Public invited to comment on proposal to remove impairment designation for St. Louis River Estuary area of concern

March 29, 2022


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are seeking public comments on their recommendation to remove an impairment designation from the St. Louis River Area of Concern for Degraded Fish and Wildlife Populations Beneficial Use.

The U.S. and Canada identified the St. Louis River as one of 42 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) in 1987 as the result of significant environmental degradation occurring before the adoption of environmental regulations. “Degraded fish and wildlife populations” was one of nine beneficial use impairments identified in the St. Louis River AOC. 

Six management actions, required to remove this impairment designation in the St. Louis River AOC, have been completed. Those management actions included fish and wildlife studies to show the estuary’s restored capacity to support healthy populations and restoration projects to restore piping plover habitat at Wisconsin Point and common tern habitat at Interstate Island.

The St. Louis River AOC partners will host a public open house from 5-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, at the Lake Superior Estuarium, 3 Marina Drive, Superior, Wisconsin. A presentation about the impairment and the partners’ recommendation to remove it will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Public comments on the impairment removal proposal will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 26. Information about the partners’ removal recommendation and details on how to submit comments can be accessed online on the St. Louis River Restoration Initiative page of the DNR website. More information about the ongoing work to restore the estuary can also be found on that page along with directions on how to sign up to receive email updates.

Because all comments and related information are part of the public record for this proposal, commenters’ names and email or postal addresses will be published and publicly available as they appear in the materials they submit. 

Copies of the impairment removal documents are available to review in person at:

  • Duluth Public Library, 520 W Superior St., Duluth, Minnesota
  • Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Ave., Superior, Wisconsin
  • Fond du Lac Resource Management Division Office, 28 University Road, Cloquet, Minnesota

Since the St. Louis River AOC designation in 1987, three other impairments have been removed. If all the remaining impairments are removed, the St. Louis River would be removed from the list of most polluted sites on the Great Lakes. St. Louis River AOC program partners anticipate removing the remaining impairments and achieving delisting as an AOC by 2030.