About Us

Lake Pepin as painted by Henry Lewis, ca. 1840.

The Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance is a multi-state non-profit organization established in 2009 by an ad hoc committee determined to preserve and restore Lake Pepin as an integral part of the Upper Mississippi River System.

Why does Lake Pepin need our protection?

Lake Pepin is at the downstream endpoint of the most polluted reach of the Mississippi River in the state. It is no accident that this reach begins at the confluence with the Minnesota River. The Minnesota supplies 75 percent of the sediment that threatens to fill upper Lake Pepin by the end of this century. Suspended solids from the Minnesota River make the Mississippi incapable of supporting the rich rooted vegetation that once made the river and Lake Pepin a haven for ducks and swans.

A Note from the Founders

“It was one of those times of low water on the Mississippi. Feeding at the edge of a Lake Pepin mud flat was a gaggle of gulls, black-winged pelicans, a couple of herons and a few bald eagles. One of the founders of Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance looked out a window at an island that had grown in a relatively few years from the size of a couple of soccer fields to a willow-covered stretch of some half mile. She mused: Is it inevitable that Lake Pepin will become just a narrow navigation channel flanked on both sides by marshy swamp? Or, can something be done to slow the sedimentation from upriver that is choking the lake?

Today, the Alliance has some 800 members and followers in Minnesota and Wisconsin who depend on it to carry the flag for a cause which is undisputed in scientific and natural resource communities, but which remains somewhat removed from the public eye. The Alliance believes it is critical to not only slow the current flow of sediment and nutrients into the lake, but also to undo at least some of the damage that’s been done over the last several decades.”

Our Mission

We are dedicated to slowing and reversing the current trend of sediment and nutrient flow to Lake Pepin. We bring a professional approach for public involvement in present and future watershed restoration activities that elevate the importance of implementation of the recommendations and “best practices” that science and reason dictate. Leading with the tools of education and information we will protect the natural heritage of Lake Pepin.


I. To promote a multifaceted approach to reducing the sediment and nutrients from upstream tributaries, with emphasis on the Minnesota River. Currently, the average annual load of sediment is about 1 million metric tons per year (the equivalent of a cubic city block of sediment). A first objective is to reduce this loading by 50% to achieve transparency goals supportive of submersed aquatic vegetation targets. This will also reduce the rate of lake in-filling by one half.

II. To restore and preserve conditions in Upper Pool 4 and the head of Lake Pepin.

III. To ensure the institutional arrangements for protecting the lake into the future.Board & Staff


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