The VRWJPO and the City of Lakeville restored in-stream and riparian habitat in and along South Creek, a tributary to the Vermillion River. South Creek is a DNR-designated trout stream; restoring and protecting the stream is important.

This reach of South Creek, just downstream of Hamburg Avenue, is approximately 1,400 feet long, and has a small tributary joining it at the end of the reach. This reach is directly adjacent to City-owned parcels that are publicly accessible and immediately upstream of previously completed in-stream and riparian habitat restoration projects.

Before the project, this reach of South Creek was relatively straight, or channelized, and lacked significant instream habitats for aquatic biota. Channelization limits the amount of habitat present within the creek. The creek bottom was mostly sand which limited spawning habitat. The creek was significantly over-widened throughout much of the reach, with very shallow depths and limited habitat complexity in those over-widened portions. The fish and macroinvertebrate communities are impaired due to stressors in the watershed, such as turbidity, lack of dissolved oxygen, excessive water temperature, and habitat alteration.

The City of Lakeville acquired this parcel in 2018 to protect the riparian area and to develop the Lake Marion Greenway, a protected and publicly-owned corridor between the cities of Lakeville and Farmington. The Lake Marion Greenway, once completed, will provide habitat, water quality benefits, transportation (trail), and recreation. Once the parcel was acquired, the VRWJPO applied for, and was awarded, a Conservation Partners Legacy Grant through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help offset the costs of the restoration project.

To improve the habitat within this reach, several practices were installed:
• channel sections were narrowed with bank stabilization and bioengineering,
• trees that blocked the channel were removed,
• sloping banks were stabilized,
• woody and rock habitat features were installed,
• riffles for re-aeration were created, and
• native vegetation within the riparian area were established.

Numerous benefits will result from this project including:
• improved quantity and diversity of habitats that will provide cover for aquatic life,
• the narrowed channel will better manage sediment through this stream reach, which will result in deeper pools, a better stream bottom, adequate fish cover, and more areas for fish to spawn,
• the addition of features that will help to improve dissolved oxygen concentrations,
• improved riparian habitat conditions will provide for better banks stability, more wildlife habitat, less sediment loading, and moderated water temperature, and
• continued expansion and enhancement of a publicly accessible corridor along South Creek for recreational users.

This project was funded through a Conservation Partners Legacy Grant and local in-kind and cash matches from the VRWJPO and City of Lakeville.