Updated: 10/18/2012 9:59 AM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson
Duluth is shifting its focus from basic infrastructure damaged by this June's floods to the area's 16 trout streams and officials don't expect the fix to be cheap.
Kathy Bergen, director of the parks and recreation department, characterized the scale of damage to the streams and adjacent trails as "mind-boggling."
She said the streams are used for handling the city's storm water runoff and that they have a strong recreational component.
"Many of our larger streams run through parks," she told the Duluth News Tribune. "So the health of streams is very important to the health of our park system."
On Monday, the Duluth City Council will be asked to approve $100,000 contracts with two firms to assess local trout streams and begin developing a possible action plan.
Chris Kleist, a program coordinator for the Department of Public Works and Utilities, estimated the damage to be at least $1 million per stream. The city will seek reimbursement for the consulting expenses, as well as money for the actual work, from a variety of state and federal sources.
"I'm pretty confident that a lot of it will be covered. Given the support we've received from the state and FEMA, I'm not too concerned the city will bear a big part of the cost. But time will tell," Kleist said.
Kleist said the city will consult with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, anglers, trail users and concerned citizens as it develops its stream plans. The fate of man-made ponds that washed out in Chester and Enger parks will probably be a subject of extensive discussion, he said.
With fall water levels low, Kleist said: "Our access is pretty good right now. We want to get in and remove any problem debris before the spring thaw."
The city also wants to provide cover for exposed soils susceptible to further erosion, Kleist said.
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