Cedar Lake is a relatively small, clear, deep lake located just west of Upsala, Minnesota. It has a small watershed with a watershed to lake ratio of 5:1. It has a fairly mixed use watershed with agricultural, forest, and developed land cover. There is moderate development, limited primarily to the north and eastern shorelines, surrounding the lake along with forested areas.
Aquatic plants are diverse but dominated by Chara. This is an architecturally complex species of algae that provides quality habitat for juvenile fish and sensitive species. Chara is also an important resilience mechanism in lakes that maintains high water clarity. Although Curlyleaf Pondweed is present in the lake, this species does not usually grow to nuisance levels in clear mesotrophic lakes like Cedar.
Cedar harbors seven fish species intolerant to disturbance and two vegetation-dwelling species of special concern: the Pugnose Shiner and Least Darter. The fish community is made up of a variety of cold, cool, and warm water species including Cisco, Walleye, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, Bluegill, Black Crappie, and Rock Bass. It has produced some of the highest IBI scores in the state indicating that habitat conditions remain excellent.
Cedar Lake was selected as a Sentinel Lake because it is a small, deep, and mesotrophic lake located in the Northern Central Hardwood Forests ecoregion.