Shallow Lakes Program
Minnesota's diverse wildlife populations are influenced in large part by our state's abundant water resources. While all lakes support wildlife needs, it is the shallow water zone, characterized by aquatic plants and generally less than 15 feet deep, that provides the most important wildlife habitat.
There are more than 5000 shallow lakes over 50 acres in size in Minnesota. These lakes have permanent or semi-permanent water regimes and are typically dominated by wetland habitat (less than 15 feet deep). Although water quality degradation, altered watersheds, modified outlets, urban development, intensive agriculture and exotic species have reduced their wildlife benefits, shallow lakes remain a critical habitat component for Minnesota's wildlife.
The Shallow Lakes Program works to protect and enhance wildlife habitat on lakes dominated by this shallow water (or littoral) zone. However, it is recognized that many of Minnesota's deeper lakes have extensive vegetated areas that are also critically important to water birds and aquatic furbearers.
The DNR's Shallow Lakes Management Plan guides the work of wildlife lake specialists, who provide technical support to field managers, recommend policy considerations to the Fish and Wildlife division's management team and represent the division on lake management issues involving the public and other agencies.
Technical support includes:
- conducting habitat evaluations on lakes across the state annually
- guiding the formal designation of wildlife management lakes, waterfowl feeding and resting areas, refuges and sanctuaries
- identifying lake management problems
- recommending lake management strategies and developing management plans
- assisting citizen participation
- developing and maintaining GIS and database products of current and historical information and distributing them to relevant parties