St. Louis River Alliance

Lower St. Louis River Habitat Plan

Funded by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Grant Contract Number X995385010 with additional support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Partners Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy.

The vision for the Lower St. Louis River is of a thriving human community connected to the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the river. The river ecosystems are diverse, productive and healthy, with natural processes (such as hydrologic regimes, biological productivity, and nutrient cycling) operating within the natural range of variation. The diversity of plants and animals and the composition of natural communities present at the time of European settlement is reflected in the sustainable ecosystems of today.

Interactive Habitat Plan

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

COVER

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND ABBREVIATIONS pg.iv

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY pg.ix

INTRODUCTION pg.1

Overview pg.1

Remedial Action Plan pg.1

Habitat Plan pg.2

How To Use This Plan pg.3

HISTORY OF THE LOWER ST. LOUIS RIVER pg.5

Geologic History of the Lower St. Louis River pg.5

Pre-Industrial History of the Lower St. Louis River pg.6

Post-Industrial History of the Lower St. Louis River pg.9

Summary pg.11

OVERVIEW OF THE PLANNING PROCESS pg.13

LOWER ST. LOUIS RIVER ECOSYSTEM pg.15

Physical Setting of the Lower St. Louis River pg.15

Historical and Current Habitats of the Lower St. Louis River pg.16

Overview of Conservation Targets pg.19

Conservation Targets – Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats pg.21

Classification of Plant Community and Aquatic Habitat Conservation Targetspg.21

Mapping Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats pg.23

Natural Range of Variation of Ecosystems and Their Processes pg.25

Descriptions of Plant Community and Aquatic Habitat Conservation Targetspg.27

Estuarine Aquatic Habitats pg.28

Estuarine Plant Communities pg.35

Baymouth Bar Communities pg.37

Upland Forest Communities pg.38

Other Inland Plant Communities pg.41

Conservation Targets – Species Assemblages and Individual Species pg.42

Descriptions of Species Conservation Targets pg.43

Regional and Global Significance of the Lower St. Louis River pg.50

THREATS TO THE LOWER ST. LOUIS RIVER ECOSYSTEM pg.53

Overview of Stresses and Sources of Stress pg.54

Stresses pg.55

Loss of Habitat pg.55

Increased Sedimentation pg.57

Competition from Undesirable Exotic Species pg.59

Exposure to Sediment-associated Contaminants pg.63

Degraded Water Quality pg.65

Sources of Stress pg.66

Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Development pg.66

Commercial Shipping pg.67

Contaminated Sediments pg.68

Forest Management Practices pg.69

Airborne Deposition of Chemical Contaminants pg.70

Global Climate Change pg.70

STRATEGIES FOR MITIGATING THREATS pg.71

Strategy 1: Protect Critical Remaining Natural Areas pg.73

Strategy 2: Maintain a List of Priority Restoration Projects and Sites pg.76

Strategy 3: Remediate Contaminated Sediments and Restore Natural Functions pg.79

Strategy 4: Reduce Peak Stream Flows that Result from Land Use Patterns pg.81

Strategy 5: Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Roads and Parking Lots pg.81

Strategy 6: Improve Stormwater Management and Eliminate Sanitary Sewer Overflows pg.82

Strategy 7: Minimize Impacts of Recreational Vehicles pg.83

Strategy 8: Implement BMPs to Control Sedimentation and Protect Water Quality pg.83

Strategy 9: Increase Use of Compatible Forest Management Practices pg.84

Strategy 10: Enhance Enforcement and Compliance Monitoring of Environmental Permits pg.85

Strategy 11: Modify Current Land Use/Zoning Regulations pg.85

Strategy 12: Restore Natural Drainage Systems and Processes pg.86

Strategy 13: Control Populations of Undesirable Exotic Species pg.87

Strategy 14: Regulate Ballast Water Discharge to Control Introduction of Exotic Species pg.87

Strategy 15: Develop Zebra Mussel Control Strategy pg.88

Strategy 16: Infuse the Lower St. Louis River Habitat Plan into Public Planning Processes pg.89

Strategy 17: Encourage the Development and Implementation of a Comprehensive Port Plan pg.89

Strategy 18: Encourage the Development and Implementation of a Comprehensive Dredge Materials Management Plan pg.90

INDICATORS OF SUCCESS pg.93

REFERENCES pg.99

APPENDICES pg.107

Appendix 1 List of Participants and Reviewers
Appendix 2 List of Plant Communities Mapped in the Lower St. Louis River
Appendix 3 List and Descriptions of Aquatic Habitat Types of the Lower St. Louis River and Their Ecological Values
Appendix 4 Conservation Target-Related Recommendations from St. Louis River Remedial Action Plan Stage Two
Appendix 5 List of Fish Species Native to the Lower St. Louis River
Appendix 6 Fish Use of Aquatic Habitats in the Lower St. Louis River
Appendix 7 Birds of the Lower St. Louis River Project Area
Appendix 8 Summary of Threats Identified for Each Conservation Target in the Lower St. Louis River

MAPS

Map 1 Locational Map of Project Area Boundary

Map 2 Pre-settlement Vegetation of the Lower St. Louis River Project Area

Map 3 Current Vegetation of the Lower St. Louis River Project Area

Map 4 St. Louis River Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map Index

Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map Legend
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 1
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 2
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 3
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 4
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 5
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 6
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 7
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 8
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 9
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 10
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 11
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 12
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 13
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 14
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 15
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Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 20
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 21
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Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 27
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Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 30
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 31
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 32
Plant Communities and Aquatic Habitats Map 33

Map 5 Aquatic Habitat Types