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Weber Stream Restoration Initiative : Why the Lester-Amity System?

The Lester/Amity stream system provides a suitable area for a pilot project. The watershed is as an excellent candidate for successful restoration because of several key characteristics. These include:

  1. Impairments have been identified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
  2. Streams have been classified as sensitive trout habitat by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR).
  3. Watersheds occur in urban/rural locations with high recreational use and public visibility
  4. Community partnerships provide strong possibilities for securing additional funds.
  5. Scientific collaboration potential is sound (see the Consortium Participants).
  6. Substantial historical information is currently available to help design a more comprehensive assessment.

 

Photo Credit: Todd Carlson, April 12, 2007

The Lester River approximately 1 mile above Superior St., showing the steep clay banks that can pose a challenge with sediment.

(Click image to enlarge)

Since 2002, Amity Creek has been the focus of an MPCA long-term monitoring effort and both the Lester and Amity Rivers have been the subject of various data collection efforts in the past. Both have been designated as “Impaired” due to excessive suspended sediment. Following designation as an impaired water body, the federal Clean Water Act requires that the State develop a TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) target for each impaired stream system. These TMDLs are then implemented on a watershed scale to provide a framework for alleviating the water quality problems and ultimately remove the impairment(s). Currently there is no firm schedule for the State to prioritize these impaired streams, although this new study should help prioritize them.

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are management protocols that are established to prevent or mitigate environmental degradation resulting from human activities such as construction, logging, and agriculture. BMPs are integral to the TMDL process. Unfortunately, the efficacy of BMPs for restoration is not well known, particularly for storm-water impacts in cold climates. There is a great need for a thorough scientific evaluation of BMP efficacy. Ultimately, the success of this project depends on monitoring improvements, determining their cost effectiveness, evaluating the success of BMPs and planning policies in preventing new degradation, and maintaining community interest and stewardship in the watershed.