Nearly 150 people braved -15° temps to fill Pier B hotel’s ballroom in Duluth on January 31. They sloughed off thick parkas and gloves to celebrate news of the St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC) restoration progress.
The waterway, skirting between Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, has been home to extensive industry since the mid-1800s. Manufacturing, logging, and shipping re-shaped and polluted the river before modern environmental regulations, leaving a host of issues behind.
While there is much work to be done, Barb Huberty, MPCA St. Louis River Area of Concern Coordinator, had good news to report from this multi-agency effort. Of the 77 management actions, as determined by the project’s Remedial Action Plan, 34 projects are listed as either “completed” or as “no further action needed,” making for an overall completion rate of 44%. Also, there are presently 42 remediation, restoration and other projects (such as studies and assessments) currently in progress.
Some 2018 progress highlights in Minnesota and Wisconsin:
- Remediation of contaminated sediments at three slips, including the Minnesota Slip by the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.
- Dredge material was used to create underwater habitat features at 21st Avenue West.
- The first of four culverts were installed to restore fish passage. This is one of many important projects serving the 12,000-acre nursery for the majority of western Lake Superior’s fish population. The region also hosts a diversity wildlife and native plants, including wild rice.
Wild rice was also the theme of the keynote delivered by Peter David, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission biologist and author. His speech, “Lessons Learned from Manoomin,” focused on what the native plant has to teach us today.
As the last of the cake was finished, the St. Louis River Alliance closed the evening with ways to stay involved in the Area of Concern program. The next event is their annual Winter Walk scheduled for Saturday, February 23. Participants can hike, snowshoe, or fat tire bike to Thompson Dam and gather for a campfire with hot beverages. Also, the group is seeking volunteers to monitor Piping Plovers within the AOC. More information is available on their website: www.stlouisriver.org.