clean_water_fund_logo

Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary

From Brownfield to Greenway

In 2010, CRWD identified Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary as an opportunity to “Bring Water Back to Saint Paul.” The 40-acre restored wilderness area near I-35E and Cayuga Avenue was once a lush valley carrying Trout Brook from Lake McCarrons in Roseville to the Mississippi River in Downtown Saint Paul.

By the 1880s, railroad construction had filled the channel, diverting Trout Brook into an underground sewer pipe and permanently altering the natural environment. Years of industrial pollution had also contaminated the groundwater, leading to EPA Brownfield designation in the early 2000s. A new solution for collecting and filtering stormwater from adjacent communities was desperately needed to improve the site and restore balance to the natural ecosystem.

The Challenge

By the 1880s, railroad construction had filled the channel, diverting Trout Brook into an underground sewer pipe and permanently altering the natural environment. Years of industrial pollution had also contaminated the groundwater, leading to EPA Brownfield designation in the early 2000s. A new solution for collecting and filtering stormwater from adjacent communities was desperately needed to improve the site and restore balance to the natural ecosystem.

The Solution

CRWD and its partners – including the 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 – joined forces to convert the site back into a natural area in this highly developed part of the city.

For the first time in more than a century, the project restored an open stream channel that flows through a series of ponds and wetlands, cleaning stormwater as it meanders through the system. It features a number of ponds for capturing runoff from surrounding neighborhoods. These ponds allow solids to settle out prior to entering the open channel, filtering the water through iron-enhanced sand filtration systems that capture nutrient pollution. During dry periods a small pumping/lift station pulls baseflow from the Trout Brook Storm Sewer Interceptor to augment water flow in the stream. This provides consistent flow at all times, which improves the aquatic and riparian habitat of the stream. Additionally, it ensures the stream amenity can be enjoyed by park visitors regardless of season or climate conditions.

Results

All water flowing through the system now enters the Sims-Agate stormwater pond, which is cleaner and has increased wildlife habitat because of improvements to the system upstream. The project is now treating approximately 200 acres of previously untreated, developed watershed.

In addition to the re-creating the historic stream channel, Trout Brook is now a restored natural system with little resemblance to the abandoned railroad corridor that once stood in its place. Today, the site is also more accessible and enjoyable for the community. Art installations and walking paths were added throughout the sanctuary, including 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.

Gallery

View All CRWD Projects

Go To Projects