The Vermilion Watershed is entirely within the U.S. – it is 662,427 acres in size, contains 565 lakes and 84,333 acres of wetlands and includes a portion of the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The BWCAW is roadless, undeveloped country that is interconnected with lakes, rivers and portages. Lake Vermilion itself is a unique lake, covering 39,271 acres and containing 365 islands. Its lakeshore features many cabins, homes, resorts and a casino. Recreation tourism is a prime economic driver; others include the forest industry, mining, and some farming. The Vermilion River flows north from Lake Vermilion through remote forested country to Crane Lake, which abuts Voyageurs National Park, and then drains into the park and Sand Point Lake (a border water with Canada). There are no large cities in this remote watershed; total watershed population is 14,423, or 14 people per square mile.
In 2015, the state’s intensive watershed monitoring kicked off the first two years of the 10-year WRAPS cycle in this watershed. Overall, the Vermilion Watershed is in good shape with very few impairments. The Monitoring and Assessment report came out in July 2018 and the Stressor ID report was finalized in April 2019. The WRAPS report is due out in December of 2020. For more information, please go to: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/watersheds/vermilion-river and https://www.nslswcd.org/project_post/water-quality-testing/