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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced recently that eagle surveys show a very strong resurgence of nesting pairs. Eagles have recolonized almost every county in the state and, in some areas, have appeared to be near a population maximum. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, where the Mississippi River corridor is designated as the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, rebounding eagle populations have been documented through several years’ of intensive survey and scientific measurement. The soaring eagle population is widely understood as a strong indicator of better water quality in the river.
Most people know how to find their way around their cities and neighborhoods, even if they rely largely on the computerized map on their phone. Likewise, indicators of a city’s health are often readily apparent through cues such as unkempt public spaces, roads in need of repair, and the like. How would we find our way around our watershed, though, and how would we determine or recognize if our watershed is healthy? As more and more people understand the importance, and fragility, of clean and abundant supplies of water, questions about our watersheds increasingly come to the fore. The Minnesota DNR has combined a series of ecological and physical measures into a series of “watershed report cards” that cover the state.
Where in your watershed do you live? How healthy is your “water place”?