Environmentally Friendly Design – Eden Prairie Wake UP

There are few things that really get to me when it comes to nature. I’m not one to be up in arms about trees being cut down because of how old they are, or to get outraged about de-forestation in third world countries. I see the working of market economics in these situations and can understand them enough to ease my concern.

However when we design and put something into nature that inhibits the natural order of things, when it’s meant to be in a recreation area, I get upset. This happened tonight when my wife and I were walking through the few years old Purgatory Creek Recreation Area in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

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Within Eden Prairie this park rests right next to our downtown district. Currently one of the major features of this recreation area is a bridge dedicated to our late Mayor Jean Harris (info here, here). It’s called the Gathering Bridge and has artfully pulled together many of her deep held beliefs about life, and community. It’s a nice looking bridge, so much so that Jordan and I walked out to it hoping to catch the sun through a fountain in the center of the lake.

Instead we saw a lot of fish caught, dead, and/or dying.

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I am so upset because these fish, and this mistake, was made out of a lack of understanding/research into the destination of the bridge, and plain stupid design. There were easily in excess of 30 fish caught next to the cement wall put in place to create the lake, and countless more just beyond the rocks swimming around. On top of this there were at least a half dozen dead and rotting fish laying, trapped, on the rocks nearby.

These fish are obviously doing an annual migration upstream until they hit this wall that they aren’t able to jump over. The fish do try (my camera phone didn’t click fast enough to catch it) and fall back into the pool beneath or onto the rocks to die and rot.

All of this could have easily been avoided if Eden Prairie would have chosen a smart design with a tiered system that would have allowed the fish to jump up a succession of stages to reach the newly created upper lake. They could have worked with nature, rather they imposed themselves upon nature in an area designed for us to interact with nature.

I’m afraid that our imposition is just another instance of almost good design. I hope that the city will rise up and do something to affect change to fix this flawed design of an otherwise beautiful tribute to our late mayor.

If anyone knows someone who can affect and cause change to help this please let me know. I’ll keep my eyes open in the local news here for information.