Ashland/Chequamegon Bay Shoreland Restoration Project

Purpose

In this project, we propose to restore 4,100 feet of public shoreland in the City of Ashland, WI, to native plant communities, eliminate invasive species, and measure the ecological benefits by quantifying wildlife population responses as well as changes in non-point nutrient loading to Lake Superior. Industrialization of Ashland’s waterfront in the early 1900’s significantly altered the natural environment of the shoreline. Lumber mills, wharves for handling coal, ore, limestone, logs, and pulpwood directly and negatively impacted the ecology of this once pristine environment. While much of the industrial activity has ended, significant amounts of debris still pollute Ashland’s waterfront, including slab wood, large and small concrete sections with exposed rebar, and remnants of former dock facilities. What is now needed is restoration of these post-industrial lands to more natural shorelines to enhance scenic beauty, protect the region’s ecology, and provide opportunities for recreation and tourism. This proposed work is an extension of ongoing Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) research on inland glacial lakes in Vilas County, WI (the Wisconsin Shoreland Restoration Project), and represents a partnership between WDNR Bureau of Science Services, Michigan Technological University, the City of Ashland, Ashland County Land and Water Conservation Department, the Northwoods Cooperative Weed Management Area, University of Wisconsin Extension, and Northland College’s Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Ashland, WI. This partnership recognizes the ecological, economic and social values of a healthy shoreland habitat. The proposed project will merge with efforts coordinated through the Fish Creek Watershed Restoration and Management Plan funded through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Great Lakes Watershed Restoration Program (GLWRP) to perform water quality assessments across the City’s waterfront, to minimize run-off entering the bay, and demonstrate the best management practices that protect or improve water quality.

Objective

This project will focus on native plant community plantings and invasive species abatement within a 75 foot riparian buffer along the 4,100 feet of public shore lands in the City of Ashland. Members of the Northwoods Cooperative Weed Management Area, experienced in invasive species abatement, will lead community volunteers to complete invasive species removal at all sites before native plant restorations occur. WDNR Science Services, with assistance from Ashland County Land and Water Conservation Department, will coordinate the native plant restorations. After factoring in the existing native vegetation for each site, planting plans and erosion control measures will be developed using the standards laid out in the Natural Resources Conservation Service 580 and 643A codes. Planting density guidelines for woodland shoreland habitat will be used as outlined in the Wisconsin Biology Technical Note 1: Shoreland Habitat (NRCS 2002). Plant numbers are calculated based on the area in square feet to be reestablished and the planting densities in the guidelines (see Table 1). The herbaceous cover layer will be comprised of a minimum of 30% native grasses (Poaceae) and/or sedges (Carex species). Sites that have significant amounts of established non-native turf grass will be smothered with tarps and black plastic for 4-8 weeks. Restoration plant species chosen will reflect the indigenous native plant community, but also will reflect hardiness, wildlife value, and propagation potential. Erosion control practices will include the installation of rain gardens and appropriate placement of erosion control materials such as EnviroLoc bags, sediment logs, and biologs. Two additional steps include temporary fencing and a careful watering regime for the plantings. The restoration team uses 8-foot plastic mesh fencing to protect the plantings following their installation and pumps, hoses and sprinklers will be installed to keep the restorations irrigated. 2013-2014 runoff collector study and a bio-retention basin study

Outcome

This project will provide a state of the science Great Lakes shore land restoration project in Ashland, WI, a high profile recreation destination on the south shore of Lake Superior. Decades of post-industrial debris still lined the City Waterfront and this project will remove much of what remains. The National Park Service Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center is located 2 miles from the restoration and a display will be set up to direct visitors to the restorations. These restorations are designed to remove terrestrial invasive species that are common at these disturbed sites, and the plantings will return the vegetation community to that of undisturbed, natural shoreline in the Chequamegon Bay. This will improve the ecological functioning of the Ashland City Waterfront, improving wildlife and fish habitat, and improving water quality. The Final Report will provide a Template for Shoreline Restoration so the lessons learned and implemented at this site can be transferred to other Great Lake communities.

QA Measures

Run Project Summary Report

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Habitat
GLRI_00E00462
2010
Complete
 
Reports and Documents
QAPP Addendum - to be incorporated into QAPP
Zip file of QAPP and attachments signed by DNR and Ashland
http://www.chequamegonbay-history.com/
 
Activities & Recommendations
Restore Riparian Habitat
Shoreline feet restored/enhanced Baseline: 0 feet Value at Grant Completion: 4100 feet Long-term Value: restores natural plant and wildlife community Year Long-term Value will be Achieved: 2011
Habitat Restoration - Upland
Native vegetation cover Baseline: <50% Value at Grant Completion: >90% Long-term Value: restores native plant communty Year Long-term Value will be Achieved: 2011
Grant Awarded
Restore 4,100 feet of public shoreland in the City of Ashland, WI
Aquatic Plant Monitoring or Survey
Area infested by invasive species Baseline: 4100 feet Value at Grant Completion: 0 feet Long-term Value: enhances recovery of native plant community Year Long-term Value will be Achieved: 2011
 
Waters