Naturalized Shoreline near Duluth

Helps Fish, Wildlife, Recreation

Removing a steel wall and installing rock weirs in the St. Louis River is providing habitat for fish and aquatic wildlife, reducing erosion and protecting a local park from flooding.


Chambers Grove Park sits on the outskirts of Duluth, Minn., along the scenic St. Louis River. Until recently, the popular park was separated from the river by a sheet metal wall that had been constructed during the city’s industrial hay-day when environmental impacts were rarely considered. The metal barrier was not good for the environment, however. It channeled the flow of the water to the very bottom of the wall, undercutting it, and leading to flooding in the park. The wall was no longer keeping the river out of the park, so with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the edge of the river has been naturalized. Authorities removed the wall and replaced it with gently sloping banks, sprinkled with stabilizing rocks and plants. The sloping banks also allowed the city to install a canoe and kayak landing point at the park, so more people can enjoy the river. To redirect the flow of water into the center of the river, three J-hook- shaped rock weirs were installed. The weirs stop the most intense flow of water before it reaches the shoreline and redirect it, and the rocky shoals also provide important habitat for fish and wildlife.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Flooding
  • Riverbank erosion
  • Degraded habitat


A boardwalk near a river

Restoration work has re-established the nearshore ecosystem, allowing small fish and other wildlife a place to thrive at Chambers Grove Park. Credit: Duluth Parks and Recreation Department.

Results and Accomplishments

More than 1,000 feet of shoreline in Chambers Grove Park has been restored. Sloping riverbanks have replaced the harsh drop off of a sheet metal wall that used to separate the St. Louis River from the park. The gradual slope has allowed the city to install a canoe and kayak landing. Shoreline habitat has increased substantially thanks to three rock weirs that jut out into the river channel. This rocky environment is perfect for sturgeon, walleye, and longnose suckers to spawn. In the summer, smallmouth bass are expected to take shelter in the rocks as well.  With this new prime fish habitat, city planners expect that Chambers Gove Park will attract flat rock fishermen.