The DNR commissioner may formally designate lakes for wildlife management under the authority of Minnesota Statutes 97A.101 subdivision 2. This designation allows the DNR to temporarily lower lake levels periodically to improve wildlife habitat and regulate motorized watercraft and recreational vehicles on the lake. Most shallow lakes beneficial for wildlife are not formally designated.
Without formal designation, lowering lake levels is not allowed without permission of all the shoreland owners.
The decision to designate a lake for wildlife management is based primarily on the results of a public hearing in the county where the lake is located. Prior to the public hearing, DNR wildlife staff develop a draft lake management proposal, meet with landowners and local units of government, and sponsor public information meetings. The management proposal is often modified to address concerns discussed during this process. However, the primary focus of designation must be the improvement of the lake for wildlife. The entire process may take more than two years to complete.
Read more about the MN DNR wildlife lake designation process
Several factors determine whether to designate a lake for wildlife:
Fifty-six lakes covering over 56,000 acres, have been designated for wildlife management. These lakes vary in size from 48 acres to over 9,000. Most of the designated lakes are located in southern Minnesota, where many watersheds have been highly modified to improve drainage.