Celebrating Lake Superior, Restored Barker’s Island Beach

Lake Superior Day coincided with opening of Barker Island Beach to the public.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- At Barker’s Island Sunday Lake Superior was given its own day for the important role it plays in the Northland.

“It really is what draws people here and keeps people here,” said Deanna Erickson, Education Coordinator with the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve. “It supports our economy it supports our health it creates our weather, it adds a lot of beauty to our lives.”

“We’re really lucky to live here.”

This year Lake Superior Day coincides with the re-opening of Barker’s Island Beach to the public.

It was restored to combat high bacteria levels in the water, which increased the number of advisories and closures to the beach. Closures which were above the average for lakes in the region.

“The Great Lakes Beaches, if we can keep the occurrence of a advisory or closure to less than 10% of the samples, that’s pretty good, that’s about regular,” Matt Steiger, St. Louis River Area of Concern Coordinator at the Wisconsin DNR, said.

“This beach, I believe, was over 30%.”

The $800,000 project was achieved through Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, and help from the City of Superior, to implement the changes.

“The asphalt pathway that was next to the water has been removed,” Steiger said, “shoreline restoration, better trash and facilities, we added a restroom facility right at the beach.”

Natural barriers and fencing were also put in place to keep water fowl out of the vegetation–another significant cause of bacteria Steiger said.

The restoration project is just one part of the Wisconsin DNR’s action plan to delist the St. Louis River as an Area of Concern by 2025.

The City of Superior will be maintaining the newly improved beach based on a 10-year plan developed with the DNR.

Some celebrated Lake Superior Sunday by jumping in it at the newly opened beach.

There were swimmers splashing in the water, and loungers laid out on the large expanse of sand.

“Before it was kind of broken up a little bit and now it’s just the main beach thing here and whatnot so it’s, yeah, it’s very open and very kid friendly,” said Jim Brickey, at the beach with his family.

According to parents like Brickey, the improvements make the area safer and cleaner.

“I love the boardwalk that they put in, there’s a lot more access here,” said Karyn Pederson. “The waste receptacles were a really good idea, the picnic tables and it’s just a really nice facility.”

The Wisconsin DNR asks beach-goers to be mindful of the fence and other land markers, so the beach can grow and develop even more.

“As the project gets established, there’s gonna be temporary fencing and the vegetation is going to be growing–so just stay on the boardwalks and respect the plantings,” Steiger said.

“And in a few years it’s gonna look really beautiful.”

At Lake Superior Day, kids and even dogs tried out paddleboarding for free, filling the lake with the joy and love it deserves.

“Don’t take it for granted,” Erickson said.

“The lake is subject to change just like any other natural feature of the world is and it takes our effort to keep it in the great shape that it’s in.”

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