Restoring the River Together

Water control structure on stream by USFWS

With increasing flood events and erosion, aquatic plants have disappeared, leaving flooded and degraded habitat.  Water control structures (pictured above) will help manage flow.


Bass Ponds, Marsh and Wetland Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project

The National Wildlife Refuge system works with others to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and restore habitats for future generations through restoration projects, such as this wetland restoration collaboration.  

This project will help to lower high water levels through the installation of culverts and water control structures. These structures will provide the ability to adjust water levels to help plants grow and create quality feeding and resting habitat for waterfowl. Learn more by visiting the Army Corps of Engineers website for the project.

Construction scheduled for completion by 2022. 

Why Are We Doing Restoration Work?

With increasing flood events and erosion, aquatic plants have disappeared, leaving flooded and degraded habitat.  Water control structures (pictured above) will help manage flow. 

This project will help to lower high water levels through the installation of culverts and water control structures. These structures will provide the ability to adjust water levels to help plants grow and create quality feeding and resting habitat for waterfowl. 

What work will be completed?

Two thousand acres of quality feeding and resting habitat for waterfowl will be restored across three lakes and one marsh by installing water level management features and earthen plugs to control water levels. 

Where will restoration happen?

Restoration work will include Blue, Fisher, and Rice Lakes within the Wilkie Unit near the cities of Shakopee and Savage, MN. Temporary or partial closures could impact Minnesota River Trail and other access points.  Closures will be posted on our Facebook Page and Trail Report web page as they occur.

How is the work funded?

The Bass Ponds, Marsh and Wetland Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project is federally-funded through the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program, which has built over 50 ecosystem restoration projects in the last 30 years.

Scheduled Closures Will Occur

Beginning December 28, 2020, the Minnesota State Trail ("Old 18 Road") will be closed to all public access at the Highway 169 bridge underpass. This closure will continue through late May 2021 to allow contractors to operate heavy equipment and cranes safely. Pedestrians and cyclists will not be able to connect from the Wilkie trailhead parking to the Bloomington Ferry bridge. Do not enter closed areas.  We apologize for the inconvenience of this closure, and cooperation from the public in obeying the closure will help the project stay on schedule.

How Can You Help?

Public safety is our primary concern during this project, so we ask that people avoid entering the project area until after the work is completed. We will do everything we can so people can return to exploring the lands as soon as possible. Please do not trespass on private land or enter areas closed to public access. 

If you have questions about the project, please contact Eric Mruz, Deputy Refuge Manager, at 612-590-8073 or by email at Eric_Mruz@fws.gov.

Read more about the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge's 2018 Habitat Management Plan by clicking here (pdf file).