Nemadji River Basin Information Management Project
Carlton County, MN

Grantee: Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $10,000
Non-federal Funds: $13,730
Project Duration: 09/1994 - 01/1996
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Various land use practices, such as past logging activities, land clearing for agriculture, and wetland drainage, have greatly increased Nemadji River, stream velocities, peak flows and runoff. The altered stream hydrology has led to channel scouring and streambank undercutting. In the harbor, this has resulted in increased suspended sediment loads, increased turbidity, and reduction of available sunlight for aquatic plants and animals. Frequent dredging and filling operations threaten already impacted wetlands and increases turbidity in the harbor.

The goal of the Nemadji River Basin Information Management Project was to provide program and administrative support to a multi-partner River Basin Study approved by the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Forest Service. The River Basin Study identifies and recommends Best Management Practices (BMPs) and remedial actions that will reduce nonpoint pollution and sedimentation in the Duluth-Superior harbor and within the Nemadji Watershed.

The Nemadji River Basin covers 275,000 acres in Carlton and Pine counties in Minnesota (60% of the watershed) and Douglas County in Wisconsin (40% of the watershed). Approximately 90% of the watershed is forested. The erosion in the watershed has been identified in Stage I and II documents of the St. Louis River Remedial Action Plan as a high priority problem affecting both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Approximately 50% of the total annual sediment delivered to the Duluth-Superior harbor comes from the Nemadji Watershed.

The Great Lakes Basin program provided $10,000 over a fifteen month period to carry out the non-technical aspects of the River Basin Study including the development of an information and education plan, the development a project video and the logistic support for three technical committees.

With the funding provided through this grant, the Nemadji River Basin Project staff were able to efficiently and effectively communicate with the Planning Committee, Steering Committee, and eight technical work groups of the federal River Basin Study. The Information Manager was responsible for facilitating eight Planning Committee meetings and one Steering Committee meeting, and the coordination of a two-day conference and tour where technical workgroup reports were presented to more than 60 people. Presentations about the Nemadji River Basin Project were made at 13 local government meetings (townships and county boards) and 3 St. Louis River Remedial Action Plan meetings.

A watershed landowner mailing list was developed and four "Nemadji Notes" Newsletters have been mailed out to over 4,000 landowners with each mailing. A portable information display was developed and used at five locations/events including the Army Corps of Engineers Marine Museum, the Holiday Center Earth Day Fair, the Nature Conservancy Annual Meeting (all three in Duluth, MN), Pattison State Park (Superior, WI), and the Carlton County Fair (Barnum, MN).

The display was also used at the International Joint Commission's biennial meeting in Duluth, MN in September, 1995. A bus tour of the Nemadji was also conducted that looked at successful and unsuccessful past practices in the watershed.

A tree planting project was carried out where 100 watershed residents (including several youth groups) planted 5,000 trees on six sites in the watershed covering approximately ten acres. There were 30 American Indian youth and 30 elementary school youth that participated in water quality monitoring exercises in the watershed. The importance of good land stewardship practices to prevent erosion was stressed in all these programs.

Script development and filming for a video about the Nemadji River Basin project was completed. The video was finished and aired on the public television series “Venture North” ( WDSE Duluth) in October, 1995. A copy of the video is housed at the District office for future educational programs.

As a result of the Nemadji project, many recommendations have been developed to improve soil erosion and sedimentation. A road side erosion inventory and feed lot inventory were completed and will lead to the implementation of site specific projects in the watershed.

The Great Lakes Basin Program funds have leveraged more than $13,730 over the life of the project from non-federal sources.

Contact: Carlton SWCD, (218) 384-3903


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. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner