More than 10 inches of rain fell on Saxon Harbor on July 11-12 last year, an area on Lake Superior on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Duluth News Tribune reported that $1.375 million in funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be dedicated to dredging and repairing the flood-damaged harbour. The funds are dedicated to a project that will adjust the depth of the harbour and maintain it as a safe refuge for boats during future Superior storms.
The News Tribune recounts the flood damage included destruction of Saxon Harbor’s marina and campground, washed out roads, overflow of Oronto Creek, and 19 boats beached (others sank or set adrift). Three deaths were confirmed in the flood’s wake, and several people had to be rescued from the Apostle Islands. Significant amounts of sediment and mud were swept out to Superior’s shoreline, causing concern for drinking water quality.
The dredging and repair project is part of the Army Corps’ 2017 budget, with a project bidding opportunity to be released Sept. 30. When work begins in 2018, the project will aim to restore the harbour to a depth more suitable for larger boats. Eric J. Peterson, a forest administrator for Iron County, WI, told the News Tribune that this will improve the harbour’s now-limited use. Before the storm, Saxon had three boat launches that could handle boats of 40 feet or more. Currently, the harbour only has one boat launch, facilitating boats of 24 feet or less.
“Saxon Harbor is a designated harbor of refuge on Lake Superior,” he said. “With that comes the responsibility for Army Corps to maintain the channel entering to the marina and the channel down the north basin of the marina.” (Eric J. Peterson to the Duluth News Tribune, 30 May 2017)
Funding for the work laid out above came about after U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis) sent a letter to the Army Corps last fall for assistance in rebuilding the area. On behalf of Iron County, she requested the project be made a priority. In addition to the dredging project, efforts are underway to rebuild the camping ground and marina; construction is to take place in 2018, with a target completion for the 2019 recreation season.