Seeing Habitat Restoration in a New Way
Published: Wednesday, July 29, 2020
You may have seen construction equipment on the water in the St. Louis River Estuary, but do you know what is really changing at each habitat restoration site in Minnesota and Wisconsin and why? Now, there is a new tool that can help you see how these projects are addressing the historical loss of fish and wildlife habitat in the estuary: habitat story maps, which can be found at www.bit.ly/2UJKPhN.
As part of the St. Louis River Area of Concern, state and tribal agencies in both Minnesota and Wisconsin are working with several federal agencies and local partners to improve the habitats that were historically lost or degraded before modern environmental regulations existed. There are ten habitat restoration projects located in Minnesota, six in Wisconsin, and two joint projects that are located in both states.
Each restoration project has its own unique history, restoration goals, and project features. Interactive maps help tell the story of both completed and planned projects. You will learn about project costs, funding sources, partners, and projected completion timelines, along with how you can help protect these projects. At some sites, amenities or project features to help revitalize the area can be seen, too. You can follow the restoration progress every spring and fall when the story maps are updated.
Before 2019 construction: two narrow culverts set high in grade did not allow fish passage upstream at County Road B.
After 2019 construction: culvert under County Road B allows for fish passage during high and low water.
About the St. Louis River Area of Concern
The St. Louis River AOC was designated as one of 43 sites on the Great Lakes with significant environmental damage by the United States and Canada in 1987. Nine environmental problems, called Beneficial Use Impairments in the AOC Program, were identified for the St. Louis River AOC, along with management actions to address those problems. At this time, over 47% of the 80 management actions have been completed and three of the nine impairments have been removed for the AOC.
This work is funded primarily by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, with oversight by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes National Program Office. Other funding partners are listed for each project site in the story maps. The agencies implementing work in the St. Louis River AOC are the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
This article first appeared in the Summer Issue (Jul/Aug) 2020 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.