The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Land Trust are working to restore fish and wildlife habitat at Perch Lake, which was once a bay of the St. Louis River. West Duluth residents in the New Duluth neighborhood will begin seeing more construction equipment moving into the area as the project begins later in July.
Highway 23 and the Marten Trail will remain open during the project, but users should be aware of the additional traffic in the area and give construction vehicles room to operate safely. Construction of the railroad and Highway 23 embankment greatly reduced the lake’s connection to the river and resulted in low oxygen levels and shallow water depths from accumulated sediments, hindering movement for fish and wildlife.
The restoration plan includes dredging approximately 77,000 cubic yards of sediment to restore areas of deeper water and marsh and fish spawning areas. Dredging and material placement work is planned for July to October and January to February. Final site restoration and demobilization should be complete by the end of March 2023.
In collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Highway 23 repaving project in the summer of 2023, a new 16-feet wide culvert will be installed under the highway to improve water flow and fish passage between Perch Lake and the river.
Funding for the $7 million project comes from The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative with oversight by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund.