Many people have taken over social media lately posing the question about what is going on with the Interstate Island Wildlife Refuge Island nestled in the Lake Superior Harbor between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The answer is a restoration and stabilization project is underway that started last Spring.

According to the Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. website which is made up of Engineers, Architects, Planners and Scientists said: Multiple agency stakeholders and wildlife experts including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Minnesota DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Minnesota Land Trust put into motion a stabilization and restoration plan for Interstate Island and the tern population. The objective is to expand the footprint of the island in order to create resiliency to changing water levels and storm events, and to provide suitable shorebird habitat for terns and other endangered birds, such as piping plovers.

The rare common tern bird nests on the small, 2.5 acre island which is one of only 2 tern colonies in Lake Superior but has become threatened because of habitat loss in recent years. One of the threats is that the island is disappearing into the St. Louis River estuary. The local gull population has become a threat due to the islands shrinking size and is a predator of the rare common tern. This estuary is also a critical source of fish, wildlife and nutrients for Lake Superior.

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This project is being done under 2 phases. in the first phase which was started this past Spring an elaborate system of wires and erected fencing is be put up to keep gulls out of the nesting colony. This phase will also involve filling various flooded areas on the island itself. Part of phase 2 is to add 5.5-7 acres in island size and raise the island’s bank elevation by approximately 10 ft. (600-610 ft.).

Hopefully with all of this being done to restore the island it will be around for many years as a sanctuary for these rare birds and to protect the overall Eco system of this area.