Location: Comstock, Minnesota
Client: Buffalo-Red River Watershed District
For some time now, the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) has considered options to improve flooding conditions and improve water quality in the Wolverton Creek watershed. Landowners in the Wolverton Creek drainage area requested that the BRRWD investigate the problems associated with the creek and find solutions to correct these problems.
At its confluence with the Red River, the total drainage area of Wolverton Creek is approximately
103 square miles. Wolverton Creek is approximately 25.5 miles in length, with 8 miles in Clay County and the remaining 17.5 miles in Wilkin County. Significant sediment buildup in the creek had reached a point where additional new channels were being cut through farm fields by floods outside of what had historically been the channel area. This has worsened the sediment deposition and increased the erosion problem along the channel. The project, using natural channel design, should prevent this problem from occurring.
The BRRWD enlisted the expertise of HEI to conceive a project to address these concerns. HEI developed a watershedwide solution to correct the issues experienced along Wolverton Creek and its tributaries. The project removed excess sediment from Wolverton Creek. Twenty miles of channel restoration were proposed. The channel restoration project is being completed in phases as funding permits and will cover all of Wolverton Creek upstream of US 75.
A sinuous, 26-mile bank-full channel was built in the bottom of the proposed 20-mile-long floodplain channel. By installing expanded buffers and increasing the capacity of the channel through its restoration, the frequency of flooding on adjacent fields was reduced.
Side inlets and other best management practices (BMPs) were installed concurrent with the proposed channel restoration excavation. Some side inlet sediment controls had already been installed through a 2011 BWSR Clean Water grant and another recent phase of the project.
The BRRWD and HEI worked with the Minnesota DNR Stream Habitat Program to finalize the design of the channel and floodplain throughout the restoration reach of Wolverton Creek. This multiphase project earned the Environmental Initiative’s Rural Vitality Award for 2020.
Watch this video about the Wolverton Creek Restoration:
- Improved aquatic habitat.
- Expansion of vegetative buffers along the stream.
- Improved outlet for local drainage.
- Improved water quality through the use of sediment BMPs along the waterway and the tributary legal drainage ditches.
- Expanded prairie stream riparian habitat corridor.
- Pollinator plantings.
- Wildlife connectivity corridor from the Red River to upstream habitat blocks.