Dune Stabilization on Minnesota Point
South St. Louis County Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds:
The beach dunes on Minnesota Point are highly susceptible to wind erosion, especially
where vegetation has been disturbed. An evaluation of Minnesota Point after
storm events revealed that erosion is accelerated where heavy foot traffic occurred.
Extensive cleanup of streets, driveways and sidewalks is required after each
significant wind event. Vast amounts of sand cross the point and are deposited
in Superior Bay, increasing the frequency of required dredging.
The goals of the dune stabilization project were to reduce the environmental
degradation and negative economic impact caused by wind-blown sands on Minnesota
Point; to identify and map highly degraded and/or highly sensitive areas of
the Minnesota Point beach dunes; to stabilize beach dunes vegetatively, and
to raise consciousness and solicit cooperation of Park Point residents and visitors
to minimize disturbance of the existing vegetation.
Minnesota Point, also know as Park Point, is part of the longest freshwater
sand bar in the world. It stretches in length approximately 10 km and varies
in width from 90 to 425 meters. The area is home to a diverse mix of animal
and plant species, homes, and businesses, including about 1,500 permanent residences.
The Park Point Recreation Area attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually
for swimming, sun bathing, wind surfing, and related activities. The need to
protect this unique resource was expressed by the International Joint Commission
in their 1993 Review of the St. Louis River System Stage I Remedial Action Plan.
The Great Lakes Basin program invested $9,284 over a 17 month period to support
mapping of the most sensitive areas, planting vegetation and educating the public
through the use of signage at preferred entrance points as well as an informational
sign at the Park Point Recreational Area.
Approximately 45,000 square feet of previously eroding dune has been stabilized.
The SWCD supervised the plantings of 20,000 culms of American Beachgrass and
2,000 Sand Cherry shrubs on two selected sites that exhibited a high degree
of erosion and potential for further degradation. The beachgrass provides maximum
ground cover and dune stabilization and the placement of the shrubs protects
the grass and encourages traffic toward formal dune crossings. Approximately
10,000 yards of sand have been conserved assuming the depth of sand scoured
from a blow hole is six feet ( a conservative estimate).
The Park Point shoreline - vegetative line - and road coverage has been digitized
and is now on a GIS layer. This will be used for future planning and reference
concerning the migration of sand and the changing vegetation line. Three major
blow holes (two that were planted and one unplanted) have been surveyed to determine
the present volume of the holes so that the value and success of this project
can be determined. All educational signs have been placed at the appropriate
The Great Lakes Basin Program has leveraged $7,705 from non-federal sources
over the life of the grant.
Contact: South St. Louis SWCD, (218) 723-4876