Students of the stream
Energetic educators (pg 3 of 3)
Brown's Creek, located in Stillwater, Minnesota,
is one of 15 remaining trout streams in the Twin
Cities metro area. The creek's ability to support
trout is threatened by existing and new urban
development in its watershed. As we've learned,
development can degrade streams when increasing
amounts of impervious surfaces cause large amounts
of water to flow faster to the stream instead of
soaking into the ground. This 'runoff' carries with
it pollutants like nutrients and sediment, and can
cause channel erosion and habitat degradation.
Brown's Creek also suffered from past rerouting
through a wetland, which slowed down water flow and
exposed it to the sun, making water temperatures
too high to meet trout habitat requirements.
The decision was made to realign the channel
closer to an approximation of its original path.
The channel was designed with stream dynamics and
fish habitat in mind. Special structures called
rock vanes and rock weirs were used to direct flow
away from the banks of the stream, which will
prevent bank erosion during large storms and flood
events. Root wads from blown-down trees were also
installed to deflect flow and provide fish habitat.
The banks of the new stream were seeded with a mix
of native, deep-rooted grasses that will stabilize
surrounding soils and minimize erosion.
The restoration effort was achieved through a
broad collaboration with the state, city, watershed
district, private businesses, conservation
organizations, and volunteer citizens. Ongoing
maintenance and monitoring of Brown's Creek is
accomplished through active citizens and
enthusiastic students. Under the leadership of
energetic educator Andy Weaver, biology students
from Stillwater High School are contributing to the
condition of the watershed while learning valuable
lessons about stream systems.