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Natural Environment

Land Use


Community Facilities

List of Tables:

Population Growth

1990 Population According to Age Group

1990 Education Levels


Land Use Table

Vacant Land Development Capacity

Age of Structures

Housing Mix

Owner Occupied Housing Values

Median Home Values

List of Maps:


Development Constraints

Existing Land Use and Development Constraints

Existing Land Use

Existing Zoning

Functional Classification

Sewer Map

Marine on St Croix Village Page

Contents of

Natural Environment of
Marine on St Croix

INTRODUCTION: Natural Environment

The following section describes Marine’s topography, soils, environmental constraints to development and vegetation. The Soil Survey of Washington and Ramsey Counties was the main source for data in this section. Where data had not changed since 1980, text was taken from Marine’s Comprehensive Plan completed in 1980.


The City is surrounded by a diverse landscape consisting of level areas, ravines, and varied slopes. The land formations are indicative of the natural environment along major rivers that are formed by the surface runoff process. Due to the watershed area and volume of surface drainage, numerous ravines and drainageways were formed in order to accommodate the natural drainage to the river. Consequently, the aging, intermittent streams resulted in linear land patterns with steep slopes. This surface drainage cutting action was also responsible for the terracing effect present throughout the Marine area.

The northwest area of Marine is especially characterized by numerous steep slopes and drainageways, many of which run in a general north-south direction, while the eastern area has basically level areas that are separated by topographic changes similar to terraces. In the western portion of the Marine, the level land is separated by a gradual slope that also adds to the terracing effect.

The elevated level areas in Marine have numerous depression areas that are surrounded by steep slopes, various drainage swales, depressions, and level areas.


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The City of Marine is located on a series of relatively narrow terraces of the Jordan, St. Lawrence, and Fraconia formations, which are covered by a relatively thin layer of surface mantle composed of alluvium and drift. This surface mantle varies in thickness from approximately 60 feet on high ground in the west edge of the City to a few feet on the low ground along the river.

Soil Suitability and Limitations for On-Site Sewage Disposal Systems

The City of Marine has several large areas with severe limitations for on-site septic systems. By reason of bedrock near the surface, steep slopes, wet or periodically flooded areas, or slow percolation rates, these soils have severe limitations for septic tank drainfields. These features can be seen on the Development Constraints Map.

1. Shallow Bedrock. Bedrock near the surface is encountered along the St. Croix River and TH 95, as indicated on the soils map, posing severe limitations for private septic tank systems. Soil treatment systems which are placed too close to fractured bedrock do not perform well in terms of treatment of sewage effluent. Under these conditions, sewage may move through the rock and enter wells without receiving sufficient filtration to remove the chemical and bacteriological contamination.

2. High Water Table. Water tables are another factor in determining septic tank suitability. The depth of the water table is the elevation at which the soil profile is totally saturated. If a septic tank treatment system is installed at this depth or deeper, no sewage effluent will be able to move into the ground area since the soil is already saturated. The sewage will then either back up in the residence or seep to the surface of the ground.

A band of wet soils runs from the northern boundary of the City through the center of the City. Other small areas of wetlands are scattered throughout the City. These soils are those that are periodically flooded or have a high water table. The flooding referred to is local ponding, which occurs after heavy rains and may persist for several weeks or longer during the Spring. Usually a soil that has flooding characteristics will also tend to have a high seasonal water table.

3. Steep Slopes. Steep slopes are present throughout Marine, especially along the St. Croix River, west of Highway 95, and in the northwestern sections of Marine. County ordinance prohibits the installation of a soil absorption system on land in excess of a 13 percent slope. Steep slopes present difficulties in residential layout and construction as well as increased risks of erosion, lateral seepage, and the down slope flow of effluent.


4. Drainage Limitations. Soils with slow percolation areas such as clay are found in the far western edge of Marine and in scattered areas in the southwest portions of the City. Slow percolation rates indicate soils that are too tight to adequately treat sewage effluent.

It should be pointed out that a great deal of the existing housing in the City is located in areas of high bedrock and water table and most of these properties are connected to the existing municipal sewer system. Locating septic drainage fields in areas of high bedrock and water table could lead to severe pollution and water contamination problems.

Marine’s sewer system is limited in capacity and extent in its current condition. Whenever possible, future development in Marine should rely on the City’s sewer system. When this is not possible, caution should be used in the placement of individual septic tanks and drainfields because Marine’s wells are susceptible to potential ground water pollution due to a shallow depth to bedrock and high water tables. Environmental constraints and a limited sewer system capacity will limit development in the City.

According to vacant land available and soils information, it appears the following areas are best suited for possible future development:

South of the platted area in Marine between TH 95 and County Road 7 (Nason Hill Road). A small portion of this area contains steep slopes.

West of the platted area in Marine, along both sides of the railroad, south of William O’Brien State Park. Jackson Meadows PUD is expected to consume 336 acres of this land within five years.


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After an examination of air photos, significant vegetative stands were found to exist throughout the City, especially in the north central and northwestern section of the City. There are also significant stands along the St. Croix River and in the far southern reaches of the City. This vegetation is composed mainly of elm, oak, willow, spruce, pine, and various evergreens and shrubs.



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The Lower St. Croix Management Commission is in the process of developing a draft Comprehensive Management Plan. The Commission is a planning team made up of the National Park Service, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Lower St. Croix Planning Task Force has proposed that land along the St. Croix River from the south end of William O’Brien State Park to the south end of Judd Street and east of Highway 95 in Marine be a Small Town Historic Management Area. This landscape is proposed to be fully developed, or mostly so, but almost exclusively single family residential and primarily historic in character. Proposed rules for this area include requirements for a minimum lot width of 100 feet and a maximum building height of 35 feet.

A Rural Residential Management Area designation has been proposed for land along the St. Croix River from Judd Street to the north limits of Stillwater. This landscape would provide a feeling of being on a river in a sparsely developed landscape. Proposed rules for this area include requirements for a minimum lot width of 200 feet and a maximum building height of 35 feet.


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Marine on St Croix

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Marine on St Croix Planning Commission
Fall, 1998

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