Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary, a 40-acre restored wilderness area near I-35E and Cayuga Avenue, was identified in CRWD’s 2010 Watershed Plan as an opportunity to “Bring Water Back to Saint Paul”. Additionally, it was a passion of residents to convert the brownfield site back into a natural area in this highly developed part of Saint Paul. Historically, Trout Brook was an open stream channel that connected Lake McCarrons in Roseville to the Mississippi River. In preparation for a new railroad line, the channel was filled and Trout Brook was diverted into an underground sewer pipe in the 1880s. This permanently altered the natural valley as well as the neighborhood’s connection to this important water resource.
Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary was created to help restore the historical relationship of the city and its residents to the natural area and to collect and filter stormwater from the adjacent communities. Among these features is an open stream channel that flows through a series of ponds and wetlands, cleaning stormwater as it meanders through the system. The project also includes a number of ponds designed to capture stormwater runoff from the surrounding neighborhoods. These ponds not only allow solids to settle out prior to entering the open stream channel, but also filter the water through iron-enhanced sand filtration systems that capture nutrient pollution. All water flowing through the system eventually enters the Sims-Agate stormwater pond, which will be cleaner, more attractive, and have increased wildlife habitat because of improvements to the system upstream.
In addition to the re-creating the historic stream channel, art installations and walking paths were added throughout the sanctuary to make the site more accessible and enjoyable for the community. This included adding a new section of the Trout Brook Regional Trail that extends from Jackson Street at the north end of the sanctuary to connect to the Gateway Trail at Cayuga Avenue at the south end of the park. The trail traverses through this restored natural system that is entirely different from the abandoned railroad corridor that once stood in its place.
CRWD worked in cooperation with several key partners including: City of Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation, City of Saint Paul Public Works Sewers Division, District 6 Planning Council, Tri-Area Block Club, Ramsey County, Minnesota Department of Transportation, and many dedicated community members. As part of the development process of the Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary site, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation compiled research of the historic Trout Brook Valley area.