St. Louis River Estuary of Lake Superior (WBIC-2751220)Aquatic Vegetation Restoration Assessment - NOR_08_09


Survey the St. Louis River Lake Superior estuary at two sites to assess status of existing aquatic vegetation. Survey one additional Lake Superior tributary mouth embayment for the same vegetation related parameters. The sampling goal is to learn and better understand the current status of aquatic vegetation, and understand and identify potential limiting factors to the growth of submersed, emergent, and floating leaf aquatic vegetation. During peak growth season of aquatic plants conduct a point intercept macrophyte survey using standardized plant sampling protocols developed for Lakes Program grants. Conduct a fish seining and or electro shocking survey of fish species present at several habitat sites to collect data on habitat use. Macroinvertebrate sampling will assess presence of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and contribute to community habitat value assessment. The project study sites include Allouez Bay and Pokegama Bay within the St. Louis River Estuary, and the embayment at the mouth of the Amnicon River.


This project will support a collective multi agency LS Basin effort to develop an estuary –wide habitat restoration map for restoration projects identified in the Habitat Plan and Strategy Implementation Worksheets in the St. Louis River System Remedial Action Plan (RAP). These sites occur with the St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC). An estimated 7,700 acres of wetland and open water habitat have been altered or destroyed since settlement. In Allouez Bay, harvestable stands of wild rice have all but disappeared within the last 30 years, and other emergent vegetation is reported to have declined dramatically. Numerous invasive species are present including zebra mussels which affect water quality and clarity, and in 2006 Eurasian Watermilfoil was discovered in Superior Bay. The distribution and effects of invasive species on native vegetation in the estuary are largely unknown. Multiple groups and parties are independently proposing or are presently implementing monitoring projects to identify habitat restoration projects. Presently the St. Louis River Citizens Action Committee (SLRCAC), the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI), and the Nature Conservancy are proposing a project to develop a reference model of Aquatic Vegetation (AVC) Community based on data including existing substrates, bathymetry, wind and wave energy and known and historic distributions of aquatic communities. The Lake Superior Research Institute is presently conducting a volunteer citizen wetland monitoring program on WI Lake Superior tributary streams. This proposed project will provide detailed AVC data on three sites and will dovetail and supplement the data being collected by the other organizations. The combined data will support the development of proposed restoration sites and performance standards for AVC restoration. In 2008, the St. Louis River Estuary was recommended for designation as a National Estuary Research Reserve, which if endorsed by the Governor, will lead to new research opportunities and management projects. The St. Louis River is a federally designated AOC and is automatically on the 303d list. Habitat is one of nine impairments in this AOC. Restoration of the AVC is one improvement to habitat that is necesary for delisting.


1) Number of total sample sites associated with the project are 7 (3 in Allouez Bay, 3 in Pokegama Bay, 1 at Amnicon River Embayment) . 2) Number of sampling events: June, July, and August sampling events for water chemistry sampling [field parameters to include: nutrients, suspended solids, turbidity, chlor a, and field parameter of D.O., pH, and temp]. Macroinvertebrate sampling once/site during summer. Point-intercept macrophyte surveys during peak growth in summer at each location. Fish seining and/or electrofishing surveys will done in during late summer at each location. All sampling should be completed by end of September, 2008. 3) Fisheries and Macrophyte data entry be complete by February 1, 2009 into appropriate databases. Macroinvert data gets entered into SWIMS by lab. 5) Final report will be written after macroinvertebrate data results are received from UWSP. Estimated date when final report will be complete approximately June, 2009.

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