For years it has been about getting rid of aquatic vegetation, but perhaps 2016 will be a year to focus on the restoration and the necessity of these plants to create a healthy fishery and the overall health of the ecosystem.
Marsh Lake lies within the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management area, which is managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In the fall, as many as 150,000 Canada geese use the management area at one time. Marsh Lake is also home to Minnesota’s largest breeding colony of American white pelicans and several species of fish.
This past year, DNR crews surveying the lake were only able to find one stand of Sago pondweed. It’s a staple food source for migrating waterfowl, and one of the reasons that Marsh Lake was once known as a duck hunter’s mecca. The lake once held beds of thick Sago pondweed. Healthy stands of submerged aquatic vegetation provide food for waterfowl, habitat for other migratory birds, fish and crabs.
A key component of the project is to do what nature once did, and allow lake levels to fluctuate. A fixed-crest dam installed in 1937 has not allowed for natural fluctuations and as a result, contributed to the demise of aquatic vegetation that relies on natural water level cycles.
The Marsh Lake project calls for adding a sluice gate structure to the fixed-crest dam to allow periodic drawdowns of the lake to allow aquatic vegetation to re-establish itself. The plan would also include elements to improve fishery habitat and stabilize the riverbanks by restoring natural vegetation.
Lake Mattamuskeet is the centerpiece of the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge located in North Carolina. The lake is home to an abundant diversity of wildlife — from the hundreds of thousands of waterfowl that winter on the lake each year to a unique fishery that consists of both freshwater and estuarine species.
Beginning in 2016, a habitat enhancement project will be implemented; focusing on maintaining submerged aquatic vegetation parts of the lake as well as increasing aquatic vegetation coverage in other areas. Healthy stands of submerged aquatic vegetation provide food for waterfowl, habitat for other migratory birds, fish and crabs. Submerged aquatic vegetation is very limited in the west basin of Lake Mattamuskeet, and in recent years has steadily declined in the east basin.