The Red Lakes are the most significant natural resource feature in this watershed. Theselakes have provided a tremendous walleye fishery. The crappie and northern pike fisheries are also outstanding. Tributary streams to the lakes provide spawning habitat. Rice farms on Tamarac River and Shotley Brook, peatlands north of Red Lake and bog areas are also prominent aquatic features. The remaining landscape in this planning basin is dominated by wetlands including peatlands, bogs and shrublands. These areas provide habitat for a diversity of species. Public lands are common and most of this area is within the boundary of the Red Lake Indian Reservation.
The Red Lakes watershed consists of an approximately 1,929 square mile area. The watershedoutlets into the Red Lake River at the Red Lake Dam. The watershed is located entirely withinthe Northern Minnesota Peatlands and the Northern Minnesota Drift and Lake Plains ecoregions.Soil textures range from fine-loamy in the southern portion of the watershed to hemic/sapric inthe northern portion of the watershed with a buffer strip of sandy soils around Lower Red Lake.The area consists largely of forest land, lakes and wetlands, with very little agricultural ordeveloped land.
The Red Lake Department of Natural Resources monitors water quality throughout the Red Lake Nation. The Red Lake Watershed District monitors water quality conditions at five sites in the Beltrami County portion of this watershed on the Blackduck River, North Cormorant River, South Cormorant River, O'Briens Creek, and Darrigan's Creek.