Duluth Stream Corps Restores Shorelines

Reduces Sedimentation and Pollution

Duluth landowners volunteered to provide access to their streamside property for restoration and naturalization projects, resulting in 22 miles of restored stream shores and improved water and habitat quality.


Duluth, Minn., has many streams and rivers that provide habitat for fish and wildlife species and eventually flow into Lake Superior. Unfortunately, shoreline development and the degrada­tion of riverbanks are threatening these aquatic habitats. As this streamside habitat has disappeared, Duluth’s streams have been subject to significant sedimentation, pollution, and heating, severely degrading both water quality and wildlife habitat. Thanks to several grants, primarily through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Community Action Duluth developed a Stream Corps program, hiring and training 14 unemployed and underemployed Duluth residents to work with local landowners to restore shorelines and riparian areas. Interested landowners with streamside property could ask the Stream Corps to help develop a naturalization and restoration project specific to their property. The Stream Corps then provided the labor, expertise, and materials to undertake the project. The most common type of work done was planting native trees and shrubs along shorelines; however the crews also helped land­owners remove debris and invasive species, plant native wildflowers, and install rain gardens. To protect newly planted trees from deer and other browsers, crews also installed 8-foot fencing around the trees. Following project completion, the Stream Corps advised the landowner on how to maintain the restoration work.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Stream bank erosion and development
  • Loss of riparian buffers
  • Sediment build up
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat


Volunteers plant trees

The Duluth Stream Corps provided labor, materials, and expertise to landowners interested in restoring their shoreline property. Credit: Community Action Duluth.

Results and Accomplishments

The program has planted 18,177 trees and shrubs along 22 miles of shorelines. This helps filter out sediments and pollutants from Duluth’s streams and rivers, and improves water quality for both people and wildlife. Shoreline vegetation also provides shading for aquatic habitats, contributes leaf and branch litter for aquatic habitats, and provides food and shelter for riparian habitats. These restoration projects have also increased local property values by improving the aesthetics of the properties of participating landowners. The Stream Corps program provided training and employment for 14 unemployed and underemployed Duluth residents.