Contact: Jennifer Maleitzke, 651-296-7706
St. Paul, Minn. -- Valley Creek, one of the better trout-producing streams in Minnesota, is getting a facelift with the help of some federal funds and neighborhood support.
This month, the Valley Branch Watershed District (VBWD) is finishing two projects, collectively known as the Valley Creek Repair and Rehabilitation Program, to improve water quality in the creek. Partial funding for the projects comes from federal Section 319 grants, administered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
The projects materialized after the VBWD board of managers learned that an estimated 1,400 tons of sediment was entering Valley Creek every year, degrading the water quality and harming the trout spawning habitat. Valley Creek flows into the St. Croix River, and segments of the river and Lake St. Croix are listed as impaired for exceeding water-quality standards.
"Valley Creek is a focal point of the watershed and has a critical trout habitat," said Lincoln Fetcher, VBWD president. "There have been significant erosion problems and we are working to make improvements for the well-being of the creek and to educate people in the process."
Valley Creek, one of 13 trout streams within the Twin Cities metropolitan area, is one of only a few that has a naturally reproducing population of brook trout - the only trout species native to Minnesota. In addition to brook trout, Valley Creek sustains large populations of brown and rainbow trout.
The district applied for federal Section 319 funding to address the sediment loading through two water-quality improvement projects. The projects will reduce the amount of sediment and other contaminants that are washed into Valley Creek, reduce erosion of the creek's banks and preserve the creek as trout spawning habitat.
-- The Oakgreen Avenue Infiltration Basin Project is an approximately one-half-acre infiltration basin at the top of an eroding ravine that drains directly into the South Fork of Valley Creek. It is the source of an estimated 24 tons of sediment to the creek per year. The basin prevents water from eroding the ravine, allowing water to instead infiltrate into the basin. Reducing runoff flowing down the ravine is the first phase in stabilizing the ravine. The second phase will be to stabilize the ravine itself.
-- The Valley Creek Stabilization Project stabilized 4,700 feet of Valley Creek on three properties on the creek's South Fork and two properties on its Main Stem. The creek was stabilized by channel shaping, where small boulder weirs guide the flow of water toward the center of the creek and away from the bank. This raised the channel bottom and reduced the potential for erosion.
Fetcher said the landowners have been supportive of the projects and the district is grateful for the grant. "It's wonderful to have help with these projects since they are so expensive," Fetcher said. "We are improving the habitat and helping people understand what role they play in the process."
Vegetation is being planted around the projects this week. Both projects were constructed during the summer and are nearly completed. The VBWD received $150,000 in federal grants to work on the projects; the remainder of the costs was paid by watershed residents.