Park Point Green Infrastructure

Reduces Stormwater Runoff

Planting shoreline vegetation and constructing rain gardens and tree trenches at Park Point’s public beach is reducing stormwater runoff and beach erosion—improving public safety and beach health.


Jutting out from Duluth into Lake Superior is a sandy island known as Park Point. This long and narrow strip of land includes long term residents, a marina, a fire station, and even a small regional airport. Park Point is also a popular spot for outdoor recreation, including bird watching and swimming. Unfortunately, a combination of winds and stormwater have degraded the beach and caused public health issues. Untreated stormwater runoff carries pollutants from Park Point onto the beach and out into Superior Bay. Meanwhile, high winds blowing in from the bay severely erode the sandy shoreline and blow contaminants from the bay back onto the beach, creating unsafe conditions for the public.

Thanks to a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the City of Duluth is installing nature-based infrastructure that will address the impacts of stormwater runoff and reduce shoreline erosion. Once installed, the parks, wetlands, and rain gardens will absorb storm water, filter pollutants, and reduce flooding. Repairing a key road culvert will also improve stormwater drainage from nearby areas. Workers are now developing three rain gardens and several rows of trees that will intercept and infiltrate stormwater before it hits the beach. They are also planting willows and native grasses along the shoreline that will provide additional infiltration of stormwater runoff, and will develop a deep root structure that improves soil and reduces beach erosion. The city of Duluth expects to complete these natural infrastructure features in summer of 2018. City Parks staff are reaching out to the Park Point community’s garden club to discuss maintaining the rain gardens going forward. They hope that this project will successfully demonstrate the potential for future nature-based infrastructure projects in Duluth.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Polluted stormwater runoff
  • Excess erosion
  • Poor water quality
  • Risk to public safety


Standing water near a road

Low-lying areas, like the one pictured above, will be replaced with rain gardens and water-loving plants. Credit: City of Duluth.

Results and Accomplishments

This project will construct three rain gardens totaling 8,000 square feet, plant 1,600 linear feet of trees, and restore 7,000 square feet of shoreline. These new green infrastructure features are expected to reduce the flow of untreated stormwater into Lake Superior by 89,000 gallons annually. They will also address shoreline erosion along the beach by improving the soil. By restoring beach health and public safety, this project will significantly enhance outdoor recreation on Park Point.