Poplar River Management Board continues to work to reduce sediment

The Poplar River Management Board (PRMB) continues to make progress on large-scale projects to reduce sediment from the lower segment of the Poplar River in Lutsen. 
Ten contractors submitted bids for the next project, the Caribou Highlands Flowpath.  According to PRMB President Tom Rider, the three lowest bidders were all very qualified companies.  The contract went to Reuben Johnson & Sons of Superior, Wisconsin with a bid of $157,000. 
The Caribou Highlands Flowpath project will involve the installation of erosion control measures along the strip of land between Caribou Highlands, which sits on a bluff, and the river.  It will capture all the storm water originating on the Caribou Highlands property.  The land directly adjacent to the river is owned by Lutsen Mountains and includes a ski trail and an access road. 
“It’s a pretty important project due to the proximity of this resort to the river and the scale of land and storm water involved,” Rider said.  The work will start this spring and is expected to be completed in June or July.
“We also have two other smaller conservation projects that will be carried out this summer – the Mystery Mountain Flowpath Project and the Lower Eagle Mountain Road Project,” said Rider.  A request for bids will go out later this winter with construction to take place this summer.
At the February 4 bimonthly PRMB meeting, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reported on data trends regarding sediment levels in the Poplar River.  Measurements gathered from 2009 to 2011 show a 35 percent reduction from previous levels. Rider said this reduction is expected to grow as completed projects mature on the landscape, such as the Ullr Tightline that was completed in 2012, and as additional projects are added, such as the ones to be completed this summer. 
“This is the first bit of concrete water data we have received from MPCA after five-plus years of project implementation,” said Rider.  He noted that the MPCA’s data collection, review, and quality control process is very slow.  “It’s great to have this validation from MPCA for all of our efforts,” he said.  The reduction is “pretty consistent” with the engineer’s estimations when the projects were designed.  Rider said it “is nice when theory matches up with reality.”