Brown’s Creek Watershed District sets it sights on 2020

Community festival on Saturday, Sept. 14, 10am-1pm at Brown’s Creek Park in Stillwater

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, Brown’s Creek Watershed District (BCWD) held a public meeting to review the district’s proposed 2020 budget and levy. The watershed district manages water resources within 30 square miles of Stillwater and surrounding communities, including Brown’s Creek, Long Lake, and several dozen lakes in the Grant and Withrow area. Next year, BCWD plans to complete around $1.1 million in capital improvement projects, which will include three stormwater reuse projects, buffer and stream restoration along Brown’s Creek, and a mini-grant program for private landowners. The district will also continue to monitor water quality in Brown’s Creek and 17 area lakes.

Brown’s Creek Watershed District was established in 2007 in response to major flooding in the central region of the watershed. It is governed by five board members, appointed by Washington County commissioners, and levies property taxes similar to a school district. Over the past 22 years, BCWD has worked to protect homes and businesses against flooding, improve water quality in district lakes, and restore Brown’s Creek so that the stream can support trout and other coldwater fish.

Brown’s Creek is a designated trout stream and a signature resource within the watershed district. The old stone arch bridge was part of the historic Military Road that once ran through Minnesota.

In addition to its property tax levy, Brown’s Creek Watershed District has garnered over $1.76 million in state grant funding since 2010. These grants, made possible through Minnesota’s Clean Water and Legacy program, have helped to support several high-profile steam-improvement projects in Stillwater. The district also works in partnership with private landowners such as the Oak Glen Golf Course, Stillwater Country Club, and Countryside Repair to complete clean water projects.

In 2017, the watershed district worked with Washington County to purchase a 13-acre parcel of land along 110th St in Grant, which includes 2.4 acres of wetlands and a portion of Brown’s Creek. Last year, the district began a partnership with nonprofit Great River Greening to restore prairie, woods and wetlands within this new Brown’s Creek Conservation Area. No trails or facilities are planned for the area, but photos from a trail camera stationed on the property show that it is a hot-spot for wildlife. Turkeys, deer and even fox are frequently spotted running through the fields and foraging in the woods.

Deer pic from trail camera at 110th st property
These deer are some of the many animals photographed by the trail camera at the Brown’s Creek Conservation Area.

The watershed district has also begun to focus on stormwater reuse as a strategy to reduce runoff pollution, while also conserving groundwater resources. The district is currently exploring reuse projects that would allow rainwater to be collected and used for irrigation at Oak Glen Golf Course, Stillwater Country Club, and near the intersection of Hwy 36 and Manning Ave.. In addition, they hope to work with local residents to install SMART irrigation controllers that prevent sprinklers from going on in the rain or when the ground is already wet.

This Saturday, Brown’s Creek Watershed District will hold its annual community event from 10am-1pm at Brown’s Creek Park in Stillwater. The free festival will be in the park near the Brown’s Creek Trail and will feature a variety of family-friendly activities including live music, bee themed arts and crafts, a raptor demonstration, games and prizes, and live snakes, frogs, turtles, fish and aquatic invertebrates from the Brown’s Creek watershed. There will also be free ice cream.

To learn more about the Brown’s Creek Watershed District, go to or stop by the festival this Saturday.

Stop by Saturday and BCWD board member Craig Leiser may scoop you some ice cream.