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Pigs Eye Lake Island Building Project
Pigs Eye Lake is located in Battle Creek Regional Park. In 2012, Ramsey County Parks & Recreation staff reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Saint Paul District, to identify a need for environmental restoration within Pigs Eye Lake. The combination of low-quality habitat and the abundant wildlife suggests that habitat improvement could help the local ecosystem significantly.
In 2015, funding became available for a feasibility study and work began to identify the project scope, objectives, coordination, stakeholders and process for developing the feasibility study with an integrated Environmental Assessment.
The Corps, in close collaboration with Parks & Recreation, has completed the feasibility study on constructing habitat enhancements in Pigs Eye Lake. The project will enhance and restore backwater habitat by creating island and wetland features. Project features include seven islands, sand benches, marsh habitat and land plantings. These will improve aquatic and land habitat as well as maintaining the shoreline of Pigs Eye Lake. This project will also allow us to utilize dredged material from the Mississippi in an environmentally beneficial way. Dredged material will be tested by MPCA standards and will only be used if it passes analysis.
A separate, focused Pigs Eye master plan will address phased natural resource improvements for the island building project, other natural resource activities and public protection for the Ramsey County section of Pigs Eye Lake.
- Improve aquatic habitat – Create depth and habitat diversity in Pigs Eye Lake. Increase acreage of aquatic vegetation. Incorporate structural habitat features to promote fisheries.
- Improve the quantity and quality of habitat for migratory bird species – Create suitable habitat for migratory birds such as dabbling ducks within Pigs Eye Lake.
- Maintain or enhance the quantity of shoreline habitat – Protect existing floodplain forest and marsh habitat along the shoreline of Pigs Eye Lake from wind and wave erosion.
The total estimated project cost is $15.6 million. The Corps' Operation and Maintenance budget would provide $3.2 million toward the project. The remaining $12.4 million would be cost-shared by the Section 204 program ($8.1 million) and the local sponsor, Ramsey County ($4.3 million). Parks & Recreation was awarded the $4.3 million from the Lessard-Sam’s Outdoor Heritage Council during the 2019 legislative session.
- Feasibility study – 2015 - 2018.
- Final design – fall 2019 - 2020.
- Project construction start – June 2022.
- 2022 (Summer/Fall)
- Island construction with placement of initial island base material (granular fill) and supporting island features.
- Settling period for island base material installed.
- Place additional granular fill, if needed.
- Complete topsoil (fine fill), rip rap (rock) for erosion control, seeding and willow planting.
- Start native vegetation establishment if time allows.
- Complete native vegetation establishment.
- Start 10-year island monitoring process.
Construction activities for the island building project started June 2022 and will continue through 2025.
Currently, the contractor is at 25% complete as of September 10 and plans to be complete with the first construction phase by December 2. The first construction phase for the islands is placement of island base material and supporting island features. The contractor is constructing islands from north to south in the lake.
The project feasibility report was made available for public review and was open for comment from March 2018 through April 2018.
Public coordination was conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with National Environmental Policy Act requirements and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Ramsey County published and requested comment concurrently as part of Minnesota Environmental Policy Act requirements and the project was published in the Minnesota EQB Monitor.
The project team completed a feasibility study. The 30-day public comment period ended on April 12, 2018, and the feasibility study integrated Environmental Assessment Worksheet Record of Decision was finalized in accordance with the Minnesota Environmental Protection Agency and the National Environmental Policy Act. All comments received from the public comment period were included within the finalized Feasibility Study EAW Record of Decision.
There was extensive agency coordination and support from subject matter experts, consisting of local, state and federal agencies that had direct involvement in the development and approval of this feasibility study, including:
- Ramsey County.
- City of Saint Paul.
- Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District.
- Metropolitan Council.
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
- Minnesota Department of Transportation.
- Army Corps of Engineers.
- National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
The National Park Service, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and Friends of the Mississippi River submitted supporting letters for the project and are included in the master plan appendix.
Additional outreach was conducted with a virtual community meeting for the Pigs Eye Lake master plan amendment on September 17, 2020, during which questions and concerns from the public were addressed.
The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners and United States Army Corps of Engineers approved a Project Partner Agreement in June 2019 to move into the next phase of the project for final design and construction.
Frequently asked questions
Additional island building resources
Resource information on island building is available through:
- Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Design Handbook (PDF), Ch. 9.
- Island Building Overview (PDF).
- Island Construction Overview (PDF).
Additional project-related documents are available upon request. Email Parks & Recreation.