Habitat evaluation

We conduct habitat evaluations annually on a number of shallow lakes across the state. This work is the cornerstone of the Shallow Lakes Program.


These evaluations help assess the overall habitat conditions of a lake. They provide baseline information about existing problems and steps to address them. They are also used to assess habitat management effectiveness. By gathering data on lake conditions before and after treatment, we can determine the success of management activities.

Person holding rake full of aquatic vegetation.

Information collected

Three basic variables are collected during a lake survey:

  • aquatic vegetation
  • water depth
  • water clarity

Aquatic vegetation is a critical component in shallow lake ecosystems, so information on the type and distribution of plants is very important. Water depth and clarity are crucial factors in determining if and where plants will grow in the lake. Plant growth occurs where light can penetrate the water to the bottom of the lake. If water is too deep and/or too cloudy, plant growth will be limited, and the habitat quality and wildlife value will decline.

Other data collected includes:

  • basic weather information
  • water temperature
  • wind and wave conditions
  • water level
  • waterfowl and wildlife species
  • presence or absence of fish populations
  • any special conditions on the lake

The Shallow Lakes Program maintains a database of current and historic habitat evaluations. We have conducted over 1,900 evaluations on more than 1,500 lakes since 1940.