The Lake of the Woods lies on the border between the U.S. and Canada and is situated in the Laurentian Mixed Forest Ecological Province of Northern Minnesota. This watershed is 734,783 acres in size. Approximately 65 percent of the land in the subbasin is held by private landowners. There are 309 farms of varying size in the watershed; 31 percent of the operations are less than 180 acres, 45 percent are 180 to 1,000 acres, and the rest are larger than 1,000 acres.
The main resource concerns in the watershed are management of excessive wetness, wetland and woodland management, and the short growing season. Additional concerns include pasture management and surface water quality. As with many areas of northern Minnesota, principal industries include forest product harvesting, forest product manufacturing, farming, and tourism. Like its adjacent neighbors, Lake of the Woods is characterized by extensive wetlands located on the Glacial Lake Agassiz lake bed. This once glaciated area is part of the Agassiz Lowlands Region. Soils in this HUC are generally sandy loams, with considerable deposits of glacial till and outwash over a bedrock residuum. Average elevation in the watershed is 1,126 feet, with the highest values being in the southern portions of the watershed, while the lowest are found across the northern regions, dominated by peat lands and open water. Precipitation in the watershed ranges between 21 and 25 inches annually. Most land within this watershed is not considered highly erodible, and the soils are predominantly hydric.
Much of the land is not suited or is poorly suited to agricultural uses. Predominate land uses/land covers are open water (41%), wetlands (26%), forest (19%), row crops (6.5%), and grass/pasture/hay (5.3%). Development pressure is moderate throughout this watershed, with occasional lands being parceled out for timber production or recreational use.
What's being done
Monitoring and assessment
- Lake of the Woods Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report (wq-ws3-09030009)
- Lake of the Woods Watershed Stressor Identification Report (wq-ws5-09030009a)
Strategies for restoration and protection
- Lake of the Woods Watershed WRAPS Report (wq-ws4-66a) (MPCA approval 2/6/2020)
- Summary - Lake of the Woods Watershed WRAPS Report (wq-ws4-66b)
- Lake of the Woods Watershed TMDL Report (wq-iw10-09e) (EPA approval 3/2/2020)
- Lake of the Woods Watershed TMDL: EPA approval letter (wq-iw10-09g)
- Lake of the Woods excess nutrients TMDL report (wq-iw10-14e)(EPA approval 6/17/2021)
- Lake of the Woods excess nutrients TMDL: EPA approval letter (wq-iw10-14g)
- Lake of the Woods One Watershed One Plan
- International Joint Commission
- Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed
- Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation
- Lake of the Woods Soil and Water Conservation District
- Watershed project manager Cary Hernandez, 218-846-8124