Proposed project seeks to reduce erosion and improve trout habitat in Brown’s Creek

Watershed district requests feedback on plan to restore channels, native plants, and offer refuge to fish and other species.




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Brown’s Creek (Courtesy Brown’s Creek Watershed District)

Brown’s Creek Watershed District has identified a project that will improve the trout stream habitat in Brown’s Creek in Stillwater, which is currently listed as impaired for lack of cold water fish and macroinvertebrates.

BCWD has been working closely with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (Waters, Fisheries, and Trails) and the city of Stillwater to identify opportunities to improve the trout stream habitat in Brown’s Creek. A feasibility study shows restoring the existing 2,000 linear feet of Brown’s Creek from McKusick Road just upstream of Brown’s Creek Park to just downstream of the Brown’s Creek State Trail would:

  • Reduce bank erosion and subsequent sediment & nutrient loading to the creek and the St. Croix River
  • Improve Habitat:
    • Rock riffles will increase fish spawning opportunities and provide stable refuge for macroinvertebrates
    • The project will increase the number and depth of pools that will in turn provide thermal refuge for aquatic biota during the summer months and provide overwintering habitat for fish and amphibians
    • Instream woody structure will provide fish and macroinvertebrate habitat and also protect streambanks from erosion.
    • Native seeding will increase pollinator habitat, diversity and extent of native vegetation over invasive species such as common buckthorn, reed canary grass, and garlic mustard.
    • Reconnected floodplain will improve wetland hydrology and help rehabilitate native riparian vegetation.
    • Establishment of brush piles and snag trees will provide refuge for a variety of non-game species such as small mammals, reptiles, and birds.
  • Site access to the creek will include an ADA trail “spur” to create an access to Brown’s Creek from the state trail.

This project is proposed to begin with tree and shrub removal in late 2023, stream restoration summer 2024, continued invasive species management fall 2024, replanting spring 2025. This timing takes into account the limitations for working in a trout stream and avoiding impacts to the Northern long-eared bat.

Proposed Concept Design:

BCWD held a public hearing and ordered the final design for the project at the September 2023 regular board meeting. The initial concept plan is below:

What is the cost and funding?

The estimated total cost for the project (including engineering and construction) is $534,500.

  • Watershed-wide levy $213,800
  • Federal grant $320,700

Of the total project cost $430,100 will be used for construction and $104,400 for planning, design, engineering, permitting, and construction oversight.


  • Concept Design & Order Project – September 2023
  • Environment Assessment Worksheet (EAW)
  • Permitting
  • Project Bidding
  • Contracting
  • Tree and shrub removal in late 2023/early 2024
  • Stream restoration summer 2024 (between April-September)
  • Continued invasive species management fall 2024
  • Continued replanting spring 2025.

This timing takes into account the limitations for working in a trout stream and avoiding impacts to the Northern long-eared bat.

Environmental Assessment Worksheet

The Brown’s Creek Watershed District has released an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the Brown’s Creek Restoration Project located in Stillwater, MN for review and comment.

The trout stream restoration project will to address floodplain abandonment, accelerated bank erosion, invasive species, and degraded instream habitat to restore the ecological and hydrologic functions of the creek and adjacent floodplain. The project will include reconnecting the creek with the floodplain, installing grade control riffles to limit channel incision, installing woody material and boulders for instream habitat, removing woody invasive species, and reestablishing native riparian vegetation.

The EAW for the Brown’s Creek Restoration Project has been submitted and accepted to the EQB Monitor. The submission will be published in the November 21, 2023 publication of the Monitor.

A copy of the EAW will be available for review beginning November 9, at the Brown’s Creek Watershed District Office (455 Hayward Ave N, Oakdale, MN) and online. Written comments on the EAW will be received through December 21, 2023, and should be sent by mail or email to:

Karen Kill – BCWD Administrator
455 Hayward Ave N, Oakdale, MN 55128
Subject: Brown’s Creek Restoration EAW Comments

The District will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, December 13, 2023, at 6:30 PM at Family Means (1875 Northwestern Ave N, Stillwater, MN 55082) at which oral comments may be made.