Following on the approval of EIP’s Lake Superior Mitigation Bank last month, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the 23,461 acre site yesterday. Huge ‘marsh buggies’ – essentially backhoes on top of floating caterpillar treads that support weight without damaging the fragile peat soils – worked in the background as dignitaries gathered to celebrate the start of a project that will fill in 70 miles of ditches and restore healthy water flow through the site.
As described in this news article from the Duluth News Tribune, these ditches were dug between 1915 and 1930 in what became a failed attempt to convert the peat soil to farmland. The restoration project now underway will restore the natural hydrology of the site, improving both habitat values and water quality.
The broad range of organizations and agencies who attended the event represent both the variety of stakeholders who have an interest in the outcome of a large-scale ecological restoration project like this one, as well as the extent of review, approval and support needed for a successful outcome.
EIP thanks all of those who came to the celebration yesterday for their leadership, insights and participation in an historic effort to bring back to health a unique and valuable natural landscape. Attending were St. Louis County Board Commissioners Pete Stauber, Steve Raukar and Keith Nelson, Leslie Day, Regulatory Project Manager for the St. Paul District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Lori Dowling-Hanson of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Tom Wenzel, Dale Krystosek and Dave Weirens from the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources, St. Louis County representatives including Administrator Kevin Grey, Assistant County Attorney Kim Maki, Director of Planning Barbra Hayden, Holly Sampson, President of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and Tom Duffus, Midwest Region VP and Steve Hobbs, Minnesota State Director of The Conservation Fund.