Once-polluted Waterway

Becoming Natural Playground

Restoration of fish and wildlife habitat on Hog Island is transforming a Great Lakes Area of Concern into a haven for anglers, fish and wildlife, including the federally endangered piping plover. Wild rice, which has ecological and cultural significance for Native Americans, has also been planted.


Sediment contamination and the loss of fish and wildlife prompted federal officials in 1987 to declare the St. Louis River a Great Lakes Area of Concern. Hog Island, Hog Island Inlet and Newton Creek are located in the St. Louis River estuary, located between Superior, Wis., and Duluth, Minn. Federal officials spent $6.3 million to dredge 50,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Newton Creek and parts of Hog Island Inlet in Wisconsin. Once that cleanup was complete, government agencies and local conservation organizations set out to restore fish and wildlife habitat on the island, the inlet and Newton Creek. The habitat work underway will restore 64 acres of wetlands and coastal habitat at several sites in this area, including planting wild rice. The project is advancing efforts to restore ecological function and biological diversity to a previously contaminated portion of the harbor. Restoring fish and habitat will bolster efforts to get the St. Louis River de-listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern.


Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Lack of native habitat
  • Invasive species
  • Low water quality
  • Loss of recreational opportunities

Results and Accomplishments

Local anglers have said fishing has improved in the Hog Island inlet, Newton creek and Allouez Bay. Sixty-four acres of wetland and associated shoreline habitat are  being restored on Hog Island and in Hog Island inlet. Among the improvements:  More than eight acres of invasive plants were removed, 18 acres of native, vegetative buffers were planted and more than 20 acres of wetlands were restored. The work provides habitat for fish and migratory birds, including the federally endangered piping plover.


Wild rice grows along the banks of a river

Wild rice, like the kind pictured above, is now able to grow in the Hog Island inlet. Wild rice has ecological and cultural significance for Native Americans. Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Midwest Region.