Little Niagara Creek restoration to begin at UW-Eau ClaireJuly 30, 2012
Creek on UW-Eau Claire campus the target of restoration project
UW-Eau Claire's Little Niagara Creek being restored to its natural beauty
The two- to three-week restoration project will include removing silt and sediment from the stream bed, restoring eroded soil banks that have slumped into the stream, removing invasive plant species, and fortifying the new banks with rock and finally soil with a native seed mixture. The project also will include providing natural stone stream access areas to UW-Eau Claire students and faculty for stream-based study.
Lynn Peterson, UW-Eau Claire assistant director for operations in Facilities Management, is the university's liaison with the WDNR on the project. Peterson met with science faculty members, campus sustainability fellow Dr. James Boulter and 2011-12 student body president Phil Rynish over the past year to gather input for determining the goals of the restoration project and how Little Niagara Creek might be better accessed for student classes and research projects.
Some of the goals established during the campus meetings included "unshackling" the stream by removing culverts, which are being replaced with bridges as part of the new Davies Center construction project; increasing the diversity of native plants in and along the creek; and developing a maintenance plan to protect stream banks from soil erosion, maintain native plant diversity and remove and control invasive plant species over the long term.
Once multiple ongoing campus facilities projects — including the construction of the new Education Building and W.R. Davies Student Center and the demolition of the old W.R. Davies University Center — are completed and a new Central Campus Mall and amphitheater are developed on the site of the old Davies Center, Little Niagara will become a focal point on campus, Peterson said.
"This restoration will showcase the natural beauty of the Little Niagara," Peterson said. "The stream will be narrowed to keep the water flowing faster, and that will help reduce sedimentation. Large slabs of rocks will be added in strategic locations for easier class and student access points and to change stream environments for biological and stream study."
Boulter noted that aspects of the new campus mall development and Davies Student Center construction projects also will favorably impact Little Niagara Creek.
"I'm pleased that the new campus mall development will divert storm water flow away from Little Niagara and that runoff from the new Davies Student Center will be reduced by the incorporation of a green roof terrace," Boulter said. "These efforts complement the creek restoration efforts led by our Facilities Management personnel, contributing to Little Niagara Creek becoming a thriving ecosystem and naturalistic centerpiece of 'Wisconsin's most beautiful campus.'"
The creek restoration project cost of just over $125,300 is being paid for with UW-Eau Claire Facilities Management funds.