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Sarita Wetland Restoration

Suzanne Savanick, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, ssavanic@carleton.edu. Based on a Water Quality class taught by Jim Perry, University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Sustainable Campus Initiative, coordinated by Suzanne Savanick.
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


The Sarita Wetland restoration on the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus is used as teaching tools by numerous classes. Students, staff and faculty have collaborated on the planning and implementation of the project. This example highlights the restoration process, and specifically references one of the classes, the Water Quality class.

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Learning Goals

The Sarita Wetland is the remnant of former Lake Sarita that was drained in the early 1900's. The goal of the entire project is to improve water quality and wildlife habitat and use the wetland area for education and research. When the vision is fully achieved, there will be:

  1. An urban stream with a variety of in-stream habitats
  2. a riparian wooded zone consisting of native vegetation and experimental species
  3. A small, upstream holding pond which reduces sediment loading and water level fluctuations
  4. A bottomland forest with demonstration plantings
  5. An access trail surrounding the entire complex with educational signage
  6. A restored wetland and associated upland area that represent urban best management practices.
University of Minnesota students will be involved in all stages of the project. This project will also complement the University's storm water management plan that is required by Environmental Protection.

Each course used the wetland in the context of the course goals and objectives.

Context for Use

In 2000, the Sustainable Campus Initiative was initiated to develop ways to use the campus in teaching. The Sarita wetland was one of the initiative's major projects.

In 2005, the University built a forebay to protect the wetland from excessive storm water bounce. The project became part of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System(NPDES) Phase II Storm Water Management Plan that the University submitted.

Students were involved in planning the wetland restoration and developing storm water plans for the campus through a Water Quality class. Other classes, such as Landscape Architecture and Habitats and Regulation of Wildlife, also used the wetland restoration problem as a major class exercize. From 2000 to 2004, numerous courses, independent studies, and two master's thesis were completed involving aspects of the wetland.

Teaching Materials

Sustainable Campus Initiative Website

Water Quality Class Syllabus 2004 (Microsoft Word PRIVATE FILE 68kB Aug4 05)

Water Quality Class Syllabus 2005 (Microsoft Word PRIVATE FILE 51kB Aug4 05)

Teaching Notes and Tips


References and Resources

The Sustainable Campus Initiative website includes a description of the project, resources, and student projects.

Savanick, Suzanne Spring 2001. "Campus Watershed Projects Abound" National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Connection Newsletter . Vol 12. Issue 1. This article highlights the University of Minnesota project, but also lists numerous wetland and watershed projects throughout the United States.

Savanick, Suzanne and Jim Perry, University of Minnesota Sustainable Campus Initiative in Koester, Robert (ed.), Moving to the Mainstream: Greening of the Campus 4 Conference Proceedings Vol. IV, Ball State, Indiana, 20-22 Sept 2001.

Savanick, Suzanne. 2004. "Bridging the Gap Between Sustainability Efforts and Urban Ecology" Doctoral Dissertation. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.