River Ecology Unit

Big Spring Falls, a bedrock cascade feature on the Kettle River


Minnesota is defined by abundant water. Along with our many lakes, we also have 90,000 miles of rivers and streams that provide enormous recreational, economic and ecological benefits.

Over the past 200 years, the majority of our natural waterways and our native land cover has been altered to accommodate urban, agricultural, forestry and industrial uses. This context of altered landscapes is an important backdrop for the River Ecology Unit (REU) as we work to understand and improve the health of Minnesota’s rivers and watersheds.

River Stories

Check out these stories that highlight restoration projects, fieldwork, and research the River Ecology Unit has been involved in:

Resources for understanding our streams and watersheds


Online tools:

River science and restoration workshops

Email Amy Childers with any questions or to express interest in any of our workshops (Note: workshops offered according to interest).

River-related reports, research, and databases


River Ecology Unit work areas

The REU work units each focus on different aspects of river ecology and watershed health. Our staff monitor and manage aquatic species, participate in dam removals and design stream restorations, deliver watershed health information, collect data on culverts and river morphology, and partner with USGS on monitoring and improving habitat on the Upper Mississippi River. Our staff also provide workshops and trainings to share this wealth of information with others.

Fish habitat research for water management
The Geomorphic Approach


Center for Aquatic Mollusk Programs (CAMP)


River restoration projects and research
Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program
Watershed Health Assessment Framework

River Ecology Unit contacts:

  • Daniel O'Shea, River Ecology Acting Supervisor, 651-259-5127
  • Amy Childers, River Ecologist and Outreach Specialist, 218-671-7937

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