Watershed Guardian Program
St. Louis River/Lake Superior Watershed, MN

Grantee: St. Louis River Citizens Action Committee, c/o Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Basin Program Funds: $10,000
Non-federal Funds: $3,335
Project Duration: 05/1997 - 10/1998
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Unique topography and soils, including low permeable red clay and impervious urban surfaces, in the St. Louis River/Lake Superior watershed at Duluth, MN and Superior, WI have led to substantial erosion difficulties. There are 29 high quality streams and small watersheds which dissect Duluth's escarpment and act essentially as storm water conduits carrying associated point and nonpoint pollutants to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior.

Before the project.

Changes in land cover since European settlement have increased the storm water impact on water quality. The pre-Contact coniferous and mixed forest coverage has changed to predominantly deciduous forests dominated by early succession tree species, such as aspen, which has resulted in higher peak stream flow and greater stream bank erosion and sedimentation. As well, urbanization has increased impervious surfaces adding to peak flows and erosion. A reduction in peak storm flows, due to increased coniferous coverage, as well as activities undertaken as a result of riparian education in best management practices, should help reduce nonpoint source pollution to the St. Louis River/Lake Superior watershed.

The St. Louis River Citizens' Action Committee (CAC) is lead on a multi-organization funded project to carry out stream restoration projects and cultivate public awareness of stormwater impacts on water quality. This portion of the project is designed to protect Miller Creek, an urban stream in Duluth, which has a naturally reproducing brown trout population. The restoration project will establish herbivore exclosures to protect stream side northern white cedar, white pine and other conifers from predation from deer and rabbits. The conifers will increase on-land retention time for storm water by slowing snowmelt in the spring and reduce stream water temperature in an area of thermal stress for brook trout.

The St. Louis Citizens Action Committee selected a site of high thermal stress and erosion along Miller Creek to plant with northern white cedar, white pine and other conifers appropriate for the site. The intention is to ensure a thick stand of native tree species providing multiple benefits to the stream. On May 16, 1998, more than 70 volunteers planted 460 trees along Miller Creek, of those, 60 were planted at the selected sites. The volunteers also installed cylindrical exclosures designed to keep browsing rabbits, beaver and deer away from the young trees. The Citizens Action Committee also designed and installed interpretive signs at the stream-side plantings in order to inform the public about the purpose and need for the improvements.

The final project.

As a result of their work the Citizens Action Committee planted 60 conifers on about 1/2-acre along the stream and protected 80 trees from browsers with exclosures. The exclosures will be removed from the trees when they are no longer in danger from browsers. Over the estimated life of the project, approximately 29 tons of soil, 294 pounds of phosphorus and 59 pounds of nitrogen will be prevented from entering the stream. Over 100 people, students, anglers and senior citizens, were reached through the various components of the project, from being directly involved in the planting to seeing the result as they use the stream.

Contact: Lynelle Hanson, Executive Director, (218) 723-4727


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150.  projects.glc.org. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner