The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District is a special purpose unit of government that was established in April 2005. The District exists for the protection and preservation of water quality in the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed. The District consists of a board of five Managers from three of the four counties in the watershed. Because only a very small portion of the watershed lies in Pope County, there is no board member from that county. Board members are appointed by County Commissioners and serve three year terms.

The Board of Managers typically meet on the second Wednesday evening of the month (except holidays or election days). Those who are interested in attending board meetings are encouraged to contact District personnel to confirm the meeting date and time. The public are invited to attend meetings and there is an opportunity to provide a brief address to the board in an open forum at the end of each meeting. However, this is a listening session and the board will not normally act on issues presented at an open forum. Anyone seeking time on the agenda to discuss issues with the board must contact the office at least 7 calendar days prior to the meeting.


The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed drains a 271 square mile area. The river begins in Stearns County in the Belgrade area and flows Southward through North Central Kandiyohi County. As the river flows South it passes through the City of New London and enters Green Lake in Spicer. After the river outlets from Green Lake, it flows Eastward. Water from the City of Atwater and Diamond Lake enter the Middle Fork Crow River just before it crosses the Meeker County line. The river joins the North Fork Crow River just East of Manannah. The North Fork Crow River eventually enters the Mississippi near Dayton. There is 13,940 acres of water (lakes, rivers, and streams), 42,117 acres of wetlands, and 123 miles of public drainage ditches in the Middle Fork Crow River watershed.


Base funding for the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District (MFCRWD) comes from an annual levy of $250,000 assessed among each property owner in the watershed. We also actively pursue grant opportunities to expand our efforts without increasing costs to the property owners in the District.

Administrative Rules

The MFCRWD statutory purposes are to protect water quantity and quality within the watershed. As required by Minnesota Statute Chapter 103D, the MFCRWD has adopted a watershed management plan. The watershed management plan identifies certain issues that are central to the District’s overarching purposes. These issues include: protecting and improving surface water quality, protecting groundwater quality, maintaining adequate surface and groundwater supplies for all users, protecting and restoring critical areas, promoting respectable land use management, expanding knowledge and understanding of the watershed, engaging residents in water resource management, providing effective and efficient administration of the District.

The MFCRWD has enacted the following Administrative Rules to carry out the purposes for which the District was created under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 103D and to implement the policies of the Board of Managers.

About Watershed Districts

In 1953, Congress approved the federal Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act. The act provided financial assistance to local agencies responsible for the management of secondary watersheds. These agencies have the power of eminent domain and the ability to levy for support of their activities. The Minnesota Legislature approved the Watershed Act, Minnesota Statutes Chapter 103D, in 1955. This act allows the establishment of Watershed Districts upon a petition to the Minnesota Water Resources Board (now the Board of Water and Soil Resources) by either citizens or local governmental units.

As the Watershed Act was being developed, it was decided that Watershed Districts should be run by appointed managers so that they would be able to make tough decisions without worrying about political consequences. However, land use zoning powers would still remain with elected city and county officials. The first watershed district to be established was in 1957. The High Island Watershed District, encompassed parts of Sibley, Renville, and McLeod counties. Other Districts followed, with the 4th and most recent one, the Cedar River Watershed District, established in 2007.

Note: This is an excerpt from the 2011 Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Handbook which is available on-line. This is a large file (10 MB).

Middle Fork Location Map

Middle Fork Crow River Watershed Map


2020 – 2020 Environmental Initiative Awards Environmental Innovation Honorable Mention – Turbid Lake Chain Drawdown (Hubbard, Schultz, Wheeler Project)

2019 – MN Department of Natural Resources Watershed District of the Year

2011 – MN Department of Natural Resources Watershed District of the Year