Wedge Creek Habitat Restoration Complete

A crucial project ahead of the dredging of Fountain Lake has been completed.

The project, which seeks to restore the habitat of Wedge Creek, was finished Dec. 15. The goals of the restoration project were to reduce stream bank erosion and associated

sedimentation, reconnect streams to their floodplains to reduce negative impacts from severe flooding, increase natural reproduction of fish and other aquatic organisms, and to stabilize stream banks with minimal maintenance.

Wedge Creek is west ofinterstate 90 and south of Minnesota Highway 13.

"This gets us one step closer to dredging," said Shell Rock River Watershed District technician

Jerad Stricker. "This is fixing an upstream problem from Fountain Lake."

Stricker said in a press release that Wedge Creek was once a winding stream, but the creation of Highway 13 and the creation of the Union Pacific Railroad resulted in a changing of the waterway.

According to the release, that left Wedge Creek as a large contributor to nearly 1,000 tons of sediment being deposited into Fountain Lake a year.

The Wedge Creek habitat restoration was broken into six different portions to be completed. Three portions of the creek were completed between 2011 and 2013 and were funded by the district's half-cent sales tax.

The last portion of the project on the north end of the creek included changing the slope angle of the stream bank and putting rocks on the banks of the stream to reduce erosion, sloping stream banks and adding native plant species to the area.

Stricker said the project will ensure Fountain Lake won't fill with sediment after the lake is dredged. Wedge Creek was chosen in 2011 to be used as a pilot project to initiate conservation efforts. The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council funded the final three sections of the project in 2014 by a Department ofNatural Resources Conservation Partners Legacy Grant.

The Watershed District developed a water management plan in 2004 that identified goals for accelerating programs for improved habitat, water quality and flood control through a variety of conservation measures.

"This project would not have been possible without local and state support and funding sources," said Director of Field Operations Andy Henschel in the press release. "This project was a crucial step before the Fountain Lake restoration project begins."

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007