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Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program

Stream Protection at the Lake Superior Zoo: Internal Audit & Best Management Practices Training Leslie Larsen, Lake Superior Zoological Society 10/29/08
Project No. A93374

Contract No. 306-06-08

This project was funded in part under the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.

Acknowledgements This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in conjunction with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program. The Lake Superior Zoo staff would also like to acknowledge the South St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff. Although they were a paid partner for this project, the staff was very supportive and patient during the various staff changes at the zoo and was generous with their assistance. Introduction As Kingsbury Creek runs through Lake Superior Zoo and flows directly into the St. Louis River, zoo staff desires to reduce the impact on the creek and the watershed. The zoo exhibits animals on both sides of the creek. This creates fecal runoff and erosion in some areas. The zoo also attracts large numbers of geese which create fecal matter that eventually ends up in the creek. It was determined that with grant funding, an audit of our current practices could assist the zoo in practicing best management in terms of erosion and fecal control. Work Completed A complete, four-season Stream Protection Audit was conducted by various SWCD staff. This audit includes photos of problem areas and suggestions for change in management practices such as: No-mow zones, rip-rap repair and equipment use. As part of the equipment suggestions, a power washer and trailer were purchased and a training guideline is included with the audit. Results The audit is a first step in a larger process for the zoo to reduce its impact on Kingsbury Creek. The audit is the evaluation component of this process and will provide guidance for future decisions. Using the audit as a guidance tool, zoo staff can incorporate the audit suggestions in the master planning process. The master plan will include options for horticulture and animal exhibit development. As certain animals cause more soil erosion than others, and particular plants create better filtration than others, these options will be considered in future planning. The acquired power washer will be used to spray fecal matter and eroded material into grassy, filtration areas rather than letting it flow directly into Kingsbury Creek. A new partnership has developed between the zoo and SWCD as SWCD attended a booth at our annual Earth Tracks event. They will continue to be invited to that field day which educates regional school students about reducing their impact on the Earth. For a variety of reasons, there were some set backs in equipment purchase decisions. Some equipment suggestions that were initially made did not turn out to be realistic in their intended use. Spill pillows had been one of the suggestions. These would be inflated with water and placed along the creek paths to catch and redirect runoff to grassy areas. However, these pillows would have taken a large amount of water to fill, then would have to be dumped to move. This seemed like a wasteful option. In addition, it may be possible to purchase a mulching mower in the future. However, at the present time there is a mowing contract for the zoo via the City of Duluth and no mowing

changes were approved. Also, rain barrels were purchased, but it became difficult to install them in the useful and visible areas due to lack of staff time needed to install rain gutters. A brief explanation of the past and current zoo staff arrangements may be helpful. As the progress reports reflect, there have been five zoo directors or interim directors during the life of this grant period. Each had various levels of time and interest invested in the process. There has consistently been a lack of staff to help implement the best management practices (BMPs). For example, even with good intentions, zoo staff was unable to approve and install rain gutters to be used with the rain barrels. Another necessary clarification is that the zoo is owned and operated by the City of Duluth. At the present time, the city is intending to lay off all city staff. This has had a major impact on the time and resources available to implement the grant deliverables. In addition, there were no static, visible deliverables where an interpretive sign could be installed. That was the intention had rain barrels been located in central locations and near gardens at the zoo. However, this certainly has potential as a future project. Recognition is visible as there are stickers on both the trailer and power washer acknowledging the Coastal Program. Conclusion Certainly, the staff changes at the zoo during the life of this grant process were unexpected. It is unavoidable and unfortunate that it has made it difficult to implement some of the intended outcomes, but again, these opportunities are still in the zoo’s future. The Zoological Society and the City of Duluth are in the process of arranging a new management agreement. This will simplify decision making and increase possibilities for growth. The opportunity to implement some BMPs such as now mow zones, native plantings that filter sediment and remove fecal matter to grassy areas will provide an interesting opportunity to monitor the stream quality before and after the implementation. We continue our partnership with Proctor High School for stream monitoring, but we will not be able to assess results from our practice changes until they are put fully into use. Appendices Please see electric and hard copies of the Stream Protection audit (instruction manual for power washer and photos included). Photos of power washer and trailer attached. Photo taken on 10/27/08 by Chloe DeArmond, Lake Superior Zoo.

PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENTS

Government Coordination and Decision-Making SWCD attended two Earth Tracks Field Days at the zoo. Each Earth Day event attracts approximately 800 school students. Water Quality With the implementation of BMPs, Proctor High School students (approximately 25 students) will be involved in monitoring stream quality. This will occur 1-2 times per school year.