Baptism River Streambank Stablization Demonstration Project
Tettegouche State Park,
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Tettegouche State Park
Basin Program Funds:
Traditional erosion control projects that are structural, such as bulkheads,
gabions and sandbags, are not aesthetically pleasing for natural areas such
as parks. In such settings, an aesthetic approach could be achieved by using
bioengineering techniques. Unfortunately, these types of projects have been
few in number and poorly documented in Minnesota's Great Lakes watershed.
The Baptism River is known to anglers as one of the better gamefish streams
along Minnesota's North Shore. The stream supports steelhead and rainbow trout
spawning in the spring and chinook salmon and brook trout in the fall. It has
been characterized as "supporting, but threatened" for its ability to support
aquatic organisms. Sedimentation degrades stream fisheries by abrading and suffocating
organisms, reducing light penetration and photosynthesis, disrupting respiration
and feeding efficiencies of invertebrates and fish and filling required hiding
space for fry. Sediment also disrupts aquatic plants, warms water and transports
nutrients attached to the soil, increasing undesirable plant and algae growth.
Bioengineering techniques to control soil erosion and sedimentation are aesthetically
pleasing alternatives to structural solutions composed of concrete, sandbags
and other "hard engineering" processes. There are relatively few examples of
bioengineering for the north shore of Lake Superior available for those undertaking
such projects. Therefore Tettegouche State Park personnel propose to develop
a bioengineering project which will provide long-term protection of the Baptism
River but also be aesthetically appealing. This demonstration project will also
be used for the park interpretative program.
In the fall of 1998 project personnel identified and assessed potential sites,
eventually choosing a 3/4 acre site with a slope ration of 2:1. In the spring,
they consulted with Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources staff on an
action plan. The group decided to use fascine bundles of willow as well as dormant
stakes of willow, red osier dogwood and balsam poplar. A fast-growing native
vegetation called blue joint grass and an erosion control mat were used for
protection while the site was under construction.
The stakes and wattles were prepared by staff members but the planting involved
several volunteer groups. Two groups from Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning
Center took part in the project to learn about the process with the intention
of applying it to some of their own problem sites. Another group was part of
the University of Minnesota – Duluth's Outdoor Recreation Program. Both groups
were experienced climbers and had the required climbing gear to work well on
the steep slope.
The group used approximately 2,500 dormant stakes, 400 feet of wattles, 11
pounds of blue joint grass, two bushels of seed oats, and 40 rolls of erosion
control mats. The project is helping to foster relations between the park and
the local groups who are volunteering their time to help with the project.
During 1999 - 2000, project personnel monitored and evaluated the site and
preformed vegetation assessment, site protection and interpretive planning.
Additionally, project personnel designed and printed a brochure that includes
a synopsis of the project as well as photos and contacts for more information.
The brochures will be disseminated at the Park office display as well as at
a covered rack at the remediated site.
The project remediated a 3/4 acre site. Project personnel estimate a 20 year
life for the project, during which time they expect up to 12,000 tons of soil,
129,000 pounds of phosphorus and 25,800 pounds of nitrogen to be kept on the
land and out of the water. Additionally, the site will be visited by several
hundred college students and teachers as well as landowners and personnel from
local environmental learning centers and approximately 45,000 visitors annually.
In the future, project personnel will develop an interpretive panel listing
the history behind the site, the methods used in erosion control, the materials
used and a summary of the results. Project personnel also intend to include
this material on CD for those interested in detailed descriptions of the project.
Contact: Gary Hoeft, Asst. Park Manager, (218) 226-6365