Rice Creek Meander Project
Rice Creek underwent a major transformation beginning in fall 2015 and completing in July 2016. A section of the creek runs through Rice Creek Commons from the north at County Road I to the south at the intersection of County Road H and I-35W.
Originally flowing along a winding path that included many twists and turns, the creek was straightened in the early 1900s for agricultural purposes. The straightened route resulted in faster flowing water, which increased erosion along the stream bank and bed. Because the land is no longer used for farming, the creek did not need to remain straightened.
Under the direction of the Rice Creek Watershed District, the middle section of Rice Creek was transformed back to its original, meandering path and stabilized along its banks with native plants and trees. Nearly 2,000 new feet of stream were created during the course of the project. As a result, recreation, aesthetics, and wildlife habitat are all expected to improve. Construction of the new channel began in the winter of 2015-2016. Water is expected to begin to flow in the winter of 2016-2017.
In addition, Ramsey County collaborated with the Rice Creek Watershed District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on a similar project prompted by plans to reconstruct the I-35W interchange at County Road H and build significant public infrastructure on the Rice Creek Commons site in 2016. More than 500 feet of new creek channel were created at County Road H east of I-35W with back water pools to slow channel flow and mitigate erosion. Wetlands were created and the floodplain was restored to improve habitat for native wildlife.
Funding for both projects was provided through county funds and a $3 million Clean Water Fund Grant from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment approved by Minnesota voters in 2008.