Wisconsin Point, a three-mile-long natural sand spit along Lake Superior, is a popular recreation area. A part of one of the longest freshwater sandbars in the world, it is also home to many native species of fish and wildlife, rare plants and migratory birds. Over many years, human activity and heavy foot traffic degraded vegetation and destabilized the shoreline, and invasive species threatened native ecosystems.
To better balance public access with environment protection, the City of Superior, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and others partnered to restore the dunes environment, address the loss of fish and wildlife habitat, and enhance public access. Further, the project aimed to reconnect with the cultural significance of Wisconsin Point as the historic home to the Ojibwe people — a former Ojibwe village site and cemetery are located in the area.
WSP provided a suite of environmental and resilient design services, including native plant community assessments, invasive species surveys, wetland assessments, native seed mix design for unique plant communities, slope stability and erosion assessments, and vegetation restoration design. We performed invasive species removal and control and designed a 2,150-foot-long living shoreline, consisting of a rock sill and emergent wetland, to repair and preserve habitat and mitigate erosion along Wisconsin Point Road.
Improvement of access and infrastructure involved eliminating some parking access points and enlarging and enhancing others using low-impact development techniques to infiltrate storm water runoff and prevent erosion. More than 1,000 feet of elevated, ADA-compliant boardwalks and viewing platforms were installed over the dunes to provide access across sensitive areas, and boat and canoe/kayak access was improved.
In total, 48,000 square feet sand dune habitat, 40,000 square feet of shoreline wetland and 85 acres of pine barren forest dune habitat was restored; 150 acres of sensitive wildlife habitat was reconnected; and 3,600 feet of shoreline was restored and stabilized.