USA: Minnesota: Sugarloaf Cove (Lake Superior)


This site represents the historical location of a rare wetland on the north shore of Lake Superior. From the 1940s to the 1970s, Sugarloaf Cove was used as a landing site for a pulpwood operation. The site was leveled and low-lying areas were filled with gravel in order to build roads and buildings. Even though the buildings were removed after the industrial use was completed, the wetlands at Sugarloaf Cove could not return because the topography onsite had been altered so radically. In 1998, a restoration project began to excavate gravel and plant native plants onsite. By the completion of this project in 2000, the topography and flora onsite had been returned to a more natural state. Educational opportunities are provided by the nearby Sugarloaf Cove Interpretive Center.

Quick Facts

Project Location:
Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center, Minnesota 61, Schroeder, MN, USA, 47.48739699999999, -90.98533599999996

Geographic Region:
North America

Country or Territory:
United States of America


Freshwater Ponds & Lakes

Area being restored:
35 acres

Project Lead:
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Organization Type:
Governmental Body


Project Stage:

Start Date:

End Date:

Primary Causes of Degradation

Mining & Resource Extraction

Degradation Description

From the 1940s to the 1970s, Sugarloaf Cove was used by Consolidated Papers, Inc. as a pulpwood landing. They collected the logs here before they rafted them across Lake Superior. The site was modified from its original state by the paper company removing vegetation and filling in many of the low areas in with gravel to build roads and buildings. Even after the site was not longer used as a landing for Consolidated Papers and they removed the buildings, no wetland plants could return due to the fact that the tightly packed gravel would not allow water to collect or wetland plants to grow. Non-native plants colonized the disturbed areas.

Reference Ecosystem Description

This area contained many low-lying, wetland areas which provided habitat for many species of wetland plants and animals.

Project Goals

Since wetlands are rare along the North Shore of Lake Superior, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources decided to restore Sugarloaf Cove to the wetland community that existed prior to the disturbance brought on by industrial use.


The project does not have a monitoring plan.


– Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
– Sugarloaf Cove Interpretive Center
– Great Lakes National Program Office of the Environmental Protection Agency

Description of Project Activities:
- 18 geotechnical borings were made to determine what plants had been originally part of the wetland community - Another study was conducted to determine that best areas within the tombolo that had a high potential for restoration - In September of 1999, gravel fill was removed down to the buried peat layer, resulting in low-lying areas were water could collect - An old road from where the Consolidated Papers office building were located was eliminated - Silt fences, brush, and logs were placed throughout the areas to minimize erosion - Native seeds were collected within a 25 mile radius of Sugarloaf Cove"‚ÄĚnative plants that do well in disturbed areas were emphasized - Some seed were spread immediately on the restored site and others were grown to be planted the following spring - In late May 2000, volunteers planted the wetland area - Exclosures were created around plants in some areas to make sure they plants had time to grow before then animals could eat them - With landowner permission, plants from nearby were transplanted - The plants were watered as needed

Ecological Outcomes Achieved

Eliminate existing threats to the ecosystem:
The topography and hydrology has been altered to mimic a more natural situation. Native plants have been planted.

Factors limiting recovery of the ecosystem:
Seedling survival depends on natural conditions such as competition from invasive weeds, browsing by animals, and weather conditions.

Socio-Economic & Community Outcomes Achieved

Economic vitality and local livelihoods:
This restored site provides better ecosystem function as well as educational opportunities through the Sugarloaf Cove Interpretive Center.

Key Lessons Learned

This restoration has successfully remedied the original cause of degredation. As long as the planted vegetation continues to survive, this site is likely to be successful in transforming this site into a functioning ecosystem.

Long-Term Management

The cause of degradation was the filling in of low-lying areas with gravel. This has been reversed and native plants carefully introduced.

Long-term monitoring plans are unknown.

Sources and Amounts of Funding

138,500 USD – This project was funded with a grant from Great Lakes National Program Office of the Environmental Protection Agency
– Volunteers assisted with planting

Other Resources

Andrew Slade
Sugarloaf: The North Shore Stewardship Association
6008 London Road, Duluth, MN 55804
TEL & FAX 218-525-0001

Pat Collins
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Project Manager
Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
1568 Highway 2
Two Harbors, MN 55616
(218) 834-6612

Coastal wetland restoration on Minnesota’s North Shore
Collins, PT
Abstracts from the 44th Conference on Great Lakes Research, June 10-14, 2001. Great Lakes Science: Making it Relevant. p. 20. 2001.

Primary Contact

Organizational Contact