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.