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Natural Resource Damage Assessment & Restoration

St. Louis River Interlake/Duluth Tar Site

 

Available for Public Review & Comment:

DRAFT RESTORATION PLAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

To restore natural resources injured from releases of hazardous substances at the St. Louis River Interlake/Duluth Tar Site, Duluth, Minnesota 

 

Wild rice stand in the St. Louis River estuary.

Wild rice stand in the St. Louis River estuary.

Photo courtesy of the 1854 Treaty Authority

The St. Louis River flows through northeastern Minnesota, with the lower portion forming the State boundary with Wisconsin before discharging to Lake Superior between the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. This lower part of the St. Louis River is often referred to as the St. Louis River estuary, and has been influenced by a century of industrial activity. Through corrective actions such as improved sewage treatment, stormwater management, and remediation of historically contaminated sites; and, through habitat restoration efforts guided by the Lower St. Louis River Habitat Plan, the St. Louis River estuary is on the road to recovery and provides significant natural resource opportunities.

 

Two distinct areas of the St. Louis River estuary were designated together as a Superfund site in 1983 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency - the St. Louis River/Interlake/Duluth Tar (SLRIDT) Site and the United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) Site. This natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDAR) case focuses on the SLRIDT portion of the St. Louis River Superfund site.

 

 

Sign on Stryker Bay warning about effects of contaminated sediments.

Sign on Stryker Bay warning about effects of contaminated sediments.

Natural resources (e.g., surface water, sediments, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) at the SLRIDT Site have been exposed to, and adversely affected by, releases of hazardous substances (primarily polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs) from the Site. Remediation of sediment contamination at the SLRIDT Site was completed in 2011; monitoring and corrective actions (as necessary) are in progress. While remediation removes or reduces the risks of hazardous substances to humans and the environment to acceptable levels, restoration seeks to compensate for the losses of natural resources and their uses the public incurs until remediation is complete. Restoration compensation typically takes the form of habitat enhancement and/or protection, outdoor recreational projects, or other efforts designed to address the same types of natural resources and related services that were impacted.

 

“Natural resource trustees” are designated and provided authority to restore natural resources injured by hazardous substances. At the SLRIDT Site, the natural resource trustees include: the U.S. Department of the Interior (Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs), the U.S. Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the 1854 Treaty Authority (governed by the Bois Forte and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa), and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

 

 

Natural Resource Trustees

for the

St. Louis River Estuary NRDAR

 

1854 Treaty Authority

 

BIA logo

Bureau of Indian Affairs

 

Fond du Lac Tribe logo

Fond du Lac Tribe

 

FWS logo

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Minnesota DNR logo

Minnesota

Department of Natural Resources

 

Minnesota Polluation Control Agency logo

Minnesota

Pollution Control Agency

 

 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency logo

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 

 

Wisconsin DNR logo

Wisconsin

Department of Natural Resources

 

The natural resource trustees at the SLRIDT Site have conducted a natural resource damage assessment, and are now proposing to restore natural resources and related services as described in a Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (Draft RP/EA) to complete the NRDAR. The Draft RP/EA accompanies a proposed settlement between the natural resource trustees and the SLRIDT Site Responsible Parties. Under that proposed settlement (https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decree/us-et-al-v-xik-llc-et-al), the trustees would direct $6,476,742 to fund the restoration and enhancement of shallow sheltered embayment habitat at Kingsbury Bay (including recreational access and cultural education opportunities), implement watershed protection along Kingsbury Creek, and restore wild rice in the St. Louis River estuary. These proposed restoration actions are presented as the Preferred Alternative in the Draft RP/EA.

 

The natural resource trustees invite the public to review and comment on the Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the St. Louis River/Interlake/Duluth Tar Site Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration. Below are links to the Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment.

 

Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment Adobe PDF icon

 

Appendix A. Fish Study Data - Excel File

 

How to Provide Comments

Written comments on the Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the SLRIDT Site should be addressed to Ronald Wieland, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and reference “SLRDIT RP/EA” in the subject line. All comments on the RP/EA must be submitted no later than August 6, 2017.  Comments may be submitted either by e-mail or by mail:

 


To submit comments:

Send them to:

By e-mail

Ronald.Wieland@state.mn.us

By mail

Ronald Wieland
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road North
St. Paul, MN 55155.

 

 

The Executive Summary from the Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment follows.

 

St. Louis River Interlake Site Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration

Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment

 

Executive Summary

The purpose of this draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) is to describe how the Trustees for the St. Louis River Interlake/Duluth Tar (SLRIDT) Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) – the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the 1854 Treaty Authority, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – will utilize funds obtained through resolution of claims for natural resource damages for the restoration of natural resources and services injured by the release of hazardous substances at the SLRIDT Site. Injuries to natural resources in the 93.6-acre Response Action Area (which is the Assessment Area for the purposes of this NRDAR), including surface water, sediment, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic vegetation, fish, birds, and other wildlife, were caused by exposure of those resources primarily to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These injuries resulted in a loss of the ecological and recreational services that Assessment Area resources would otherwise have provided.

 

The Trustees have lodged with the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota a proposed Consent Decree memorializing a proposed settlement of the Trustees’ natural resource damage claims relating to hazardous substances historically released by the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to the St. Louis River. Under the proposed settlement, the Trustees would have a total of $6.5 million available for the restoration, replacement, or acquisition of the equivalent of the natural resources injured, destroyed, or lost.

 

Consistent with the United States Department of the Interior NRDAR regulations and the National Environmental Policy Act, the Trustees evaluated a suite of alternatives for conducting the type and scale of restoration sufficient to compensate the public for natural resource injuries and service losses. This restoration would be implemented with the funds from the proposed settlement. Based on selection factors including location, technical feasibility, cost effectiveness, provision of natural resource services similar to those lost due to contamination, and net environmental consequences, the Trustees have identified Alternatives B, D, and E as the preferred alternative (Exhibit ES-1). Under the preferred alternative, the Trustees would conduct shallow sheltered embayment enhancement/restoration at Kingsbury Bay, which includes recreational access and cultural education opportunities; implement watershed protection at Kingsbury Creek; and restore wild rice in the St. Louis River estuary.

 

Kingsbury Bay is a 70-acre shallow sheltered embayment adjacent to, but separate from, the SLRIDT Site. It is a focus area for ecological, cultural, and recreational restoration under the Trustees’ preferred alternative. This area has experienced sedimentation due to erosion problems on Kingsbury Creek, which is adversely impacting the ecological services provided by Kingsbury Bay, eliminating aquatic habitat, and encouraging the growth of monotypic stands of cattail within the bay. Together, the Kingsbury Bay and Kingsbury Creek projects would develop and protect open water habitat; create access and recreational opportunities to the bay; create opportunities for wild rice regeneration; provide cultural education opportunities; and protect the Kingsbury Bay restoration by reducing sediment washing into the bay from Kingsbury Creek. In addition, wild rice restoration with cultural education opportunities would be implemented in areas slated for wild rice restoration under the Wild Rice Restoration Implementation Plan for the St. Louis River Estuary (MNDNR 2014a) (described in more detail in Chapter 5 and Appendix E). Wild rice restoration would be conducted in collaboration with cultural educational opportunities by constructing displays that communicate the importance of wild rice to the health of the St. Louis River estuary as well as to maintaining the cultural traditions of local tribes.

 

This draft RP/EA is available for review and comment for a period of 30 days in accordance with 43 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) § 11.81(d)(2). The Trustees will address public comments and will respond to those comments as part of the final RP/EA for the project types and two specific restoration projects proposed for the SLRIDT NRDAR.

 

EXHIBIT ES- 1 RESTORATION INCLUDED UNDER THE PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE

Text Box: RESTORATION PROJECT	  APPROXIMATE COST  Alternative B: Kingsbury Bay	$5,500,000  Alternative D: Kingsbury Creek	$637,500  Alternative E: Wild Rice with Cultural Education Opportunities	$362,000  Total Cost:	$6.5 million

 


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Last updated: July 6, 2017