Minnetrista residents discuss MCWD project

The MCWD is planning to turn this farmland into natural prairie grass to help to keep pollutants from running into Lake Minnetonka. (Photos submitted by MCWD)

The MCWD is planning to turn this farmland into natural prairie grass to help to keep pollutants from running into Lake Minnetonka. (Photos submitted by MCWD)

Minnetrista residents who attended a meeting with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District on Wednesday, Jan. 17 learned more about what they can expect with the former Halverson and Dimler farms property.

The MCWD met with residents to explain plans for the property when the restoration project begins this spring. The the MCWD purchased the 200 acres of farmland to help increase the water quality of Lake Minnetonka

MCWD Natural Resource Technician Tiffany Forner said the changes to the property should help to remove the amount of pollutants that are entering Halstead Bay.

“Six-Mile Creek has been known to have a lot of sediment loads and to have a lot of phosphorus flowing into Halstead Bay,” she said. “One of our goals for this project, and why this land was purchased, was in an effort to help reduce that sediment load and phosphorus (into) Halstead Bay.”

Forner also mentioned the MCWD is currently doing a diagnostic test for the Six Mile Creek area in Minnetrista to determine how to help the water quality in the watershed.

“We’re also doing a further diagnostic study of the whole Six Mile Creek itself to try and understand how everything works together,” she said.

Even though the restoration process will soon begin in the spring, Forner said the site may not actually look like a reconstructed nature area for a few years.

“Restoration is a lengthy process,” she said. “The first year it’s not going to be beautiful, the second year it will look better and hopefully by year three it will really start to come along.”

The MCWD will begin their construction plans for this property during the spring of 2013 after discussing them with the community members of Minnetrista.

The MCWD will begin their construction plans for this property during the spring of 2013 after discussing them with the community members of Minnetrista.

Forner touched base on plans for a trail, which preliminarily is planned to enter the property from other area trails to the west.

“What we wanted to do was have an ABA compliant trail coming off the Dakota Rail Trail,” she said.

The MCWD plans to begin work in May by removing invasive species, mowing, controlled burns and monitoring the area. Once all this restoration is completed, the MCWD will begin to decide to what extent public utilities will be allowed on the land.

“I just want to emphasize that, right now, public use is on hold,” she said. “I’ve known in the past that this site was used a lot for snowmobiling, and there has been some hunting.”

Forner said that those types of public use could pose problems for vegetation growth and are not activities the MCWD will want on the site.

“We’re going to post at the site that those (public uses) are not allowed,” she said. “It is critical that those not be allowed on the site while we’re trying to get the vegetation established.”

Overall, Forner said once construction begins they will need to continually monitor the growth of the natural species and look out for invasive species. The MCWD also plans at some point to install a public access on the land.

“Ongoing vegetation management will be a huge part of making this a successful project,” she said.

 

Questions

Once the MCWD representatives opened up the meeting for questions, one Minnetrista resident asked if they will pay additional money to maintain the dirt roads crews will use during construction.

The MCWD said the heavy machinery use will be limited during the reconstruction phase of the project.

The future of the former farm buildings was also brought up as a question by a resident who lives nearby. He stated that area residents would like a red barn that was used on the farmland to remain.

“Right now we are recommending removing all of them,” said Forner. “There is a possibility that red barn may stay, but what we have to do is look more into the liability of it.”

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