Image courtesy Minnesota DNR

The Minnesota DNR has announced that water levels will remain lowered on Marsh Lake, northwest of Montevideo, through the summer of 2021 in order to protect and strengthen the vegetation established last year. The lowered water levels will limit angling opportunities this spring and summer before managers begin to refill the basin around Sept. 1 or as weather conditions allow.

Marsh Lake is a 5,000-acre reservoir along the Minnesota River, and is an important nesting area and  migration point for hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese, as well as one of the most important rookeries for American white pelicans.

Lac qui Parle area wildlife manager Walt Gessler said:

Lowered lake levels mimic a natural drought and reset aquatic ecosystems. Drawdowns and dry conditions improve habitat and water quality by consolidating sediments on the lake bottoms, so vegetation above and below the water to get reestablished.

The lake drawdown is possible because of the Marsh Lake ecosystem restoration project, which wrapped up in early 2020. The nearly $13 million project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided a stone-arch fish passage, dam realignment and new water control structure. It also rerouted the Pomme de Terre River back to its historic channel, which once again drains into the Minnesota River downstream of the dam.