In the spring of 2011, HEI embarked on a major wetland restoration project with the Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD). The wetland, located in Columbus, Minnesota, had become ecologically degraded mainly from to the presence of a public drainage system. Poor conditions were the result of years of human interference, poor ecological management, the invasion of non-native plant species, and an overall damaged plant community.
The RCWD wanted to add value to its newly acquired land by improving wetland function and generating wetland credits for deposit within the Minnesota State Wetland Bank. HEI's scientists and engineers have been devoted to this site and its restoration through the multi-year effort.
The project was guided through all stages with the help of HEI's dedicated resource professionals. Our constant goal was to restore the landscape and wetland functions to a sustainable condition, improving habitat and reestablishing vegetation for maximum ecological and watershed benefit. The project began with detailed fieldwork to assess the existing character of the wetland. A detailed wetland delineation and plant community mapping allowed the team to categorize potential restoration options and gain a better understanding of the wetland complex.
From concept to engineering and construction, this was truly a collaborative effort. HEI project managers guided the Project details between the partners using everyone’s ideas. The key to a project like this is promoting communication from start to finish in order to eliminate surprises. Once the monitoring and mapping results were established, our engineers began the design work necessary to plan a stable and sustainable solution to reestablish the hydrology of the wetland. HEI conducted construction observation during the fall of 2012 to make sure the site’s development matched plans exactly.
An added enhancement for the RCWD is provided through establishing wetland credits from the site, for deposit into the state wetland bank. HEI coordinated with Critical Connections Ecological Services, Inc. (CCES) who developed a new process for evaluating wetland quality and enhancing the number of credits available from the site. HEI secured the necessary permits and approvals with federal, state, and local agencies. Banking instantly adds value to land and further enhances the investment the district has made.
The restored Brown’s Preserve is still subject to human activity in an urban environment. RCWD has taken administrative steps to help protect and enhance this Project as well as other wetland resources in the district. With HEI’s assistance, the RCWD has developed rules to ensure that future runoff volume and pollutant loads will be controlled throughout the watershed.
We assisted the partners in leveraging their collective understanding of the connections between water quantity, quality, and natural resource systems which allows this restoration to be sustainable with very limited need for management activities in the future.