Wild rice on the St. Louis River, piping plover habitat on Wisconsin Point, beach restoration at Barker’s Island — three videos from the Wisconsin DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released three new videos about the St. Louis River Area of Concern, including project highlights for wild rice restoration, piping plover habitat restoration and Barker’s Island swimming beach restoration.

Wild rice, or manoomin in Ojibwe, is a nutritional grain that is central to the cultural identity of the Ojibwe people. It’s also an important ecological resource within the St. Louis River estuary. Over the past 125 years, the nearly 3,000 acres of wild rice have dwindled to a few isolated pockets around the 12,000-acre estuary. The Wisconsin DNR is working with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, 1854 Treaty Authority, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission and others to restore at least 275 self-sustaining acres over the next decade.

The beach at Barker’s Island in Superior has cleaner water thanks to added native plants and improved access for people to enjoy the water through ecologically sound parking and beach upgrades.

Wisconsin Point is a three-mile-long natural sand spit in Superior that divides Allouez Bay from Lake Superior. The point is an important wildlife habitat, a migratory bird stopover and a historical site with great cultural significance, once home to an Ojibwe village and burial site. One project on the point is protecting the sensitive dune habitats and historical sites while also improving public ADA-compliant access. Another project created 14 acres of new habitat for the endangered piping plover at the DNR-owned Wisconsin Point Bird Sanctuary.

The St. Louis River Area of Concern was listed as one of 43 sites on the Great Lakes with significant environmental damage by the United States and Canada in 1987. Federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, started in 2010, is helping AOCs clean up pollution and restore waterways. Agencies and governments leading the work in the St. Louis River are:

• Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
• Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
• Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
• Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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