Grassy Point, Kingsbury Bay Restoration to Complete December 2020

Minnesota DNR hosted tour of restoration site, where sediment and wood waste are being removed.

DULUTH, Minn.- The Minnesota DNR hosted a tour of the Grassy Point and Kingsbury Bay restoration project taking place between the Bong Bridge and Lake Superior Zoo.

The project aims to remove sediment from Kingsbury Bay and 120 years of historic sawmill wood waste from Grassy Point.

The restoration is expected to be done in December of 2020.

“We’re gonna, we’re setting the stage so as this project or as this site develops now into the future, it really recovers on its own better,” said Pat Collins, River Restoration Ecologist for the DNR.

Divers plunge in the water of Grassy Point and what they’re digging up isn’t normally found in this habitat: wood.

The wood comes from old sawmills which occupied the area from 1890-1918. It has built up over 120 years, damaging the environment.

“It’s like a 5–8 foot thick layer of old boards, old ends and pieces, and slabs and chunks of wood that’s just down there at the bottom of the river and not decomposing and just a great volume of it,” Collins said.

Rather than throw out all of the wood it will be reused to help eliminate the invasive cattail plant species growing on the marshy island.

“So the areas where those plants are currently dominating we’ll typically maybe build those up higher or make them deeper so that those plants don’t reestablish there,” Melissa Sjolund, Habitat Coordinator, said.

Meanwhile at Kingsbury Bay, clean excess sediment that is shallowing the bay is being dug up.

“The sediment, it’s got high organic content, it’s got nutrients, it’s got little bugs in it that are good for the basis of our food chain and it also has little plant parts in it too,” said Sjolund.

That clean sediment will be used to help establish more native wetland plants, and create more deep, open water habitat for fish.

“We’re looking at places that fish need for spawning, we’re looking for places that fish need for nursery areas for young fish,” Collins said. “And then we’re looking for places that adult fish or game fish need for nesting, for foraging.”

This 240-acre project costs $15 million, and requires crews to dive and operate the equipment on the barges.

“Yes these projects are expensive and they take a lot of time and a lot of people to pull off and once we see the habitat returning to where we want it to be, I really hope that people will embrace the river and everyone will become really good stewards of this resource,” said Sjolund.

And restoring this part of the St. Louis River Estuary aims to help the wildlife in Lake Superior as well.

“It’s gonna provide those places for the biological productivity to happen that feeds the fish community in Lake Superior,” Collins said.

“So we’re looking forward to contributing to the health of Lake Superior by making the St. Louis River better.”

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