The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been decimating ash throughout the Great Lake States and is currently advancing into Minnesota, threatening the future of the ash forests that occur across much of the state. Of particular concern is the impact EAB will have on the ecology and functioning of black ash swamps, which cover over one million acres in Minnesota and represent the state’s most common ash forest type. Black ash trees grow and thrive in swamps and occupy a unique wet niche where few other tree species grow.
Minnesota has 9.5 million acres of public forest lands that play an important role in sustaining Minnesota’s environment and economy. The policies and programs used by public timber sale programs can impact post-harvest ecological conditions and have pronounced effects on the composition, structure, and productivity of the forest in the future. Additionally, timber harvesting revenues play an important role in economic activity, employment, and tax revenue.
Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area, is amongst Minnesota’s greatest natural resources providing drinking water, shipping, recreation, and tourism. Recently the lake has been undergoing significant changes including increasing water temperatures, decreasing ice cover, increasing nutrient loads, decreasing biological productivity, increasing invasive species, and changes in species abundance and distribution. The reasons behind these changes and the interactions amongst them are not well understood.
Moose, one of Minnesota's prized wildlife species, are dying at much higher rates in Minnesota than elsewhere in North America. Recently observed increases in mortality rates amongst some moose in northeastern Minnesota have led to concern that the population there may be entering a decline like that seen in the northwestern part of the state, where moose populations fell from over 4,000 to fewer than 100 in less than 20 years. Additionally the specific causes of increased mortality amongst individual moose remain under investigation.
Minnesota has 15.9 million acres of forest land managed by a variety of county, state and federal agencies, and private landowners for timber production, wildlife habitat, and ecological considerations. Forest managers rely on inventory data to make effective planning and management decisions. Because forests are continually changing through natural and human processes, forest inventory data is periodically updated. However, doing so is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor and, as a result, much of Minnesota’s forest inventory data is currently out of date.
This project will dentify critical pathways and areas on the landscape that contribute a disproportionate amount of sediment stressors to selected streams located in LS South and/or LS North HUC 8 watersheds. Unlike other HUC 8 watersheds with one mainstem stream and nested tributaries to the mainstem, LS South and North consist of numerous individual streams flowing to Lake Superior. Each of these streams has a mainstem, tributaries flowing to the mainstem and a surrounding watershed.
Moose, one of Minnesota’s most iconic wildlife species, are dying at increasingly higher rates in Minnesota and there is uncertainty as to why. Estimates suggest the population declined 35 percent just between 2012 to 2013, and projections suggest moose could be nearly gone from the state by 2020 if this trend is not halted and, ideally, reversed.
Native to the western United States and Canada, mountain pine beetle is considered the most devastating forest insect in North America. Trees usually die as a result of infestation and an unprecedented outbreak in the west is currently decimating pine forests there. While mountain pine beetle is not presently believed to reside in Minnesota, there are risks posed by an expanding species range resulting from warming climate and the potential for accidental introduction via lumber imports from infested areas.
The overall project goal is to develop complementary (same year) physical, biological, and chemical data sets for eight agency-prioritized lakes and three streams in NE Minnesota to incorporate into the overall state database for MPCA assessment purposes as well as research purposes.
Approximately 70 percent of all Minnesotans rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. Wells used for drinking water must be properly sealed when removed from service to protect both public health and Minnesota’s invaluable groundwater resources. The Minnesota Department of Health protects both public health and groundwater by assuring the proper sealing of unused wells.
Clean Water funds are being provided to well owners as a 50% cost-share assistance for sealing unused public water-supply wells.
This project will generate water quality data for 10 stream locations MPCA designated for their 2012 and 2013 open-water sampling seasons (8 by NRRI-UMD and 2 via subcontract to the North St. Louis SWCD). The overall project goal is to collect event-based physical and chemical data sets for 10 agency-prioritized stream sampling sites in NE Minnesota for calculating pollutant loads and for incorporation into the overall State database for MPCA assessment purposes.
Vermilion Community College will assist the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) with meeting the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) development objectives of collecting data and completing watershed assessments for the Rainy River Headwaters, Vermilion River, and Little Fork River watersheds. Services will include providing support for field water monitoring, other field sampling and measurements and related field data management, analysis, and assessments in these watersheds.