Drained basin might refill by fall
Doug Smith Star Tribune Staff Writer
July 17, 2005 ONOT0717
The accidental drainage of a popular Twin Cities public waterfowl hunting lake will be corrected -- and officials hope in time for duck hunters to use this fall.
Rice Lake, a 270-acre shallow lake in the Paul Hugo Farms Wildlife Management Area near Hugo, was inadvertently drained this spring after the Rice Creek Watershed District dredged a ditch that extends from the lake through the watershed.
That dredging apparently caused a blowout of soil between the lake and the ditch, virtually emptying the lake, to the consternation of hunters, environmentalists and the Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR has insisted that the watershed district fix the problem, and last week reached an agreement with district officials to do just that. The district will install an earthen dam at the lake's outlet, estimated to cost about $5,000.
The DNR said the basin should refill in 50 to 90 days, depending on rainfall. It wanted the lake restored in time for the hunting season and before the lakebed was overtaken by cattails.
"This is an important resource for waterfowl and for the hunters whose license fees have helped acquire and manage it," said Tim Bremicker, DNR regional wildlife manager.
"This is definitely a temporary fix," said Janette Brimmer, an attorney with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. She said a more permanent water-control structure may be needed.