Lower Rainy River

Watershed at a Glance

The Rainy River - Baudette watershed lies on the United States-Canadian border, and covers 195,153 acres. The watershed is situated in the Laurentian Mixed Forest Ecological Province of Northern Minnesota. The Rainy River - Baudette watershed is characterized by extensive wetlands located on the Glacial Lake Agassiz lake bed.

The greater Rainy River Basin is home to some of Minnesota’s finest forest and water resources. Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) are located within the basin.

Hydrologic Unit Code:09030008
Intensive monitoring start year:2017
Major lakesMajor rivers and streams
There are no major lakes in this watershed.
Rainy River, East and West Black Rivers, Baudette River


Approximately 44% of the land in the watershed is held by private landowners. As with many areas of northern Minnesota, principal industries include forest product harvesting, forest product manufacturing, farming, and tourism.

Much of the land in the watershed is not suited or is poorly suited to agricultural uses. Wetlands predominate (48%), followed by forest (32%), grass/pasture/hay (9%), and row crops (7%). Development pressure is moderate throughout this watershed, with occasional lands being parceled out for timber production or recreational use.

The main resource concerns in the watershed are management of excessive wetness, wetland and woodland management, pasture management, and surface water quality. 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 1,136 feet above sea level, with the highest values being in the western and southwestern portions of the watershed. Lower elevations are found across the eastern and northern portions dominated by peat lands and open water. Precipitation in the watershed averages 23 inches annually. Most land within this watershed is not considered highly erodible, and the soils are predominantly hydric.


    What's being done

    Intensive watershed water quality monitoring and a major watershed restoration and protection project are underway in 2017.

    What is a watershed?

    Illustration showing contour of land directing flow of water

    Learn the basics of a watershed.