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Tackling erosion cycle

Plumes of sediment build up along the Cannon Valley Trail in a photo from last August. Without a fix, sediment will continue to pile up after each storm and threaten to pollute the Cannon River. Photo taken by Dale Grove, Stantec Consulting Services.

With spring showers approaching, a coalition has formed to look into repairing an erosion problem that for years has dumped piles of sand onto the Cannon Valley Trail.

The city of Red Wing, Goodhue County and the Cannon Valley Trail Joint Powers Board plan to split a $7,500 fee to hire Stantec Consulting Services to outline repair options for the trail.

The trail board pledged its $2,500 share in February and was joined by the city after Red Wing City Council voted to contribute to the plan on March 25. All that remains is for Goodhue County Board to vote whether to pledge money at a meeting Tuesday.

The plan calls for Stantec to survey the area, come up with possible solutions and research funding sources for the project, according to a City Council agenda report.

There are four troublesome spots on the trail, located between mile markers 16 and 18 about a mile east of Highway 61.

"These washout areas have been an issue for over 15 years," trail Manager Scott Roepke said.

After it rains, sediment from nearby hillsides washes down a ravine and onto the trail, said Roepke, adding that heavy rainfall in recent years has worsened the problem to the point where even a minor storm causes buildup.

Currently the trail board sends tractors on a 40-minute drive to the deposits where they spend upwards of an hour clearing the trail before driving 40 minutes back, Roepke said. Eventually the sediment piles up high enough that contractors need to be called to haul it off.

"It's just not feasible to keep going the way we're going," he said.

Roepke said momentum to find a permanent fix to the problem is growing now that Red Wing and Goodhue County have shown interest in the project.

"I thought this would be a good cost-sharing measure," said Red Wing City Engineer Jay Owens, who was behind the idea to split the cost of the study three ways.

The first step to fixing the erosion problem is to conduct a professional study, Owens said. "Getting some expertise could then allow us to go after funding."

Owens said sediment is not only a concern for the trail, but it also risks creating an environmental problem if it reaches the nearby Cannon River.

Sediment pollution in rivers can damage dams and reservoirs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Stantec, founded in 1954, provides engineering and environmental science consulting, according to the company's website. The firm has offices in 190 locations around North America, including one in St. Paul.

Roepke said he is not sure what will be needed to fix the erosion problem, but suggested clearing out some of the ravine and adding vegetation and a retention pond as a possibility.

"The hillsides are sand-based and not easy to stabilize," Roepke said. "That's why we're looking to professionals."

The Goodhue County Board is expected to vote on contributing to the plan 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Government Center in Red Wing.

Trail passes go on sale

Wheel passes for the Cannon Valley Trail 2013 season go on sale for $25 starting April 1.

A wheel pass is required for anyone 18 and older to ride a bike, in-line skates, skateboard or other wheeled recreational devices on the trial.

Season passes are good from April 1 to November 1. Daily wheel passes are also available for $4.

Passes are available at the trail office and local merchants. For a full list of merchants. visit

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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