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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Northwest > About the Northwest region

About the Northwest region

rsz_biomes.jpg

Source: MN DNR

The region's natural history shows up in a diverse landscape shaped by ice and water and representing all four major biomes in Minnesota. Its cultural history traces the stories of indigenous people, voyageurs and fur traders, immigrants from northern Europe, and later from all parts of the world.  The Red River of the North and its tributaries drain just over one fifth of Minnesota.  The landscape includes remnants of native boreal forest, aspen parkland and maple, basswood forests, and tall grassprairie. The Red River Valley has a strong agricultural identity; it conjures images of deep, rich soils and agricultural productivity.

wheat.jpg The Northwest Region in Minnesota is not defined by county boundaries, but for reference, it generally serves Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Clearwater, Beltrami, Polk, Norman, Mahnomen, Clay, and Wilkin counties.  Ottertail and Becker counties are often included for food systems projects. Water related projects include the area that drains to the Red River of the North. rsz_counties.jpg The region is home to 215,000 people. Median age in the region is 41 compared to 37 in Minnesota. Agricultural production, manufacturing and health care are important economic sectors. See more details at DEED's feature on NW MN. Minnesota Compass tracks and analyzes trends that affect quality of life.

The NW Regional Partnership organizes its work around four focus areas: Natural Resources, Clean Energy, Food and Agriculture and Resilient Communities. In 2011, the board partnered with the Center for Sustainable Building Research to select indicators in each of the four focus areas. Click here to access the complete Visualizing Indicators report.

A primary goal of this project was to identify indicators for the Northwest region as well as counties which make up the region. In addition, the research team identified the need to be able to organize this data to view the whole system, and components of each system. For each of the focus areas, indicators were selected for the following perspectives on the system, and represented visually.

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