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Marengo River Bank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project
Midwest Region, March 1, 2018
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Marengo River Bank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project site before restoration.
Marengo River Bank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project site before restoration. - Photo Credit: Superior Rivers Watershed Partnership
Marengo River Bank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project during construction.
Marengo River Bank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project during construction. - Photo Credit: Ted Koehler - USFWS
Marengo River Bank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project after construction.
Marengo River Bank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project after construction. - Photo Credit: Superior Rivers Watershed Partnership

The Marengo River Bank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project in Lincoln Township, Bayfield County Wisconsin was completed in the fall of 2017. The project consisted of using the best modern bioengineering practices to stabilize a collapsing hillside along the Marengo River. This erosional bank was impacting the stability and safety of local roadway infrastructure on East Altamont Road, and was a chronic sedimentation source to the river, releasing approximately 263 cubic yards annually. This sediment was negatively impacting brook trout and other fish habitat within one of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office priority brook trout restoration areas in the Wisconsin Lake Superior basin. This portion of the Marengo River is also a Class II trout stream and popular destination for both local and visiting anglers.

Initial funding came from the U.S. Forest Service in 2015 through the Lake Superior Landscape Restoration Partnership to pay for a channel meander study and preliminary project design. Additional funding for the substantial on-the-ground and in-the-water restoration work came through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Habitat Partnership, U.S. Forest Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Other project partners included the Superior Rivers Watershed Partnership, Bayfield County Land & Water Conservation Department and the Town of Lincoln. A 300 foot long framework of 150 logs along the eroding bank was constructed by a local heavy equipment contractor K&D Excavating under the direction of Interfluve Inc., which specializes in river restoration and water resources engineering. The restoration structures were designed to absorb excessive river flow energy, slow the water down, and deflect it away from the bluff. The quiet water zone created by the rough edge of the structures also improves in-channel habitat by providing sheltering zones for juvenile fish and other aquatic life. Numerous small pools and eddy zones have been created, and small fish were soon observed in the new quiet water habitat. Topsoil was applied to the re-contoured river bank, and the entire disturbed area was seeded. Common milkweed will also be seeded to the higher elevation areas this spring to enhance the site for monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

 

With the construction complete the road has reopened in a much safer condition. Because the bio-engineering practices blend well with the landscape, some travelers may not notice the great work that has taken place, but as a result of the hard work and collaboration of many conservation partners, brook trout and a host of other fish and wildlife will benefit from these restoration actions.


Contact Info: Ted Koehler, 715-682-6185, ted_koehler@fws.gov
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