Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP)
To protect and improve local wetlands, Dakota County coordinates the Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP). Through the program, volunteers are trained and work as part of a community-based team to collect data on wetland plants and macroinvertebrates, providing valuable information to local governments and decision makers.
The Wetland Health Evaluation Program uses sampling methods and evaluation metrics developed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to evaluate wetland health. The vegetation and macroinvertebrate analyses metrics are based on species diversity and species richness. Citizen teams, led by a trained team leader who has education and/or work experience in natural resources, conduct the sampling.
Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Hastings, Lakeville, Mendota Heights, Rosemount, South St. Paul and West St. Paul take part in the program. Dakota County Parks and North Cannon River Watershed Management Organization also take part.
Each participating team collects data on up to four wetlands in their community. Site names with sampling data and recent annual summary reports are documented at
Join a team of other interested citizens who are concerned about wetlands in your area.
Register to volunteer online. No experience is necessary. Training is provided. For more information, contact the Water Resources Department by phone at
email@example.com or go to the
Wetland Health Evaluation Program website.
Aquatic Invasive Species Detector
Join the statewide Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Detector network and learn the principles of aquatic ecology, AIS identification, Minnesota rules and regulations, preventing the spread of AIS, and more. You can become certified as an AIS Detector. Dakota County will reimburse the registration fee of $150 for seven participants. Sign up to get training updates.
Search area lakes for starry stonewort, a type of algae that is Minnesota's newest aquatic invasive species, on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021.
Master Water Stewards
The Master Water Stewards program provides training and opportunities for residents to protect and improve water quality and habitat, engage fellow citizens and promote clean water.
Master Water Stewards participate in training led by experts in hydrology, stormwater management, water policy, community-based social marketing, and raingarden assessment and installation. They must complete a capstone project that captures rainfall and allows more water to soak into the ground and lead a community outreach event. Stewards become a point of knowledge and influence in their communities.
Master Water Stewards sessions begin every October and run through April.
Certified Master Water Stewards volunteer 50 hours of community service in their first year and at least 25 hours of service with eight hours of continuing education each subsequent year to keep certification.
The program is a partnership between
Freshwater, participating cities and watershed management organizations. Within Dakota County, this includes Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization, Lower Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization and the City of Eagan.
Volunteer to protect and clean up the Vermillion River. Participate in hands-on educational programs, including prairie ecology or bird hikes, invasive species identification and removal, native plantings, prairie seed collections, litter clean-up events, trout surveys and more.
Find out what Vermillion Stewards are doing and sign up to volunteer at Vermillion Stewards events by contacting the
Friends of the Mississippi River. If you care about the Vermillion River, you too can be a Vermillion Steward.
The majority of Vermillion Stewards are individuals and families who want to make a difference and contribute to the health and well-being of the local lands and waters.