Below is a link to a map that displays the different types of projects that have been implemented in the Elk River Watershed and their general location. 

 In addition, below are some of the projects that have been completed within the Elk River Watershed throughout the years with the help of the Elk River Watershed Association (ERWA), SWCD, NRCS, and engineering staff, landowners, and federal and state cost-share. 



Wetland Restoration

The above pictures display a before (2006) and after (2007) of a wetland restoration project that was installed in 2007. The side photos and photos below show another wetland project that was installed in 2009.The aerial images show before (2008) and after (2013) of the installation. A wetland restoration is the return of a wetland and its function to a close approximation of its original condition as it existed prior to disturbance on a former or degraded wetland site. It helps to restore wetland function, value, habitat, diversity, and capacity to a close resemblance of pre-disturbance condition; resulting in multiple environmental benefits. Some of these benefits include: improvement of surface and groundwater quality, a reduction in soil erosion and downstream flooding, restoration of soil organic matter; and promotion of carbon sequestration.










Riparian Forest Buffer

This is a riparian forest buffer that was completed in 2000. The image in the upper left corner is a photo of what the area looked like prior to planting (1999). The image in the upper right corner was taken a year after installation (2001), and the bottom left was taken in 2010. A riparian forest buffer is an area of trees and shrubs located adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds, or wetlands. The trees and shrubs work to intercept sediment, nutrients, pesticides, and other materials in surface runoff from entering water bodies. In addition, they help to stabilize the soil to prevent stream bank and shoreline erosion, serve as food and cover for wildlife, cool water temperatures by shading the stream or water body, and slow out-of-bank flood flows. Riparian forest buffers can be installed in a variety of settings, such as cropland, rangeland, forest land, and urban areas.

Stormwater Improvement

Birch Lake is a 150 acre lake in Big Lake Township that is currently listed as impaired by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for excessive nutrients. An analysis of contributing areas concluded that there were numerous opportunities to address storm water pollution through retrofitting various control devices in the watershed.

In 2016, work began on several stormwater control measures. 224th Avenue NW and 159th St NW were targeted for restoration due to the ample slope in these streets as well as their proximity to the lake (the public boat launch is located on 159th St.). The ditch running alongside 224th Ave. was regraded and fit with rock weepers / straw filter logs to slow down running water. Water will then be routed to a rock infiltration basin. At the public boat launch on 159th St., the parking lot was fit with a concrete valley gutter which directs water flow from this lot to a nearby infiltration basin. A slotted drain with sump basin was fit into the boat launch to catch and infiltrate runoff water before reaching the lake.

 Untreated runoff - spring 2014 

 224th Avenue after regrading 

 159th Street boat launch slotted drain 

 159th Street infiltration basin 

Nutrient Management Test Plot

There have been numerous test plot projects done throughout the years. Test plots manage the amount, source, placement, form, and timing of the applications of plant nutrients and soil amendments. They have a variety of purposes: budget and supply nutrients for plant production, properly utilize manure or organic by-product as a plant nutrient source; minimize agricultural non-point source pollution of surface and groundwater resources; protect air quality by reducing nitrogen emissions (ammonia and NOx compounds) and the formation of atmospheric particulates; and to maintain or improve the physical, chemical, and biological condition of the soil.