16 Duluth Trout Streams Will Cost Millions to Repair

By KBJR News 1

October 18, 2012 Updated Oct 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Rivers that once roared now sit stagnant. Where mouths of waterways once opened wide, now they're clogged with literally tons of debris.

These are just two of the many sights, says Frank Haataja, of the DNR Parks and Trails, that-since June's flood-have become all too familiar, and its potential impact on the Northland's ecosystem and economy shouldn't be taken lightly.

"We [have to] get on it right away, because if it continues-if you don't get it patched up now-it's just going to continue to erode more. Pretty soon there isn't going to be half as many fish and wildlife around here as we had," said Haataja, in between shoveling gravel into a sinkhole along a French River trail.

It's damage that extends past the shoreline, and on to miles of popular hiking and snowmobile trails.

"If we've got to close down a trail because we weren't able to repair and fix it, they're going to have to find alternative areas, and we're going to lose an awful lot of tourists," said Haataja.

On Monday, the Duluth City Council will be asked to approve two $100,000 contracts with two firms to assess the extent of flood damage in our waterways on a stream-by-stream basis.

"There is a sense of urgency for some of our streams, because the smallest amount of rain in the spring-with the snow melt and everything-could cause additional flooding that we would like to prevent," said Kathy Bergen, Manager of Duluth Parks and Recreation.

Compromises-no doubt-will be made, which is why the estimates are so important, say officials, as they will also provide an idea of what can be fixed, and what should be left to nature.

"This was a natural event; there was natural sediment movement. So, in some cases, we will leave a lot of it alone. Other cases, we will do major restoration. So, we want to involve all the interest groups and get everybody's opinion on what should be done," said Chris Kleist, Program Manager for the City of Duluth.

When it's all said and done, finding funding will also be a major factor that could either streamline stream repairs, or slow them to a trickle.

FEMA and the Minnesota Recovers Task Force have been two of the biggest potential sources of funding that they've looked into so far... but officials are remaining hopeful that other options will continue to be uncovered.

--Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness