21st Ave W bay in Duluth undergoing massive habitat restoration project

By KBJR News 1

July 18, 2014 Updated Jul 18, 2014 at 7:02 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokespeople, about 150,000 cubic yards of material, dredged from spots throughout the Twin Ports shipping channel, will be dumped in the 21st Avenue West embayment.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency restoration project manager Dan Breneman says the goal of the effort is to create underwater shoals, shallow up habitat, soften the shoreline, and hopefully see an increase in vegetation.

"...to create a more complex habitat, to improve vegetation growth, and thereby improve habitat for fish and bugs," said Breneman from his office Friday.

Breneman says multiple agencies—from the Minnesota and Wisconsin DNR to the University of Minnesota—are conducting studies on everything from the sediment itself, to the birds and invertebrates they hope to see flourish in the area.

"In the end that's, that's what we've got to prove, [that] what we've done is enough to have the ecological community respond in a fashion that meets our goals."

The 21st Avenue West bay is not the largest restoration project of its kind on the river corridor, but Breneman says it's likely the most popular given its visibility from the freeway.

In the end, making the area more aesthetically pleasing also goes with Mayor Don Ness's 10–year revitalization plan of West Duluth, and the river.

"I think the important part is to stress that this is not just about tourism. That this is environmental clean–up, it's job creation," said Mayor Ness earlier in June.

But Breneman says, from an ecologist's standpoint, the real beauty of the area will go beyond the bay's surface.

"Y'know, in some cases you won't see anything above the water," added Breneman, "we're hoping that everything is doing its job underneath the water."

Sediment dredging efforts are funded by the Army Corps's operations and maintenance budget, which is fueled by taxpayer dollars.

Dredging and material placement will start in late July, and is expected to finish in late November 2014.

Billy Wagness
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