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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Designing Towards Restoring High Quality Habitat in Degraded Areas of Concern

Region 3, January 9, 2014
Clough Island is one of the most ecologically productive areas in the St. Louis River.
Clough Island is one of the most ecologically productive areas in the St. Louis River. - Photo Credit: n/a
A digital rendering depicts possible future 21st Avenue West Habitat Complex Remediation and Restoration Site
A digital rendering depicts possible future 21st Avenue West Habitat Complex Remediation and Restoration Site - Photo Credit: n/a

The St. Louis River is the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior, and while supporting a major Great Lakes port, has been the site of 100 years of industrialization and urban development. The lower 21 miles consists of a 12,000-acre estuary providing important wetland, sand beach, forested, and aquatic habitat types for a wide variety of fish and wildlife communities. The lower portion of the St. Louis River and surrounding watershed was designated an Area of Concern in 1989 due to the presence of chemical contaminants, poor water quality, reduced fish and wildlife populations and habitat loss. The Environmental Contaminants program at the Twin Cities Ecological Services Field Office has been an active partner within the lower St. Louis River conservation community for more than 15 years, assisting Area of Concern recovery efforts through investigations of chemical effects, advising on contaminated sediment remediation, spill contingency planning, assessing natural resource damages, and supporting a variety of other fish and wildlife habitat projects.

 

Working collaboratively through existing state and local partnerships, the field office used Great Lakes Restoration Initiative support to develop an Ecological Design Report in two important areas of the Lower St. Louis River: the 40th Avenue West Habitat Complex and the 21st Avenue West Habitat Complex. The purpose of the Ecological Design Report is to provide realistic ecological design scenarios to guide the development of feasibility studies, remedial design, project construction (both remedial and restoration), and other components necessary to ultimately restore high quality habitat in these degraded areas.

The final Ecological Design Report for the 40th Avenue West Habitat Complex was completed in October 2012, and the final Ecological Design Report for the 21st Ave West Habitat Complex was completed in December 2013. Both Reports can be found on the TCFO EC Program’s website at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/twincities/ec/index.html .

Following the completion of the 40th Avenue West Complex Ecological Design Report, the Field Office initiated a Focused Feasibility Study with our partners through the GLRI to develop and evaluate construction alternatives and other actions necessary to achieve the ecological vision for the project area. We expect the Feasibility Study to be completed in December 2014 and to be used to guide final project design and construction to restore important St. Louis River habitat.

Contact Info: Zachary Jorgenson, 612-725-3548 Ext 2247, zachary_jorgenson@fws.gov