The Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is realigning stream channel and installing in-stream structures along the Stewart River, a tributary along the north shore of Lake Superior. This project is working to reduce sediment inputs and improving habitat for brook trout and other fish. Increased flows in the Stewart River caused by legacy effects from logging practices, land use changes, and damage caused in a 500-year flood in 2012 have resulted in erosion, loss of habitat, and changes to river shape. The Lake County SWCD is restoring channel form using Natural Channel Design methodology, creating pool and riffle habitat, and stabilizing stream banks to reduce further erosion and reestablishing native vegetation in the riparian corridor. Sediment loads, stability, and aquatic organism data are being collected pre- and post-restoration to determine effectiveness of the project and to ensure the channel remains stable. A stable channel will provide increased habitat for aquatic organisms, improve water quality due to erosion control, and enhance resiliency by increasing the ability of the stream to withstand high flows.
Stewart River near Two Harbors in Lake County, MN