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Your Green Life: Kingsbury Bay and Grassy Point wildlife habitat restoration underway

DULUTH, MN– Cleaning up the St. Louis River. That’s the goal of many local and federal agencies in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Minnesota DNR hosted a boat tour Wednesday to show some of the work being done to restore fish and wildlife habitat in the river.

Remediation, restoration, and revitalization — critical steps when it comes to cleaning up the St. Louis River Estuary in Duluth.

Pat Collins, St. Louis River Restoration Ecologist with the Minnesota DNR says, “we’re aiming to restore or recreate 17-hundred acres of that lost habitat and these two projects are part of that bigger picture.”

The Minnesota DNR says Kingsbury Bay and Grassy Point are degraded wetlands.  Collins says, “we lost a tremendous amount of fish and wildlife habitat due to the industrial development of the harbor, and dredging of the channels, and just development along the shoreline.”

Crews in the bay are working to deepen the water which has been affected by excessive sediment. The open water will allow for new habitat to grow.  “The big excavator is going to be reaching down and grabbing buckets full of sediment that we want to remove from here and putting it into a hopper barge to transport offsite.”

Offsite, to Grassy Point where two Saw Mills from the late 1800s put wood waste into the water.

“All of that just got pushed into the wetland and sank over time. There’s a layer about 5 to 8 feet thick of just board,” says Collins.

The wood has been in the water for over 100 years,  causing limited habitat growth in that area.

The two projects are 240 acres that cost nearly 16-million dollars. Most of the funding comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Collins says, “With the funding from the state, the feds, and the Natural Resource Damage assessment fund, we’re able to do a project at a scale that really matters.”

The DNR estimates nearly 100 days of dredging during the next two construction seasons. Every bucket helping improve the ecosystem of the river. “Were dealing with cleaning up where the problem is now and preventing it from reoccurring in the future at the same time.”

These projects are a part of nearly a dozen sediment remediation projects targetted by the DNR and MPCA.

They estimate these two projects will take about two years to complete.

DULUTH, MN– The Minnesota DNR hosted a boat tour Wednesday morning in Duluth to show work being done in the St. Louis River Estuary.

The Kingsbury Bay and Grassy Point restoration project is a large habitat rehabilitation effort that removes 120 years of historic sawmill wood waste from Grassy Point.

Excavated sediment washed downstream from the 2012 flood into Kingsbury Bay is also being relocated to Grassy Point to restore coastal wetland habitat.

The project is part of an effort to get the St. Louis River delisted as an area of concern.

Pat Collins, St. Louis River Restoration Ecologist with the Minnesota DNR says, “with the funding from the state, the feds, and the Natural Resource Damage assessment fund, we’re able to do a project at a scale that really matters and really makes a difference for the habitat values.”

Many agencies are involved in the cleanup project including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Wisconsin DNR, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We will bring you the full story Thursday during Your Green Life on the KBJR 6 News at 5 p.m.

Jessie Slater

Evening Anchor and Reporter

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