Taking Stock of Coastal Communities

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Lake Superior’s coastal zone is undergoing stress from invasive species, coastal development, climate change, and pollutants carried by stormwater runoff. These stresses can be linked to human behavior, which is challenging to address in environmental policies and programs. Understanding the “human” side is critical to finding solutions to preventable environmental problems. This database is a catalog of the studies that address some aspect of coastal water or natural resource use and socio-economics by both topic and social construct. The geographic range is limited to Northeastern Minnesota, though studies may cover a broader region.

The sub-communities are Social Constructs and Topical Categories. Social constructs provides a way to see all studies that focus on specific social aspects of resource use, such as adoption of practices, demographics, economic behavior, or social networks. Topical categories provides a way to find studies on any particular natural resource-related topic, such as climate change, forestry, invasive species, or land use. Browsing by “title” will show all studies in the selected category.

This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program. Project partners include the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program, Natural Resources Research Institute, and U of MN Department of Forest Resources in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences.

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    Taking Stock of Coastal Communities Project Citation List
    (2021-08)
    This document contains a list of citations for ten items that are part of or related to the Taking Stock of Coast Communities project that could not be added to the University Digital Conservancy. Primarily these could not be added to the open access repository because of copyright restrictions. Not all items have a DOI; in some cases, the link provided goes to a WorldCat or other catalog record for the item.
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    Northeastern Carlton County (NECC): Activities, Attitudes and Ratings
    (1974-02) Laundergan, J. Clark; Pearson, A. Neil
    This 1973 general socio-economic survey of 509 respondents focused on social aspects of the northeastern segment of Carlton County. Only a few questions dealt with natural resources or water resources. 1% (n = 5) reported farming full-time, and 7% (n = 33) were part-time farmers. While a few recreational questions were posed, none were specific to water. A question asked "Please list three things you think this community needs most." 19 respondents replied "Swimming (mostly outdoor)"and 18 replied "Water supply." The study concludes that "Environmental preservation and pollution control is obviously important to many as was their expressed concern about an adequate and ensured water supply."
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    Bibliography of Water, Land and Socioeconomic Information
    (1974-05) Green, Janet C; Grant, Christabel D; Neubert, Barbara A
    This bibliography represents a first attempt to identify all the sources of information about the Lake Superior basin in Minnesota that would be useful to planners, managers and researchers from a wide spectrum of disciplines.
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    Population, Economy, Land Use: Lake Superior Basin Water Quality Management Plan Non-Metro Minnesota Portion
    (1974-06) Arrowhead Regional Development Commission
    This report examines the population, economy, and land use in the Minnesota non-metropolitan part of the Lake Superior Basin. Its objective is to evaluate existing land use problems and proposed development plans and socio-economic forecasts in terms of their relationships to water quality and water resources so that these plans and forecasts can be modified, if necessary, to correlate with water quality related considerations. The report also incorporates information on the area's hydrology and water quality and the status of wastewater treatment facilities. This is intended to provide a frame of reference for estimating future wastewater treatment needs, their costs, staging and priorities. Other objectives of the report are to identify the trends and parameters of growth; to identify the water quality implications of existing development patterns and trends; to identify development issues and conflicts; all to provide a basis for the continuing water quality plan and strategy for the Region.
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    Cook County Local Energy Project - Project Resume
    (2015)
    This item contains descriptions of events and projects, with details regarding dates and funding, for aspects of the Cook County Local Energy Project: Project Resume. Dates span 2008-2016.
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    A Paleolimnological Comparison of Burntside and Shagawa Lakes, Northeastern Minnesota
    (1978-01) Bradbury, J. Platt; Waddington, Jean C B
    The paleolimnological records of Burntside and Shagawa Lakes in northeastern Minnesota reveal that these two adjacent lakes have been limnologically distinct for many years prior to the late 19th century activities of white men that polluted Shagawa Lake. Although both lakes occur within the same vegetation type and share much of their water, the diatom stratigraphy of their bottom sediments indicates that Burntside Lake was less productive in its natural state than Shagawa Lake. The causes for this natural difference are not clearly known, but differences in relative size of drainage area and in bedrock geology may be responsible. Intensive white settlement around Shagawa Lake beginning in 1866 supplied nutrients that increased its productivity and finally supported the massive blooms of blue-green algae that characterize culturally eutrophic lakes. Burntside Lake was spared such intensive eutrophication, but its diatom record shows that nutrients derived from shoreside recreational cabins and related construction activity are increasing the lake's productivity. The results of this study show that paleolimnological studies may provide better comparative information for lake rehabilitation programs than do biological and chemical analyses of contemporary unpolluted water bodies. This report is contribution #155 of the Limnological Research Center, University of Minnesota and was submitted in fulfillment of P.O. 04J1P0-0605 under the sponsorship of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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    Wildland Recreation Research in the Western Lake Superior Basin: An Annotated Bibliography
    (1990) Lime, David W; Fox, Karen M; Jeong, Gang Hoan; Lewis, Michael S
    While this annotated bibliography touches upon visitor use of water resources in coastal areas, it is primarily a recreation/leisure studies document with little detail on coastal water resources. The abstract is reproduced below. Abstract: "A wealth of basic and applied research on wildland recreation use and management has been conducted in the western Lake Superior basin during the past four decades. This annotated bibliography includes 193 research-based citations focusing on: (1) visitors to these wildland areas--who they are and how they use these resources, (2) investigations of environmental impacts resulting from recreation use, (3) studies of the economic impacts of wildland recreation, and (4) techniques to manage wildland visitor use and resources."
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    Wild Rice: The Minnesota Legislature, a Distinctive Crop, GMOs, and Ojibwe Perspectives
    (2009) Walker, Rachel Kurkee; Doerfler, Jill
    This 26 page legal brief summarizes the history of treaty law, political debate, legislation in Minnesota related to wild rice, as well as the industry position (especially for Monsanto). The LEXISNEXIS Summary is reproduced below: “ ... Monsanto has never thought about engineering wild rice. ... History of Wild Rice Legislation in Minnesota In the 2005 legislative session, the Minnesota Senate tabled S.F. 1566, a version of the "wild rice bill" that prohibited the release and sale of genetically engineered wild rice in Minnesota. ... These explanations discount the legal realities of American Indian sovereignty and treaty-secured resource management, as well as the significance of the rights of sovereign nations to preserve Ojibwe identity and livelihood. ... From approximately the 1950s, with the introduction of cultivated wild rice and an increase in national and international market sales, some non-Indians grew increasingly interested in participating in wild rice cultivation and harvest. ... The following quotations from legislators during legislative hearings in 2006 and 2007 and from cultivated wild rice marketing companies capture some of the sentiments that non-Indian Minnesotans have with respect to both cultivating and eating wild rice: I am supporting this legislation because it is about wild rice and wild rice alone. ... At this point, we look briefly at the political and economic context of crop biotechnology in 2007 as it relates to this legislation. ... On March 31, 2007, the United States rice industry declared it wanted the federal government to reject a plan to grow genetically modified rice in Kansas, saying the country's growers would suffer "financial devastation" if modified crops contaminate the commercial supply.”
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    Water Resources of the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation, East-Central Minnesota
    (1989) Ruhl, James F; Fond du Lac Indian Reservation Business Committee
    This interesting report presents the findings of a hydrologic study of the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation. The study is the outcome of a 1978 Federal mandate to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to review Indian water-rights claims in reservations throughout the United States. The Fond du Lac Indian Reservation study, done by the U. S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation Business Committee, is the first of the these studies undertaken in Minnesota under the Federal mandate. The report notes that ground water resources derive from three aquafers, and that surface waters derive from wetlands and surficial waters within the St. Louis River watershed. Except for a small number of well-water samples, water quality was found to be within EPA limits for pollutants and was determined to be safe for human and animal consumption. A few wells had elevated levels of lead and manganese; four principal streams contained E. coli and Streptococcus.
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    Water Resources in the Vicinity of Municipalities on the Eastern Mesabi Iron Range and the Vermillion Iron Range in Northeastern Minnesota
    (1962) Cotter, R D; Young, H L; Petri, L R; Prior, C H
    This historical document contains assessments of water supply for Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Babbitt, Tower-Soudan and Ely from fifty years ago. While it does not describe human uses of water resources at the time, it does contain information about aquifers and ground water resources that could potentially be used for industrial, municipal or recreational purposes. "This report describes existing and potential water supplies on the eastern Mesabi and Vermilion Iron Ranges, northeastern Minnesota. Increased supplies of water are needed for expansion and diversification of the economy of the iron ranges. Specifically, supplies are needed for taconite processing, wood and peat processing, and municipal expansion. This investigation made in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation indicates that in some areas large quantities of water are available from both ground and surface sources. The most productive aquifers are the Biwabik Iron-Formation and the stratified glacial drift. East of Colby Lake, the Biwabik is not an important aquifer. On the Vermilion Iron Range, this formation is absent, and the glacial drift is commonly too thin to produce the quantities available on the Mesabi Range. Bodies of stratified drift, believed by the authors to be potential sources for large ground-water supplies, are outlined as numbered areas. Their boundaries are drawn on the basis of topography, geologic mapping, test drilling, and test pumping. The accuracy of the assessment of the ground-water supplies in each numbered area is proportional to the subsurface control. Where adequate pumpage data are available, specific capacities of wells are noted. Multiplying the specific capacity by the maximum allowable drawdown will give the short-term maximum yield of a well. Specific capacities decrease with an increase in time and pumping rate. Specific capacities of wells completed in artesian aquifers should not be compared with those of wells completed in water-table aquifers, because, in otherwise identical aquifers, the value obtained for a well in the artesian aquifer would be much lower. The geologic sections in this report are based on the indicated testhole information and open-pit mine exposures. Identification of glacial deposits from drill cuttings and correlation of deposits between test holes is tenuous. However, the sections show the sequence and general lithology that probably would be penetrated in a drill hole along the line of section. Surface-water supplies in the eastern Mesabi and Vermilion Iron Ranges are good. In the southwestern part of the area of this report, the Embarrass, St. Louis, and Partridge Rivers and Second Creek are good potential supplies. Vermilion Lake is a very large untapped potential supply in the northwest. The eastern part has a network of lakes and river systems available for utilization. Records of flow for eight gauging stations are presented. The quality of ground water and surface water is adequate for many industrial uses. Ground water commonly has a high concentration of iron and manganese and is hard. Surface water commonly has a high concentration of iron and is colored. Analyses of water from many sources are included."
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    Water Quality (2000-08) and Historical Phosphorus Concentrations from Paleolimnological Studies of Swamp and Speckled Trout Lakes, Grand Portage Reservation, Northeastern Minnesota
    (2010) Christensen, Victoria G; Jones, Perry M; Edlund, Mark B; Ramstack, Joy M
    A paleolimnological approach was taken to aid the Grand Portage Reservation, in northeastern Minnesota, in determining reference conditions for lakes on the reservation. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa Indians and the Science Museum of Minnesota, conducted a study to describe water quality (2000–08) and historical total phosphorus concentrations (approximately 1781–2006) for Swamp and Speckled Trout Lakes. Results from this study may be used as a guide in establishing nutrient criteria in these and other lakes on the Grand Portage Reservation. Historical phosphorus concentrations were inferred through paleolimnological reconstruction methods involving diatom analysis and lead-210 dating of lake-sediment cores. Historical diatom-inferred total phosphorus concentrations in Swamp Lake ranged from 0.017 to 0.025 milligrams per liter (mg/L) based on diatom assemblages in sediment samples dated 1781–2005. Historical diatom-inferred total phosphorus concentrations in Speckled Trout Lake ranged from 0.008 to 0.014 mg/L based on diatom assemblages in sediment samples dated 1825–2006. In both lakes, historical changes in diatom-inferred total phosphorus concentrations did not exceed model error estimates, indicating that there has been minimal change in total phosphorus concentrations in the two lakes over about two centuries. The pH and alkalinity values of waters in both lakes indicate that general water-quality conditions likely are not threatening fish or acid-intolerant forms of aquatic life. Lake-sediment cores from Swamp and Speckled Trout Lakes were collected in 2006 and dated back to 1781 for Swamp Lake and 1825 for Speckled Trout Lake. A large increase in sediment accumulation rate after 1960 likely was a result of logging along the northeastern shore of Swamp Lake in 1958. The diatom flora of Swamp Lake is very diverse with more than 280 diatom taxa found in the core samples. These diatoms included many rare or uncommon species and several unknown taxa. Minor increases in sediment accumulation rates in the Speckled Trout Lake core occurred between 1840 and 1880. These increases may have resulted from fires following droughts in northeastern Minnesota. Heinselman (1973) identified five periods of fire in the 1800s for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota: 1801, 1824, 1863–64, 1875, and 1894. Most of these fire periods followed prolonged droughts of subcontinental extent, including the 1864 drought. Similar to the Swamp Lake core, the diatom flora of the Speckled Trout Lake core was very diverse and dominated by softwater diatoms. More than 215 diatom taxa were found in the core samples including many rare or uncommon species and several unknown taxa. Results of loss-on-ignition analyses indicated that sediment from Swamp Lake historically has been dominated by the inorganic component with a shift to an organic component in modern sedimentation. Median values of recent (2000–08) total phosphorus concentrations in water-quality samples and diatom-inferred phosphorus in recent sedimentation in Swamp and Speckled Trout Lakes were similar. These similarities, coupled with strong analogues for subfossil diatom communities for both lakes within the 89 Minnesota lakes diatom transfer function, indicate that recent and historical diatom-inferred phosphorus reconstructions might be used to help establish reference conditions and nutrient criteria for Grand Portage Reservation lakes when a sampling program is designed to ensure representative phosphorus concentrations in water samples are comparable to diatom-inferred concentrations.
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    Urban Flooding in the Great Lakes States: A Municipality/Utility Survey Report
    (2012-07) Center for Neighborhood Technology
    As part of our Smart Water for Smart Regions initiative, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) is working with communities across Great Lakes states to alleviate urban flooding. The purpose of this survey is to develop an understanding of the effect of flooding on Great Lakes cities and to identify strategies to manage the problem. By providing a baseline of practices and policies among municipal stormwater/sewer utilities, the survey results are intended to support collaborative initiatives for dealing with flooding. Our survey, the first of its kind in the Great Lakes, found that municipalities and stormwater utilities face significant challenges. The 30 survey respondents serve 330 municipalities with a population of approximately 19.7 million people—nearly 23 percent of the total population of the Great Lakes states and province.4 All 30 respondents received flooding complaints, with 80 percent characterizing the annual number of complaints as medium or large. Stormwater is flooding into people’s backyards, streets, and parking lots (90 percent of respondents said), into the interior of buildings through sewer backups (83.3 percent), and through the walls of homes and buildings (46.7 percent).
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    Trends and the Implications for Park and Rec
    (2009) Duluth, Minnesota Parks and Recreation
    This Powerpoint presentation contains numerous images but very limited content related to water resources. The Duluth Parks and Recreation website contains the following executive summary: “For the past 16 months, City staff, Parks Commissioners, and park planning consultants have been working on a master plan to guide the future of Duluth’s parks, recreation, and trails system. Key elements of the Master Plan are to: • improve the quality of existing parks (especially neighborhood parks), • focus on connecting the community through trails and bikeways, • have fewer, but higher quality recreation buildings, • enhance stewardship of natural resources, • expand partnerships with schools for community recreation and gathering, • increase use and recognition of volunteers and volunteer groups, and • create stable and sustainable funding sources to improve the park system. The Plan is based on extensive public input gathered in surveys, meetings, and focus group sessions. Kathy Bergen, Duluth’s Manager of Parks and Recreation said ‘Feedback from the community was overwhelmingly in favor of a high quality parks, recreation, and trails system. We heard from many people who moved to Duluth to be close to nature and close to recreation. Our parks, recreation activities, trails, and natural resources are a huge part of the local economy and attract visitors from across the world. We needed a plan to protect and enhance that resource.’ The Plan does not recommend the addition of many new parks. Park planning consultant Greg Ingraham of HKGi praised Duluth’s park system. ‘Duluth has a great system of park land, but due to budget constraints some parks and recreation buildings are in sad shape and are not meeting resident’s expectations. Improving existing parks and connecting the community with trails and bikeways should be the focus. That will take additional funding and a commitment of the community, but parks and recreation are a vital element of Duluth’s future and deserve the investment.’ The next step in this process is to present the Master Plan to the City Council for their support and adoption. We hope to accomplish this at the December 20th City Council meeting. Implementation of the Action Steps in the Plan will begin in January. The Master Plan is a ‘living plan’ and as such will need to be reviewed and updated periodically to keep pace with our dynamic civic, economic, and natural environment. Action Steps will be prioritized and public involvement will be encouraged for each Action Step. We hope you will get involved in the Actions that interest you or impact your neighborhood. Future information about these opportunities will be provided on this webpage.”
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    Treasures Under Pressure: The Future of Northeastern Minnesota Lakes - Result of the 1998 Public Workshops: Summary Report
    (1999) Hagley, Cindy; Kreag, Glenn M; Jensen, Douglas A; Anderson, Keith A
    This information-rich report summarizes the results of a survey, roundtable and workshop that took place in 1998 in collaboration with the MN DNR. The report summarizes two parts of the four-part process including a roundtable and public workshops. The roundtable took place on July 27, 1998, in Hibbing, MN, followed by the public workshops on September 11 and 12, 1998, in Duluth and Grand Rapids, MN. Results of the statewide lakes survey are reported separately. A Minnesota Lakes Survey, a collaborative project with the MN DNR, was sent also to 2,000 randomly-selected people statewide and reported separately (not as part of this study). The report includes fact sheets summarizing issues about water surface use, property values and economy, septic systems, water quality, education, planning and zoning, interagency collaboration, balancing individual rights versus sustaining quality, and balancing aquatic and wildlife needs with human demands. Many of the issues and proposed actions appear to be relevant in 2015 and continue to have merit.
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    The North West Voyageurs Brigade Historic Trails Award
    (2003) Boy Scouts of America
    This short but interesting pdf describes an award given by the Boy Scouts of America to scouts accomplishing a route in the Voyageur's National Park. It contains a brief history and images of Native American and early European canoe routes. The pdf notes the importance of historic water routes to transportation and commerce.
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    The North Shore Curriculum Assessment Final Report
    (2007) Smerud, Peter
    This document describes the results of a project to assess the needs of teachers and schools regarding coastal resources and environmental education in the Minnesota coastal zone. A survey was carried out on K-12 teachers at 55 schools in the coastal zone, and a series of community meetings was held. Key findings are extracted and reproduced below. “The majority of surveyed teachers stated that they are quite comfortable teaching environmental education lessons in their classroom, resulting in one of the higher rankings (4.20) given in any area of the survey. This is supported by the fact that 77% of the teachers from this survey stated that they teach outdoors and 68% of them are currently using an outdoor school site. These numbers seem to indicate that many schools have an outdoor setting in which to teach. This is supported by the lowest ranking (2.83) for environmental education resource needs of obtaining an outdoor school site. The teachers seemed to indicate that they were knowledgeable in the content areas of environmental education with the positive rankings in every area (all above 3.0). The teachers in this survey rated that their greatest level of knowledge was among the area of outdoor recreation. This area is an integral part of our region and many may have gained experiential knowledge that would support this finding. Teachers indicated that they were more knowledgeable (3.70) about general environmental issues (climate change, acid rain, etc.) rather than specific issues relating to the coastal zone, (fisheries, forestry and development). Specific coastal zone issues was rated the lowest (3.02) in this category. The data showed that a moderate number of teachers were unaware of many of the existing environmental education curricula. The data also showed that many teachers were aware of the listed curricula, but did not use them presently in their teaching. Overall, of the teachers that did indicate they used these curricular resources, there was a relatively low rate of usage of these resources, all with rankings below 2.50. Specific coastal resource management issues were ranked as the highest level of need in terms of a specific content area, which seems to correlate with the prior result that showed this area to be ranked as the lowest item in the teachers’ level of knowledge. Other needed content areas that were ranked highest in this category were aquatic ecosystems, birds, current interaction of humans upon natural resources (an area similar to coastal resource management issues), historical interactions of human cultures upon natural resources, earth sciences and wildlife. 93% of surveyed teachers responding that they teach about the environment, it was surprising to note that only 38% of them use the identified published EE curriculum. Instead, many teachers (46%) have developed their own curriculum to teach about the environment. In addition to teaching about the environment, a majority (64%) of the teachers are taking their students on field trips to Environmental Learning Centers or Nature Centers. However, most of these field trip opportunities are happening only once or twice during the school year. The data also revealed that 19.6% of the surveyed teachers are teaching about the environment every week, which seemed to be a high percentage given the number of respondents. The outcomes and knowledge gained from this project are to be used to assess the needs of environmental education curriculum in the coastal zone and subsequently make recommendations for future funding and efforts that best meet the needs of coastal area schools and educators.”
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    The Minnesota Regional Copper-Nickel Study 1976-1979, Volume 1: Executive Summary
    (1979) Minnesota Environmental Quality Board
    This is a comprehensive, clearly-written document summarizing potential biophysical and socioeconomic impacts of copper-nickel mining in Minnesota. Special attention is paid to impacts on water resources. Relevant sections are reproduced in their entirely below, not only for historical interest but because of predictive power. Summary: "The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board's Regional Copper-Nickel Study is a comprehensive technical examination of the environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with the potential development of copper-nickel sulfide mineral resources of the Duluth Complex in northeastern Minnesota. This executive summary of the 5 volume, 36 chapter report presents some of the major findings of the Study, but in order to get a complete picture of the complex issues associated with exploiting this valuable mineral resource, the entire document should be examined. In addition to this report over 180 technical reports, extensive environmental monitoring data files, special sample collections, and other information resources were compiled by the Study" (n.b. these documents were not reviewed as part of this current desk review). Consistent with directions from the Minnesota Legislature, the Regional Copper-Nickel Study presents technical findings but does not make policy recommendations based on these findings." "To allow for a discussion of the potential environmental and socio-economic effects of copper-nickel development, an area of approximately 2100 square miles was designated as the Regional Copper-Nickel Study Area (or simply, the Study Area). This area contains Virginia in the southwest corner and Ely in the northeast corner. The major copper-nickel deposits of interest occur along the Duluth Gabbro Contact, in a band three miles wide and fifty miles long (the Resource Area); however, additional deposits may extend beyond this band. The Water Quality Research Area, which includes the complete watersheds of 14 streams of interest, is shown in Figure 2. Waters north of the Laurentian Divide are part of the Rainey River Watershed, which includes a portion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and whose waters eventually drain into Hudson Bay and the North Atlantic. Waters south of the Divide are a part of the St. Louis River Watershed which drains into Lake Superior and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River.” "Historically, the exploitation of base metal sulfide resources (such as copper-nickel resources) throughout the world has been accompanied by the significant degradation of the quality of water resources and the destruction of aquatic and terrestrial biota m the vicinity of such developments. Acid mine drainage, toxic heavy metals contamination, erosion, sedimentation, increased salinity, and other water pollution problems associated with mining were common. The nonferrous minerals smelting industry (principally copper, lead, and zinc) has also been a major source of manmade air pollutants. Until new technology has been developed to minimize many of these impacts, adverse impacts of past practices continue to cause close scrutiny of new mining proposals.” Water Quantity (Volume 3-Chapter 4). "Surface water is abundant in the Water Research Study Area due to high surface runoff. Average annual runoff in the region is about 10 inches. The Water Research Study Area includes 360 lakes larger than 10 acres, in addition to 14 small rivers and streams. Nearly 75 percent of the Water Research Study Area, and an even larger proportion of the surface water is north of the Laurentian Divide. North of the Divide, lakes are more numerous and larger, and the volume of stream flow is greater because a larger area is being drained. Because some of these waters are inside the BWCA, not all of the water north of the Divide is directly available for use. Annual average flow for 12 streams studied by the U.S. Geological Survey for the Study ranged from 23 to 1,027 cubic feet per second (cfs). High flow generally occurs after heavy precipitation and following the spring snowmelt. Average low flow for seven days is 2 to 186 cfs compared to an average high flow of 87 to 4,763 cfs. Ground water yield is generally low, limited by the low permeability of the Area's bedrock and the often shallow overlaying glacial deposits. Yields generally average less than 5 gallons/minute. Three relatively small areas have high volume aquifers yielding up to 1,000 gallons/minute: the Embarrass Sand Plain, the Dunka River Sand Plain, and the local fractured and leached bedrock areas in the Biwabik Iron Formation.” "Current industrial use of surface water is primarily for electric power generation. Mine-pit dewatering is the greatest groundwater use. At current levels, water use does not cause significant impacts on the region's water resources, although withdrawal from some streams must be reduced during low flow. Surface water, including some of the large on-channel lakes (e.g. Birch Lake), could supply large water users, al though storage may be required for certain streams. The Embarrass River Valley aquifer is the only identified groundwater source in surficial materials that could supply large water users.” Water Quality (Volume 3-Chapter 4). "Because of the large number of streams and lakes in the Study Area, the value of high quality water which supports a significant recreational and wilderness resource of the state and the nation, and the recognized historic relationship between base-metal mining and water pollution, a major responsibility of the Regional Copper-Nickel Study was the collection of baseline surface and ground water quality data (note: data tables and figures and not reproduced). "The quality of the region's water resources is generally very good except for several streams with watersheds affected by extensive taconite mining activities, and for groundwater either from glacial till or wells near the Duluth Gabbro Complex sulfide mineralization. Streams draining largely undisturbed watersheds can be described as containing soft water, having low alkalinity, low total dissolved solids, low nutrients, high color, very low trace metals concentrations, and low fecal coliform counts.” "Streams draining disturbed watersheds (Partridge, Embarrass, Upper St. Louis rivers south of the Laurentian Divide, and the lower Dunka River and Unnamed Creek north of the Divide) would be considered to contain moderately hard to hard waters, with elevated dissolved solids, nutrients, and trace metals concentrations relative to undisturbed watersheds. Color and fecal coliform concentrations are not significantly different in the two watershed classifications. Most water quality parameters tend to be much less variable in undisturbed streams as compared to disturbed streams. The quality of the lakes studied is variable though similar to the quality of undisturbed streams. However, lake values may be less meaningful for determining baseline concentrations than values in streams because of the limited number of samples.” "In general, concentrations of most chemical constituents are higher in the groundwater than in streams and lakes of the area. Groundwater from wells proximate to the Duluth Gabbro contact were found to have higher levels of trace metals and sulfate than wells located at a distance from the contact. Phosphorus and nitrogen are the major nutrients in aquatic systems. Concentrations of both nutrients in study streams are at the low end of the range of values for U.S. streams. Variations in nutrient levels exhibited no clear trends between headwater and downstream stations or between small and large watersheds. Highest concentrations of nitrogen were found downstream from mining operations where blasting compounds containing nitrogen are used. In lakes, nutrient parameters are closely associated with the activities of aquatic organisms. Higher levels of available nutrients encourage greater biological productivity. The ratio of nitrogen (N) to phosphorus (p) can be used to evaluate which of these nutrients limits algal productivity. Lakes with a N:P ratio greater than 14 are considered to be limited by phosphorus. Within the Study Area, median N:P ratios ranged from 14 to 60, and half the lakes studied had ratios greater than 25. Overall concentrations of both nutrients were at the low end. Median values for both nutrients were higher south of the Laurentian Divide than north of it. The most productive lakes were all headwater lakes, usually shallow, and surrounded by extensive bog and marsh areas.” "A major concern related to copper-nickel development is levels of heavy metals in surface waters. At background stream stations, copper, nickel, and zinc levels are generally very low, with median concentrations of copper and zinc in the range of 1-2 ug/liter and nickel around 1 ug/liter. Other trace metals of biological importance (As, Cd, Co, Hg, and Pb) have median concentrations significantly below 1 ug/liter. There is little variability in the levels of arsenic, cobalt, cadmium, mercury, titanium, selenium, and silver across almost all surface waters monitored. As expected, iron, manganese, copper, nickel, zinc, lead, fluoride, and chromium concentrations in streams are significantly higher in disturbed watersheds than in undisturbed areas. The dynamics of metals in lakes are somewhat different from those in streams because the large surface area of bottom sediments with their varying oxidation reduction potentials complicates the picture. Lakes can act as sinks for metals (as is the case with iron at Colby Lake) so that the chemistry of out flowing waters is different from that of inflowing waters. Large lakes may exhibit variability in the concentration of metals within the lake itself (as is the case with nickel in Birch Lake). Similar to streams, iron,' aluminum, and manganese were the most elevated metals in the Study Area lakes. Copper, nickel, and zinc have median levels between 1 and 2 ug/l, whereas arsenic, cobalt, and lead have median levels of 0.6,0.4, and 0.4 ug/l, respectively. Cadmium levels were an order of magnitude (10 times) lower than those for arsenic, cobalt, and lead. The greatest variabilities in concentrations were exhibited by manganese, zinc, cadmium, and aluminum, with arsenic the least variable metal.” "Water quality standards and criteria for many parameters have been adopted or are proposed for adoption by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Recommended levels for cadmium, color, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, nitrogen (as N02 + N03), pH, specific conductance, sulfate, and zinc were exceeded in one or more of the streams monitored. In most cases, these elevated levels occurred in Unnamed Creek, which is affected by mining (see discussion of Unnamed Creek below). The region's streams and lakes have naturally high color levels.” "All streams which were monitored exceeded the EPA water quality criteria for mercury (0.05 ug/liter). The median concentration of mercury for all streams monitored was 0.08 ug/liter with a range of 0.01-0.6 ug/liter. Standards for mercury are based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines for edible fish. High mercury levels have been found in fish from some of the area's lakes and streams. Because acid precipitation is a potential problem, the quality of precipitation in the Study Area was monitored at several sites. Seventy-seven percent of the samples (41) had a pH less than 5.7, which means that most of the precipitation measured can be considered acidic. Fifty percent of the samples had a pH of 3.6 to 4.4. The geometric mean pH of samples collected in the area was 4.6. These values are comparable to, or even less than values measured in areas of the world where ecological damage has already occurred. Measurements by the Regional Study indicate that the present annual sulfate deposition rate (wet plus dry) across the Study Area is from 10 to 20 kg/ha/yr (9 to 18 lbs/ acre/yr). Atmospheric dispersion modeling indicates that regional sources of S02 are not major contributors to depressed acidity of precipitation and suIfate deposition in the region. This in turn indicates that out-state and out-of-state sources, possibly as far away as St. Louis, Chicago, and Ohio Valley areas, are likely the major cause of acid rain and sulfate deposition in northeastern Minnesota.” "If the patterns of increasingly acidic precipitation continue, it is likely that many of the poorly buffered small streams will have noticeable decreases in aquatic populations (such as fish) during and following spring melt.” "Stream systems are very sensitive because the flush of water from spring snowmelt can represent a majority of the water that the stream may carry through the whole year. Recovery from these episodes may be expected to be fairly rapid (i.e. within months) unless or until the sources of recolonizing organisms are themselves affected (i.e. well buffered lakes or large unaffected streams). Recovery would be very slow once the source areas are affected. The effects of acid precipitation on vegetation range from damage to leaves to increased susceptibility to disease and death (see Volume 4-Chapter 2). A direct causal relationship between acid precipitat ion and reduced forest productivity measured by growth remains to be demonstrated. However, research suggests that acid precipitation is probably a cause of reduced forest growth. Because acidic precipitation and sulfate deposition are primarily related to air pollution sources outside the region and are projected to increase significantly over the next 10-20 years, acidification may represent a serious threat to the ecosystems of northeastern Minnesota, even if copper-nickel development does not occur. Long-term changes in the aquatic communities are probably already underway due to the general decrease in the pH of precipitation and thereby of surface waters in the Study Area. Because the decrease in pH will likely be slow, measurement of biological effects would require intensive long-term monitoring. During this period of decreasing pH, the overall productivity and diversity of the aquatic communities can be expected to decrease.” "One crucial parameter that was monitored is the water's buffering capacity-- its ability to regulate pH changes due to acid inputs from atmospheric deposition or leaching. The resistance to pH change is a function of the type of acid input (i.e. strong or weak acids) and the type of chemical components in the receiving water which can assimilate or bind the hydrogen ions. Calcite saturation indices (csr) were calculated for all study lakes and 30 lakes in the BWCA to measure this buffering capacity. Lakes with a csr less than 3.0 are well buffered; lakes with an index between 3.0 and 5.0 are poorly buffered with the possibility that acidification may already be occurring; and an index over 5.0 indicates lakes with little or no buffering ability and a strong possibility that severe acidification has already occurred.” "The poorly buffered lakes in the region are with few exceptions headwater lakes. This may be explained by the fact that buffering is a function not only of atmospheric processes, but also of watershed geology. The chemistry of headwater lakes often reflects that of precipitation, with watershed contributions to lake chemistry assuming secondary importance. As one proceeds from headwater to downstream lakes 1.U the Study Area, the ability of the lakes to assimilate hydrogen ions generally increases. Headwater areas of the region (which include half the BWCA lakes studied) are generally not well buffered and have limited capacities to assimilate existing acid loadings. Some of the lakes sampled during the study which may be the earliest to be affected by acidic precipitation include: Clearwater, August, Turtle, One, Greenwood, Perch, and Long lakes. These lakes have Calcite Saturation Indices above 3.0. Headwater streams are generally poorly buffered, in part because their water quality is also dependent upon the quality of precipitation.” "Two unique water quality conditions have been identified in the Study Area which are directly related to the presence of copper-nickel sulfide mineralization. In one of these cases, human disturbance of this mineralization has accelerated the chemical/physical weathering (leaching) of this material. Filson Creek, located in the northeastern part of the Study Area adjacent to the BWCA, flows naturally over exposed mineralized gabbro. Within the Filson Creek watershed, total concentrations of copper and nickel 10 the year 1977 generally increased from headwater locations to Filson's point of discharge into the South Kawishiwi River. Total nickel concentrations measured in Filson's headwaters were, except for one sample, less than 1 ug/liter, while the mean nickel concentration near the mouth of the watershed was 3 to 5 ug/liter. The smaller copper and nickel concentrations at Filson Creek headwater locations reflect the smaller percentage of sulfide bearing material in the till and the greater distance from the mineralized contact zone. The elevated metal values measured in Filson Creek may not be completely due to natural weathering of sulfide minerals. Prior to 1977, considerable mineral exploration activities occurred, including the taking of a bulk surface mineral sample. Subsequently, a small volume surface discharge was discovered at the foot of the bulk sample site with elevated metals levels (10,000 to 13,000 ug/l Ni, 360 to 1,000 ug/l Cu, and 190 to 5300 ug/l 2n). This discharge enters a small tributary of Filson Creek and raises the nickel and copper concentrations by about 9 ug/l and 5 ug/l, respectively. This change in trace metal concentrations is not sufficient to result in measureable biological changes in the Creek.” "In the other unique case, a small watershed (Unnamed Creek) which drains into Birch Lake at Bob Bay contains several wastepiles containing mineralized gabbro from a nearby taconite mining operation (Erie Mining Company's Dunka Pit). The large surface area of the waste rock facilitates the chemical weathering process. Surface seeps containing elevated concentrations of sulfates and trace metals (especially nickel) are present. The seeps flow into Unnamed Creek where the influence of this disturbance on water quality is obvious. Median nickel levels in Unnamed Creek were 85 ug/l, compared to 1 ug/l in undisturbed streams (Table 4). Extensive field studies conducted in this watershed have demonstrated that extensive disturbance of the mineralized gabbro without corrective mitigation can result in significant water quality degradation. The magnitude of the potential impacts in this specific case is largely mitigated by natural chemical processes involving adsorption, chemical complexation, and precipitation due largely to the presence of a bog in the watershed. The metal concentrations measured at Bob Bay would be significantly higher if not for the effect of the bog. However, the bog is showing some signs of stress and its beneficial effect on water quality may not continue for long.” Environmental Impact Assessment: Water Use "Water is required in significant quantities as a transport medium for the ore during concentration and for tailing disposal. Additional water is required in the smelting and refining phase for cooling and other purposes. Precipitation partially offsets the major water losses coming from evaporation losses coming from evaporation from tailing basins and water trapped between particles in tailing basins. However, fresh makeup water (estimated to average 0.76-1 b ill ion gallons per year) will be required for all three integrated copper-nickel development models (Volume 2-Chapter 5). Water requirements will vary significantly on a seasonal and annual basis.” "A good water management system is designed to manage and store runoff and seepage on the site (around waste piles, tailing basins, and elsewhere). The specific site and the design of the system will determine whether periodic discharges of waste water will be necessary during periods of above average precipitation. Because of the fairly continuous demand for water and the varying supply of water in lakes and streams in the area, it is estimated that significant water storage (10,000 to 15,000 acre-feet) will be necessary for use during dry periods. This water storage could be supplied by the tailing basin and/or reservoirs. Storage requirements for makeup water supply and containment of polluted water could increase land requirements by 2,000 to 3,000 acres.” "Increased demand for water could become a source of conflict if waters tributary to the BWCA are appropriated for copper-nickel development and if the waters are also diverted for taconite development, such as the Upper St. Louis and Partridge river watersheds. These issues could be considered prior to issuance of a DNR permit which s required for water appropriation. However, if both taconite expansion and copper-nickel development proceed in northeastern Minnesota, a regional comprehensive water management plan and perhaps a cooperative industrial water supply system may need to be considered.” "Quality of tailing water during the operating phase 1S primarily controlled by the concentrating process water. This water is largely recycled and should not be a significant heavy metal pollution source. Seepage can also be collected and recycled if necessary. Elevated levels could occur during the post-operating phase or if more sulfides are deposited in the basin than projected. Local variation in ore mineralogy could result in pockets of tailing having much higher sulfide concentrations which could cause localized leaching problems. Due to limited research on tailing water quality, the unknowns involving the quality of runoff and seepage from a tailing basin are greater than those associated with waste rock piles and create another source of significant risk involving future copper-nickel water management decisions.” "Mine dewatering can also contribute heavy metals, the amount depending upon the quantity of water from precipitation and groundwater sources that must be removed and the metal sulfide content of the mine. No precise conclusions can be made about expected levels of heavy metal release from this source. Smelter and refinery waste water 1S not as significant an issue as waste piles. Production of these waste waters 1S dependent on facility design and operation, and there appears to be no significant post-operational concerns.” "Treatment methods are available to reduce heavy metal concentrations in these waste waters to levels where biological impacts are not expected. Effluent water quality models for impact assessment purposes were developed (Volume 3-Chapter 4) based on the best data available from field and laboratory results, but this information is not sufficient to allow precise statements on the quality of water produced from copper-nickel water pollution sources or on the effectiveness of reclamation practices for specific effluent parameters (e.g. suIfates, trace metaIs, processing reagents). For example, information strongly suggests that runoff from waste piles will contain elevated heavy metals and dissolved solids concentrations as compared to background surface water quality. Heavy metals could be 500 to several thousand times higher than natural water quality levels and sulfates could be ten to several hundred times higher.” "These models reflect an assumption that acid mine drainage problems will not occur because of the natural buffering capacity of the waste materials. If this assumption IS wrong and acid conditions do occur, then projections of water pollution will be significantly underestimated because, as the pH becomes acid, there are dramatic increases in the amount of heavy metals leached from the waste significantly affects whether a metal will be in an aqueous phase (and highly mobile) or in a solid phase.” "Treatment of large amounts of runoff to remove heavy metals to existing background levels may be prohibitively expensive. Additional research is necessary in order to make accurate predictions about effluent quality and the effectiveness of various controls. Cost and time constraints will likely require that the first mining activities proceed without this predictive capability.” Heavy metals have adverse effects on aquatic organisms, the extent depending upon the type of metal (or combination of metals), organism tolerance, and water chemistry (Volume 4-Chapter 1). For example, cold water fisheries are generally more susceptible to heavy metal pollution than warm water fisheries." No mention is made of impacts on wild rice stands.
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    Sulfate and Mercury Chemistry of the St. Louis River in Northeastern Minnesota: A Report to the Minerals Coordinating Committee
    (2009) Berndt, Michael; Bavin, Travis
    This report presents technical data and information on water quality sampling from the St. Louis River related to sulfate and mercury contamination from mining that may affect human health. However the report contains raw data with little interpretation, and gives little guidance as to application of the findings to decision-making. The abstract and key findings are reproduced below. The St. Louis River and its major tributaries were sampled upstream from Cloquet during periods of high, medium, and low flow between September 2007 and October 2008. Special emphasis was placed on measuring sulfate (SO4) and mercury (Hg) distributions as well as other chemical parameters that might help to determine whether SO4 releases from the Iron Range have an impact on Hg speciation in the St. Louis River. These included, but were not limited to, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), dissolved iron (Fe), and the isotopic ratios for sulfur and oxygen atoms in dissolved SO4 (δ34SSO4 and δ18OSO4). Dissolved and particulate fractions of methyl mercury (MeHg), total mercury (THg), and bioavailable mercury (AHg) were additionally determined over a range of hydrologic conditions to identify primary source regions and transport mechanisms for Hg species. Results confirm that the majority of SO4 is derived from the iron mining district, and that SO4 added in the upstream portion of the St. Louis River is generally diluted downstream by waters from larger watersheds containing high percentages of wetlands. SO4, magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), sodium (Na), and chloride (Cl) concentrations all increase in the river, especially in the mining region, during periods of low-flow when groundwater inputs dominate chemistry of dissolved components. Variations in the relative concentrations of major elements and inδ34SSO4 and δ18OSO4 among the tributaries provide important clues to specific SO4 sources for each of the individual watersheds under varying flow conditions. Chemical data indicate that most SO4 from the mining region is derived from oxidation of small amounts of iron sulfide minerals present in stock piles, tailings, and pit walls containing Mg-rich carbonate minerals that are common in the Biwabik Iron Formation. Comparison with stream chemistry from 1955 to 1961 indicates SO4 sources were commonly present in the mining region before taconite mining became widespread in the region. Other chemical parameters in these data, particularly Ca and Mg, indicate the primary source for this SO4 was different from today. In contrast to SO4, Hg appears to be derived predominantly from wetlands, and is highest during periods of increased flow in the rivers. THg is well correlated to DOC concentration under most conditions, but quite variable during precipitation events when dissolved AHg and particulate SHg become more abundant in the rivers. MeHg concentrations in the St Louis River and its tributaries are also strongly correlated to DOC. Four sources of DOC are preliminarily inferred to be present in the river depending on the season and watershed characteristics, and it is believed that the relative amounts of DOC from each source may control the MeHg concentrations present in the river. These include: (1) DOC released from surface wetland areas containing low Fe (approximately 0.2 ng/mg Hg and 0.02 ng/mg MeHg in the DOC), (2) DOC containing almost no MeHg that is either produced in-stream or present in small amounts in natural groundwater, (3) DOC released from deep wetland areas following a major summer rain event containing very high MeHg and high Fe, and (4) DOC containing almost no MeHg in waters containing elevated dissolved Fe that seep slowly from deep within wetland areas under dry conditions. MeHg systematics appear to be very similar to those reported in two well-studied low-SO4 tributaries of the Rum River in east-central Minnesota. Additional sampling is planned to verify the above model and to more fully characterize mercury speciation during the warm summer months, particularly during periods when high Fe concentrations are present in the streams.
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    Schroeder Township: Planning for the Future
    (2004) Schroeder Township Planning Commission
    This is a document intended to support planning by residents and local officials. The citizens of Schroeder developed this document as their contribution toward full implementation of the county’s “Land Use Guide Plan for Cook County, Minnesota”, and is intended to guide the Cook County Office of Planning and Zoning and the Cook County Board of Commissioners in all subsequent decisions impacting land use in Schroeder Township. Key passages are extracted and reproduced below. “The purpose of this document is to provide the Cook County Board of Commissioners and the Cook County Office of Planning and Zoning with citizen-based input into the revision of the ‘Land Use Guide Plan for Cook County, Minnesota (1997) as it pertains to Schroeder Township. Schroeder recognizes its unique sense of place on the North Shore, and seeks to create a functional blend of residential and business uses while maintaining and complementing the scenic characteristics of the area. Schroeder is a unique community within Cook County. Our town possesses: • Historical significance as one of the original townships in Cook County and the presence of the Schroeder Area Historical Society. John Schroeder, the town’s namesake, ran a significant lumber harvesting operation in the area. • Natural characteristics such as the Cross River, Baraga’s Cross, Two Island River, Temperance River State Park and Sugarloaf Interpretive Center, as well as the Natural Forests which surround the township. • Recreational opportunities abound such as: hunting, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail. There are many boating and fishing opportunities from public access to Lake Superior at Taconite Safe Harbor and Baraga’s Cross or from one of the many inland lake accesses. The Lake Superior Water Trail, a kayak and canoe route, also passes through the area. The town park with picnic facilities is situated at scenic Baraga’s Cross. County, township and forest roads are frequent leaf and bird-watching routes, including the noteworthy Moose Drive Fall Color Tour Loop. Construction of the paved Gitchi-Gami Bike trail will connect the town of Schroeder with the town of Tofte and eventually connect the entire length of the North Shore from Duluth to Grand Portage for bicyclists and in-line skaters.” Water-related planning notes include the following points: “E. Special Areas: 2015 Conditions for Interior Waterways: • The Township recognizes the environmental sensitivity of the interior lakes, rivers and streams and recommends lot sizes and densities be designed for long term environmental sustainability based on the site conditions and the natural physical limitations of the area. 2015 Conditions for Forest Service and DNR Lands: • Public lands continue to be managed for the benefit of public recreational and economic concerns, maintaining the current blend of motorized and non-motorized access opportunities and encouraging all users to be wise stewards. • The Township supports conforming with current zoning on all privately held lands within these public lands.”