Improving Water Quality in Mississippi Headwaters

Great River Greening begins working in Itasca County and the Mississippi Headwaters region this fall as part of new partnership with the Deer Lake Association (DLA). Our focus is to improve water quality in Deer Lake by assessing watershed conditions and identifying possible impairments.

Deer Lake, located just north of Grand Rapids, is one of the clearest lakes in Minnesota. Its high mineral content reflects bright blue-green on sunny summer days, earning the nickname “the lake of changing colors.” The lake is fed mostly by springs and rain-fed streams and empties into the Deer River, eventually draining into the Mississippi River.

“The Deer Lake Association is one of the most active lake associations in the state,” said Steve Huckett, Great River Greening Conservation Director. “It is an honor to be partnering with a group so dedicated to practicing natural resource management in conserving our lakes, rivers and streams.”

DLA is enlisting Great River Greening to perform an ecological assessment of the lakeshed which will include identifying soil erosion, invasive species, poor vegetation cover, habitat quality, and infrastructure issues.  They are also asking for a Stewardship Plan for the area, which comprises upland terrestrial forest, ravines and drainages, floodplain and riparian zones, wetlands, residential and commercial properties and 22 miles of shoreline.

“This projects grows our work in this essential geography,” said Deborah Karasov, Great River Greening Executive Director. “We are excited to extend our geographic reach to this beautiful landscape. The river defines this state for many of us, but more important, the Mississippi Headwaters is the source of drinking water for millions of people, protecting it is critical.”


Featured photo from