- Pioneer Article
- Project Partners
Adobe Acrobat Version Project Overview Powerpoint Presentation: with project background and photos
Rationale and Results
- The original plan required a vertical sheet piling component to minimize encroachment into lake, and required sod between bike path and sheet piling or rock riprap.
- Use of turf grass sod can contribute to water quality degradation, and doesn’t provide habitat.
- Native vegetation increases infiltration, acts as a filter to keep pollutants out of the lake, and deters geese from the area, which creates a safer transportation corridor
- Beltrami SWCD approached MN DOT for support to apply for MN DNR Shoreline Habitat Restoration (SHR) Grant to incorporate native vegetation in place of sod.
- Because of MN DOT commitment to implement the native vegetation, DNR Waters issued a revised permit to use riprap instead of the vertical sheet piling, and incorporated walleye spawning habitat to the project.
- Thanks to local MN DNR support, the project was awarded a Shoreland Habitat Restoration (SHR) Grant of $40,000 for native vegetation procurement and installation.
- MN DOT revised plans to incorporate native vegetation, create walleye spawning habitat and committed to 10 years site maintenance.
- These partnerships resulted in a total project savings of almost $400,000!
- The Beltrami SWCD and BSU Graduate Student Anita Merritt worked to design a demonstration project to encourage the use of native vegetation in shoreline projects.
- The total project is just over 2000 linear feet beginning at the inlet from the Mississippi River, including four “lookout” areas that will include descriptive, educational signage.
- Shoreline protection, shaping and topsoil preparation were complete in May 2004.
- The plantings were installed by Beltrami SWCD and Minnesota Conservation Corps in May and June of 2004.
- The project brochures and signage will be complete by Fall 2005.
The site was looking very good after its first season. The initial plan called for the site to be prepared for planting fall 2003, which would have allowed for a chemical treatment to rid the new topsoil of invasive weeds. The site preparation could not be completed until late spring 2004, so chemical treatment was not possible as it would have delayed planting past the optimum dates. The result was invasive mustards, lambs quarters, pigweed, ragweed and smartweeds. These were controlled by a two-step process. First, "weed wicks" were used to apply a Glyphosate herbicide (RODEO) in areas where the weeds were significantly taller than the native plants. Second, Minnesota Conservation Corps (MCC) was hired to hand weed the majority of the site. Volunteers from the Northwest Juvenile Center Satellite Home also helped with the hand weeding. Sentence to Serve was not able to fit the weeding into their schedule this year, but we hope to fit it in next summer. A large black fence was chosen by MN DOT to match the fence portions of the nearby Mississippi River inlet bridge. This fence separates the steep portions of the site from the adjacent bike path. Fencing was not installed around three of the four "lookout" areas due to excessive settling of the ground and subsequent lowering of the fence pilings. When the ground has finished settling, these areas will be built up, the pilings extended, the fencing installed and the affected sections replanted.
Local leadership creates win-win shoreline project
By John J. McRae, Bemidji Pioneer Sports Writer
The finishing touches are being applied to the State Highway 197 corridor project with shoreline revegetation well underway.
The project has already received an award for its architectural design. Now, with the revegetation project, it could be in line for another.
The shoreline along the Highway 197 realignment project is a unique product of partnership and cooperation among several local and state agencies that will have lasting effects on the community.
The Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been involved with the project since it was first reviewed for DNR Waters permits. Chris Parthun, SWCD district manager, stated the original design called for several hundred feet of sea wall, along with rock rip-rap and grass sod.
In reviewing the proposal Parthun said he believed there were opportunities to change the plan so that it would be not only less expensive, but also more aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sound.
“The SWCD has been encouraging private lakeshore owners for years to naturalize their shoreline areas,” Parthun said. “The Highway 197 project seemed like a golden opportunity for local and state agencies to demonstrate leadership by implementing a more natural perspective into the project.”
Through discussion between the DNR and MnDOT, the SWCD assisted in developing a proposal that allowed for increased rock encroachment into Lake Bemidji and replaced the sod with a natural vegetative buffer.
The added benefits included removal of the sea wall which initially saved the project more than $380,000. The lake’s fisheries benefited from walleye spawning rubble being added to the base of the rock toe.
Additionally, long-term maintenance costs were reduced from those estimated for the grass sod, water quality benefits were added and the traffic corridor became safer. The native vegetation planted at the site will be less attractive to geese that forage in the shorter sod grass and could flare into oncoming traffic, Parthun said.
The planting will contain a combination of shrubs, grasses, forbs and trees that are all native to Beltrami County. Species include bush honeysuckle, juniper, black chokeberry, staghorn sumac and New Jersey tea, among others.
Tree species include red maple, green ash, bur oak and red oak.
Parthun said, as with all plantings, the tree choices were carefully made, keeping in mind the necessity to have a good view of Lake Bemidji along the route. The majority of the shrubs are low growing and the trees have tall canopies, allowing for a much more open view than previously.
“An attempt was made to reestablish tree species as part of a balanced plan,” Parthun reported.
To help cover the costs of the native vegetation the SWCD submitted a grant application to the DNR’s Shoreline Habitat Restoration program, Parthun reported. With strong support from area and regional DNR staff, the project was awarded $40,000 to establish the native vegetation along the corridor. More than 20,000 live plants are being planted in the corridor.
SWCD aquatic biologist Melanie Johnson, who serves as the project manager, said she’s enthusiastic about the planting plan.
“The diversity and variety of vegetation used is intended to protect Lake Bemidji’s water quality, while also serving as an aesthetic and educational resource for the public.
“Brochures will be produced and made available to visitors for a self-guided walk that describes the species and their importance in the overall design. It’s our hope that lakeshore owners, in particular, will find this valuable as they consider a more natural approach to their shoreline.”
Some have expressed concern over how the plantings will hold up to road salt that accumulates during the winter months. Parthun said the plan calls for an eight foot wide sodded area between the bike path and the road.
“Since that’s the area where show will be pushed in the winter, MnDOT plans on using salt resistant grasses in that area,” Parthun said.
In planning the project, SWCD relied on its experience in shoreline restoration work, most notably projects completed along Lake Bemidji on the Bemidji State campus. Two separate projects covering almost 2,000 linear feet of shoreline were completed in 2002 and 2003, Parthun said.
The projects renovated damaged shoreline and established protections against further wave and ice damage.
Anita Merriit, a BSU undergrad at the time, assisted with the projects. She has also been a key player in the current shoreline revegetation project, Parthun reported.
Partnership between many entities has been a cornerstone of the project. The partners include MnDOT, Beltrami SWCD, DNR, Bemidji State University, Minnesota Conservation Corps, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the City of Bemidji. Organizations that assisted by volunteering to plant the vegetation include Webelos Scout Troop Pack 82 and TrekNorth High School.
“Individual property owners are integral to maintaining water quality and its associated property values on Lake Bemidji,” said Parthun. “This is also true when the property is publicly owned, like the 197 project.
“The SWCD is particularly pleased to partner with so many others to demonstrate local leadership in shoreline management strategies.”
- Beltrami SWCD
- Minnesota Department of Transportation
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Bemidji State University
- USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
- Minnesota Conservation Corps
- Trek North High School
- Boy Scout Troop #25
- Webelos Scout Pack #82
- Northwest Juvenile Center Satellite Home