Within its relatively short length (194 miles) from its source to Lake Superior, and the truncated time frame of 300 years since European contact and colonization, the St. Louis River is emblematic of historical patterns of use and exploitation in the region, as well as recovery attempts, for rivers across the state of Minnesota and indeed much of the country.
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I have grown especially interested in water issues. I care about the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis, the effects of agriculture on water quality, and the connections people have to their drinking water, lakes, and rivers. So when I went to Germany to study, I took a good look at how the places I visited treated water as part of the landscape.
Over the past two decades, river management has added a new approach to the “toolbox” of efforts to undo some of the damage caused by earlier generations of river interventions. Humans have intervened in river flows for millennia, damming water courses and creating levees to shape river flows, all in the name of providing expanded benefits from managed river flows. But things have changed recently.
Minnesotans are fortunate to live in a land rich in water resources. Clean water is part of our sense of place and cultural identity. Abundant water underpins our agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism industries. In theory, clean water should be incredibly valuable—water is essential to our lives and livelihoods. In practice, clean water is cheap.
U-Spatial provides support for spatial research. We make maps. And help colleagues at the University of Minnesota discover and analyze geospatial data. We collaborate with people in public health, nursing, business, history, anthropology, education, design, engineering, natural resources, and even dentistry.