrick reports for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press June 29, 2011.