MPCA grant is making health assessment possible.

    The Grand Marais Creek, which begins north of Fisher and meanders northwest for seven miles before entering the Red River near East Grand Forks, is scheduled for a wellness check-up this summer. As part of grant monies given to the Red Lake  Watershed District and the Middle-Snake-Tamarac Rivers Watershed District by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Grand Marais Creek Watershed will have its current health assessed and management strategies will be developed for its protection and any necessary restoration.

    Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc. (EOR), of Oakdale, Minnesota, has been hired to assess areas along the Grand Marais Creek, including waters that drain through Polk County Ditch Two, areas east of Highway 75,  the Angus Oslo Planning Region in the northwest portion of Polk County, and western Marshall County where the creek drains into the Red River. EOR will study water from the Grand Marais Creek, measuring it against state water quality standards for aquatic life and aquatic recreation. Where waters are meeting the standards, protection plans will be prepared. Where waters fall short, restoration plans will be put in place.

    This project, known as a Watershed Restoration and Protection plan (WRAP) will take place over the course of a number of years. Phase one, known as Monitoring and Assessment, will begin shortly. This involves biological monitoring and watershed monitoring to gather data for future stages. Phase two, Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies, will focus on water quality assessments and stressor identification, culminating in restoration and protection strategies and an implementation plan. The final phase, Implementation Activities, includes buffer enhancements, wetland restoration, gully stabilization and agricultural BMP's, all of which contribute to improved water quality.

    The process of assessing the health of the watershed, preparing plans for restoration of impaired waters and protecting good quality waters for future generations requires community input. Join project officials for a public kick-off meeting on Thursday, April 18, from 1 to 3 p.m., at Cabela's in East Grand Forks. This meeting is your opportunity to learn about and participate in the Grand Marais Creek WRAP project. Coffee and refreshments will be provided. All interested residents and stakeholders are encouraged to attend.