Clough Island will get a boatload of visitors Tuesday as conservation leaders from Wisconsin and Minnesota join state and federal natural resource officials to celebrate protection of the largest island in the largest estuary of the largest freshwater lake in the world.
The 350-acre island, which once was targeted for development as a golf resort and condominium complex, is now firmly in the hands of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and is considered critical habitat for fish and birds that use the St. Louis River estuary.
“It’s just a great spot to paddle or go fishing and to be able to see 50-inch musky and big sturgeon right in an urban area like this. It’s pretty special what we have here,” said Bob Cragin, a rural Superior resident who worked to protect the island. “Its one of the places where little walleye and sturgeon come down to after they spawn. … It’s really their nursery. The island is the heart of the whole estuary.”
Cragin, 64, who grew up fishing, hunting and playing on the river in nearby Oliver, said keeping the island undeveloped and shoreline protected “just makes sense” as part of the larger, ongoing restoration of the river.
“Just above a harbor area that’s been so thoroughly altered by people over the past 150 years, here we have an area of shallow water habitat and wetlands that is pretty much undisturbed,” said Fred Strand, DNR wildlife manager in Superior.
The DNR received the island earlier this year as a gift from the Nature Conservancy, which purchased the island form private developers last November using $1.75 million grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wisconsin’s land stewardship fund.
Clough Island, also called Whiteside Island, recently was added into the DNR’s existing St. Louis/Red River Stream Bank Protection Area and is now forever off limits to development. It’s also part of the federal government’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System, as is all public land on the Wisconsin side of the St. Louis River.
Link (Via: Duluth News Tribune)