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AGENCY COOPERATION IN A VEGETATIVE AND HYDROLOGIC RESTORATION WITHIN SOD AND AGRICULTURAL FIELDS IN THE ST. CROIX WATERSHED BASIN
Lynda Peterson, Wetland Specialist, Board of Water & Soil Resources
The Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR) along with the Army Corps of Engineers (COE), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife, Chisago County and the Chisago Soil & Water Conservation District have taken a large effort in restoring existing sod and agricultural fields to historical conditions which include wet meadow and tamarack swamp, upland woods and prairie on a 400 acres parcel within the City of North Branch in Chisago County. The purpose of this restoration is to provide public road authorities with wetland restoration opportunities as provided by BWSR-MN for road maintenance activities throughout the east central area of Minnesota.
The existing parcel has been extensively ditched to allow drainage, which allowed the cropping to take place. The entire site prior to ditching was a large wetland complex consisting of wet meadow, shrub-carr, and tamarack swamp. The property drains to the Sunrise River less than 1 mile away.
Hydrologic restoration consisted of placing ditch plugs, in-line control structure and rerouting existing drainage as to not allow drainage from the property and to allow proper drainage from upstream.
Vegetative restoration consisted of spraying and disking the existing sod fields to control sod and disking the agricultural fields. The entire 280 acres of cropland were then seeded down in the fall of 2006 to BWSR seed mixes (W1, W2, W4 and Upland mixes). Buckthorn and oakwilt removal will take place in the upland woods.
Over 22 monitoring wells and 3 staff gages were installed in the Spring of 2007 and Spring of 2008. Data indicates that the existing drainage ditches had a large effect on the hydrology of the site. When ditches were plugged and the control structure installed hydrology came back extremely fast in most areas.
There have been challenges. In 2007, the year was extremely dry and the vegetative restoration was a concern. There were large areas of annual weeds on the site. Disking and spraying sod and seeding into it was not a success.
The goal of the project is to turn the entire site over to the DNR and become a Wildlife Management Area in 2009 and open to public hunting in Spring 2009. The site will be called the Bob Jacobson Memorial of the Janet Johnson Wildlife Management Area.