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Getchell Creek Restoration

Getchell Creek Restoration
Getchell Creek Restoration

Location:  Stearns County, MN
Client:  Sauk River Watershed District


In 1905, residents of Stearns County, MN, petitioned the County to create a public drainage system/ditch. In 1906, permission was granted to dig and maintain County Ditch 26 (CD 26), as an altered natural watercourse. In 2006, CD 26 was transferred from the County to the Sauk River Watershed District as Drainage Authority, and given the name Getchell Creek.

In 2020, the Sauk River Watershed District received complaints from landowners along the system that there was widespread bank failure on Getchell Creek. The District then hired HEI to explore the feasibility of capital improvement projects for restoring the creek.

The Project

Our team began the project by completing aerial and ground surveys of a 9-mile stretch of the drainage area that landowners identified as having the most bank failure. These surveys found that about 23% of the study reach had bank failure, and about 26,000 linear feet of the channel had major failures. From these results, our team is developing recommended alternatives in specific locations along Getchell Creek. 

Because landowners are integral to this project’s success, our team has supported the District by preparing for and leading several public information meetings. These meetings are to educate the public on the issues in the creek and the recommended alternatives to solve them. They also give the public the opportunity to voice their opinions and provide input on possible solutions. The meetings give HEI and project partners the opportunity to gain public feedback and ultimately acceptance of the project. In addition, our team is working with the District to pilot a project team process that allows a broad group of stakeholders, including landowners, local, state, and federal agencies as well as non-profits, to provide feedback on the proposed restoration projects.

This project will prevent bank erosion to restore drainage benefits, address water quantity issues within the creek that have led to land productivity and water quality issues, and enhance wildlife and aquatic habitat. With these goals complete, the project should reduce future maintenance costs for landowners.

Client Benefits

  • Reduced bank erosion leads to restored drainage benefits, water quantity management, water quality improvement, and enhanced habitat.
  • Support at public information meetings to gain public acceptance of the project.
  • Guidance through the project team process.
  • Client-consultant team approach toward project investigation and management to ensure funds are spent wisely and the product meets the client's expectations.