Le Sueur River Basin

The Le Sueur River Watershed (LSRW) in southern Minnesota has been implicated as a primary source of sediment to the Minnesota River and Lake Pepin, a naturally dammed lake on the Mississippi River. 

Since the onset of extensive agricultural land use in the area, sedimentation rates in Lake Pepin have increased approximately ten fold. Within the Le Sueur watershed we are studying fun­damental processes in landscape evolution as well as the effects of pervasive, and mostly uniform, human modifications.

What are the characteristics of LSRW? The relatively flat landscape of the Le Sueur watershed has experienced rapid geologic change over the past 12,000 years as well as recent human modifications to the ecology, geomorphology, and hydrology of the area. Land use began to change around 1830 as wetlands were drained and the hardwood forest and long-grass prairie were converted to row crop agriculture. At NCED, we are studying how natural and human-induced landscape change influence the movement of sediment and the water quantity and quality into the Minnesota River and Lake Pepin.

For information on research at the site contact Dan Baker, NCED Streams Program Manager.