The Rapid River watershed, which covers 573,060 acres, is located in the Laurentian Mixed Forest Ecological Province of northern Minnesota. Over 79% of the land in the watershed is owned or managed by state entities. There are 134 farms in the Rapid River watershed. Most are small farms less than 1,000 acres. Approximately 48 percent of the operations are less than 180 acres in size, 46 percent are 180 to 1,000 acres in size, and the remaining 10 percent of farms are greater than 1,000 acres in size.
The Rapid River watershed is the third smallest watershed on the Minnesota side of the Rainy Lake Basin. Like its neighbors, the Rapid River watershed 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 are generally sandy loams, with considerable deposits of glacial till and outwash over a bedrock residuum. Elevation in the watershed ranges from 1,060 to 1,310 feet above sea level, with the highest values being in the western and northwestern portions of the watershed. Lower elevations are found across the northeastern regions near where the Rapid and Rainy Rivers meet.
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 (74.8%) make up most of the watershed, Agricultural accounts for only 3% of the total acres. 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 soil erosion, management of excessive wetness, wetland and woodland management, pasture management and surface water quality.
What's being done
Monitoring and assessment
Strategies for restoration and protection
- Rapid River Watershed TMDL report (wq-iw10-19e) (EPA approval 3/23/2022)
- Rapid River Watershed TMDL: EPA approval letter (wq-iw10-19g)
- Rapid River Watershed WRAPS report (wq-ws4-88a) (MPCA approval 2/17/2022)
- Summary of the Rapid River Watershed WRAPS report (wq-ws4-88b)
- Lake of the Woods Soil and Water Conservation District
- Koochiching Soil and Water Conservation District
- Watershed project manager Mike Kennedy, 218-302-6629