To reconnect Pine Creek in southeastern Minnesota with its floodplain and improve fish habitat, MNTU hired Barr to help restore a one-mile reach of the creek. The stream reach is located within a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fishing-access easement, so close coordination was needed. Barr also worked with the MNTU Hiawatha Chapter, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and landowners to identify project objectives and scope that would improve stream habitat and still allow use of adjacent agricultural and pasture lands.
A geomorphic assessment and site topographic survey were conducted. These data and hydrologic and hydraulic modeling were used to define new channel geometry and floodplain dimensions. Because the actively eroding, existing stream reach was deeply entrenched in legacy sediment, a new section was constructed to establish a more-expected radius of curvature and planform. Approximately 60,000 cubic yards of soil were regraded and/or removed to create an accessible floodplain. In-stream habitat elements, including bioengineered fabric-wrapped bank lifts, boulder-constructed rock riffles, wood and rock vanes, rock clusters, and root wads, were installed. These features provided in-stream cover as well as interim stabilization of the newly graded streambanks and floodplain. Barr coordinated with landowners and the NRCS to facilitate fencing to help manage grazing along the riparian corridor.
When significant flooding happened four years after completion, the restoration held up well. All of the designed habitat features remained in place, and the created floodplain helped dissipate flood energy so effectively that only minor bank erosion occurred in a few isolated areas.