Hawk Creek is getting a whole new start on its 65-mile run from Eagle Lake to the Minnesota River.
Minnesota Conservation Corps workers have been at work on the headwaters channel as it leaves Eagle Lake. They’re removing the tangle of trees that line the channel below its outlet on Eagle Lake to where it runs under Minnesota Trunk Highway 23.
The channel between Eagle and Swan Lakes is obstructed by the limbs and roots of fallen trees, not to mention the grates of a no longer functional fish trap. The channel’s banks are heavily-shaded and muddy. Erosion from the banks is contributing to the formation of a sediment delta where the channel reaches Swan Lake.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Hawk Creek Watershed Partnership are overseeing a project that will restore the portion of channel from the Eagle Lake outlet to the highway in the coming months, according to Ethan Jenzen, area hydrologist with the DNR in Spicer.
Plans call for clearing the channel of the fallen limbs and obstructions, including the old fish trap. The channel banks will be seeded with native prairie flowers and grasses, and toe-wood sod mats will be installed on the most erosion-prone portions of the banks. The woody mats will create breaks in the stream current, offering habitat for fish while reducing the erosive force of the water rushing through a straightened channel. The mats too will be seeded to native vegetation.
The 84-inch culvert located about 450-feet downstream of the lake Eagle Lake outlet will be removed. It has funneled the waters of the roughly 32-feet wide channel into a jet-like stream that increases erosion.
A V-shaped line of rocks known as a cross vane structure will be added to the channel. The water will flow over this riffle, naturally creating fish habitat while reducing the erosive force of the dropping water.
If funds can be obtained, similar work could take place in coming years on the downstream reach of the channel from Highway 23 to Swan Lake.
LCCMR and Outdoor Heritage funds are helping make this year’s work possible, as well as the in-kind contributions from the DNR and Hawk Creek Watershed Project. Tara Latozke, a fisheries habitat specialist with the DNR in New Ulm, and formerly with the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District, played an important role in helping put the project together by working with the DNR and Hawk Creek Watershed staff in Spicer and Olivia.
More about the project can be found in this Saturday’s Outdoor section of the West Central Tribune.