South Shore Lake Bemidji Response Action and Restoration
201 Lake Shore Drive NE, Bemidji, 56601
Nominated by: City of Bemidji

The Lake Bemidji South Shore Response Action and Restoration project was a collaborative process involving public and private organizations, spurring a creative environmental cleanup of a blighted beach on Lake Bemidji. Remnants of Bemidji’s rugged sawmill and lumber industry resulted in piles of wood debris as well as contaminated soil and sediment strewn both in the lake and along the south shore public beach. The cleanup used a temporary cofferdam to dewater 5.5 acres of the lake to remove wood debris and contaminated sediment from within the lake and along the shore.

The project builds on an earlier City restoration effort yielding the Sanford Event Center and Paul Bunyan Trail extension. Completing the South Shore project required a creative funding strategy, coordination with multiple agencies, and navigating timing challenges. Since the completion of the South Shore response actions and restoration, the City has developed a regional park that now provides public education on water quality, the benefits of aquatic habitat restoration, and showcases the geology, history and cultural resources of the area. The project balances environmental protection and public use on the first major lake in the Upper Mississippi River Watershed.

Project Financing

  • $1,600,000 – Lessard-sams Outdoor Heritage Council (RAP/Construction/Engineering)
  • $672,000 – Local and County Funding (RAP/Construction/Engineering)

Project Partners

  • City of Bemidji
  • Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (VIC & Solid Waste Program, 401 Water Quality Certification, NPDES/SDS)
  • Otter Tail Power
  • Polk County Landfill
  • Aspen Construction
  • Landmark Environmental, LLC
  • Anderson Engineering of Minnesota for the Response Action and Restoration
  • EAPC and Christiansen Construction