WHAT WE DO
Research, education, outreach and stewardship along Lake Superior’s coast
The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses over 16,000 acres along the St. Louis River freshwater estuary in Wisconsin. The Reserve is part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension’s Natural Resources Institute with leadership from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is based on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus in the City of Superior.
The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve is a member of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, a network of 29 reserves across the United States designated for long-term research on coastal resources and the human populations those resources support. The Lake Superior Reserve is one of only two estuarine reserves in the Reserve System located on the Great Lakes. This makes the research we and our partners conduct all the more vital to the understanding of freshwater resources and the health of the Great Lakes, which hold more than 20 percent of the Earth’s surface freshwater.
Our reserve is centered on the St. Louis River Estuary between Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota. However, we envision a Lake Superior where all coastal watersheds and estuaries are understood, valued and thriving. To accomplish this, we prioritize work on climate change, water quality, healthy ecosystems, strengthening communities and developing a sense of place.
The Reserve works in partnership to improve the understanding of Lake Superior’s coast and estuaries. We address issues affecting the watershed through integration of research, education, outreach and stewardship.
where we work
St. Louis River Estuary
The Lake Superior Reserve spans more than 16,000 acres on the Wisconsin side of the confluence of the St. Louis River and Lake Superior—the largest and most pristine of the Great Lakes. The Reserve adjoins the Superior-Duluth Harbor, which has been the economic center of the Twin Ports region for over a century and remains the largest freshwater port in the world.
The Lake Superior Reserve works in partnership with scientists from many local, state, tribal and federal agencies, including the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.
Our landowning partners are the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, City of Superior, Douglas County and the University of Wisconsin–Superior. Several other partnering agencies, from both Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa also sit on our Reserve Advisory Board.
We work with researchers from local universities, Wisconsin and Minnesota natural and cultural resources agencies and from federal agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System includes 29 reserves in 23 states and Puerto Rico
Designated in 2010
Designated in 2010, the Lake Superior Reserve is a part of the larger National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The Reserve System was established through the 1972 Coastal Zone Management Act and protects more than 1.3 million acres within 29 reserves in 23 states and Puerto Rico. Each estuarine reserve is managed in partnership between its home state and the NOAA. The Lake Superior Reserve is the second reserve designated on the Great Lakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dec 21st, 2020, Wisconsin Public Radio
Oct 11th, 2020, Agate Online Magazine
Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve: Good for Nature, Communities and Business