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Erosion work on Vermillion River will close section of bike trail in July

Parks and Recreation Director Randy Distad looks at a badly eroded section of the Vermillion River. The city is expected to approve an erosion control plan for that section of the river funded mostly by a grant from the DNR. (RiverTown Multimedia photo by Deanna Weniger)

With spring rains and runoff, erosion once again will become the enemy of the Vermillion River that flows through Farmington.

Plans set in motion last summer by the city and the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization to combat erosion will pick up again this summer, causing a 230-foot-long portion of the trail north of the Schmitz-Maki Arena to be closed to the public during July and August.

Most of the $280,000 project will be paid for by a $225,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources. The city will contribute $20,000 to the project and the VRWJPO, an advisory group overseen by two Dakota County commissioners and one Scott County commissioner, will contribute the remaining $35,000.

Trout start spawning in the fall, so the construction project will have to be finished by September, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regulations.

Travis Thiel, environmental specialist with the advisory group, said the project will not require diverting the river, but it will get messy with dump trucks and excavators before it eventually returns to its natural state.

The river, aptly nicknamed the "Rambling River" in Farmington, does not flow in a straight line. It weaves and wanders its way through town looking, from an aerial view, much like a toddler's blue scribble.

Each bend in the river is an area where erosion can become a concern. To stabilize the curves, Thiel said workers will be inserting cedar trees laid horizontally against the banks and attached to the banks with cables and fasteners. They also will be using a combination of boulders and root wads from harvested trees to shore up the banks. The natural barriers are designed to provide habitat for the trout that live in the river.

"We hope to be in and out quickly as to not disrupt the river as much as possible," he said.

The plan also includes a paved area or "platform" near the river that can be accessed by people in wheelchairs wanting to fish.

The bike trail running along this area will have to be reconstructed.

The estimated $29,388 needed to fix the path will be paid for out of remaining 2016 dollars from the city's general fund budget, said Parks and Recreation Director Randy Distad.

The city will be voting on this expenditure at the April 3 council meeting.