St Louis River Estuary: The stories and the science

About the Project

Stressor Gradients and Spatial Narratives of the St. Louis River Estuary

The St. Louis River Estuary project is about connecting the Stories with the Science of this special place to enhance spatial awareness and stewardship of the estuary. The stories, or Spatial Narratives, are told through vignettes of local resource activities, framed by perspectives of local people. The spatial narratives, developed through interviews and research, target six key activities of the estuary.

The science is based on Stressor Gradients research, incorporating factors such as population and road density, pollutant point source density, and land use. The stressor gradient developed based on these factors was used as a basis for sampling water quality and plant and macroinvertebrate communities, with the intent of quantifying relationships between land-based stressors and aquatic ecosystem indicators of condition.

The stories and science are interwoven, located in place on a Deep Map to illustrate the complexity and multiple perspectives within the estuary’s social, economic and ecological systems.  Students, decision-makers, and Lake Superior enthusiasts can engage more deeply in the complexity of the stories and science by challenging themselves with these GeoQuests played on mobile devices.  We hope these place-based learning tools will be valuable in advancing spatial literacy and conversation around environmental sustainability in coastal communities.

Funding and Support

This project was funded jointly by the Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and the Minnesota Sea Grant College Program, both supported by the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program, United States Department of Commerce, 2010-2014. The Restoration Vignette was funded independently through a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, May-Dec 2014 and updated/enhanced through a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Mar-Oct 2015.