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Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve

NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System

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Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management

NOAA and Wisconsin Officials Designate the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve


The Lake Superior site was proposed by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle in May 2008, after a two-year site selection process. The reserve will be managed by the University of Wisconsin Extension.

A nearly 17,000-acre area of freshwater marshes, uplands, and river on the shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin has become the 28th member of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System in a designation ceremony at Superior, Wis., on October 26.

Federal, state, and local officials welcomed the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve to the system and celebrated with speeches and a social gathering for the public. The new reserve is located in Douglas County, in the northwestern corner of Wisconsin where the St. Louis River flows into Lake Superior.

Official designation of the Lake Superior Reserve culminates a six-year process beginning with site selection and continuing with development of an environmental impact study and a comprehensive management plan. This multi-year process was done in partnership with scientists, agency land managers, public officials, and citizens representing local, regional, and tribal interests.


This designation means that the unique St. Louis River freshwater estuary will serve as a site to study natural resource management techniques and apply what is learned to problems facing coastal communities, such as maintaining clean water, protecting wildlife habitat, and preventing and controlling invasive species.

Research conducted at the Reserve could improve the health of local freshwater estuaries and assist other Great Lakes communities.  The Reserve’s educational programs will also allow individuals to experience freshwater estuaries and their unique resources, making it a community asset and a destination for students and visitors.

NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System is part of the National Ocean Service. Estuarine research reserves are managed by state agencies and/or universities in partnership with NOAA, which provides funding and national program guidance. The reserve system comprises 28 estuarine locations in 22 states and Puerto Rico that are protected for research, education, outreach, and stewardship. The Lake Superior Reserve is the second to be established in the Great Lakes and the first in the upper Great Lakes. Old Woman Creek Reserve was established in 1980 on the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio.