St. Croix River Basin
Willow River at Hwy 46. Photo. © WDNR, 2010
About the Basin
The St. Croix Basin is a special area of the state. Its abundant streams, lakes and wetlands, rich forestsand farmlands, wildlife and fisheries make this a popular recreational destination and location for living. The River begins in Upper St. Croix and Namekagon Lake and drains through diverse ecological landscapes. Starting with the Northwest Lowlands and North Central Forests, and moving through the Northwest Sands and Farm Forest Transition, the Basin ends in the Western Prairie Ecological Landscape.
These five ecological landscapes present different management challenges and opportunities. Loss of large industrial forest block ownership in the north is a major concern, as are changes in agricultural practices in the western prairie and farm-forest transition landscapes. Agricultural changes include more row crops and a switch from small dairy farming to large confined animal feeding operations which enhance concerns over barnyard runoff, streambank erosion and manure management. Also, St. Croix and Polk Counties face problems associated with rapid growth and development stemming from the St. Paul-Minneapolis Metropolitan Area and struggle to maintain the area’s rural and agricultural features.
The Basin is rich in water: groundwater, rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. Our lakes and rivers are under tremendous development pressure and this will likely increase as the human population continues to grow and settle in this area. Development along lakeshores is one of the state’s fastest types of developments, and the basin is no exception. Home building is also occurring along rivers and streams in part due to the dwindling supply of available lakes. Increasing runoff and habitat loss from development degrades water and eliminates or divides contiguous habitat needed by fish and wildlife.
See the Surface Water Data Viewer to view details about the basin.
Click the links below to find water resource information for specific watersheds and their waters.
One watershed plan has been updated in this basin. This document is an update to the Upper Wisconsin Basin Plan. Contact Kathy Bartilson, Watershed Supervisor for information.
Basin Plan 2002
Read the St. Croix State of the Basin Report, developed by the St. Croix Basin Team and Partners.
Watershed Maps - St. Croix
The St. Croix Basin
To find out more about Basin resources or activities, contact Kathy Bartilson, St. Croix Water Basin Team Leader.
For more on the basin, contact Northern Region DNR Staff.