St Louis River Estuary: The stories and the science

Several mounds of earth protruding from river water, each vegetated with one or two small bushes or trees

Grassy Point Restoration Site

Grassy Point/Kingsbury Bay Restoration Project

Grassy Point is an open-water, flat and sheltered bay in the mid-portion of the estuary known as St. Louis Bay. Once the site of sawmill businesses in the late 1800s and early 1900s, thick wood waste deposits have impacted aquatic habitat along with sediment deposition from the Keene Creek Watershed.

Restoration of Grassy Point includes remediating wood waste, deepening shallowed areas, and constructing beneficial habitat features to create a shallow sheltered bay. This will in turn enhance aquatic plant beds on the estuary flats near the main channel and provide spawning and rearing habitat for warm-water fish species within sheltered areas away from the channel and up into Keene Creek.
This project is closely integrated with nearby Kingsbury Bay, where excessive sediment deposits have created shallow conditions and formed a delta dominated by non-native, invasive narrowleaf cattail.  Kingsbury Bay will be restored through removal of sediment and invasive exotic plants. This will enhance a shallow sheltered bay, creating a more desirable mix of open water and emergent wetland and improving recreational opportunities.

The material removed from Kingsbury Bay will be beneficially reused for habitat restoration at Grassy Point. Kingsbury Bay was selected for restoration through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) settlement process for the St. Louis River Interlake/Duluth Tar site.  Kingsbury Creek is also a project selected to be funded through NRDA to reduce sedimentation from the creek into the Bay.

The overall goals of the Grassy Point/Kingsbury Bay project are:

Grassy Point

  • Remediate wood waste to the extent necessary to improve shallow sheltered bay habitat
  • Remove non-native plants
  • Beneficially reuse material dredged from Kingsbury Bay to provide a substrate for habitat restoration
  • Improve public access and recreation opportunities at Grassy Point

Kingsbury Bay

  • Remove excess sediment deposits and invasive species necessary to improve  shallow sheltered bay habitat
  • Beneficially reuse dredge material to enhance restoration at Grassy Point and reduce project cost at Kingsbury Bay

Improve public access and recreation opportunities in Kingsbury Bay

Kingsbury Creek

  • Watershed restoration to prevent sediment from entering the stream channel in an effort to stop sedimentation at the source

What's happening now?

Final preparations for the construction bid are being completed and restoration is anticipated to begin in late 2018 and continue through 2021.  Kingsbury Creek restoration will coincide with the restoration of Grassy Point and Kingsbury Bay and the design process will start in the fall of 2018. 

Funding for Keene Creek is in the process of being secured, so designs can get underway to address additional sediment entering Grassy Point and construction can begin shortly after Grassy Point is completed.

Old wooding walking bridge spanning 20 feet of water with decidious trees and shrubs in the background

Grassy Point. Click to zoom.

Aerial view of several small bays with ample aquatic vegetation.  A small island sits offshore of the divinding points of land which are populated with roads, houses and ample tree canopy

Grassy Point.

Kingsbury Bay. Click to zoom.

Aerial view of several small bays with ample aquatic vegetation.  A small island sits offshore of the divinding points of land which are populated with roads, houses and ample tree canopy

Kingsbury Bay.

What do we expect?

Sheltered bays are considered the most important type of habitat to restore in the estuary. This habitat has been severely impaired over the last century, reducing the biological productivity of the estuary. The restored stream channel and delta will provide spawning habitat for game fish such as muskellunge, northern pike, smallmouth bass, bluegill and black crappie, as well as habitat for critical forage species such as white sucker, shorthead redhorse and silver redhorse. Wood waste will be removed from a large area and replaced with substrates more suitable for aquatic plant growth and aquatic macroinvertebrate habitat.