Cold Spring Fen Habitat Restoration

This project is situated on a 70-acre parcel of land located on the Sauk River, a 122-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi River in central Minnesota. A conservation easement was secured in 2019 with an effort to restore the area back to its natural habitat and protect it from future development threats.

The restoration site has groundwater springs with fen-like characteristics, a rare wetland type, that have specific plants due to the unique water chemistry. Groundwater was found seeping out of the hillside in multiple locations. In addition, agricultural practices and conversion of the floodplain have resulted in the loss of its natural undulation resulting in untreated water flowing directly back into the Sauk River.

The Minnesota Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, the Sauk River Watershed District, Stearns County SWCD, and the Minnesota DNR  worked together to create a plan to divert water back to this unique spring area from a drainage ditch that was negatively impacting the springs. The second phase of the project will focus on peat floodplain restoration. The creation of natural swales, pathways, and depressions will help store water and reduce pollution. These wetland restoration activities treat the water as it makes its way back to the Sauk River.

* Project supports voluntary transactions to change, reduce or stop water use – either temporarily or permanently – to protect or restore water for environmental benefit


Southside Township, MN

Start Up Date:


Project Benefits:

Environmental Flow Restoration & Protection

Groundwater Conservation & Replenishment

Water Quality Improvement

Project Type:

Flow Restoration Transaction *


Fully Funded