Parks & Recreation

Waabizheshikana: The Marten Trail - Segments 0-3


Project Status: Design

Project Overview:

Waabizheshikana (waa-bah-zhay-shay-kuh-nuh)
Link to audio pronunciation:

Waabizheshikana: The Marten Trail, previously known as the Wester Waterfront Trail, consists of an existing 3.3-mile segment that traverses the western shoreline of the St. Louis River. The trail will be extended to create a roughly 10-mile recreational trail stretching from 63rd Ave W in the Irving Park Neighborhood to Chambers Grove Park in Fond du Lac.

Two plans have been completed to guide the development of Waabizheshikana including the Waabizheshikana: The Marten Trail Mini-Master Plan, approved by City Council in November 2019, and the Heritage Trail Interpretive Plan, approved by City Council in March 2021.

In June 2022, the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC) designated Waabizheshikana as a Regionally Significant trail. This designation opens the opportunity to apply for funding from the GMRPTC Legacy Grant Program.

The development of the trail will include a phased approach with the current phase incorporating accessibility improvements to the existing 3.3-mile portion of the trail and construction of segments 1-3 and pause areas along the trail, as well as installation of comprehensive wayfinding and interpretive elements. The construction for this phase is anticipated to be complete by 2025. A second, and potentially third, phase will require funding to be secured and would incorporate construction of the remaining segments 4-7.

Project Update:

The City is actively working to secure funding for Segments 0-2. US Steel and the EPA are currently constructing Segment 3 of the trail between Blackmer Park and Boathouse Point. 

This project will update the existing trail to improve accessibility, construct the future segments of the trail, and install comprehensive wayfinding and interpretive signage. When these segments are completed, we will have a total of nearly six miles of the trail completed.

Final designs are expected to be completed in fall 2023 with construction to take place in 2024.

Funding Source:

In 2022, the City of Duluth was awarded funding in the amount of $500,000 from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state's air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. Currently 40% of net Minnesota State Lottery proceeds are dedicated to growing the Trust Fund and ensuring future benefits for Minnesota's environment and natural resources. 

Logo for the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund featuring two loons and a star over a blue background.

In 2022, the City of Duluth was awarded a $130,100 grant provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society. These funds will support the implementation of interpretive elements along the trail including story poles, freestanding signage, and pause points.

Previous Waabizheshikana Trail Improvements:

In 2015, the City of Duluth received a $400,000 Conservation Partners Legacy Metro grant to rehabilitate the native plant species along the Waabizheshikana: The Marten Trail and adjacent public green space. $175,000 of ½ and ½ funding was used as grant match funds. 

In the spring of 2015, the City of Duluth was awarded a grant through Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program. The grant for $100,000 supported the reestablishment of the original trail width, including replacement and re-grading the gravel trail tread, repair and improve stormwater infrastructure, resurfacing boardwalks and bridges with new rot-resistant timbers, establish native vegetation to stabilize failing banks, and provide Universal Access upgrades to the trail for individuals with mobility impairments.

Interpretive Plan:

The Interpretive Plan, adopted in 2021, was prepared by the City of Duluth using Federal funds under award NAS19NOS4190063  from the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, administered by the Office for Coastal Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce provided to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) for Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA, the U.S. Department of Commerce, or the MNDNR.