Vermillion River workshops are Dec. 2 and Dec. 7Dakota County wants to work with residents along the Vermillion River to make sure the river stays clean and healthy as the land around it develops.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Dakota County wants to work with residents along the Vermillion River to make sure the river stays clean and healthy as the land around it develops.
The county will hold two meetings in early December to give residents a chance to comment on concepts for a plan that will shape the future of the Vermillion River corridor. The county hopes to have a finished plan in place by March of 2010.
The basic idea behind the current concepts seems pretty simple: Give people the resources to do the right thing and, where possible, give them a push in the right direction.
There are limits to what the county can do to directly affect the river. With much of the land along the Vermillion privately owned, the county can’t send crews to plant native grasses or reinforce riverbanks. What it can do, senior planner Mary Jackson said, is remove some of the obstacles that might keep landowners from doing the right thing. That means getting them information about what vegetation is best for planting along the river or how to best create a buffer zone to make sure the stormwater that flows into the river is as clean as possible.
“I think there’s a lot of different practices landowners can use,” Jackson said. “We’d like to set up a structure where we can partner with people on changing some practices.”
Dakota County land conservation manager Al Singer said the county could put together a manual to help residents along the river better understand land management principles.
The county could also try to find residents willing to give up at least a little bit of control over their riverside land. Dakota County has applied for a $500,000 grant that could allow it to buy permanent easement buffers along the river.
“In some cases, the land might be really high quality and maybe it just needs to be tweaked a bit,” Singer said.
Keeping water in the Vermillion cold and clean is important because of the river’s status as a rare trout stream in an urban area. That means making sure people have access to fish. Right now, there are problems with trespassing along the river as people try to get to a favorite fishing spot. Jackson said the county can do a better job marking areas that are open for public access.
There are still some areas where the county or cities along the river have more direct control. The county’s ideas include new trails along the river in Farmington and elsewhere and possibly a re-meandering of the river to restore some of the curves that gave it its nickname, Rambling River.
Some parts of the river were straightened decades ago by farmers looking to maximize their field space. Adding back some of its natural curves would slow the water down and create new wildlife habitat.
The county will take comment on its draft concepts at meetings Dec. 2 and Dec. 7. Both meetings will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Dakota County Extension and Conservation Center, 4100 W. 220th St. in Farmington.
“We want their feedback,” Singer said.
To RSVP for either workshop, or for more information about the corridor plan, call 952-891-7000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.