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Corps of Engineers and the Sand Hill River Watershed District partner on an ecosystem restoration project in Polk County

Published Nov. 24, 2014

ST. PAUL, MINN. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, recently partnered with the Sand Hill River Watershed District to provide a fish passage project along the Sand Hill River in Polk County, Minn.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, and the Sand Hill River Watershed District signed a project partnership agreement last month. This agreement allows for both entities to move forward with the final design and construction of the project.

The Corps of Engineers constructed a major drainage project along the Sand Hill River in the 1950s. The project enlarged an existing state ditch and channelized the upstream and downstream portions of the Sand Hill River connecting to the state ditch. As part of the channel striating, four concrete grade control structures were constructed. These four structures created 4 to 6.5 foot changes in bed grade which made the river impassable for fish under normal flow conditions. The fish blockages have isolated spawning and rearing habitat in the upper reaches of the Sand Hill River and its tributaries from the lower reaches of the Sand Hill River and the Red River.

The proposed project will improve ecosystem connectivity in the upper Sand Hill River and its tributaries by facilitating upstream fish movement and, thereby, provide access to spawning, rearing and seasonal habitat for fish species in the lower Sand Hill River and the Red River. Connectivity will be achieved by the construction of rock rapids at the existing Corps drop structures to reduce the channel slope and enable fish passage which would allow upstream migration during spawning season.

Construction of the project is scheduled to begin as soon as the fall or early winter of 2015.

The nearly 650 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2012 $175 million budget, nearly 2,800 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $271 million to the national economy. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.

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Release no. 14-094