Image courtesy Cottonwood County

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has begun the drawdown of Cottonwood County’s Long Lake, located south of Westbrook. The temporary lowering of water levels on this 211-acre lake will improve fish and wildlife habitat as well as water quality. Lowered water levels mimic a drought, which can act as a natural “reset” to an ecosystem.

Habitat in Long Lake has been hurt by large populations of common carp that degrade water quality and impede healthy growth of aquatic plants. Historically, Long Lake was an important resting spot for migratory waterfowl.

Plans call for lowering water levels this fall to help induce a winterkill of undesirable fish such as common carp that uproot native plants and disturb bottom sediments through their feeding habits. The drawdown will also promote a greater density and diversity of aquatic vegetation.

Minnesota DNR wildlife managers, in coordination with technicians from Ducks Unlimited, also hope to use low water levels to remove excessive sediment near the lake outlet. Sediment removal will help the current water control structure function more effectively.