U.S. Water News Online
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The Mall of America got the most
unlikely eco-neighbor recently -- a stocking of rare native trout.
A previously unknown trout stream -- with headwaters just 800 feet
from Bloomingdale's at MOA -- was stocked by the Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources with 1,450 ecologically sensitive brook trout.
About two dozen volunteers carried 2-inch trout in pails from a
special truck and gently released them into the chilly stream, which
gurgles out of the ground near Old Shakopee Road and travels
eight-tenths of a mile to the Minnesota River.
While jets roared overhead, the volunteers -- many of whom helped
clean up and study the creek -- expressed amazement that a cold
stream could still exist in an urban jungle.
"To be able to rehab a trout stream in a metro area is a big
deal," said Josh Tierney, a teacher at Groves Academy, a St. Louis
Park school that surveyed plants in and near the stream. "And trout
fishing is a big deal to me."
The creek officially has no name, but it's popularly called Ike's
Creek after the Izaak Walton League conservation group that raised
fish in nearby ponds in the early 1900s.
The city of Bloomington and a handful of private landowners own
the creek's upper half. The lower half is part of the Minnesota
Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Two years ago, refuge biologist Vicki Sherry was surveying the
creek when she noticed the water was unusually cold and saw
watercress -- a plant that thrives only in cold, clean water --
Students at nearby Trinity School at River Ridge had collected
stream water data for years, and when fisheries experts looked at the
data and tested the stream, they were startled to find it pristine
enough to support trout. One thing that spared the stream was
Bloomington's decision to direct its stormwater pipes away from the
deep, tree-lined ravine.
The creek is fed year-round by 60-degree groundwater from
limestone aquifers. It begins as a trickle, but widens to about 15
feet with small riffles and pools.
Historical documents show it supported 6- to 10-inch brook trout
until the 1940s, but they disappeared for unknown reasons.
Brian Nerbonne, the DNR's stream habitat specialist, said it is
one of only 12 viable trout streams remaining in the seven-county
"It's my job to protect these streams from being lost to
development," he said. "It's the first time I've been able to
re-create one. It's a pretty exciting."
The stream is not open to public fishing, but the lower portion in
the wildlife refuge is open to the public. The stream was stocked
with "heritage" brook trout, a species native to Minnesota since the
last ice age. They should reach 8 inches in about two years. It is
unknown whether the stream will ever be open to fishing.
Employees of nearby Cypress Semiconductor have picked up trash
along the banks, while the Twin Cities chapter of Trout Unlimited
plans additional improvements to the fish habitat.
The next step is to officially designate the creek as a trout
stream, which means further development restrictions. DNR and
Bloomington officials are hopeful they can reach an agreement.
"I think those issues with designation are not insurmountable,"
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