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A Brief Agrarian History of the Cottonwood River Watershed in Southwestern Minnesota
A Brief Agrarian History of the Cottonwood River Watershed in Southwestern Minnesota
Yes, Abstract, The Cottonwood River Watershed is located in southwestern Minnesota, draining 1,310 square miles of land within the Minnesota River Basin. The watershed is comprised of parts of Brown, Cottonwood, Lyon, Murray, and Redwood Counties. This essay gives a brief account of the initial European settlement of the area and the establishment of the current political boundaries. It then focuses on the major developments in agricultural production during the past 150 years, touching on the changes in landscape and wildlife due to drainage and restructuring of water bodies and the clearing of forest land., Full text
A COST EFFECTIVE APPROACH TO STORMWATER MANAGEMENT SOURCE CONTROL AND DISTRIBUTED STORAGE
A COST EFFECTIVE APPROACH TO STORMWATER MANAGEMENT SOURCE CONTROL AND DISTRIBUTED STORAGE
Rapid urbanisation and its consequent increase in impermeable surface areas and changes in land use has generally resulted in problems of flooding and heavy pollution of urban streams and other receiving waters. This has often been coupled with ground water depletion and a threat to water resources. The first part of this paper presents an alternative drainage philosophy and strategy which mimics nature's way by slowing down (attenuating) the movement of urban runoff. This approach results in cost-effective, affordable and sustainable drainage schemes. The alternative strategy can be described as one of prevention rather than cure by effecting controls closer to source rather than the traditional approach which results in the transfer of problems downstream, resulting in its cumulation and the need for large scale, centralised control. The second part describes a research project which has been launched in order to quantify the cost and operational benefits of source control and distributed storage. Details of the methodology of the modelling and simulation processes which are being followed to achieve this target are presented.
A Citizen’s Guide to Biological Assessment of Wetlands: The Vegetation Index of Biological Integrity (IBI)
A Citizen’s Guide to Biological Assessment of Wetlands: The Vegetation Index of Biological Integrity (IBI)
Yes, Summary, This guide provides the basic framework for trained citizens to monitor and assess the condition, or health, of depressional wetlands in Central Minnesota. The field sampling protocols and biological assessment criteria presented in this guide are based on similar work by professional wetland biologists at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The basic approach is to use standard sampling methods to gather wetland plant community data, evaluate the data using multiple plant metrics, and determine a wetland condition assessment. A metric is a measurement of a plant community characteristic that is known to change in a predictable way in response to varying degrees of human influence from undisturbed to extremely disturbed conditions. The combination of multiple metrics into a single composite index results in a robust and reliable indicator of wetland condition (Figure 1). The final result is called an Index of Biological Integrity or IBI., Full text
A Community Capacity Assessment Study in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed, Minnesota
A Community Capacity Assessment Study in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed, Minnesota
Yes, Summary, This report describes the community capacity assessment study conducted in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) located in the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota. The study was conducted by the Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, in collaboration with the MCWD. The overarching goal of the study was to assess community capacity to address water resource problems and threats along Reach 20, a highly urbanized stream segment of Minnehaha Creek. The specific study objectives were to explore local stakeholders’ perspectives on (1) community assets and vulnerabilities, (2) constraints to community engagement in water resource protection and restoration, and (3) opportunities to better engage the community in water resource protection and restoration. Data were gathered through a series of in-depth interviews with 25 local stakeholders living or working in the communities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Edina. The study findings are organized to respond to five general research questions. The research questions along with a brief synopsis of study findings and recommendations are highlighted below., Full text
A Community Capacity Assessment of Stormwater Management in the Twin Cities Metro Area
A Community Capacity Assessment of Stormwater Management in the Twin Cities Metro Area
Yes, Summary, University of Minnesota researchers in collaboration with Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, Capitol Region Watershed District, and Mississippi Watershed Organization investigated community capacity and conservation behaviors associated with stormwater management from the perspectives of diverse community members who live and work in the watersheds. The project applied a participatory, community-based research approach using both qualitative data, gathered through key informant interviews and focus groups, and quantitative data, collected in self-administered surveys., Full text
A Comprehensive Wetland Assessment, Monitoring, and Mapping Strategy for Minnesota
A Comprehensive Wetland Assessment, Monitoring, and Mapping Strategy for Minnesota
Yes, Summary, Minnesota is fortunate to have a rich diversity of wetlands and, other than Florida, more wetland acreage than any other of the contiguous states. However, roughly half of Minnesota’s original wetlands have been lost to drainage or filling. Beginning in the 1970s, public policy began to shift toward greater protection of wetland resources. This trend culminated with the passage in 1991 of the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act (WCA), which called for no net loss in wetland quantity and quality and ultimately a net gain in wetland resources. Existing efforts to assess wetland status and trends in Minnesota are inadequate. Data collected on proposed wetland loss and compensatory mitigation by state and federal wetland regulatory programs lack coordination, may not reflect actual (versus permitted) activities, and do not adequately account for exempt and illegal wetland loss. Data collected by government agencies and nongovernmental conservation organizations on voluntary wetland restorations are inconsistent and incomplete. National wetland and land-use monitoring efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) do not sample intensively enough in Minnesota to draw accurate conclusions on the state’s wetland status and trends., Full text
A Decision Support Tool to Restore Impaired Waters
A Decision Support Tool to Restore Impaired Waters
Building on work in the Elm Creek watershed in Martin County Minnesota since 2003, project partners came together to develop decision support tools that allow watershed managers (state agencies, SWCD's, NRCS local offices and others) to prioritize conservation practices to address nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment impairments in the Minnesota River Basin. The approach taken was to integrate electronic tools, on the ground tools, and the expertise of local conservation agents to implement conservation practices taking into account potential impact on targeted impairments and cost effectiveness. Initiated in 2009 the project carried out basic research to analyze the impact of perennial cropping systems, channel modifications and restored and constructed wetlands on water quality and integrate those results into the decision making process. In addition, agronomic practices for producing perennial biomass for energy and other uses were evaluated to develop BMPs to maximize useable biomass, minimize inputs and maximize water quality benefits. In the final year of the project the partners concentrated on preparing, testing and presenting the decision support tools by working closely with watershed managers in state and federal agencies, local SWCD and NRCS offices as well as private sector companies. By matching EPA funding with XCEL Energy Renewable Development Fund resources, and leveraged funding from other agencies, the project was able to extend and expand its potential impact. Tools which will allow managers to prioritize, channel reconstruction and bank stabilization efforts, selection of areas for installing conservation practices to cost effectively address nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment issues, and better manage perennial crops for production and conservation benefits have been developed and tested for use by watershed managers. The partners, who have worked together since 2003, will continue to develop and support the tools beyond the end of the current project through our research and outreach efforts.
A Diatom-based Water Quality Model for Great Lakes Coastlines
A Diatom-based Water Quality Model for Great Lakes Coastlines
Yes, Abstract, Diatom-based models to infer nutrient concentrations are proven robust indicators, but evidence suggests that in the future these models will be little improved by using larger training sets. I present a simple means to summarize the water quality (WQ) data from a suite of coastal Great Lakes locations and develop a diatom-based WQ model using standard weighted-averaging methods. A onedimensional WQ index was derived by summarizing measured environmental data (nutrients, pigments, solids) using dimension-reducing ordination and calculating the primary WQ gradient of interest. Evaluations of weighted-averaging diatom model predictions (WQ index model: r2jackknife = 0.62, RMSEP = 1.32) indicate that the model has reconstructive power similar to a comparative model for total phosphorus concentrations (TP model: r2jackknife = 0.65, RMSEP = 0.26 log[μg/L + 1]), but that predictive bias was lower for the WQ model. Also, inferred WQ index data had a higher correlation to adjacent watershed characteristics than inferred TP data. We attribute this to the ability of an integrated WQ index to better characterize the overall quality of a site than a single nutrient variable such as phosphorus. The diatom-based WQ model may be advantageous for management where it is necessary to provide a summary inference of water quality condition at a coastal locale., Full text
A Field Guide to Amphibian Larvae and Eggs of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa
A Field Guide to Amphibian Larvae and Eggs of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa
Summary, Apparent worldwide declines in amphibian populations (Pechmann and Wake 1997) have stimulated interest in amphibians as bioindicators of the health of ecosystems. Because we have little information on the population status of many species, there is interest by public and private land management agencies in monitoring amphibian populations. Amphibian egg and larval surveys are established methods of surveying pond-breeding amphibians. Adults may be widely dispersed across the landscape, but eggs and larvae are confined to the breeding site during a specific season of the year. Also, observations of late-stage larvae or metamorphs are evidence of successful reproduction, which is an important indicator of the viability of the population. The goal of this guide is to help students, natural resources personnel, and biologists identify eggs and larval stages of amphibians in the field without the aid of a microscope.Apparent worldwide declines in amphibian populations (Pechmann and Wake 1997) have stimulated interest in amphibians as bioindicators of the health of ecosystems. Because we have little information on the population status of many species, there is interest by public and private land management agencies in monitoring amphibian populations. Amphibian egg and larval surveys are established methods of surveying pond-breeding amphibians. Adults may be widely dispersed across the landscape, but eggs and larvae are confined to the breeding site during a specific season of the year. Also, observations of late-stage larvae or metamorphs are evidence of successful reproduction, which is an important indicator of the viability of the population. The goal of this guide is to help students, natural resources personnel, and biologists identify eggs and larval stages of amphibians in the field without the aid of a microscope., Full text
A Framework for Assessing Time-Scale Effects of Wet Weather Discharges
A Framework for Assessing Time-Scale Effects of Wet Weather Discharges
This new WERF report presents conclusions that are critically important when addressing wet weather discharge impact assessment. It also provides a tiered protocol for assessing the effects of wet weather events on receiving water ecosystems, reviews literature and evaluates available tests for wet weather discharge impact assessment, modifies standard tests to produce complementary tests appropriate for time-scale toxicity assessment, provides a predictive tool for wet weather impact assessment, and addresses variability of exposure during wet weather events. Published by WERF. 285 pages. Soft cover.

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