St Louis River Estuary: The stories and the science

40th Avenue West Restoration Site

Most of the Area of Concern related work is proposed for the southern portion of the site. Click to zoom.

Most of the Area of Concern related work is proposed for the southern portion of the site.

The 40th Ave West Restoration Site is a degraded open water river flat and shallow sheltered bay near Erie Pier, the Bong Bridge and the M. L. Hibbard Renewable Energy Center in West Duluth. Impacted by industrial uses, this 332-acre site was once more sheltered from wind and waves. This encouraged growth of aquatic plants and provided habitat that served as productive spawning, nursery and hunting areas for both prey fish (minnows) and game fish including walleye, muskellunge, lake sturgeon, smallmouth bass, bluegill and black crappie. The goal of the project is to restore the area by providing sheltered, shallow-water habitat.

What is happening now?

The site has been examined and a preferred design is almost complete. The design includes construction of shallow areas through beneficial reuse of dredged materials. This will help establish aquatic plants and macroinvertebrates (bottom-dwelling bugs and animals like dragonflies, stoneflies, leeches and crayfish), leading the way to encourage a healthy and thriving aquatic ecosystem for fish to spawn, grow and hunt.

40th Avenue West restoration site. Click to zoom.

40th Avenue West restoration site.

A focused feasibility study to assess design alternatives and costs was completed in August 2015. The study provides concepts for improving the site by:

  • restoring some of the shoreline;
  • increasing aquatic vegetation by making areas shallower and building either shoals or islands;
  • dredging some areas for overwintering fish habitat; and,
  • addressing risks associated with minor contaminant levels in the the sediment.

Alternative Design for Islands (Note: Other alternative is for the islands to be shoals instead. Shoals lie just below the water surface and predominant aquatic vegetation would be submerged). Click to zoom.

Alternative Design for Islands (Note: Other alternative is for the islands to be shoals instead. Shoals lie just below the water surface and predominant aquatic vegetation would be submerged).

Summaries of past and present project area data and assessments have also been compiled in this report. It has been determined that the ponds behind Erie Pier are in need of sediment remediation, and that work is moving forward under the state remediation program. A final engineered design for the rest of the site is planned to improve habitat. The restoration team plans to have construction specifications and permitting in hand by the end of 2016, with construction occurring during the 2017 – 2019 seasons.

Restoration timeline

  • 2009 - 2012 - Planning phase
  • 2013 - 2016 - Feasibility study and engineering design
  • 2017 - 2019 - Construction

Maps