ST. PAUL, Minn. Sept. 27, 2022 The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources designated Indian Lake in Sibley County an official Wildlife Management Lake, enabling Ducks Unlimited to complete a major enhancement to improve wetland habitat conditions for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife.

The official designation, signed Sept. 14 by Minnesota DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, following a public hearing in December 2021, allows the DNR to temporarily lower lake levels periodically to improve wildlife habitat and regulate motorized watercraft and recreational vehicles on the lake. According to the DNR, 60 lakes covering over 57,000 acres have been designated for wildlife management across the state. These lakes vary in size from 48 to more than 9,000 acres. Most of the designated lakes are in southern Minnesota, where many watersheds have been highly modified to improve drainage.

The designation follows years of intense cooperative conservation efforts between DU and the DNR to enhance and protect the 377-acre Indian Lake and 86-acre adjacent marsh.

The lake has been plagued by high water for years, compounded by an abundance of invasive fish and pollutant runoff from local agriculture. DU and the Minnesota DNR began planning efforts to enhance the lake for waterfowl a decade ago, with DU focusing on engineering water-level infrastructure and working with adjacent willing private landowners to purchase and restore drained cropland around the lake.

Ducks Unlimited engineered an outlet water-control structure that will allow the Minnesota DNR to temporarily lower water levels to kill invasive fish over the winter and allow aquatic plants to grow. The Wildlife Management Lake designation was needed to implement these water quality tools.

To buffer the lake against agricultural runoff, DU bought four land parcels totaling 356 acres around the lake from private landowners and restored them to native prairie grass and wetland wildlife habitat for inclusion in Minnesota DNRs public Indian Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Ducks Unlimited will solicit bids for the Indian Lake outlet water-control structure, and pipeline this fall, and construction which will start this winter. Engineering and construction are estimated to cost DU over $1 million. DU land acquisition and restoration work thus far has cost over $2 million.

DU applauds Commissioner Strommen and her staff for finalizing this wildlife management designation, said Jon Schneider, DU manager of conservation programs in Minnesota. We have a long and successful history of working in partnership with the DNR to improve this vital public water area, and we are eager to produce a vibrant Indian Lake for waterfowl, animals and outdoors enthusiasts.

As recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, several state grants from Minnesotas Outdoor Heritage Fund are funding much of the enhancement and land protection. A federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant was also awarded to DU to help cover the costs of recent WMA land restoration and the pending Indian Lake enhancement project.

Private major donor contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations have rounded out DUs funding for the project, including the Van Sloun Foundation, Covia Holdings, Inc., Flint Hills Resources, Conservation Partners of America, Gaylord Game Protective League, Caterpillar Foundation, and the Vern &Carla Schmidt Foundation.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit

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Chris Sebastian
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