Weather Alert

Swan Lake drawdown to continue for second year

At 10,000 acres, Swan Lake, east of New Ulm and Courtland, is the largest prairie pothole wetland in North America, and a regional destination for waterfowl hunters. On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Swan Lake will remain in drawdown for a second consecutive year to help improve water quality and habitat conditions.

The lake’s emergent vegetation stands are declining due to persistent high-water levels. Lowered water levels simulate a natural drought, which can act as a reset to a shallow lake by reducing common carp populations and allowing new growth of vegetation. Plans call for allowing precipitation and snow melt to begin refilling the lake in the spring of 2023.

Nicollet Area Wildlife Supervisor Stein Innvaer said, “Our goal in 2022 is to reach full drawdown earlier in the summer. This should provide enough time for emergent vegetation to get established, unlike last year when our desired level was reached too late in the growing season to get the desired response from the vegetation.”

Wildlife managers are optimistic about this year’s goals since Swan Lake’s water levels are already two feet below ordinary high-water levels. Managers lowered water levels three feet last year and hope to lower them another three feet in 2022. That means a likely impact to the 2022 waterfowl hunting season this fall.

Swan Lake is one of only 60 designated wildlife lakes in Minnesota. The wildlife lake designation allows the DNR to temporarily lower lake levels periodically to improve wildlife habitat.

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