Latest update: On August 19, 2010, the Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners made a Negative Declaration of the Need for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail in the City of Edina. The Negative Declaration indicates the Board of Commissioners’ position that the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail in the City of Edina does not have the potential for significant environmental effects. This declaration is based upon Minnesota Rules, Section 4410.1700 Subparagraph 7 criteria for determining whether a project has the potential for significant environmental effects as well as the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW), the written comments and responses to comments regarding the EAW, and the findings of fact.
Below is a summary of the Nine Mile Creek Trail Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW), which is a standard template to assess the environmental impact of a new trail or road.
The worksheet documents a creek environment that has already been impacted by human settlement over the last 100 years, leading to replacement of native plants and grasses by invasive non-native species. Water quality is impaired by runoff of lawn chemicals and road salt. In spite of these insults, a large and varied wildlife population is thriving, indicating their resilience and ability to adapt to their changing environment.
Nothing in the report indicates that the trail project will have any greater impact than that which our urban environment has already inflicted.
EAW Introduction and Background
- This project originated with a request by the Edina City Council to the Nine Mile Creek Watershed and the Three Rivers Park District (TRPD) for creek restoration and a multiuse trail to be constructed as much as possible on Edina public land along the creek. (see City Council meeting Oct 21,2008)
- No environmental study is required for this project. The EAW was undertaken by TRPD voluntarily.
- In this and other documents, confusion may arise as some of the trail is located in Hopkins and Minnetonka. Care must be taken to verify that the parameters being discussed describe the Edina segment only, not the entire trail project. Likewise, some measurements of the Edina trail include all segments, both on road and along the creek. Not all segments will be constructed. Close reading of the document is important.
- The total trail length will be 14 miles, with 7 miles being located in Edina. The trail will be 10 feet wide, bituminous, with two 3 foot grass safety zones. (page 3 and 4)
- TRPD will be responsible for any wetland mitigation. (page 4)
- TRPD will be responsible for all operations and maintenance. (page 5)
- 50% of users are expected to come from within .75 miles of the trail. Trail users are predominantly from the nearby community. (page 6)
- The trail will connect to the Minnesota River Bluffs Regional in Hopkins and the Intercity Regional Trail in Richfield. These trails will in turn connect to the Grand Rounds Trail System. (page 6)
- The trail is consistent with the findings of the Park Needs Assessment Survey completed by the City of Edina in 2006. 84% of households reported a need for walking and biking trails. (page 6)
- Creek based routes allow access to public land that is at present inaccessible. (page 7)
- Recreational users make up 88% of TRPD trail users, and research shows they prefer routes that offer high quality experiences and are a destination in themselves. They prefer trails through natural areas without traffic conflicts and road crossings. (page 7)
- Metropolitan Council 2005 land use data: Potential trail segments are located within the public right of way and land classified as: Park, Recreational or Preserve; Golf Course; Institutional; and Office. (page 10)
EAW Environmental Summary
- “No present land use conflicts that involve environmental matters have been identified..” (page 10)
- Some potential environmental hazards were identified- a Superfund site near segment 3, an abandoned dump near segment 5D/E, several leaking underground storage tanks, 28 small hazardous waste generators. (page 10)
- The entire 14 mile trail will result in conversion of 4.76 acres of woodland, .79 acres of brush, and 2.58 acres of wetland to trail and landscaping. (page 17)
- Wildlife habitat in this area results from past land use changes. The area is heavily urbanized and wildlife species are already introduced to human activities. (page 17)
- Wetland habitat in this area consists of non-native invasive species- cattails and Reed canary grass. They have aggressively replaced native species. It provides habitat for many wildlife species. (page 17)
- In most cases wildlife is tolerant of human activity and challenging water quality, with ecological use class C and D. (page 18)
- Woodland areas are mostly comprised of non-native invasive species, European buckthorn, Cottonwood, Box elder, and some Elm species. (page 19 and 20)
- No endangered species, rare plant communities, or other sensitive ecological resources have been documented on or near the conceptual trail alignment segments. (page 22)
- The following species have been known to occur within a one-mile radius of the proposed project alignment:
- Two Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii)
- One Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrines)
- One Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
- One Forester’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)
- The Blanding’s Turtle and Peregrine Falcon are considered a Threatened Species in the state of Minnesota and the Common Moorhen and the Forester’s Tern are considered Special Concern Species within the state. The Peregrine Falcon, Common Moorhead, and Forester’s Tern are not anticipated to be impacted by the project. Any impacted Blanding’s turtles can be safely moved out of the way during construction. (page 22)
- Wetland impact: an at grade trail could impact 2.9 acres of wetland, which represents 2.7% of the wetlands in the project area, and 0.4% of the wetlands in the City (total wetlands in City: 695.91 acres). If raised boardwalk is used, no impact will occur per the WCA, DNR, and Army Corps of Engineers rules. (page 25)
- If creek based routes are selected, the trail will be constructed in conjunction with creek restoration in order to lessen construction impacts. (page 25)
- Trails are a permitted use in a flood plain and within the Nine Mile Creek Watershed within 50 feet of the center line of the creek. (page 28)
- Nine Mile Creek is listed on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s impaired waters list. (page 33)
- The Nine Mile Creek Trail is consistent with the Metropolitan Council’s Regional Parks Policy Plan, The City of Edina’s Comprehensive Plan, and has approved resolutions of support in place for all cities along its route. (page 43)
- TRPD police will provide daily patrol of the trail. (page 46)
For more information please see the full document: