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DNR begins Swan Lake drawdown

NICOLLET COUNTY — Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife managers have begun lowering Swan Lake water levels.

The temporary drawdown will improve wildlife habitat and water quality, according to the DNR.

“The region’s had several years of above average rainfall, pushing Swan Lake above its ordinary high water level,” said Stein Innvaer, Nicollet County area wildlife manager. “The lake has gone 13 years without an extended low water period. And we’re seeing how wind, waves and ice have caused emergent plants to decline.”

Plans call for lowering water levels to 3 feel below the ordinary high-water level, which will allow new growth of emergent vegetation.

The lowered water levels mimic a drought, which can reset the aquatic community in a shallow lake by consolidating sediment and exposing the seed bed for germination. Lowered water levels also may help reduce common carp problems.

Carp can inflict damage on a lake when they uproot native plants and disturb bottom sediments through their feeding habits. The resulting turbid water conditions release nutrients that feed algae blooms and reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches plants growing on the lake’s bottom.

If precipitation patterns allow, the lake levels will remain lowered for part of the 2021 growing season to allow new plants to be established.

At 10,000 acres, Swan Lake is considered the largest prairie pothole (wetland depression) in the United States and a premier waterfowl hunting destination. It is also one of only 60 designated Minnesota wildlife lakes, a designation that authorizes the DNR to periodically lower lake levels to improve wildlife habitat.

More information on lake designation is available on the DNR website – dnr.state.mn.us. To talk to a wildlife manager at the Nicollet area wildlife office, leave a brief messages at 507-225-3572. The call will be returned promptly.

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