Location: Columbus, Minnesota
Client: Rice Creek Watershed District
Agricultural drainage systems often impact wetlands, even when well managed, and these impacts require mitigation under both Minnesota state and federal law.
The Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) manages several public drainage systems within the lands it serves. As a result, the RCWD developed an interest in an ambitious and pro-active approach to restoring rural wetland, streamlining the management of the public drainage systems while bringing additional ecological benefits at the same time.
The District and HEI embarked on a proposed 110-acre rural wetland restoration project that would restore and improve the native ecosystem. HEI and its team launched an extensive study of the project area to understand how the site interacted with the surrounding rural landscape.
HEI designed the necessary agricultural best management practices (BMPs) to restore and control the site’s hydrology. Construction of the BMPs was completed in the fall of 2012 for which HEI performed construction management. A new weir structure now controls the hydrology of the site, ensuring the restoration will continue and a new and healthy wetland complex will prosper. These BMPs also ensure drainage function, benefitting agricultural landowners and municipal users for years to come. These features have significantly contributed to the successful and continued restoration the wetlands.
Landowner engagement and coordination were key aspects of this project. Not only did local landowners agree to participate in this large-scale project, they remained actively engaged members throughout the project. Ultimately, agricultural landowners will benefit greatly from this project’s success.
The project also included participation in many agency coordination meetings to facilitate various regulatory approvals. The story of Brown’s Preserve represents the best in collaborative efforts and illustrates the real potential for wetland enhancement through ecological restoration.