U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Susan Hedman has announced the completion of a major habitat restoration project and additional funding for another habitat project in the St. Louis River Area of Concern on Lake Superior.
Hedman was joined by U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Mayor Don Ness for a tour of the completed project in Chambers Grove Park in Duluth.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funded restoration work in the park and will contribute an additional $2 million to support the other habitat project at 21st Avenue West in Duluth Harbor.
“Federal, state and local partners are working together to restore habitat and to clean up contamination that accumulated in the river and harbor during decades of industrial activity that occurred before modern environmental laws were enacted,” Hedman said.
The federal government has spent over $34 million to clean up and restore the St. Louis River Area of Concern. This includes over $26 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and approximately $5.7 million from the Federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses for critical dredging projects. Minnesota Legacy Fund resources totaling $10 million have also been used for work in the St. Louis River Area of Concern.
According to Mayor Ness, “the ingenuity of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has stabilized the St. Louis River estuary in Chambers Grove Park that was severely impacted by the 2012 flood and moves us in a positive direction as the City plans park improvements of up to $1 million next year to enrich the outdoor experience for all visitors to this critical gateway park.”
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding is being used to accelerate cleanup work in the St. Louis River Area of Concern and the other remaining Areas of Concern on the U.S. side of the border. The St. Louis River Area Concern includes the lower 40 miles of the St. Louis River in Minnesota and Wisconsin and extends into the harbor area in Lake Superior.
All of the work required to clean up and restore the St. Louis River Area of Concern is expected to be completed by 2020.