Buffalo Lake, April 2009 in draw-down
June 2009 - Plants respond to the draw-down
August 2009 - Buffalo Lake is healthy again
One of southern Minnesota’s best shallow waterfowl migration lakes is in the middle of a face-lift that will attract and hold more ducks.
Buffalo Lake in Waseca County was temporarily drawn-down for Ducks Unlimited to reconstruct a water control outlet structure and outlet channel. The new structure will improve the capability of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to conduct future temporary draw-downs to improve water quality and wildlife habitat. Shallow lakes depend on fluctuating water levels to consolidate sediments, improve water quality, and rejuvenate aquatic plants and invertebrates for waterfowl and other wildlife
The new structure includes a new fish barrier feature to inhibit carp and other invasive fish from re-infesting the 895-acre shallow lake.
“Buffalo Lake is one of the most important shallow lake improvement projects DU is implementing under our Living Lakes Initiative,” said Jon Schneider, DU manger of Minnesota conservation programs.
The project is a partnership between Ducks Unlimited, the DNR, the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources and private landowners. It addresses the habitat goals of both DU’s Living Lakes conservation initiative and DNR’s Duck Recovery Plan.
Historically, one of southern Minnesota’s most popular waterfowl destinations, Buffalo Lake has suffered in recent years due to high, stable water levels. The high water has allowed fish to proliferate and has limited the presence of aquatic plants and invertebrates attractive to ducks. The old existing structure did not effectively limit the entry of fish into the lake following management draw-downs, which limited their effectiveness.
DU engineers surveyed and designed the new water control structure and fish barrier while DU biologists worked with the Britton farm family, who own the property containing the lake outlet, to secure a conservation easement that allows for placement, access, management and maintenance of the new structures.