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Drawdown on tap for southern Minnesota's Rice Lake

By MWA, 10/29/18, 6:30PM CDT

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The DNR announced today that one of the 57 wildlife management lakes in the state – Rice Lake in Dodge and Steele counties – will undergo a drawdown in an attempt to kill off undesirable fish such as common carp.

Here’s the agency’s news release:

Drawdown planned for Rice Lake in Steele, Dodge Counties

Carp, rough fish removal is goal

The continued presence of common carp and other rough fish in Rice Lake in Steele and Dodge counties has prompted managers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to begin lowering water levels. 

Plans are to gradually lower water levels through the winter in an effort to control rough fish and improve wildlife habitat. DNR wildlife managers documented a decline in water clarity and losses of valuable wildlife food plants. The lake is located in Rice Lake State Park.

Common carp destroy aquatic plants through their feeding actions, which also contributes to poor water quality in nutrient-rich lakes.  

There was a partial winterkill of rough fish in 2018, but surveys of the habitat and fish community this summer revealed that common carp were still present. Habitat conditions remained below management objectives.

Following a successful drawdown, the lake should begin to refill in the spring of 2019. After intentional drawdown efforts end, the stop logs will be returned to the dam and the basin will naturally refill as weather conditions allow.

The majority of the drawdown will occur when Rice Lake State Park is closed to camping. Visitors hoping to use the boat-in campsites should not be affected. Access to Rice Lake may become more difficult later in the fall for motorized boats.   

Drawdowns simulate drought conditions, which are the natural “reset” mechanism for shallow lakes and wetlands. Lowering water levels during the winter should help reduce the abundance of common carp and other rough fish in the lake that destroy beneficial aquatic plants and invertebrates. 

Rice Lake is a 715-acre shallow lake, and was designated as a wildlife management lake in 1985. It is one of only 57 such lakes in the state. This designation allows DNR managers to take steps such as temporary drawdowns to help mitigate for factors affecting water and habitat quality and quantity.

For more information on the DNR’s shallow lakes program, visit mndnr.gov/shallowlakes.