Students in GEG105 Physical Geography: Earth System Science took a field trip west of campus this week to study human impact on the natural environment in Nicollet County, MN.
At one time Nicollet County and surrounding areas were covered in lakes and wetlands–some seasonal and some permanent. At the turn of the 20th century, farmers began draining wetlands to expand crop production and pasture lands. The natural drainage networks were expanded by a series of ditches and underground “tiles”–now perforated plastic tubing. For example, from the mid-1800s to 1990, about 45 percent of the land area in Seven Mile Creek watershedin Nicollet County was drained. Later, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s, wetland drainage began to slow as more people came to appreciate the need to preserve wetlands.