Rice Creek Watershed Assessment

Paul T. Jackson – Associate Professor

Research Students:
Christina Herron-Sweet

Rice Creek, known locally as Spring Brook, is the only coldwater trout fishery in Rice County. It supports naturally reproducing brook trout, an increasingly rare species because of their sensitivity to pollution and competition from introduced brown trout. Our resource investigation study, in cooperation with Bridgewater Township and the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, will evaluate the current ecological health of the stream by conducting biological and habitat assessments, studying food web structure and interactions, collecting macroinvertebrates and fish, monitoring stream flow and water quality, profiling stream temperature, and identifying groundwater sources.  The creek is approximately 7 miles in length; however, the eastern 1.3 miles are designated as trout stream with much of the remainder an agricultural drainage ditch.  The Rice Creek watershed is approximately 4,130 acres and currently impaired for E. coli bacteria, nitrates, and turbidity. The dominant land use within this watershed is agriculture (84%); however, lower portions are within annexation zones of the cities of Northfield and Dundas.  It is likely that development pressures will increase in the next decade posing a threat to this unique biological community. Information gained in this study will provide a valuable baseline before development or for restoration activities and will help guide these activities to improve and protect the future ecological health of Rice Creek.