Minnesota Trout Unlimited Coldwater Fish Habitat Enhancement and Restoration - Phase VII
Minnesota Trout Unlimited volunteers, chapters and partners will enhance habitat for fish, game and wildlife in and along numerous coldwater streams on existing Aquatic Management Areas and other public lands around the state, while leveraging approximately $3 million for this.
We enhanced habitat on fourteen different streams. The scope of work varied to match the site conditions,
watershed characteristics, and address the specific limiting factors.
Severely degraded or unstable stream sections received comprehensive, large-scale habitat enhancements to
restore stream function and in-stream trout habitat. These included intensive projects on Amity Creek and Chester
Creek in Duluth, the Stewart River near Two Harbors, the Vermillion River in southern Dakota County, and the
Root River in Preston. These projects required extensive grading and modification of stream channel patterns to
create habitat-filled, stable channels and restored floodplains. The increased pool habitat created is particularly
important for northern projects, where lack of pools was a key limiting factor for native trout populations.
Streams in northeast Minnesota need healthy riparian forests to provide shade and improve summer base flows.
North Shore streams lack significant groundwater flows and instead are kept cold by the shade provided by trees
along their banks. Unfortunately, outbreaks of two tree pests (spruce bud worm and emerald ash borer) are
decimating riparian forests near Duluth and the North Shore. To address this we cleared numerous gaps of dead or
dying trees along the Stewart River and French River. These areas were then planted with a mixture of long-lived
tree species, both coniferous and deciduous. The trees are on their way to providing critical shade and other
We also worked with Lake County to enhance a 76-acre parcel of forest which straddles the upper Stewart River,
converting it from brushland to a forest of long-lived trees dominated by pines. Changing the stand’s trajectory in
this way is improving the long-term ability of the forest to store water and slowly release cool base flow to sustain
the important trout and steelhead fisheries.
In the sandy central part of Minnesota, we used the conservation corps to thin alder thickets and strategically place
brush bundles in overly wide sections of Kabekona Creek. These are capturing sand and narrowing and deepening
the stream channel.
In southeast Minnesota, we completed projects on Camp Creek, Daley Creek, Duschee Creek, Little Pickwick Creek,
Trout Run Creek, and West and East Indian Creeks. These project sites had very cold water temperatures and
decent in-stream habitat but suffered from the negative effects of dense corridors of buckthorn, boxelder and other
invasives. Here significant habitat gains were realized by removing these invasive trees and shrubs, which do a
poor job holding streambanks. We removed invasive trees and shrubs and seeded corridors with grasses and
forbes. This allowed native grasses and forbs, which better secure soils, to become reestablished and let beneficial
sunlight reach the stream beds and boost stream productivity. Similarly, near Farmington, MN TU volunteers
spent numerous Saturday mornings to cutting buckthorn from 20 acres along the Vermillion River and set the table
for prairie plantings following the in-stream habitat work completed in 2019.
By work with partners and tailoring the habitat enhancement methods to each project site we have maximized
long term benefits to the trout populations at the lowest possible costs.
$1,890,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Minnesota Trout Unlimited to restore and enhance habitat for trout and other species in and along coldwater rivers and streams in Minnesota. A list of proposed restorations and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
76 Forest acres and 208 Habitat acres (for a total of 284 acres) Enhanced.