Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Minnesota
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Minnesota Project

Scaleable indices of watershed health

July 2008 - June 2011


Participating Agencies

  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

A watershed-based approach is increasingly recognized as the most comprehensive framework for understanding and managing natural resource systems, including streams and lakes. However, for this approach to be successful, a large amount information regarding the current state of watershed resources is necessary. Unfortunately, despite the large amount of existing geographic information system (GIS) information that could be utilized, this information is not readily available for managers in an easily accessible, broadly applicable, summarized form. The Watershed Assessment Tool (WAT) Project is designed to bridge this gap by acquiring background information on watershed concepts and developing a comprehensive series of GIS layers. This information will be organized in a 5-component framework of hydrology, geomorphology, biology, connectivity and water quality to facilitate quantification of healthy watershed function and interactions. We are developing a meta-analyses and syntheses to support the broad-scale, long-term quantification of watershed health in major Minnesota watersheds (8-digit HUC boundaries), the selection of a set of health indices, and the application of these health indices for all such watersheds in Minnesota. This work is specifically designed to support the development of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) watershed assessment tool.