Researchers studying restoration at Mission Creek using new dye technique

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Mission Creek needed some major restoration work after the flood of 2012.

The DNR lead the way, and finished the project in 2018.

Now, in 2023, UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute is doing a Stream Restoration Assessment Project, and that includes putting dye into Mission Creek.

“So the dye starts out blue. And as it goes down into the bed of the stream where the microbes have used up all the oxygen, then it’s going to turn red and it stays red. So we can tell how much that water is able to get down into the stream bed across this 100 meter reach by measuring the ratio of blue to red color at the bottom of the reach,” Valerie Brady explained. She’s an Aquatic Ecologist for NRRI.

“We’re looking at how well these restoration treatments, especially these big what we call the big re-meandering treatments, work for trout. This technique is about using a dye to see how well the stream is connecting to its official groundwater,” Brady added.

Groundwater helps keep the stream cool, and that’s important for trout that live there.

As far as they know, it’s the first time the dye method has been used in the Midwest for this.

They’ll be out again Tuesday and using the dye in another portion of the creek that has not been restored.

Brady said they anticipate having good data by the end of the month. And the goal is to have research compiled and analyzed on this project by next year.

Funding is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.