Duluth area Great Lakes Restoration Projects funding announced

The Singing Beach along Lake Superior's North Shore, a popular tourist location. 

More than $100 million in funding for restoration to portions of the St. Louis River near Duluth. Minnesota, were announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tuesday.

The EPA has pledged $81 million to complete restoration in Spirit Lake, an additional $25 million for restoration at Munger Landing, and $6.8 million for the restoration of Scanlon Reservoir. 

A large portion of the projects will be funded through President Biden’s infrastructure law, which will accelerate long-awaited work in St. Louis River Area of Concern on Lake Superior.

The project involves dredging and removal of 406,000 cubic yards of impacted sediment and placing it into two newly built confined disposal facilities on site. A 42-acre shallow, sheltered bay will also be created, and a protective cap will be placed over 119 acres of estuary sediment. 

"The Great Lakes are a major part of our way of life, providing clean drinking water, a home for fish and wildlife, and opportunities for outdoor recreation," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a statement. "This critical investment will help clean up the St. Louis River in Duluth-Superior, while also combating threats such as environmental degradation and invasive species." 

"For thousands of years people have treasured Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes chain," said Sen. Tina Smith in a statement. "This important funding will help restore key areas of concern on Lake Superior."

The Spirit Lake project will also provide significant recreational improvements, including construction of an additional mile-long segment of the waterfront Marten Trail, interpretive signage, establishment of a publicly accessible waterfront with fishing, trails, and canoe-kayak put-ins. In total over 138 acres of habitat will be created or enhanced.

Two phases  began at Spirit Lake in October 2020 and are nearing completion. A third phase of work will continue through 2023. 

"I cannot thank our federal, state, and local partners enough for this transformational investment," Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said in the announcement. "Our staff and our residents care deeply about the St. Louis River and the shoreline along it. To see this restoration work continue to move forward, and to be possibly nearing its end, is a massive deal for us." 

The EPA is managing the Spirit Lake cleanup under the Great Lakes Legacy Act, a voluntary cleanup program funded by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and infrastructure law funding.