Mustinka River Fish and Wildlife Habitat Corridor Rehabilitation
$2,440,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the Bois de Sioux Watershed District to acquire land in fee and to restore natural systems associated with the Mustinka River located within the Bois de Sioux Watershed. Lands acquired with this appropriation may not be used for emergency haying and grazing in response to federal or state disaster declarations. Conservation grazing under a management plan that is already being implemented may continue. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protected, restored, and enhanced shallow lakes and wetlands - The amount of riparian wetland restored and protected will be measured and reported. .Expiring CRP lands are permanently protected - Several parcels along proposed corridor are currently enrolled in CRP. The amount of CRP converted to permanent protection will be reported..Water is kept on the land to reduce flood potential and degradation of aquatic habitat - Creating the 260 acre stream corridor will provide additional floodplain storage not currently present along the ditch. The amount of floodplain storage will be measured and the increase in stream habitats and stream stability will be assessed..Restored and enhanced upland habitats - The amount of riparian grassland acres restored and protected will be measured and reported. .Agriculture lands are converted to grasslands to sustain functioning prairie systems - Pre and post project amounts of agricultural lands will be measured and reported..Increased wildlife productivity - The project will restore and protect 260 acres of fish and wildlife habitat including conversion of a 5.5 mile ditch into 8-9 miles of meandering channel. Fish and wildlife use of these habitats will be monitored and reported..The enhanced stream channel and associated riparian wetland and grassland habitats will provide seasonal spawning and nursery habitat to a variety of fish species including northern pike and walleye and some of the other 30+ fish species that are found in the Lake Traverse watershed. This project presents the greatest opportunities that we are aware of in the prairie region of Minnesota at this time to convert a ditch back to a functional stream channel. If funding for this corridor rehabilitation is not secured, the opportunity to rehabilitate this reach of the Mustinka River Corridor will be lost and it will remain a ditch. .
Bois De Sioux watershed districtRed RIver Watershed Management BoardFlood Hazard Mitigation Program
This habitat project presents a unique opportunity within the prairie region to convert 5.5 miles of ditched river to 8+ mile long stream channel within a 260 acre fish and wildlife habitat corridor composed of riparian wetlands and grasslands.
In the past 100 years, thousands of miles of rivers and streams in Minnesota were straightened and thousands of acres of riparian wetland and grassland habitat has been lost in the interest of improving drainage. The Mustinka River was first channelized as a state ditch in 1896 and again as an Army Corps of Engineers project in the early 1950’s. This channelization resulted in a direct conversion of about 43 miles of natural sinuous channel and floodplain corridor to about 25 miles of straightened channel without a functional riparian corridor. The Mustinka River (Judicial Ditch 14) currently provides little functional aquatic or riparian corridor habitat. This stream corridor project will rehabilitate a 5.5 mile portion and directly provide both fish and wildlife habitat benefits in the prairie region.
This stream corridor rehabilitation project will convert 5.5 miles of the upper reaches of the Mustinka River to a more functional 8 to 9 mile long meandering channel within a 300 foot wide, 260 acre floodplain corridor. The stream rehabilitation will be based on the principles of natural channel design with an understanding of the hydrology and fluvial geomorphology at the site. The enhanced stream and associated riparian wetland habitats will provide seasonal spawning and nursery habitat to a variety of fish species including northern pike and walleye and some of the other 30+ fish species that are found in the Lake Traverse watershed.
In addition to the fish habitat directly provided in the 8 to 9 mile stream channel, the associated floodplain grassland and wetland habitat elements in the restored and protected 260 acre river corridor will provide year-round wildlife habitat. An estimated 90% of Minnesota’s prairie wetlands have been lost due to agricultural drainage and development. The land adjacent to the Mustinka river was historically wet prairie and wetlands but was converted to farmland more than 80 years ago.
The Bois de Sioux Watershed District has led the development of this project through a “project team” process. This process has been a collaborative effort with members of the project team including the Traverse County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, MN DNR, MPCA, USFWS, conservation groups, and landowners. The Bois de Sioux Watershed District will continue to lead the project and the MNDNR, as a non-funded collaborator, will provide technical assistance during the structure design phase and the development of the operating plan as well as ongoing project monitoring and evaluation of the operation, outcomes, and user groups.
The watershed district will be responsible for final design, engineering, and construction of the project. Minnesota Department of Natural Resource stream habitat experts will be consulted throughout project development and implementation. If funding for this corridor rehabilitation is not secured, the opportunity to rehabilitate this reach of the Mustinka River Corridor will be lost and it will remain a ditch.