Project No. 79, Wolverton Creek Restoration


BRRWD Receives the Minnesota Environmental Initiative
2020 Rural Vitality Award for the Wolverton Creek Restoration

Read more about the MEI 2020 Awards

“Wolverton Creek Restoration is a strong example of a project that engaged a significant part of the community (450 landowners) and had a broad outcome (105 square miles within the watershed) – all within a culture and community where this has proven contentious or difficult in the past. We see this two-stage natural prairie stream replicable in other areas and regions and look forward to seeing how this effort can be exemplified and repeated.”

– Rural Vitality Category Evaluation Team

2019 Drone Ground Level View of the Wolverton Creek Restoration Channel 
2019 Drone Birds-eye View of the Wolverton Creek Restoration Channel 

The Buffalo-Red River Watershed District has developed a multi-phase comprehensive strategy to improve water quality and protect the valuable resource of Wolverton Creek in an extensively drained agricultural HUC-12 watershed. Wolverton Creek is a 23.5-mile long tributary to the Red River of the North with 8.2 miles of the Creek in Clay County and the remaining 15.3 miles in Wilkin County. The watershed is approximately 104 square miles and is located within Holy Cross and Alliance Townships of Clay County and Wolverton, Deerhorn, Roberts, and Mitchell Townships of Wilkin County. About two-thirds of Wolverton Creek is Public Water and the remaining upstream one-third is not considered Public Water. The section line between Sections 26 and 35, Wolverton Township, is the divide where Wolverton Creek becomes Public Water. There are several County Ditch Systems in the project area (Wilkin County Ditch Nos. 5A, 22, and 26; Clay County Ditch Nos. 36, 53, and 60; and Clay/Wilkin Judicial Ditch No. 1) as well as several natural waterways that flow into Wolverton Creek. Wolverton Creek is the outlet for these ditch systems and natural waterways.

Beginning over a century ago, streams in the Red River Basin have been straightened, ditched, cleared, and snagged with the goal of improving drainage and agricultural production. Wolverton Creek is one of the streams that has experienced these impacts. For some time now, the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) has been looking at options to improve wildlife habitat, increase wildlife habitat connectivity, improve water quality, and to reduce flooding conditions in the Wolverton Creek drainage area. Landowners in the area requested that the Watershed District investigate the problems associated with Wolverton Creek and find solutions to correct these problems. The BRRWD along with the Clay and Wilkin SWCDs aim to reduce erosion and sedimentation in Wolverton Creek. A watershed-wide solution has been developed to correct the current issues being experienced along Wolverton Creek and its tributaries. The solution includes channel restoration, installation of side inlets and other sediment control BMPs within the Wolverton Creek Watershed, and installation of expanded buffer strips along Wolverton Creek. The outlet reach of Wolverton Creek downstream of Trunk Highway 75 was previously restored through the installation of a series of rock riffles, vegetative buffers, and sediment BMPs. Previous work also included installing vegetative buffers, erosion control, and sediment BMPs on all legal drainage systems draining into Wolverton Creek. 

Our current focus is on Phase 1 of the overall project (3 phases), which is located in the middle reach of the Wolverton Creek and is critical for completion of project features upstream.  The sediment reduction project is a three-pronged attack:  install sediment BMP controls, expand riparian buffers to significantly reduce sediment loading to Wolverton Creek and its tributaries, and restore Wolverton Creek to improve channel stability and reduce the in-stream sediment loading. The total estimated Phase 1 (Reach B) costs are $3,700,000.  The project was awarded $2.8 million from the Targeted Watershed Program fund, $1.877 million from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council Fund, and $100,000 from the Enbridge Eco-Footprint Grant Program.  The required local match (25% of grant funds) is $700,000. 

Project Partners:

  • Buffalo-Red River Watershed District
  • Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Clay Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Natural Resource Conservation Office
  • Landowners

Wolverton Creek Easement Acquisition Process

Engineer’s Design Report

BWSR Advisory Comments For Engineer’s Report

Proposed Water Management District Charge Determination

Wolverton Creek Sediment Reduction Fact Sheet

Wolverton Creek Sediment Reduction Project Schedule

Wolverton Creek Sediment Reduction Work Plan 06/27/16

Read more about the Clean Water Stories on the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Website.