Superior residents will have improved access to the Pokegama River next summer with the help of a $128,482 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The funds, awarded to the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve in partnership with the city, will be used by the city to improve a rustic boat launch on the Pokegama Bay in the Superior Municipal Forest along Billings Park Drive.

The design for this project was completed by AMI Consulting Engineers in 2019. Funding for this design was made possible with a Wisconsin Department of Administrative Coastal Management Program grant.

“Improving access to our coastal recourse is an important mission of the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program,” said Mike Friis, Wisconsin Coastal Management program manager. “We are always thrilled when the plans are able to be implemented.”

Improvements include a dock and motorized boat launch pad, vault restroom facility, improved parking spaces, a separate kayak and canoe launch access, interpretive signs, trash and recycling facilities and improvements to the road to reduce erosion of clay into the river.

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The Superior Municipal Forest, where the rustic launch sits, is owned and managed by the city of Superior.

“The need, concepts, design, and ultimately the implementation of an important access improvement project like this would not be possible without the feedback from the stakeholders and funding support,” said Linda Cadotte, Superior parks, recreation and forestry director.

The city of Superior will contribute about $50,000 for the vault restroom facility, and garbage and recycling cans.

The site is a primary research and education program location in the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve and is one of two Superior stops on the proposed St. Louis River Estuary National Water Trail. The Douglas County Fish and Game League, St. Louis River Alliance and Northland Paddlers Alliance also provided support for the proposal.

The Lake Superior Reserve encompasses more than 16,000 acres of public land along the St. Louis River estuary and is one of 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves in the United States and the second on the Great Lakes.

“These improvements to Pokegama Bay will not only provide critical access to the estuary for school students, educators and researchers, they will increase access for all user groups including paddlers, duck hunters, fisherman, visitors and community members,” said Deanna Erickson, interim reserve manager.

September is Coastal Awareness Month and National Estuaries Day is Saturday, Sept. 26. A beach cleanup, organized by the Friends of the Lake Superior Reserve, runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day, offers an opportunity to celebrate. All are welcome and registration is outside the Lake Superior Estuarium, 3 Marina Drive, Superior. Contact the Friends at contact.folsr@gmail.com or visit their website at folsr.org.