St. Louis River Summit Addresses Progress, Concerns in River Environment

Taylor Holt
Updated: March 13, 2018 10:52 PM

 Whether it's used for recreation or education, when it comes to our local waterways like the St. Louis River most of us know how vital they are.


"It's a really important river. It's the largest river flowing into Lake Superior. It defines both of our communities," said Deanna Erickson, Education Coordinator for the Lake Superior Estuarine Research Reserve. 

Keeping the river healthy is an important, but challenging task.

"We have a lot of efforts undergoing both in Superior and Duluth to share more what we're doing but I think we can get better," added Erickson.

Tuesday night, UWS was filled with researchers dedicated to addressing the issues the river faces at this year's St. Louis River Summit. More than 30 researchers were able to share and learn about the work being done, and how they are hoping to help the restoration effort.

"We have had presentations on everything from finding new species of spiders to contamination in estuary," said Erickson.

One of the biggest challenges remains invasive species invading our waterways. The bloody red shrimp is the newest invasive species that was found in both Lake Michigan and Lake Erie. It's being researched and was on display at the summit.

Pat Collins, Chair of Friends of the Lake Superior Reserve says tackling the issues take a community effort, which is why the summit is so helpful.

"Everybody is doing something a little bit different but it's all really in support of this idea of how we learn about managing this really magnificent resource," said Collins.

Heather Buttgen is a Sophomore at the Fond du Lac Tribal Community College. She's researching the bio-cumulation of Mercury in the river. 

"We study Mercury because fish are a huge part of the traditional diet and the diet here within the watershed itself. We live on it, we fish, we eat it so it bio cumulates in our system and Mercury is a neurotoxin so it really affects us, especially young children and women who are of child bearing age," said Buttgen.

She says the research can show the impacts it has on not only water but the well-being of the community.

"By having more information on it and the safety regards - the size of fish you eat or how much you eat - it's very important," added Buttgen.

In the end, the hope is all these hands can play a part in the restoration.

"We also are hoping to build a sense of place where people value this place and look forward to working on it in the future," said Erickson.

The Summit continues into Wednesday.


Taylor Holt

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