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Assessing the Barriers and Potential for Wetland Restoration in an Agricultural Watershed.

During the last 150 years, more than 50% of the historical wetlands in southern Minnesota have been drained to make way for human settlement and agricultural activities. Minnesota derives great economic benefit from the state’s agricultural sector, which depends on a well-drained landscape, but society also has come to place increasing value on wetlands for the ecological benefits they provide. Although many farmers are interested in restoring wetland areas, overlapping—and sometimes conflicting—state and federal programs designed for this purpose make conservation work difficult and seldom practiced. Gary R. Sands (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering) will work with a graduate student in Water Resources Science to investigate the barriers and obstacles to wetland restoration in the Seven Mile Creek Watershed in Brown, Nicollet, and Cottonwood Counties in southern Minnesota. Using historical documents dating back to 1854, physiographic data, and interviews with conservation agency staff and cooperating farmers, the researchers will identify potential locations for restored wetlands in the watershed, assess the ecological benefits of these wetlands, and identify the barriers to and potential solutions for achieving increased wetland restoration in the watershed.

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Edward Goetz Director, CURA (612) 624-8737