The cleanup of the St. Louis River from Twin Ports will accelerate thanks to new federal funding for the restoration of the Great Lakes. The Lake Superior estuary is one of 22 designated “areas of concern” to be restored using $1 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure agreement approved by Congress last fall. The cleanup of the Saint-Louis River should be completed by 2030.
On a Zoom call led by the White House on Friday, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar focused on the importance of Duluth’s port operations, calling Lake Superior not just a “treasure” for citizens, but a “d ‘an important part of our trade’.
U.S. Senator Tina Smith said the “unprecedented investment” in the Great Lakes is culturally significant.
“The shores of Lake Superior are the ancestral home of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa,” she said. “It has a deep cultural resonance for the indigenous peoples of the region.”
The funding will enable “major progress” on continued habitat restoration, invasive species work and river cleanup, “and ultimately delist the incredible St. Louis River area. in Minnesota,” Smith said.
Since the funding is in addition to other federal appropriations for the restoration of the Great Lakes, the money can also be directed towards nutrient reduction, harmful algal blooms and PFAS pollution in the waterways of the Great Lakes.
One example of ongoing remediation on the St. Louis River is the dredging of frozen sediment and soil in the Spirit Lake area, said Debra Shore of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mayor Emily Larson said in a press release that restoring the river is good for Duluth’s environment and economy, with opportunities for redevelopment and more recreational experiences.
“This funding will continue to increase accessibility along the river and ensure residents and visitors can enjoy this beautiful place for generations to come.”
School district removes mask mandate for students and staff
The St. Cloud School District on Thursday eliminated the universal masking requirement among students, staff and visitors.
Superintendent Willie Jett told school board members Wednesday that the decision was made in consultation with local and state health officials.
The number of active COVID-19 cases in the district has dropped in recent weeks – from 54 active cases among staff and 349 active cases among students in mid-January to one active case among staff and 37 active cases among students on Thursday.
Updated policy requires students and staff returning to school after a five-day quarantine to wear masks on days six through 10; those who choose not to mask must complete a 10-day quarantine. The district will continue to provide KN95 masks and free home testing kits for students and staff.
Due to the federal transportation mandate, students are still required to wear masks on buses and district transportation vehicles.