The St. Croix River is only as clean as what flows into it. Two new efforts underway on streams that flow into the lower St. Croix — one on Wisconsin’s Apple River and one on Minnesota’s Brown’s Creek — are seeking to improve the health of those streams. In the process, it will prevent algae in the St. Croix and otherwise keep the river cleaner.
The Brown’s Creek Watershed District is looking for the input from the public on an implementation plan to eliminate the stressors and preserve the trout population in the creek. There will be an open house on Wednesday to discuss the project at Family Means from 4-7 p.m.
The Apple River is the eighth-largest contributor of algae-causing phosphorus to the St. Croix. The Lower Apple River Action Plan was developed by the St. Croix River Association with funding from the Wisconsin DNR and in partnership with several other groups and citizen volunteers. In a Pioneer Press article, several sources of phosphorus are named:
The action plan, which [Deb Ryun, St. Croix River Association executive director] said could be expanded in the future to include the entire Apple River, will model and monitor the phosphorus in the watershed. The project will “emphasize habitat protection, water quality concerns and recreational impacts on the river,” the plan states.
Suspected sources of phosphorus in the watershed include agriculture and development, Ryun said. Also a concern is the river’s use as a popular tubing destination.
Phosphorus is present in human waste, and bathrooms along the river are “few and far between,” Ryun said.
The primary goal of the plan is to understand the source of the algae blooms. Other goals of the plan: reducing watershed loading of phosphorus into the lower Apple by 26 percent; improving habitat for fish and other wildlife; and preserving, enhancing and providing “opportunities to appreciate the national scenic beauty” along the river.
The plan was discussed at a public meeting in Somerset on Tuesday. The effort will continue with recruiting partners to implement the plan.