US Army Corps to Create Six New Islands in Lake St. Paul’s Pig’s Eye from River Dredged Soil – Twin Cities
St. Paul’s largest and arguably most neglected lake is on the verge of receiving 400,000 cubic meters of dredged soil from the Mississippi River.
The US Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday that it will use the river’s soil to create six new islands in Pig’s Eye Lake, a 600-acre wetland located across the river from the airport. downtown St. Paul and south of Lower Afton Road and Battle. Regional park of the stream.
In conjunction with Ramsey County, the Army Corps awarded a $ 14.7 million contract to LS Marine Inc. of St. Paul to create island and wetland features on Pig’s Eye Lake, including restoration of the habitat of marshes and new land plantings, with the declared advantage of protection against bank erosion.
The four-year project begins in July and is expected to end by the end of 2025.
THE PROJECT HAS CRITICS, SUPPORTERS
The backfill to create the island will include fresh quarry rock, as well as dredged sand and topsoil temporarily stored on Pine Bend, Upper Boulanger, and Lower Boulanger Islands.
The project is not without criticism. East Side advocates Tom Dimond and Kiki Sonnen said the Army Corps had indeed run out of places to dump the polluted soils dredged up from the Mississippi upstream of Hastings, and they chose Pig’s Eye Lake. because public access is limited and few stakeholders to sound the alarm.
“Islands. It’s a name that sounds good,” said Dimond, leading a recent tour of the lake’s shores. “There’s no habitat that it serves. These are heaps of pollutants.
However, Zach Kimmel, a project manager in the US Army Corps, said the dredged soil would be covered with two feet of topsoil to create healthy habitat for the birds. Pollution of the river soil removed from shipping canals is not an insignificant concern, he said, but the dredged soil in question was inspected with that in mind.
“We’re very confident that the material we’re going to use will be good, clean sand,” Kimmel said. “We have established testing protocols with all of the regulatory partners we work with along the river. We test the material every year.
Kimmel said the islands will serve as terrestrial habitat, largely for shorebirds.
Representatives of the Friends of the Mississippi River were supporting the body’s approach.
The Army Corps chronicled 211 acres of shoreline lost from 1951 to 2015, and predicts an additional 38 acres will be destroyed by 2058. Supporters said the islands would add new and varied habitat to the lake, including trees, marshes, meadows and sandy areas, while blocking the wind and creating a calm and protected area for migrating birds.
“I strongly support this project on its merits,” said Dan McGuiness, a Highwood resident and retired river conservationist, in Written comments shared last year when Ramsey County asked for public comment about the project. McGuiness is the former Director of the Upper Mississippi River Campaign for the Audubon Society.
APPROVAL OF THE DETERMINED CITY IS NOT REQUIRED
St. Paul City Council member Jane Prince said there were arguments for and against adding islands to Pig’s Eye Lake, but public debate was stifled by a lack of coordinated awareness. She said city council never approved the project with an official resolution. After noting her concerns, she said, the county and the Army Corps later determined that city approval was not required.
“My problem with the Corps and the County is the lack of a public process on this,” Prince said. “People are on both sides, in terms of ‘this could be a good thing for the habitat’ or ‘this could be terrible for the lake.’ They determined there was no downside. It’s like the dark ages of the public process.
The Army Corps of Engineers, with the blessing of Ramsey County, plans to dump 400,000 cubic meters of dredged soil starting in July. A 4 year process. The county says it will look like a series of “islands”. It’s a name that sounds good. There is no habitat that it serves. These are heaps of pollutants. pic.twitter.com/krvd0AJtmg
– Frederick Melo, journalist (@FrederickMelo) June 26, 2021
Others disagree. “I think there was an important process,” Ramsey County Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo said. “Our Parks Department conducted a community process with the Army Corps and presented it to our Parks Advisory Board. We are at a point with climate change and the need to restore wetlands, that we need to move forward in this area.
In a written statement, Corps of Engineers officials said dredged material “can restore, protect or create aquatic habitats and wetlands through construction and maintenance dredging. The beneficial use of dredged material has also been used for the development of upland habitat, beach nourishment, and dike repair and improvement.
HERON’S HOUSE, AIGRET
Pig’s Eye Regional Park is home to one of the largest urban heron and egret rookeries in the Midwest, as well as numerous eagles, but it is dotted with industrial uses that make access to the lake virtually impossible for most. visitors, including the robot-controlled Canadian Pacific Railway. freight train cars and a tree waste disposal facility located in front of the trailhead leading to the river.
More than 110 freight trains pass through the 1950s marshalling yard at the eastern end of the park daily.
The Red Rock Terminal, located at the southern end of Pig’s Eye Lake, encompasses a variety of industrial activities for access to land and barges.
Ramsey County Pig’s Eye Lake Master Plan describes the Pig’s Eye section as part of the Battle Creek Regional Park and Mississippi River backwater.