Watershed Guardian Program
St. Louis River/Lake Superior Watershed,
St. Louis River Citizens Action Committee, c/o Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Basin Program Funds:
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.
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.
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
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