The Duluth Engineer District is set to begin 2021 maintenance dredging and Minnesota Point beach nourishment next week. Cleanup of material placed during 2020 continues.
The Corps of Engineers awarded the 2021 maintenance dredging contract July 14, 2021, to Sturgeon Bay, Wis., based Roen Salvage Company. Roen will dredge 40,000 cubic yards of material. The Corps originally planned to dredge and place nearly 100,000 cubic yards. However, it is reducing the amount of material due to protocols and safeguards put in place to ensure the material is free from man-made debris for beach nourishment.
“Public safety is a top priority for the Corps of Engineers and new requirements will impact the amount of material the contractor can place,” said Project Manager Melissa Bosman. “Our federally-mandated mission is to maintain harbor navigation and we partnered with the City of Duluth to beneficially use the dredged material as beach nourishment along Minnesota Point again this year.”
The 2021 project placement area begins at the pier and extends to the S-curve, just South of 12th Street but North of the parking lot. The contractor will install fencing for safety and the public will not be allowed in those areas. The 12th Street parking lot can still be used for beach access to the South, but not North into the project area.
The contractor will start placing material at ninth Street to the S-Curve. The 2021 beach nourishment project will be complete by September 30 and the contractor will de-mobilize by early October.
The Corps of Engineers conducted a survey of material placed in 2020 during the Spring of 2021. The survey showed 23 areas with high-magnetic signatures, eight above the water surface and 15 below the water surface.
The Corps of Engineers Duluth Area Office already excavated, screened and documented debris found within the eight above-water areas. It found mostly rocks and taconite pellets. The 2021 dredging contract includes cleanup of the 15 below-water areas before placing any new material.
“They should complete excavating, screening and documenting these areas by mid-August,” said Bosman.
In addition to cleaning the areas identified in the survey, the Minnesota Point cleanup plan announced in early June included beach raking. Raking between the pier and 36th Street began June 23 and finished June 29. This initial raking gathered about 17 cubic yards of debris, mostly consisting of small pieces of driftwood and trash litter. Only about 20 can fragments were found.
After a storm the Corps of Engineers raked the beach again July 15 from the pier to 12th Street. The Duluth Area Office is currently sifting through the debris to document what was collected.
The Duluth Area Office continues physically walking the beach as it has since November 2020 to look for and document any debris from material placement. “We believe the cleanup plan is working. We’re finding less and less can fragments every time, but we remain committed,” said Weston.