The Wild Rice watershed includes two general physiographic areas- the glacial Lake Agassiz Plain and a glacial moraine.
The lake plain is extremely flat in the western part, sloping only a few feet per mile, but in the eastern part the plain is traversed in a north-south direction by long, narrow beach ridges up to 20 feet high. The moraine is an area of hills and depressions. The local relief is low in the western part of the moraine but increases to more than 200 feet in the east. Altitude of the land surface ranges from 800 feet above mean sea level where the Red River flows north out of the area to 2,040 feet near the southeastern edge of the watershed (one of the highest points in Minnesota).
The area of the watershed is about 2,600 square miles and includes most of Mahnomen and Norman Counties and parts of Becker, Clay, Clearwater, and Polk Counties. The population of the area is about 37,000 people of which about 70 percent live on farms. The economy is based principally on farming. The area of lake clay and silt is used mostly for raising sugar beets and wheat; and potatoes are grown largely on the sandy soils. In the western part of the morainal area small grain, dairy, and cattle farming is the most common. The eastern part of the morainal area is important for forest products and recreation. Industries in the area are small and are based on agricultural processing and service.
|Title||Water resources of the Wild Rice River watershed, northwestern Minnesota|
|Authors||Thomas C. Winter, L. E. Bidwell, Robert W. Maclay|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Hydrologic Atlas|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Minnesota Water Science Center|