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Kickoff Events for the Rainy River Headwaters/Vermilion River Watershed Planning Efforts

Do you care about the lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, habitats, forests, groundwater, drinking water and/or other water-related resources in the Rainy River Headwaters and/or Vermilion River Watersheds? Local partners (Cook, Lake, North St. Louis Soil & Water Conservation Districts and their respective counties plus Koochiching County) are beginning work on a comprehensive watershed management plan and seek public input.  All citizens and stakeholders are invited to share their vision at any of three public kickoff meetings or through an online survey found at

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that drains to the same place. These watersheds drain into Rainy Lake bordering Minnesota and Ontario. The water eventually flows all the way to Hudson Bay. Spanning four counties and the tribal lands of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, the watershed includes many communities, townships, and the cities of Ely, Orr, Tower, and Winton as well as a portion of Babbitt.

What will this plan do? 

This plan will identify what voluntary projects and activities that local partners will direct time and resources on to protect, and in some cases restore, important resources in this planning area for the next 10 years. Funding will be provided to carry out these activities through the Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment.

What will this plan NOT do? 

This plan does not take away or override any existing local authority. Local governments are not required to participate. This plan will work to align local plans and citizen input with state strategies; however, it is not a plan that requires change of any local, state, or federal regulations. This plan is not regulatory, including when it comes to mining and other state and federally regulated activities.

 What do you mean by protection?  

Considerable acres of the watersheds in this plan already have notable protections in place including a federal designated wilderness area, national park, national forest, lands within the 1854 Ceded Territory and other public land statuses. Private lands also protect the quality of our lakes and streams, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and other public benefits. This plan will likely include voluntary actions that can be taken locally such as landowner education, conservation easements, support for private forest management, shoreline restoration, stream/road crossing improvements, stormwater management, and/or cost-share programs rather than new rules and regulations as a means to reduce risk of long-term impacts to our water resources.

Meeting information

Thursday, August 11, 5-7:30pm

Orr Community Center
4543 Hwy 53, Orr, MN

Tuesday, August 16, 5-7:30pm

Seagull Lake Community Center
12059 Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais, MN

Thursday, August 18, 5-7:30pm

Ely Senior Center
27 S 1st Ave W, Ely, MN

Please R.S.V.P. just to help us plan for food and materials at or by contacting Becca Reiss at or 218-288-6143.