Richard J. Dorer
Many people influenced watershed land use over the years, and Richard J. Dorer stands out as such a person. He began working for the Minnesota Department of Conservation in 1938, the year the Whitewater left its banks 28 times. He saw the devastation erosion and siltation were causing, and he was passionate about protecting the land and the river.
He began purchasing land as the state administrator of federal wildlife funds. Then in 1943, after building public support, his proposal was approved to purchase 38,000 acres along the Whitewater River for a wildlife area.
Dorer, together with state foresters, wildlife managers, and the Soil Conservation Service, set out to control erosion on this new wildlife land. They planted grasses, shrubs and trees in the valleys and on the slopes. On the ridge tops they changed the cropland to contoured fields around the slopes and built diversion dams at the top of gullies.
Dorer designed a complex system of dikes to retain runoff in the Whitewater River valley in three pools. This system is known today as the Richard J. Dorer Pools. These measures were part of a great experiment to control erosion and improve soil health. The lessons learned helped change land use in the watershed, and preserved a treasure of public land for the enjoyment of all.