St Louis River Estuary: The stories and the science

Unused railroad tracks running down a straight mound of grassy land.  A narrow channel of grassy water flows on one side, and the open river is on the other

Pickle Pond

Pickle Pond is a shallow, sheltered bay-like site along Superior Bay near Barker's Island. With a busy highway nearby, Pickle Pond is a highly visible area with recreation and habitat value. A habitat enhancement project is being developed there to increase biological diversity and create a functional wetland.


Pickle Pond is a remediation and restoration site in the St. Louis River Area of Concern, created when a rail line was constructed in Superior Bay. Two small rail bridges allow for limited water circulation between the pond and Superior Bay. An ecological assessment of Pickle Pond found it supports a number of plants and animals and serves as an important nursery for young fish and a stopover site for migratory birds. The pond has been receiving stormwater runoff for decades and contains contamination from industrial and urban sources in its sediment. Restoring habitat in Pickle Pond would increase the amount of fish and wildlife habitat in the Area of Concern.

Two brown ducks sittiong on the side of a river next to tall grasses

Mallard Ducks stop at Pickle Pond. Click to zoom.

Two brown ducks sittiong on the side of a river next to tall grasses

Mallard Ducks stop at Pickle Pond.

What is happening now?

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), City of Superior and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to assess the current conditions and restore the site. A feasibility study is underway with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This feasibility study will fill data gaps and be used to inform the restoration site design.

The goal of the study is to have the necessary information to design a project that will enhance fish and wildlife habitat, address sediment contamination, and restore a functional wetland to the pond. The project plans also to determine what can be done in the watershed to prevent future habitat deterioration.

In 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the city and the railroad discussed and refined goals for habitat improvements to the pond.

Restoration timeline

  • 2011-2013 - Habitat, water and sediment quality, and biological assessment of Pickle Pond
  • 2014-2016 Complete the feasibility study
  • 2017- Develop restoration and remediation design
  • 2018-2020 - Implement the remediation and restoration project

Read more

Pickle Pond Phase 1 Report