Panel selects St. Louis River estuaryWisconsin natural resource officials want to nominate the St. Louis River estuary to become the first in the Lake Superior region named part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.
Wisconsin natural resource officials want to nominate the St. Louis River estuary to become the first in the Lake Superior region named part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.
A committee is proposing the St. Louis River estuary after considering 30 possible sites on the Wisconsin shores of Lake Superior. The proposal will be unveiled at an April 3 public hearing from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Superior Conference Center in Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior.
The proposal then goes to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, who is expected to submit a formal application to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration later this year.
The designation would be used to attract research efforts on the estuary and to promote public education on the importance it plays in the Lake Superior region ecosystem.
The 35-year-old federal National Estuarine Research Reserve System has protected 27 sites, mostly on the Gulf and East coasts. Only one — Old Woman Creek Research Reserve in Huron, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie — is in fresh water.
If approved, the reserve status would apply only to public land along the waterfront — city, county, state or federal — and not private property, said Becky Sapper, University of Wisconsin-Extension freshwater estuary outreach coordinator.
Other possible sites, including Fish Creek estuary near Ashland and the Bark River estuary near Cornucopia, were dropped from consideration by the committee, Sapper said Monday.
Estuaries, usually widening in rivers where they meet a great lake or ocean, are considered critical ecological areas for fish and wildlife habitat, especially spawning fish. They often include wetlands, and in the case of Lake Superior, are among the most important shoreland habitats for the entire lake's food chain.