STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) — The state is providing more than $1 million in grants to help clean lakes and rivers across Washington County and restore their surrounding areas.
Several projects were already underway in the county's seven watershed districts, but the grants will be used to fund additional projects that are a little more expensive, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/1flGsQt ).
One project involves spending $360,000 to modify an existing wetland in Bixby Park in the Forest Lake area. The aim is to improve water quality and reduce dissolved phosphorus that accumulates downstream.
It's all part of a larger effort to transform the park, formerly a city compost site, into a 100-acre nature preserve. The work will also undo the consequences of a ditch that ended up compromising the wetland's natural ability to filter out phosphorus and other chemicals.
"We want to kind of turn back time and bring back the character that wetland had before," said Greg Granske, the watershed district's engineer.
Another involves cleaning stormwater that runs off into Clear Lake. The $382,000 project is intended to prevent the introduction of materials that lead to algae blooms.
The grant money comes from state Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment funds. The money is raised through a 0.375 percent sales tax approved by voters in 2008, and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources decides how the money is spent.
Another project is designed to protect the St. Croix River.
The Washington Conservation District received $216,130 to work with landowners to keep water from carrying fertilizers, soil and other materials into the river. Solutions could include installing sediment basins to capture fast-flowing water and drain it out more slowly, or planting cover crops on land that's otherwise bare in the winter.
One of the smaller grants will help researchers understand why Brown's Creek experiences temperature spikes that make it too warm for trout to survive and reproduce. The local watershed district will receive $33,500 for that research.
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com