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2022 St. Louis River Summit Day 3
- March 9, 2022
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Optional In-Person Field Trips
For the second year in a row, the Summit is offering an opportunity for attendees to step away from their desks, get out and experience this amazing place! There are four field trip opportunities that attendees can choose from and sign up for at the time of registration.
Note: Pre-registration is required for all field trips. Field trip signups are a part of the Summit registration process. Field trips are available to all Summit registrants until full.
Time: 8:00–10:00 a.m.* on Wednesday, March 9
Meeting place: Wisconsin Point Lot 4
Join the Friends of the Lake Superior Reserve on a bird walk field trip at Wisconsin Point. We will visit a variety of habitats including woods, lakeshore (Lake Superior) and bayshore (Allouez Bay). Although early in the year, we’ll hope to see some early spring migrants. We’ll look for year-round natives such as chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals & jays as well as crows, eagles and gulls. We may also see a variety of waterfowl. If time permits, we may walk, or, if participants choose, take our personal vehicles to explore the Superior Entry area. Please dress for the weather and wear good shoes for walking in the woods and on the beach. A pair of binoculars will be helpful. We’ll meet at 8:00 a.m. at Wisconsin Point Lot 4. (25 total spots)
*Note: This field trip starts and ends earlier than the others
Time: 9:00-11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 9
Meeting place: Lake Superior Estuarium (Barkers Island)
Curious about drones? Have a drone? Let’s get together and fly! Drones are great tools for surveying, mapping, and aerial photography and videography around the estuary. This will be a live flight demonstration (weather permitting) and skill share. If you’ve never flown a drone, come try it out! If you own your own drone, bring it! We will learn from each other and hopefully get some good shots of Barker’s Island and Superior Bay. We’ll meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Lake Superior Estuarium at 3 Marina Drive Superior, WI 54880. (20 total spots)
Time: 9:00–11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 9
Meeting place: Billings Drive south gate, off 105
Join staff from the Lake Superior Reserve for a 3/4-mile-long snowshoe hike down Billings Park Drive in the Superior Municipal Forest, which is closed to traffic in winter. Billings Drive is not cleared of snow in the winter so this will be a complete snowshoeing experience. We’ll visit the new Pokegama Launch Site where Research and Monitoring staff will be providing an update on what’s been happening in those programs since last year. Restrooms will be available at the launch. Snowshoes are provided by the Reserve, but feel free to bring your own. We’ll meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Billings Drive south gate off 105. (15 total spots)
Time: 9:00-11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 9
Meeting place: Superior Public Library
Learn regional history and stories through the art of Ojibwe-Finnish painter Carl Gawboy who created 35 murals that line the walls of the Superior Public Library, many of which feature the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. The murals, completed in 2002, tell the history of Superior and Douglas County beginning with the Ojibwe story of the creation of the earth and continuing through the 20th century. Reflect on how people have interacted with this landscape through time on this tour with local historian Teddie Meronek. We will meet at 9:00 a.m. at Superior Public Library at 1530 Tower Ave., Superior, WI 54880. (20 total spots)
11:20AM • Networking Session
Facilitated by Kelsey Prihoda
University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program
The University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program (MNSG), in collaboration with our Advisory Board and stakeholders, has identified a need to aggregate available information and define knowledge gaps to better understand critical habitats, species distributions, seasonal movements, and sensitive time periods for ecologically important, threatened and endangered species within the St. Louis River Estuary. To address this need we propose to hold a virtual workshop, tentatively scheduled for April 2022, as a first step.
This proposed networking session will bring together interested St. Louis River Summit attendees to gather their input, thoughts, and ideas on this habitat-focused workshop. The feedback that MNSG receives during this networking session will be used to inform the workshop planning process and to create an event that is both targeted and impactful. Importantly, this proposed networking session will provide the foundation for a key workshop objective: building lasting synergies among the regional research community and management agencies to accelerate our understanding of aquatic resources within the St. Louis River Estuary.
Our upcoming April 2022 workshop aims to define data gaps in our understanding of critical habitats and species distributions in the St. Louis River Estuary and collaboratively define future project(s) to address these knowledge gaps. Identification of these data needs will guide future MNSG competitive funding opportunities. The outcomes from this interactive workshop will directly benefit the ongoing planning processes within the St. Louis River, including the St. Louis River Habitat Plan, efforts of the Lake Superior Headwaters Sustainability Partnership, St. Louis River Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan, and the Lake Superior Lakewide Area Management Plan, among others. Workshop outcomes will also inform habitat restoration project planning, in-water construction project planning, proposed dredging and maintenance operations, and in-water placement of dredged materials within the St. Louis River Estuary.
12:30PM • Networking Session
Facilitated by Jim Anklam
Friends of Lake Superior Reserve
During each Summit, we arrange an opportunity for elected officials to hear from attendees on what’s important to them about the St. Louis River and the estuary. For 2022 we are inviting local elected officials to hear from state environmental and natural resource agency representatives regarding the publicly funded studies and projects in the estuary that have or will benefit our local communities.
1:45PM • Welcome from Minnesota
Representative Liz Olson, Minnesota House District 07B
1:55PM • Orientation to the Day
Session 7: Impactful Practices
US EPA Office of Research and Development
Since 2006, partners working in the St. Louis River estuary have led an internationally recognized program to test and develop approaches for broad-spectrum aquatic invasive species (AIS) early detection monitoring (EDM). Initially, the program emphasized improving sampling designs to increase the efficiency of detecting AIS by conventional catch-and-count methods and pioneered the application of species-effort curves to the evaluation process. Subsequently, the partners began to explore how to improve the accuracy of EDM by adding DNA-based identification of the organisms. In the most recent period, partners have been developing protocols to simplify the field effort and improve the sensitivity of EDM through application of environmental DNA. Throughout, the program has found new AIS in the harbor, such as quagga mussel (2006), faucet snail (2011), gizzard shad (2015), and bloody-red shrimp (2017). Genetic metabarcoding was more accurate than morphological-based taxonomy for organism identification. Use of environmental DNA has improved sensitivity of detection but also raised new challenges concerning organism numbers, locations, and potential hybridization. And application of these new approaches has revealed mechanisms by which the estuary is not just a sink for AIS, but also a source to other regions of Lake Superior. The AIS EDM partnership continues to evolve and will continue to play an important scientific and observational role for monitoring St. Louis River transformations and their effects on Lake Superior.
International Dark-Sky Association
Artificial light at night (ALAN) is a major form of anthropogenic pollution, a rapidly growing problem which affects a wide range of environmental processes. ALAN disrupts circadian rhythms of both diurnal and nocturnal insects and animals, disrupts hormone production, and alters foraging and predation behaviors and success across many species.
ALAN has significant effects on the behavior of both nocturnal and diurnal animals. ALAN has been shown to reduce the activity of nocturnal animals and increase the activity of diurnal animals. Increased artificial light can effectively reduce the amount of “nighttime” or reduce the quality of darkness needed for some nocturnal species to be successful. It can also tip the scales between predators and prey, such as owls and rodents. Zooplankton, the base of the food web, feed near the surface of water bodies at night, and descend to the bottom by day to avoid predation. ALAN causes them to stay at lower elevations, which affects animals up the food chain that depend on them for food.
The St. Louis River freshwater estuary, one of the largest complexes of estuarine wetlands in the Lake Superior Basin is home to countless insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish. All of these animals have species that have been shown to use natural light at night as a source of orientation and/or for navigation. ALAN alters the movement patterns of these animals, attracting them to light or masking the natural light sources they use for navigation and subsequently reducing the health of the ecosystem. ALAN also increases the active hours of prey, exposing them to novel predators, it advances springtime blooming of plants, creating a disconnect between flowers and the migrating animals that depend on them, and it disrupts mating signals and behaviors in species such as butterflies and fireflies.
This talk will define the types of ALAN, summarize its major impacts on plants and animals, and outline effective solutions that protect ecosystem health without impacting human safety. It will summarize recent successes in addressing ALAN, describe current efforts, and identify remaining challenges to protecting the St. Louis River freshwater estuary from ALAN.
University of Minnesota – Duluth
The detrimental effects of the application of chloride-based deicers for winter road safety include corrosion to infrastructure, impairments to water quality, and toxicity to aquatic life and roadside vegetation. The increase in freshwater salinity from chloride is a concern in regions with valued freshwater resources such as Lake Superior and the St. Louis River watershed. Due to the adverse effects of chloride-based deicers, there is a search for more environmentally friendly alternatives. Potassium acetate (KAc) is an alternative deicer that is effective at lower temperatures and less corrosive than chloride-based deicers. While the deicing characteristics of KAc are established, the environmental impact of the application of KAc is less understood. KAc is biodegradable, which is beneficial but may result in a high biological oxygen demand in waterbodies receiving stormwater carrying KAc. Additionally, the concentration, fate, and toxicity of K+ and Ac- in stormwater and receiving water is largely unknown. This study conducted a field evaluation and toxicity assays to investigate the environmental impact of the application of KAc. Stormwater and receiving water (Lake Superior) samples were collected with automatic samplers during the winters of 2020 and 2021 from roadways where KAc was applied in Duluth, MN. Water samples were analyzed for major ions, biological oxygen demand, and E. coli to determine the prevalence and persistence of KAc. KAc application resulted in a high BOD but mixing in the waterbodies maintained sufficient dissolved oxygen concentrations. Toxicity of KAc was determined by exposing cladocerans to the deicer and germinating grass seeds in salt solutions. The concentrations at which KAc harms aquatic or vegetative life were analyzed in light of the concentration of K+ and Ac- found in the field evaluation. The concentration of KAc in receiving water did not reach a level that inhibits grass germination in roadside soil, but can reach the lethal aquatic concentration of potassium for cladocerans. The findings from this research will inform salting practices as decision makers seek information on alternative deicers to keep our roadways safe from ice while protecting our water resources.
City of Superior
Marinas have been identified as hot-spots for trace-metal contamination due to the washwater and stormwater runoff from antifouling paints used to protect boat bottoms from the buildup of aquatic organisms. To address this issue, the Barker’s Island Marina was one of three marinas in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio to install green infrastructure and stormwater best management practices (BMPs) as part of a project to improve water quality at Great Lakes marinas. In 2021, a constructed wetland was created along the coast of Barker’s Island to treat runoff from the marina’s service area and parking lot. Additionally, the marina property was graded and repaved to direct water toward the constructed wetland, an existing pond was retrofitted into a stormwater BMP, and the boat wash station was modified to convey washwater to the sanitary sewer for treatment. Upon project completion, the marina will be a certified Clean Marina with the state of Wisconsin and equipped to handle water from storm events and changing lake levels. In addition to providing an overview of the project, this presentation will provide some preliminary monitoring results from before and after the project installation, and showcase a local example of what marinas can do to improve water quality.
Project partners include: Barker’s Island Marina; Wisconsin Coastal Management Program; the City of Superior; Sea Grant programs in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio; Ohio State University; Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve; Wisconsin Marine Association; Northland Constructors of Duluth; Boreal Natives; with funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund.
3:00PM • Meet in the Hallway
Connect with presenters in Zoom breakout rooms after the session concludes.
Session 8: Novel Approaches
University of Minnesota – Duluth, Water Resources Science Graduate Program
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are a threat to the ecological and economic integrity of over 800 Minnesota lakes. Unfortunately, AIS continue to invade new lakes, and Minnesota lacks a standardized monitoring protocol for early detection of new AIS in a lake. Physical surveys of AIS require effort, expense, and expertise, especially when AIS populations are low during early establishment (i.e. there are not many individuals to locate and capture). There is also the possibility that physical detections may lag years behind a species’ first arrival into a new lake. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is organismal DNA that originates from cellular material shed by organisms into the environment which can be detected using molecular methods. eDNA is a tool which could be an effective AIS monitoring method for early detection of species across a broad geographical area because it would be easier to collect water samples from lakes than to search the same number of lakes with teams of AIS specialists. While the use of eDNA for AIS monitoring has become more widespread, the methods are not standardized and streamlined. In order to implement large scale eDNA surveillance, eDNA surveys must be designed to maximize the probability of detecting multiple AIS from each water sample. Thus, this study aims to test and compare different field and lab eDNA methods to determine which combinations (how and where to collect water samples, how to filter water and preserve DNA, and how to quantify DNA) maximize detection probability of our target AIS. Moreover, AIS detection from eDNA methods were compared with traditional AIS detection surveys to see how sensitive eDNA is and whether results were correlated to target AIS abundance at water collection points. Field sampling was conducted in five water bodies, St. Louis River estuary, Lake of the Woods, Shagawa Lake, Lake Vermilion, and Pike Lake. Field and lab methods include sample (biomass) collection (volume, location near shore versus offshore), sample procession for DNA yield (filter size, sample preservation, DNA extraction method) and eDNA quantification (conventional qPCR and digital droplet qPCR). Our findings will provide guidance and recommendations to MN stakeholders who might consider eDNA as an AIS monitoring tool.
John Shepard and Tracy Fredin
Hamline University, Center for Global Environmental Education
Collaborators welcome! Join us in a project that brings the St. Louis River Estuary’s rich natural and cultural history fully to life through a multifaceted public and K-12 education and outreach initiative that informs and engenders environmental stewardship. Dozens of curated and original media stories—HD and 360-degree videos, interactive 360-degree landscape panoramas, 360-degree object movies, and captioned image galleries—make up the core of the Lake Superior North Shore Multimedia Initiative. Content categories include ecology, geology, community and cultural history with an emphasis on Indigenous perspectives and voices, the night sky and dark sky sanctuaries, parks and nature preserves, and recreation. These media stories are deployed through a network of museum-quality Multimedia Gallery™ exhibit kiosks that are installed at premiere public venues from Duluth to Grand Portage.
The same stories also populate the initiative’s Pocket Gallery™ smart phone app, which serves as an armchair planning tool and interpretive field guide. The app includes all of the media elements in the Multimedia Gallery™ kiosks plus turn-by-turn driving directions to points of interest; audio-enabled walking, driving, and biking tours; and an augmented reality function that recognizes and interprets nearby landmarks.
The initiative is enriching learning in the region’s K-12 classrooms through a companion web-based Waters to the Sea® learning program that integrates project media with educational standards. Classroom visits and hands-on student projects are being carried out by Sea Change Expeditions.
All three elements in the initiative, which is supported by a Minnesota DNR Coastal Grant and involves Sea Change Expeditions and Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy as key project partners, provide information and pathways for taking actions that will reduce non-point source pollution, combat invasive species, reduce light pollution, and build climate change resilience. Organizations engaged in St. Louis River Estuary restoration and education efforts are welcome to participate by providing relevant media and through sponsorships.
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
As a unit of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), the Lake Superior Reserveis required to map natural habitats and human land use within its boundaries every tenyears. With over 16,000 acres of protected lands and waters along the St. Louis River Estuary, this is no small mapping task, especially given limited staff time and geographic information systems (GIS) expertise. This need presented an opportunity for collaboration between Reserve staff and the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) GIS program, furthering the education component of the Reserve’s mission. Over the summer of 2021, student interns from FDLTCC and Cloquet High School used remotely sensed imagery and GIS software to create initial habitat data for Wisconsin Point. We will present the work that has been accomplished so far as well as our plans for the project in 2022 and beyond.
University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
As a result of historic industry on the western Duluth waterfront, state, federal, and tribal partners worked to restore 230 acres of coastal wetland habitat in the bays of the St. Louis River estuary known as Kingsbury Bay and Grassy Point. The goals of the restoration projects were to restore coastal wetland quality and to improve user amenities such as trails, fishing piers, and bird-watching platforms. The restoration projects were completed in October 2021. During the same period, significant progress was made to complete a new river heritage trail known as the Waabizheshikana (The Marten Trail) along the restoration area. Despite awareness that the restored wetlands can provide a variety of ecosystem services to local neighborhoods, which are socially vulnerable and have poor access to the waterfront, very little is known about neighborhood access to and community use of the restored green and blue spaces. During the summer of 2021 community survey data was collected from users of the trail to better understand these social dimensions of the restoration. The community surveys were deployed using a chat bot technology that allows participants to voluntarily send an SMS text response to a given question posted on a sign along the trail. For every question the user responds to with their cellphone the bot will send an automated additional question or inform the user the survey is complete once all questions have been asked. The use of this survey technology is equitable, low cost, and does not bare a burden on the historically disadvantaged community in which it intends to serve. Over 1000 responses were received across a total of 158 participants. A total of 14 questions were asked per survey at 6 survey sites with an overall 64% of participants responding to all 14 questions. The distribution of all 14 survey question types are presented by survey site location and by the users originating location, specifically whether the participant is local versus non-local. This survey data is part of an ongoing solutions driven research effort that will result in policy implications and decision-making support in the field of environmental policy and planning.
4:45PM • Closing Remarks
4:50PM • Meet in the Hallway
Connect with presenters in Zoom breakout rooms after the session concludes.