The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has released its study, "Revisiting the Minnesota River Assessment Project: An Evaluation of Fish and Invertebrate Community Progress."
The objective of the study was to provide an update on the condition of fish and macroinvertebrates (e.g., aquatic insects, snails, and mussels) in streams of the Minnesota River basin.
More than 20 years ago, biological communities in the Minnesota River basin – which is 78% agricultural and 22% urban, forest and grassland – were determined to be severely to moderately impaired due to a myriad of factors. To address the deteriorating conditions, advisory committees were formed, conservation programs were developed, and best management practices were implemented. The current study replicated previous studies to see if conservation efforts were working and found slight improvements in fish communities, including the return of smallmouth bass, walleye and pollution-sensitive fish like the blue sucker and sturgeon. However, there were slight declines in macroinvertebrates.
According to Glenn Skuta, MPCA Environmental Analysis & Outcomes manager, "There have been conservation efforts from both government and citizens to improve conditions within the Minnesota River basin. However, the lack of significant improvement indicates that more and better targeted conservation efforts and water management are needed, as well as ongoing monitoring to track the impacts of projects and BMPs. Bottom line, we simply need to do more to protect and restore the basin."
Monitoring the progress of Minnesota waters is vital to protecting and restoring these natural resources. The agency is using a watershed monitoring approach that will allow for tracking changes and trends in water quality more effectively over time on an ongoing basis. Also important is working with partners in the Minnesota River basin to develop protection and restoration strategies that build upon and are even more beneficial than past efforts.
To view Revisiting the Minnesota River Assessment Project: An Evaluation of Fish and Invertebrate Community Progress visit www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/view-document.html?gid=15821. Previous information collected on the Minnesota River Basin can be found at http://mrbdc.wrc.mnsu.edu/mnbasin/trends/index.html.