Designated in 2010, the Lake Superior Reserve is a member of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System, a network of 30 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems around the United States.
The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses over 16,000 acres along the St. Louis River estuary in Wisconsin. The Reserve is part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension’s Natural Resources Institute with leadership from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is part of the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus in the city of Superior.
Gichigami-ziibi, the St. Louis River, is the traditional and current homeland of the Anishinaabe Ojibwe people and other Indigenous peoples before them. We celebrate and honor ancestral Anishinaabe land and the sacred lands of all Indigenous peoples through our work and our partnerships.
Research, education, outreach and stewardship along Lake Superior’s coast
The Reserve works in partnership to improve the understanding of Lake Superior’s coast and estuaries. We address issues affecting the watershed through integration of research, education, outreach and stewardship.
We envision a Lake Superior where all coastal watersheds and estuaries are understood, valued, and thriving.
National Estuarine Research Reserve System
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 30 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves represent a partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states. NOAA provides funding and national guidance, and each site is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency or university with input from local partners.
University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension
Natural Resources Institute
The Reserve is a part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension Natural Resources Institute. The Natural Resources Institute works at the crossroads of communities, natural resources and agriculture to empower individuals and communities to make informed decisions that benefit our shared natural resources. Institute programs including the Reserve strive to embody the Wisconsin Idea, harnessing the leading-edge thinking and research of the university and facilitating change through an extensive network of local, state and regional partnerships.
University of Wisconsin-Superior
The Reserve is a part of the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus community in the City of Superior, Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Superior is a nationally recognized public liberal arts institution of more than 2,500 students in the Superior-Duluth, Minn., metropolitan area. UW-Superior has more than 50 program offerings, select online and graduate programs, competitive Division III athletics programs, continuing education, research and scholarship programs that support the community and region
Our landowning partners are the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, City of Superior, Douglas County and the University of Wisconsin–Superior. The Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, who retain ceded territory rights within the estuary and the region, is a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding that created the Reserve. Several other partnering agencies from both Minnesota and Wisconsin also sit on our Reserve Advisory Board.
We work with researchers from local universities, Wisconsin and Minnesota natural and cultural resources agencies and from federal agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A more detailed listing of research partners can be found in the Reserve Management Plan.
Designation of the Reserve
The Lake Superior Reserve was designated in on October 26, 2010 by former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. The establishment of the Reserve was led by a dedicated group of community members, land management agencies, Tribal Nations, local governments and Extension staff members. The team worked over eight years to select a site and establish the partnership between Wisconsin and NOAA on the mouth of the St. Louis River.
The Reserve System itself was established through the Coastal Zone Management Act in 1972 and protects more than 1.3 million acres within 30 reserves in 23 states and Puerto Rico. Each reserve is managed in partnership between its home state and NOAA. The Lake Superior Reserve is the second reserve designated on the Great Lakes.
Lake Superior Reserve is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, established by Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended. Additional information about the system can be obtained from the Estuarine Reserves Division, Office for Coastal Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce, 1305 East West Highway – N/ORM5, Silver Spring, MD 20910.