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Stabilizing the river bank, restoring the trout habitat

Sections of Vermillion River Trail will be closed in July and August for the Vermillion River Streambank Habitat Restoration project. Kara Hildreth / contributor

Runners and walkers who relish in fitness outdoors and chose to interact with nature on city park trails will find one stretch of Vermillion River Trail closed off this summer.

During July and August, construction crews are improving the river bank as part of the Vermillion River Streambank Habitat Restoration Project.

The City of Farmington is restoring the bank and a 500-foot stretch of trail that runs south of County Road 50 and directly north of the Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena near Rambling River Park.

Signs alert trail users to the closure. Even though the trail section is only 500 feet, the trail is heavily used by walkers, runners and cyclists.

Two years ago the city held discussions with the Vermillion River Joint Powers organization and Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District to look at flooding issues and brainstorm solutions to help with the erosion of the river.

"We went forward and applied for a legacy grant and the city was selected and so now the four partners will be working to complete the project this summer," said Randy Distad, city parks director.

The Metro Conservation Partners Legacy grant of $250,000 is dedicated to fund this restoration project.

"We have had a few issues with flooding along with the Vermillion River, and so we are trying to stabilize the bank and river and it will also serve as restoration for our trout habitat," Distad said. "The worst area is the area by the river that is closest to the trail and we have identified it as the highest priority and it should get corrected first, and if it is successful, we will visit about what other areas to see about what work can be done."

Distad said the trail is 25 years old and in disrepair.

"It's in pretty bad shape and we are trying to replace that area and portion that will be damaged during the construction," Distad said.

Construction crews will cut a new river channel in and move it away from the trail, so there is not continual damage to the trail, Distad said. That will stabilize the bank and help prevent erosion.

"We will be restoring the habitat for the trout to create a better chance of surviving in the river and then it creates more cover for them and a better habitat for them to live in," Distad said.

The city will pay the cost of trail reconstruction and devote $20,000 worth of in-kind labor to match the grant's portion of labor. The contractor's total bid for the project is $188,284.

During the summer construction, the public will have no access to this trail section and signage is posted, along with barricades to identify the closure.

The city partnered with the cable commission to produce a public informational video narrated by Distad inside the park and trail area in downtown Farmington.

Construction updates will be posted for residents throughout the summer at www.ci.farmington.mn.us.

"This work will help stabilize the river bank when it does flood, and we know it is an inconvenience for people who use trial, but for the long road it will be a good thing for the trail and the future," Distad said.

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