St. Louis River Summit celebrates river transformations

The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (Lake Superior Reserve) is holding its 12th annual St. Louis River Summit March 7-9 via the virtual platform Zoom and with optional in-person events. Wisconsin Sea Grant is one of the sponsors.

The theme for the summit is, “River Transformations,” which celebrates progress on St. Louis River Area of Concern environmental projects and the transformative work of understanding and addressing climate change. The goal of the summit is to bring together key audiences working in the region to share information about the St. Louis River and encourage coordination of activities and funding proposals.

“This year, more than any other, we are emphasizing the community that surrounds, cares for, and benefits from the St. Louis River,” said Deanna Erickson, Lake Superior Reserve director. “From keynote speakers, to posters, to field trips and presenters, we are emphasizing community engagement and equity in this remarkable landscape. After decades of restoration, the river is transforming. A healthier St. Louis River supports positive community transformations and wellbeing.”

The keynote speaker will be Jesse Roesler, a filmmaker with Credo Nonfiction, which is the company that produced “Breaking Trail,” a documentary about Emily Ford, a Duluthian who last winter was the first woman and person of color to through-hike the 1,200-mile Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. Roesler will address the power of storytelling to inspire positive change.

Jennifer Chenoweth will be a featured speaker. She is a visual artist and entrepreneur who created the XYZ Atlas, an interactive public art project that portrays the feelings, stories and experiences of people living in and visiting Austin, Texas. Chenoweth will describe how art can be a tool for social change through inspiration and connection.

In-person events include a poster session, an evening River Talk, and field trips. The poster session will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, in the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjacket Union.

The River Talk will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 8, also in the Yellowjacket Union. It will feature Marne Kaeske with the 1854 Treaty Authority who will help participants construct wild rice knocking sticks during “Bawa’iganaakoog (Wild Rice Harvesting Sticks).” Advance registration is required.

During the morning of March 9, small-group, socially distanced field trips will be held. Options include a drone meet and fly, winter birding on Wisconsin Point, a snowshoe trek in the Superior Municipal Forest and a tour of Carl Gawboy’s classic murals in the Superior Public Library.

Students from local schools and institutions are invited to attend the summit to learn more about the research community and river projects. Students are free but need to register.

The cost to attend the summit is $30. To register and view the agenda, visit

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. In addition to Sea Grant, initial sponsors include Barr Engineering, Duluth Pottery, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc., the Friends of the Lake Superior Reserve, the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, Izaak Walton League of America, the Lake Superior Research Institute, the Large Lakes Observatory, LimnoTech, Inc., Marine Tech, the Minnesota Land Trust, Minnesota Sea Grant, Roen Salvage Company, Stantec, the University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute, the W.J. McCabe (Duluth) Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes Toxicology and Ecology Division.