Conservation on the ground: planning at the sub-watershed scale

By Ann Lewandowski
Ann Lewandowski of the Water Resources Center and partners at the University of Wisconsin, Purdue University, and the North Central Region Water Network are developing training and support resources for users of the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF). 

acpf poster

Resources are available at the ACPF website:

The Pollution Control Agency and local governments have worked hard over the past decade to develop water resource management strategies for the major watersheds of Minnesota. But the process for implementing those strategies at the smaller sub-watershed scale is less well developed. The ACPF addresses this sub-watershed scale. It is an ArcGIS-based tool giving local governments the ability to quickly analyze terrain, identify high priority sites where conservation efforts should be focused, and locate specific sites where specific conservation practices would be appropriate. This information saves valuable time by making field visits and stakeholder meetings more targeted and effective.

The ACPF has been used in many watersheds across Minnesota and throughout the Midwest, and Version 3 was released this summer. In the past, it has been difficult to find training workshops, but now all the support resources are available in one place. At the new website, users can find

  • A complete set of training videos for GIS technicians,
  • The User Guide, and technical discussion forum,
  • The “ACPF in Action map” showing where the ACPF has been applied, and
  • Download links for the ACPF toolbox and databases.

In the next year, project collaborators will add guidance for using the ACPF as part of a watershed approach to implementing conservation. The group will present workshops and add online resources to support the field staff who interpret the ACPF output maps and use them with stakeholders to get effective conservation practices on and off the ground.


An example of map generated by the ACPF showing opportunities for conservation practices in the Whitewater watershed.