Each boulder and log is positioned to curb velocity and direct the flow of a 500-foot-long, remeandered stretch of an unnamed Deer Creek tributary. A shallow floodplain remains visible on July 14, 2017, as newly seeded native grass grows through straw and coconut fiber mats. After a red clay dam built here in the 1970s failed, the tributary cut through an embankment. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources awarded Carlton Soil & Water Conservation District $271,800 over three years to deal with the dams.
A Clean Water Fund Story.

Upstream battle

Stream restorations, removal of failed ’70s dams feed hopes of brook trout, stanch flow of red-clay sediment into Lake Superior

Melanie Bomier, Carlton Soil & Water Conservation District water resources technician, puts into perspective the size of a project that replaced a failed red clay dam.

Taming torrents

Anticipating trout

Bomier visits Elim Creek in July 2017. The grasses and forbs have grown up to the point that locating the stream is difficult.
A tree planting was part of the restoration of Elim Creek, where three failing red clay dams were removed and a one-third-mile-long segment of stream was restored in 2014. The streambanks are no longer grazed.
Grasses bend over a remeandered stretch of the creek.

Fixing washouts

Before the dam blew out 10 or 15 years ago, an Elim Creek tributary flowed through a culvert here, eventually feeding the Nemadji River and Lake Superior. The Nemadji deposited 98,000 tons of sediment a year into Lake Superior. Landowner Wendell Lund helped clear the land when the dam was constructed in the 1970s.
Work was scheduled to begin at the site of a failed red clay dam. Because landowners weren’t involved when the dams were built in the 1970s, they don’t contribute financially. Carlton SWCD must have landowners’ permission to pursues projects on their property.

Our mission is to improve and protect Minnesota’s water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners.