This is a watershed that is entirely within the U.S. Vast tracts of forests and wetlands, along with limited development pressure have helped sustain the Little Fork River Watershed as a high quality aquatic resource. However, nonpoint source pollution contributes to excess levels of turbidity (i.e., sedimentation) throughout. Increased runoff from the land and impacts to the stream channel from historical logging in the 1890s through 1937 are thought to be contributing to the current erosion of riverbanks and excessive stream turbidity. The eutrophication and dissolved oxygen issues could be related to human development in the watersheds of the impaired lakes, and in some cases may be natural background conditions.  The protection of these surface waters is critical for sustaining the local economy, natural heritage and character of this unique watershed. MPCA has worked for many years in the Little Fork River Watershed and has cooperated in several studies with other agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey, MN DNR, International Joint Commission, and others in an effort to understand this complex system. In the fall of 2011, the MPCA completed the monitoring and assessment of the Little Fork Watershed and results indicated several stream reaches with sediment problems. TMDL work for sediment reduction was done, followed by the final WRAPS report with restoration and protection strategies, both issued in November 2017.

Overall, scientists have observed little to no change in water quality within the Little Fork River
Watershed over the past decade. High levels of turbidity and total suspended solids (TSS) on some
sections of the Little Fork River and its tributaries such as the Sturgeon River continue to be a
concern. The US Geological Survey, MPCA, and Koochiching and North St. Louis County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) partners are currently working on a sediment fingerprinting study to understand the in-stream and
watershed sources of sediment and their delivery dynamics to the Little Fork River and
downstream waters shared with Canada.

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