Management plan now finalized for Heron LakeFree Access

The management plan for Heron Lake is now updated and available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

The Heron Lake management plan update includes more than 50 years of data and significant input from the public, as well as area stakeholders.

Heron Lake is a nearly 8,000-acre shallow lake that is an important resting spot for thousands of migrating waterfowl each year. It was once considered one of North America’s most productive waterfowl lakes.

“Heron Lake has been impacted by changes in climate patterns and surrounding land use,” said Maggie Gross, DNR wildlife lake specialist. “In order to mitigate some of those pressures, we needed to update the lake’s management plan.”

The updated lake management plan identifies new triggers that will guide specific actions such as periodic drawdowns and predator fish stocking. Gross said those updated triggers are based on water quality benchmarks, as well as the abundance of aquatic plants and fish such as common carp and bullheads.

Water level drawdowns will be used to mimic drought conditions. Gross said periodic low water levels are critical to a healthy shallow lake because they encourage aquatic plant growth and consolidate sediments. Drawdowns and predator fish stocking also reduce populations of common carp and bullheads, which degrade water quality through their feeding behavior.

Minnesotans provided comments in October and November 2020. Based on public comments, the DNR had additional conversations with individuals and stakeholder groups over the course of 2021. The final plan, which includes items such as drawdown schedules and predator fish stocking, reflects this input.

“We are extremely grateful to the many people and organizations that provided input on the lake management plan,” Gross said. “We’ve incorporated a number of ideas based on that input and remain impressed by the time and thought people brought to the process.”

The lake management plan, a summary of the management plan and a summary of the public comments received are available on the DNR shallow lakes page accessible at

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