Chester Creek Project

Chester Creek Restoration
Chester Creek runs right through Chester Park, one of the Duluth community’s favorite places. The creek is one of the City’s 14 designated trout streams, and as it currently is, fish cannot move freely up and down stream. Sometime in the 1930’s, two dams were built in Chester Creek, and no consideration was made for the needs
of aquatic wildlife. Today we know that the survival of trout is dependent on their ability to swim to cooler water during warm summer months. The flood in
2012 blew out the dams, giving us an opportunity to finally restore this stretch
of the creek to a more natural state.


  1. Re-align and stabilize the stream, as it is currently not functioning as well as it should. Please call our office for more information on this – it is complicated!
  2. Remove the damaged dams. The dams are impeding fish passage and they have been determined to not have a formal historical status.
  3. Provide trout habitat. Chester Creek is one of the City’s 14 designated trout streams.
  4. Preserve historical values. This park has many wonderful values including historic views that need to be preserved.
  5. Increase resilience to future flooding. A healthy creek that is connected to its floodplain can handle the increased volume and velocity of future flood events.

Chester Creek Restoration in the News

“Creek Gets Renovation in Chester Bowl”
by John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, September 25, 2017
Feature article on our upcoming work in Duluth’s Chester Park

“Duluth’s Chester Creek Set for Restoration Project”
by Ryna Junnti, WDIO, September 28, 2017
Television news story on the upcoming work in Chester Park

Grant Amount: $516,000

This project is made possible by a grant provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature.

The restoration reach runs right through Chester Park, which was greatly impacted by the flood, especially due to the dams, which were under so much pressure from the water that they were partially destroyed.

At this time, construction is being planned for October of 2017, between the park’s busy summer and winter activities. We expect that it will take about 3 weeks to complete the stream restoration project, and we will be working very closely with the City Parks Department and the Chester Park Improvement Club to keep park-users informed every step of the way.

Special Considerations
Chester Park is one of the busiest parks in the City with summer camps, concerts, festivals, and the extremely popular winter ski program. Great care will be taken to ensure that the project meets the priorities set forth in the mini-master plan and that we cause as little disruption to park-users and the surrounding neighborhood as possible.

We would love to talk with anyone interested in this important project! Please call Kate Kubiak at 218-723-4946 or anytime with questions. 

Additional Information

Chester Creek
City of Duluth Parks & Recreation Department
Chester Park Improvement Club

Funding Thanks To
MN Department of Natural Resources
MN State Legislature 

Contact Us 

Kate Kubiak
Conservation Specialist


Construction Update: 11/14/17

  1. The creek is still diverted through a pipe instead of pumps due to the extremely cold weather and the desire to keep the creek as clean as possible during construction.
  2. The contractor has started working from the upstream end of the project to the middle, where the upper dam used to be located. The in-channel work should be completed by Friday. Next week the contractor will remove all equipment and fencing so that snowmaking for the Chester Bowl ski season can begin as scheduled right after Thanksgiving.
  3. Heavy erosion matting will be in place all winter to keep the newly-formed banks in place and to prevent erosion during warm winter days or spring run-off. The riparian planting (tree planting and native grasses and flowers) will be done in the spring.

Construction Update: 11/9/17

  1. The creek has been diverted through a pipe instead of the pumps due to the extremely cold weather and the desire to keep the creek as clean as possible during construction.
  2. You may notice a large puddle/ice in the road. This has been a problem area for many years due to inadequate drainage. The failing culvery under the road will be replaced as part of this prooject so this icy area should no longer be a problem.
  3. The in-channel restoration work will be completed by November 22nd (the day before Thanksgiving). The riparian planting (tree planting and native grasses and flowers) will be done in the spring

Construction Update: 10/19/17
The lower dam has been removed except for the very ends of the structure. It was not necessary to remove these because they are outside of the new channel and floodplain. Leaving them in place means less dirt will be exposed, which means less dirt potentially running off into the creek during a rain storm.

A riffle (a specific placement of very large rocks) has been installed where the lower dam once was. This riffle is one of many that will be installed in the creek and they serve several functions:

  1. They keep the flow centered in the channel, which prevents water from eroding the banks during high flows.
  2. The movement of the water over the rocks helps to add oxygen to the water for the fish and bugs that live there.
  3. They help step the slope of the creek down gradually, instead of steeply as it did over the dams.