Now that summer is in full swing you may be preparing to make property improvements. If you live near a lake, stream or wetland, it’s important to do a little research before you get started. Doing so will save you time and money and help protect the water that you live on or near.
The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) is known for its quality lakes, streams and wetlands. What you and your neighbors do on your shoreland property and surrounding watershed can have a significant impact on the health of a lake or stream. It is especially important to protect the shoreland zone — the land within 1,000 feet of a lake and 300 feet of a river or stream plus the adjoining waters. This shoreland zone is the lake’s first line of defense to filter pollutants and provides critical habitat to fish and wildlife. One of the ways the MCWD protects water from land use impacts is to issue permits for construction activities.
MCWD is committed to partnerships in all aspects of its work, and permitting is no exception. When a permit applicant contacts MCWD staff early in their planning process, staff can collaborate with the applicant to identify possible opportunities to maximize natural resource benefits while also meeting the permit applicant’s goals. MCWD works with the applicant to find cost-effective, creative solutions that help protect water quality and create thriving communities.
A great example of this kind of collaboration occurred in Minnetrista in the Six Mile Creek – Halsted Bay Subwatershed. In 2014, the Mader Family Trust was considering selling their 77-acre parcel for development. They were interested in maximizing their financial return while also preserving the site’s natural heritage, including a large wetland complex, as a family legacy. The Mader family reached out to MCWD early in their planning process to learn more about the district’s permitting rules.
This sparked some creative problem solving and a collaboration between MCWD, the landowner, and the city of Minnetrista. The partners worked together on a plan to restore 42 acres of wetland and upland buffer, which provided natural resource benefits greater than what would otherwise be required by MCWD’s permitting regulations. The plan also provided the opportunity for the Mader family to take advantage of city density increases allowed through conservation development that allowed four additional lots within the subdivision, increasing the value for the landowner, the city, and the developer.
Early coordination was the key to a win-win solution that met the goals of all parties. By approaching MCWD early with their plans for their land, the Mader family was able to achieve their goals and establish a legacy of water protection that will have positive ripple effects throughout the surrounding subwatershed.
As you begin planning your next project, whether big or small, please check to see if you need a permit from MCWD or your city, review the rules, and communicate with MCWD and your city early in your planning process. Early coordination results in a streamlined permitting process and protects the lakes and streams you love. You can learn about permitting at www.minnehahacreek.org/permits.
Sherry White is the president of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers.