MARQUETTE - Major excavation and landscaping work has been completed on the wetland reclamation project on Presque Isle.
According to Carl Lindquist, the executive director of the Superior Watershed Partnership, quite a bit of planting and seeding remains, but he said most of that work should be done by fall.
"Its a real success story as far as wetland restorations go," he said. "It doesn't happen overnight, but everything is happening as planned."
In this recent aerial photo, about two acres of newly created wetlands can be seen on Presque Isle. Planting and seeding work still needs to be completed, but officials said major excavation and landscaping is complete. The work is intended to restore the wetlands to their natural state, which existed in the area a century ago. (Tony Williams photo)
The wetland mitigation work is related to the city's McClellan Avenue extension project, which impacted roughly 1.1 acres of wetlands. The city is required by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to replace approximately twice that amount and has restored about one-quarter of an acre of wetlands on-site, an acre near the bog near Presque Isle's MooseWood Nature Center and another acre along Island Beach Road.
The city received input from the nature center and crafted a mitigation plan with the help of Lindquist and the SWP.
A recent aerial photo of the new wetlands on Presque Isle show a collection of small green mounds, coated in a temporary cover crop of grass. Lindquist said subsequent plantings will include a variety of wetland plants and native tree and shrub species.
SWP will continue to regularly monitor the progress of the wetlands, but Lindquist said the areas should be fully returned to a natural state within two years.
"Everything that thrives in water will eventually start to fill that in, as the trees and the root systems take hold," he said. "Fast forward many years, and it's going to look more and more natural."
Though the area was an un-disturbed, wooded wetland roughly a century ago, work crews earlier this summer pulled old concrete, metal and wood fill from the bog.
"We expected some of that debris, but we were surprised at the sheer amount of it," Lindquist said.
Marquette City Engineer Keith Whittington said that, in addition to the SWP's expertise, the city utilized a survey from the late 1800s to determine the specific types of trees and shrubs that once existed in the Presque Isle wetlands.
"It's going to look similar to what it looked like 100-some years ago," Whittington said. "What was out there (until recently) was basically a bunch of fill with willow trees growing on the top. It definitely won't look like that ever again."
The restoration work is especially important, according to Lindquist, as it deals with a Great Lakes coastal wetland. Those wetlands, he said, are more unique and serve different functions, and more than 50 percent of them have been lost over time.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.