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Public hearing will address Upper Lightning Lake in Otter Tail County

People are invited to attend a public hearing about the proposed wildlife lake designation of Upper Lightning Lake in Otter Tail County on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m., at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) area wildlife office, 1509 First Ave. North, Fergus Falls.

Upper Lightning Lake is a 720-acre shallow basin in the southwest corner of Otter Tail County about 9 miles south of Fergus Falls. The DNR wildlife section proposes a temporary partial drawdown of the lake to improve waterfowl habitat and water quality.

The DNR is seeking a wildlife lake designation under state law in order to start the partial drawdown. This designation will give the DNR authority to manage water levels and improve wildlife habitat.

As part of the designation process, the DNR will take input from other agencies and interested parties on the proposed management options expected to be presented at the meeting. A formal public hearing for wildlife lake designation status will be held at a later date, after the lake management plan is completed.

Historically, Upper Lightning Lake was known as an excellent waterfowl migration and breeding area. The lake supported an abundant and diverse aquatic plant community, including dense beds of sago pondweed and large stands of hardstem bulrush.

The quality of waterfowl habitat on the lake began to decline in the mid-1980s. High water levels resulted in increasing numbers of undesirable fish, poor water quality and reduced abundance of emergent and submerged vegetation. Increasing water levels in recent years have eroded the shoreline and further degraded wildlife habitat.

Drawdowns are a common management tool for improving water quality and habitat conditions in shallow lakes. A drawdown involves temporarily lowering the lake's water level to consolidate bottom sediments, encourage aquatic vegetation growth and reduce the number of undesirable fish.

Those unable to attend the meeting can provide written comments to Don Schultz, area wildlife supervisor, at or 218-739-7576, ext. 228. All comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 17, 2013.