This is a watershed shared almost equally between Canada and the U.S., the majority of it being undeveloped and utilized for timber production, hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational opportunities. In 2014, Minnesota’s intensive watershed monitoring 10-year cycle began here and was completed in 2015. The MPCA and its partners monitored dozens of lakes and streams to assess water quality and compare it to state standards. Overall, water quality conditions are good to excellent and can be attributed to the forest and wetlands that dominate the land cover; any impairments (TSS, E coli and mercury in fish) are typically limited to the lower reaches where stressors from land use practices may accumulate. Historical and recent forest cover changes, along with urban/industrial development, and draining of wetlands are likely stressors affecting biological communities within the watershed. Next up for this watershed is the Stressor ID Report, due in March 2019, and the WRAPS Report, due in December 2020. For an overview of work being done in this watershed and to access the full monitoring and assessment report, go to:
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/watersheds/rainy-river-headwaters.

Photo Credit: P. Weber