Image of Heron Lake courtesy Minnesota DNR.

Heron Lake is a nearly 8,000-acre shallow lake that is an important resting spot for thousands of migrating waterfowl each year. It was once considered one of North America’s most productive waterfowl lakes.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’s management plan for Heron Lake is now updated and available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website (

The DNR’s Heron Lake management plan update includes more than 50 years of data and significant input from the public as well as area stakeholders.

The updated lake management plan identifies new triggers that will guide specific actions such as periodic drawdowns and predator fish stocking. Those updated triggers are based on water quality benchmarks as well as the abundance of aquatic plants and fish such as common carp and bullheads.

Water level drawdowns will be used to mimic drought conditions. Periodic low water levels are critical to a healthy shallow lake because they encourage aquatic plant growth and consolidate sediments. Drawdowns and predator fish stocking also reduce populations of common carp and bullheads, which degrade water quality through their feeding behavior.

Minnesotans provided comments in October and November 2020. Based on public comments, the DNR had additional conversations with individuals and stakeholder groups over the course of 2021. The final plan, which includes items such as drawdown schedules and predator fish stocking, reflects this input.

The lake management plan, a summary of the management plan and a summary of the public comments received are available on the DNR shallow lakes page (