Description of the Valley Creek Watershed (Minnesota Land Trust)
The Valley Creek watershed is located on the eastern edge of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area and covers approximately 65 square miles. The watershed includes at least portions of several growing communities such as Woodbury, Oakdale, Lake Elmo, and Afton. Valley Creek itself flows through Washington County from Woodbury a distance of ten miles to Afton, where it empties into the St. Croix River.
The Land Trust’s second easement back in 1994 was on Valley Creek, considered one of the finer trout streams in the state with naturally reproducing trout populations.
Over the years, we’ve protected ten properties totaling nearly a thousand acres, and over 20,000 feet of shoreline, creating an even larger area of conserved habitat and protected scenic views and ensuring a much brighter future for the fragile Valley Creek watershed.
The Minnesota County Biological Survey for Washington County has identified original vegetation of the area to consist of brushland (oak openings and barrens), Big Woods, and prairie. Pockets of this original vegetation, as well as concentrations of rare plants and animals are found in and near Valley Creek, Belwin, and Lake Edith.
Valley Creek is one of the best trout-producing streams in Minnesota and may in fact be in the top ten percent of trout streams in the world. Brown, brook, and rainbow trout all are found in Valley Creek. This outstanding quality has led the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to list Valley Creek as a state-designated trout stream along its perennial reaches – a stretch of 4.3 miles.
Valley Creek is home to more than 20 endangered, threatened, and special concern species, including the American brook lamprey, the hooded warbler, and Blanding’s turtle. The exceptional habitat value of Valley Creek also is identified in Minnesota’s State Wildlife Action Plan (Tomorrow’s Habitat for the Wild and Rare. 2006. State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources), which identifies Valley Creek as a “Key River Reach.”
Valley Creek lies within the St. Paul Baldwin Plains and Moraines ecological subsection. This subsection contains 149 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), the second highest total number in all 25 subsections in the state. Additionally, the township containing Valley Creek has one of the highest numbers of SGCN within the St. Paul Baldwin Plains and Moraines subsection.
The Minnesota Land Trust, Belwin Conservancy, Washington County Land & Water Legacy Program, Trout Unlimited, and the Valley Branch Watershed District have determined that forming a partnership is the best way to leverage the expertise and capacity of each organization to effectively and efficiently address the conservation needs and opportunities in the Valley Creek Watershed.