Baptism River Streambank Stablization Demonstration Project
Tettegouche State Park, MN

Grantee: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Tettegouche State Park
Basin Program Funds: $9,653
Non-federal Funds: $6,509
Project Duration: 06/1998 - 10/2000
Status: complete

Problem Statement
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


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