The many benefits of a meandering creek

Until recently, canoeing the Minnehaha Creek included maneuvering polluted waters in a lengthy secluded ditch, along industrial backyards. Now, this same stretch brings you through the Minnehaha Creek Preserve, surrounded by thriving wetland grasses, amid eagles, deer and wood ducks.

Central to the transformation is a re-meandered portion of the creek, between Meadowbrook and Louisiana avenues in St. Louis Park, that affirms the interdependencies in healthy land and high water quality.

Seventy years ago this stretch had been dredged and straightened to allow for easier urban development, and hidden from public view. It largely acted as a pipeline for polluted stormwater.

In 2009, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) recognized it as the most degraded section of the 22-mile stream and began implementing plans to both improve the water and connect it to the community.

The re-meander returned the natural curves, slowing the water and erosion. Adding 1,600 feet of twists and turns created a natural buffer for runoff from more than 80 acres of surrounding area. The reconstruction also added 30 acres of uplands, wetlands, and ponds.

Great River Greening is partnering with MCWD to restore native vegetation to the area, to improve the water filtering ability of the land and increase plant diversity.

This project is the cornerstone of the Minnehaha Greenway, a stretch of more than 109 acres of continuous green space along the creek expected to improve the water quality downstream as well as in Lake Hiawatha.

Great River Greening Volunteers join in

Over a mile of boardwalk and paved trail was added to Minnehaha Creek Preserve, bringing visitors through and along 30 acres of shoreline and weltand.  Great River Greening volunteers have lent a community hand to improve this green space since it opened in 2015.

Last year, 160 high school students in our Field Learning for Teens program spent an afternoon at the preserve learning about the science of restoration, and clearing buckthorn from the trails to open views to the water. This spring, 100 people will join us in a planting event. Registration for this volunteer event is open

“Minnehaha Creek is an asset to be treasured. We are thrilled to engage the community in this large scale water quality effort, particularly the young stewards of tomorrow.” -Deborah Karasov,  Great River Greening Executive Director.

 


Partners and Funders for this project include: Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, City of Saint Louis Park, and Outdoor Heritage Fund