The St. Louis River
The St. Louis River, the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior, has a watershed of 3,634 square miles, entering the southwestern corner of the lake between Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin. The river flows 179 miles through three distinct areas: coarse soils, glacial till and outwash deposits at its headwaters; a deep, narrow gorge at Jay Cooke State Park; and red clay deposits in its lower reaches. As it approaches Duluth and Superior, it becomes a 12,000-acre freshwater estuary. The upper estuary has wilderness-like areas, while the lower estuary is characterized by urban development, an industrial harbor and a major port. The lower estuary includes St. Louis Bay, Superior Bay, Allouez Bay and the lower Nemadji River.
The St. Louis River was designated as one of 42 Areas of Concern (AOC) on the Great Lakes due to pollution problems. These problems are being addressed by the St. Louis River System Remedial Action Plan (RAP), which focuses primarily on the last 39 miles of the St. Louis River from below Cloquet, Minnesota to its mouth on Lake Superior.
The RAP began in 1989 as a collaborative effort between the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. At that time, the agencies created a Citizens Advisory Committee. In 1996, the agencies helped launch the Citizens Action Committee (CAC) - an independent, non-profit organization. In June 1997, the CAC hired its first executive director and opened an office.
The CAC offers memberships for $25 per year, and has about 15 board members from industry, academia, research institutions, government, environmental and civic groups, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other area residents.
The RAP's document (identification of problems) was published in 1992, and was highly praised by the International Joint Commission. A progress report containing 43 recommendations was published in 1995. The CAC facilitates these recommendations, their implementation and revisions.