DNR to hold public hearing on Simon Lake
There was a time in the mid-1990s when members of the Kerkhoven Hunting Club remember some great canvasback and bluebill hunting on Simon Lake in Pope County.
Those days are a distant memory right now, but the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hoping to designate the 569-acre basin as a wildlife lake for the purposes of wildlife management in an attempt to bring the ducks back.
The Glenwood Area DNR will host a public hearing on July 31 at 7 p.m. at the Glenwood Senior Citizen’s Center. The DNR will present a proposed lake management plan, answer questions and accept testimony on behalf of the proposal during the hearing.
“If the hearing goes well in July, we’d be hoping for treatment in fall of 2015,” Glenwood DNR area wildlife supervisor Kevin Kotts said.
Designating Simon as a wildlife lake would give the DNR authority to conduct a temporary two-foot drawdown. The lake would then be treated with a fish toxin called rotenone during the drawdown to eliminate the existing fish population.
The combination of a temporary drawdown and rotenone application is a common management tool for improving waterfowl habitat and water quality by reducing rough fish and encouraging natural plant growth. Simon Lake also already has a fish barrier to help keep fish from coming into the lake from other waters.
“You never kill all the fish but the idea would be to try to get as many of the existing fish in the lake,” Kotts said. “Then hopefully we would restock with northern pike the following spring so we would have a game fish there to eat some of the survivors of the rotenone treatment.”
The lake currently has populations of rough fish like carp and bullhead, along with some yellow perch and limited northerns. The lake has a maximum depth of about seven feet right now and turbid water, limited aquatic vegetation and the presence of those undesirable fish have resulted in poor conditions on the lake since the late 1980s.
Kotts said they have talked with landowners on the lake to try and alleviate any concerns they have with the proposed project. An original plan called for more of a drawdown on the lake, but there were concerns with how long it might take for the basin to refill.
The two-foot drawdown would serve as a cushion in the case of a big rain event to make sure the treated water doesn’t go downstream. There was also some concern over the placement of a permanent pump on the lake.
The DNR plans to alleviate those concerns as the current plan calls for the use of a large siphon or portable pumps to remove the water.
“I’m not sure this one will be all positive,” Kotts said. “I’m hoping it will be. We’ve tried pretty hard to address the landowners’ concerns. This is about the bare minimum we can do and expect good results.”
Kotts pointed to other lakes they have done drawdowns on like Jennie in Douglas County and Ash and Towner Lakes in Grant County as examples of how plants have come back and the ducks have followed.
“Just in my work area I think we had four drawdowns [in 2011] and I think in all cases we got it low enough where the fish were out,” Kotts said. “I think they all had good water quality and vegetation last year and a couple saw pretty good duck use too. The ones out west had really good duck use last fall.”
The public hearing coming up in Glenwood is the next step in trying to get Simon designated as a wildlife lake. DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr will have the final say based on a lot of the testimony from the hearing.
If designated, the DNR expects Simon Lake to start seeing positive results within the first full year after the drawdown and rotenone treatment.
“We’d expect pretty quick results,” Kotts said. “We’ve been monitoring Simon off and on for quite a long time, and it gets very turbid in the summer. There’s very little light penetration. Some years we get small patches of sago pondweed, but if we get clear water we’ll have plants that first summer. The longer you keep the clear water, you tend to increase the diversity of the plants, which is good.”
PUBLIC HEARING INFORMATION
The public hearing to formally designate Simon Lake in Pope County as a wildlife lake for the purposes of wildlife management will be at the Glenwood Senior Citizens’ Center at 107 South Fanklin Street in Glenwood on July 31 at 7 p.m.
Those unable to attend can comment by writing to the DNR and sending it to 23070 North Lakeshore Drive, Glenwood, MN 56334. Comments will be accepted through August 31.
Those who would like additional information can contact Kevin Kotts at (320) 634-0342 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Todd Call, DNR wildlife lake specialist, at (320) 634-0350 or by emailing email@example.com. The draft management plans for Simon Lake can be viewed at dnr.state.mn.us/wildlife/shallowlakes.