Lakes & Streams

Almost half of the Reservation is covered by lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands. This includes:

  • Five major watersheds.
  • 23 lakes.
    • 3,600 acres of fisheries and wild rice areas;
    • 10 lakes have maximum depths greater than 15 feet – Big, Lac, Joe Martin, Third, Spruce, West Twin, Perch Lake North, Pat Martin, Fire Tower, and an unnamed lake near Fire Tower Lake;
  • 96 miles of streams and rivers.
    • 4 trout streams (34 miles) – Big Otter Creek, Martin Branch, Little Otter Creek, and Fond du Lac Creek;
    • All streams drain to the St. Louis River except for a small drainage in the south central portion of the Reservation that is the headwaters to the Moosehorn River;
    • The St. Louis River, which forms the northern border of the Reservation, is the largest U.S. tributary to the Great Lakes;
  • Many scenic, pristine areas that provide habitat for a multitude of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.

Fond du Lac Lakes and Streams Data Table - statistical information about the many lakes and waterways on the Fond du Lac Reservation.
Requires Microsoft Excel to view.
Data Table Explanation - A general overview of the data table. A laymen's guide to what the figures mean and some of the collection methods applied.


The waters of the Fond du Lac Reservation are very important to
the Fond du Lac Band, and should be treated with respect and care.

Watersheds of the Fond du Lac Reservation

Each of the lakes and streams on the Reservation is contained within a watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains to a body of water. Smaller watersheds flow into bigger watersheds. For instance, nearly all of the smaller watersheds on the Reservation flow into the St. Louis River. The St. Louis River watershed flows into Lake Superior, meaning the Reservation is ultimately part of the Lake Superior watershed. The words Fond du Lac mean “head of the lake,” so the watershed is even identified in the Reservation’s name!



Stoney Brook Watershed
  Wild Rice Lakes
  Fisheries Lakes
Other Lakes
  Streams
Simian Creek Watershed
  Lakes
  Streams
Fond du Lac & Otter Creek Watershed
  Lakes
   Streams
Moosehorn River Watershed
St. Louis River Watershed


STONEY BROOK WATERSHED

Stoney BrookThis is Fond du Lac’s largest watershed. It comprises nearly half of the land acreage of the Reservation. Stoney Brook no longer runs in its historic channel; since the early 1900s, it has flowed through 47 miles of man-made ditches. These ditches were dug in a failed attempt to drain the land and make it useful for agriculture. Instead, the land was converted from one wetland type to another, and between 2,000 and 4,000 acres of wetlands were lost. The ditching also had a serious impact on fish, wildlife, and wild rice.

The Reservation’s most important wild rice lakes occur within the Stoney Brook watershed. The ditch system has altered the timing and amount of water that enters these lakes from Stoney Brook, which reduces wild rice production. The Fond du Lac Natural Resources Program has established a system of water control structures to mitigate the effects of the historical ditching by managing water levels in five of the wild rice lakes (Perch Lake, Rice Portage Lake, Deadfish Lake, Jaskari Lake, and Mud (Miller) Lake). In addition, the Natural Resources Program is working on restoring the historical extent of wild rice on these lakes by cutting and removing vegetation that has increased and out-competed wild rice since the ditches were dug. Ditching has also significantly degraded in-stream aquatic habitat throughout most of the drainage. Research is underway to understand the hydrology of the current system in order to optimally manage for wild rice, and potentially restore Stoney Brook to at least some of its original hydrology.

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THE WILD RICE LAKES OF THE STONEY BROOK WATERSHED:

PERCH LAKE
Perch LakePerch Lake serves as the headwaters of Stoney Brook; it is divided into two basins joined by a narrow channel. The southern 385-acre basin supports wild rice and is about 2½ feet deep, and the 246-acre northeastern basin is deeper (16 ft), which provides good fish habitat. Perch Lake was partially drained by a ditch system dug in 1921, and a dam was constructed across the outlet to the lake in 1936 to maintain lake water levels. A new water control structure was completed in 1999 to better manage lake levels, to help control competing vegetation, and help prevent winter oxygen depletion within the basin. Wild rice restoration work is focused on removing pickerelweed, white water lily, and yellow water lily by mechanical cutting and collection. Restoration will be ongoing, and the areas that were “restored” to wild rice have for the most part been recolonized by pickerelweed. Perch Lake supports a diverse array of wildlife, including sandhill cranes, loons, frogs, eagles, and various other waterfowl and fish species.

JASKARI LAKE
Jaskari LakeJaskari Lake covers 79 acres; water flows from Perch Lake into this lake. Jaskari Lake is shallow and most of the area supports wild rice, except for a round deep spot on one end of the lake. This deep spot is clearly visible when the wild rice is growing, as shown in the aerial photograph included here. Because access is limited on this lake, no vegetation cutting has occurred, but wild rice often grows well on this lake. Vegetation cutting and restoration work is planned for between 15 and 20 acres of the lake upon completion of an equipment landing. The restoration work will likely take place beginning in late 2008 or early 2009.

RICE PORTAGE LAKE
Rice Portage LakeBefore ditching, Rice Portage Lake was a 634-acre wild rice lake with extensive associated wetlands. It was the largest wild rice lake on the Reservation. The ditch system drained the lake until it only had 114 acres of open water wild rice habitat. The remaining 520 acres of this lake became so shallow that cattail, sedges, horsetail, and other wetland plants now dominate the nearshore habitat. In the early 2000s, the water control structure at the lake’s outlet was used to raise water levels on Rice Portage Lake, which restored the lake from its A flock of swans flies over Rice Portage Lake. diminished area to its historical size of 634 acres. In 2001, several acres of competing vegetation were cleared and seeded with 1,500 lb. of wild rice. In 2002, wild rice germinated in the restored area. In recent years, wild rice stands have returned to the areas where cutting has occurred, (see picture above), and vegetation management is ongoing.

MUD LAKE
Mud LakeThis 151-acre lake, also known as Miller Lake, is connected by a ditch to the north end of Rice Portage Lake. Unlike the other wild rice lakes, the water level in this lake is controlled by sandbags rather than dams or other water control structures. Because it is only accessible by a 1,000 ft boardwalk through a bog, few people use Mud Lake for purposes other than hunting waterfowl or harvesting rice. Wild rice is not as abundant on this lake as the Reservation’s other wild rice lakes, and it has not yet been determined whether this lake should be actively managed for wild rice. This lake is classified as a wild rice lake, and only in the past ten years has it been rated as “poor” for wild rice; historically this was one of the better wild rice lakes on the Reservation. The lake has been managed at a much lower level than in the past decades; the Natural Resources program will begin experimenting with higher water levels to see if wild rice production increases. Thus far, water level management has been limited to removing beaver dams or placing sand bags. A pair of loons, 26 swans, flocks of ducks, and a moose cow with its calf have been seen on this lake.

DEADFISH LAKE
Deadfish LakeDeadfish Lake is a 101-acre wild rice lake; it is very popular with ricers on the Reservation. Unlike the Reservation’s other wild rice lakes, Deadfish has two dams: one dam is at the outflow and the other is an impoundment dam at the inflow, about a mile upstream of the lake. Because water level fluctuations (the bounce) in this lake can be drastic enough to kill wild rice, the dam upstream of the inflow of the lake impounds water and prevents it from inundating the lake. Since the impoundment and the outlet dam were constructed, the wild rice has grown well on the lake. Deadfish supports a multitude of waterfowl, including ducks, herons, sandhill cranes, swans, and loons.

BANG LAKE
Bang LakeThough this lake does support a small stand of wild rice, it is not often used for harvesting by the Band. The lake has about 20 seasonal and year-round residences on its shore, with some problems associated with shoreline vegetation removal by homeowners. Because the wild rice stands are very dense around the perimeter of this lake, it is a problem when homeowners remove it because wild rice is an annual plant that must drop its seeds in the water every year to ensure future wild rice growth. Many types of animals use this lake, including a muskrat making a pile from wild rice stalks, a breeding pair of loons with an obvious nest, and a pair of red-headed ducks.

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THE FISHERIES LAKES OF THE STONEY BROOK WATERSHED:

BIG LAKE

Big water on Big Lake.

Kids swimming at Molestad's beach.

Beach erosion at Molestad's beach.

This is the most popular recreational lake on the Reservation. The MN DNR monitors and assesses the fishery of Big Lake, and in the past has stocked walleyes, though there is no evidence of a self-sustaining walleye population. Opportunities to fish for bluegill make it a popular spot for families. Even so, Big Lake has many problems.

Big Lake has the most highly developed lakeshore of the Reservation lakes and with it the attendant problems of development, including increased stormwater runoff, algae blooms, habitat fragmentation, and noncompliant septic systems that spill raw sewage into the water. To learn more about the Big Lake Wastewater Project, click the link on the Water Program’s front page. In addition, the volume of nonresident usage of the lake increases the potential for introduction of invasive species. The Reservation maintains a public beach (Molestad’s beach) on the north end of the lake, and the Environmental Program is working on two issues with the beach: excessive beach erosion and regular monitoring of bacteria levels to insure the water is safe for swimming.

Even though Big Lake exists within the Stoney Brook watershed, drainage from Big Lake is more than likely not tied to the Stoney Brook Watershed. Roads and development have isolated the Big Lake watershed and disrupted historic drainage patterns. The road at the southwest corner of the lake appears to block the drainage to the wetland draining to Sofie Lake. The Big Lake outlet may flow to the Moosehorn River Watershed via Wild Rice Lake. Another possibility is drainage into the Simian Creek Watershed to the northeast through a low gradient ditch that crosses the intersection of Cary Road, Ditchbank Road, and Big Lake Road during overflows. However, this drainage is also blocked by a driveway without a culvert. Further research is needed to discover how Big Lake is hydrologically connected to the other waters of the Reservation.

JOE MARTIN LAKE
Joe Martin LakeThis lake stands alone, in more ways than one. It is the only large lake in the northwestern part of the Reservation, and it sits in the area of the Reservation with the most topographical relief. Joe Martin Lake has the biggest Daphnia, a type of zooplankton, on the Reservation, and these Daphnia serve as a good food source for bluegill. The lake has natural populations of black crappie, largemouth bass, sunfish, and northern pike. With depths over 75 feet, Joe Martin Lake is also the deepest lake on the Reservation. Because of its depth, dissolved oxygen levels drop from near 90% at the surface to near 0% at about 15 feet deep during the summer months. With steep slopes surrounding the lake and the existence of logging roads and timber production, erosion and sedimentation have become a concern. Some work is being done in this area with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, but more is needed. Only about 10-15 homes and cabins have been built on the shore of this lake. Yellow lady’s slipper blooms along the shore, and flocks of swallows eat the large swarms of midges that hatch out of the lake in the spring.

LOST LAKE
Lost LakeLost Lake is a primary fishery lake on the Reservation, but there is no public access to this lake. Surveys have identified largemouth bass, bluegill, walleye, and northern pike populations. About 10-15 cabins and homes have been built within this basin. This is a lovely clear water lake, and it is shallow enough to support aquatic vegetation throughout the entire basin. This lake is surrounded by a dense stand of hardwoods with some large pines intermixed. A bog on the west side of the lake supports one of the most diverse plant communities on the Reservation.

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OTHER LAKES IN THE STONEY BROOK WATERSHED

Lac LakeLac Lake (pictured here) is one of several lakes on the Reservation that has been designated as one of the Reservation’s Aesthetic Waters, meaning it possesses exceptional beauty. Though both Lac Lake and Spring Lake are fairly pristine, like all lakes on the Reservation, they may contain mercury that can get into the tissues of fish and other aquatic wildlife. Spruce Lake (also known as Spirit Lake), could potentially experience agricultural impacts from cattle grazing nearby, but monitoring data do not indicate any adverse effects as of yet. Sofie Lake has two homes along the lakeshore, which are set well back from the shoreline, and monitoring data have not revealed any apparent impacts. Largemouth bass and panfish have been identified in past surveys. Hardwood Lake has little shoreline development (difficult access), but beaver activity at the outflow may be raising water levels above what is considered optimal for wild rice growth. Side Lake has a single residence, abundant wild rice growth, and no apparent nonpoint source impacts.

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STREAMS IN THE STONEY BROOK WATERSHED

STONEY BROOK
Stoney BrookMost of Stoney Brook has been re-routed into a series of ditches, though the last three miles of the downstream portion, where Stoney Brook empties into the Saint Louis River, remain intact. Martin Branch flows east to meet Stoney Brook at this intact portion, and it is also here that Stoney Brook retains high quality habitat, with intact banks, low embeddedness, and diverse macroinvertebrate (including lots of crayfish!) and fish communities (including rock bass). The word “macroinvertebrate” means an animal without a backbone that is visible to the naked eye, in this case, an aquatic insect or larva. Aerial photos show remnants of the original stream bed near where ditching has occurred throughout this watershed. An ongoing study of the surface water and groundwater interactions within this watershed will help us understand the hydrology of the current system. From there, the Office of Water Protection and the Natural Resources Program can identify opportunities for restoration projects to reconnect original stream reaches to the system, and help manage lake levels for wild rice.

ANNAMHASUNG CREEK
Annamhasung Creek is essentially a ditch, with little or no baseflow in the natural stream channel, but as this is a small stream, the impaired natural habitat is construed as a moderate nonpoint source impact. This stream is not included in routine monitoring, though some data do exist to show that local livestock operations do not contribute to elevated nitrogen or phosphorus concentrations in the stream.

MARTIN BRANCH

Martin Branch
Impounded water drains into Martin Branch where a collapsed culvert has dammed the stream.


Martin Branch as a small tributary that supports young brook trout.

Martin Branch, which flows into Stoney Brook just before it joins the St. Louis River, has substantial beaver activity along its drainage. It has both high quality habitat and extremely degraded aquatic habitat (sedimentation along a county highway bridge; collapsed culvert) in different reaches. This stream is the focus of a restoration project for a collapsed culvert, and a comprehensive watershed restoration planning effort. This creek has a diverse array of fish species.

SPRING CREEK
Spring Creek, a small tributary to Martin Branch, has no apparent nonpoint source pollution impacts.

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SIMIAN CREEK WATERSHED

Simian (pronounced “Simon”) Creek Watershed appears very healthy, according to monitoring data. Stressors in this watershed include non-compliant septic systems that leak sewage into surface waters, and runoff from farming or cattle operations. There is also concern that invasive species could be introduced to the system through the public boat landing at West Twin Lake. However, there is very little development in this watershed, and many of the lakes remain in pristine condition. This is the only watershed in the Reservation that is entirely contained within the Reservation’s boundaries. All other watersheds include land that is outside the Reservation’s boundaries.

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LAKES OF THE SIMIAN CREEK WATERSHED

SIMIAN LAKE
Simian LakeSimian Creek flows into the southern end and out of the northern end of Simian Lake, and the waters are highly colored or stained with dissolved carbon. Because the stream flows through the lake, the retention time for water in the lake is shorter than in other Reservation lakes. After the severe drought of 2007, it was the first lake to rebound during the fall rains. While there are residences in the watershed, there is little shoreline impact from humans. It is a productive lake, supporting a good northern pike fishery. A mating pair of swans has used this lake in the past as their summer home.

PAT MARTIN LAKE
Pat Martin LakeThis is a 35-acre kettle bog lake. A kettle lake is formed by past glacial activity on the landscape. Pat Martin Lake formed when a chunk of glacier ice was deposited at the end of a melting glacier; the ice chunk created a depression that filled with water when the ice melted. The shore of this undeveloped lake is surrounded by a spruce bog and a floating sphagnum mat, which provides good cover for fish. Its waters are extremely soft (very few dissolved minerals) and lightly colored by dissolved carbon. The fish community includes yellow perch, black crappie, and largemouth bass. Similar bog lakes on the Reservation include East Twin Lake and Spruce (Spirit) Lake.

WEST TWIN LAKE
West Twin LakeThis lake has two basins: shallow and bog- rimmed on the north; deeper and hardwood-forested on the south (with stunning fall foliage), and a rocky shoal and sand bar separating the two. MN DNR assessments have identified yellow perch, crappie, and northern pike. The DNR periodically stocks the lake with walleye, though there is no evidence of any natural reproduction. There are about 12 residences surrounding the south basin, and a public access for boats. During the 2007 drought, water levels in this lake dropped to the point that the public access ramp was left high and dry. This lake, along with Pat Martin Lake and Simian Lake, are the primary fisheries lakes within the Simian Creek Watershed.

EAST TWIN LAKE
East Twin LakeEast Twin Lake has a single seasonal cabin but no other apparent potential impacts. Most of the shoreline is covered by black spruce trees, but past logging activity is apparent where a distinct patch of hardwoods grows along a section of shoreline.

 

CEDAR LAKE
Cedar LakeThere is concern about a severe decline in wild rice productivity in Cedar Lake over the past two decades, and it should be the focus of a watershed study to determine the causes of the decline. While Cedar Lake has experienced a loss in wild rice productivity, traditional water quality parameters (including the sulfate criterion for wild rice waters) have not been exceeded in any of the samples collected. Since small populations of wild rice continue to germinate annually, the potential exists for reestablishment of healthy wild rice populations, once the stressor(s) have been identified and mitigated. One likely culprit is water level, which will be managed beginning in 2008 by removing beaver dams. The Natural Resources program also reseeded a test plot in 2007. Another possible culprit is copper sulfate, which the MN DNR puts in lakes to assist with the removal of fish. Copper sulfate can cause high sulfate levels in the lake sediments, and this can be toxic to wild rice seedlings, even if sulfate levels in the water are low. The nonpoint source impacts to Cedar Lake are considered moderate. A flock of swans congregated on this lake in 2007, probably because this lake is relatively undisturbed by people.

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STREAMS OF THE SIMIAN CREEK WATERSHED

SIMIAN CREEK
Simian CreekSome of the greatest diversity of stream macroinvertebrates can be found at the permanent monitoring station on Simian Creek, less than a mile from the confluence with the St. Louis River. The word “macroinvertebrate” means an animal without a backbone that is visible to the naked eye, in this case, an aquatic insect or larva. High macroinvertebrate diversity is a sign of stream health, because certain species are not tolerant of pollution. When these sensitive species are found in a stream, it means the stream itself does not receive a significant amount of pollution. Because we have a long-term monitoring database of macroinvertebrate diversity, we can detect any changes or stream degradation, and work to rectify any problems. Simian Creek also has high fish species diversity.

To learn more about macroinvertebrates, and to view pictures of various species, click this link: http://watermonitoring.uwex.edu/wav/monitoring/biotic.html

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FOND DU LAC CREEK AND OTTER CREEK WATERSHED

This watershed is the most heavily developed on the Reservation. Tribal headquarters, the school, and other administration buildings exist on the eastern side of the watershed (see red areas in the map above), and the Black Bear casino and golf courses are undergoing expansion on the southeastern side of the watershed. New development is usually reviewed to reduce the amount of habitat fragmentation, maintain buffers around water bodies, and to control the amount of impervious surface.

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LAKES OF THE FOND DU LAC CREEK AND OTTER CREEK WATERSHED

SECOND LAKE
Second LakeIn spite of obvious runoff from Big Lake Road, which is immediately adjacent to the northern shoreline of Second Lake, no water quality impairments have been detected. This lake is relatively small and shallow, and it attracts species such as seagulls and Canada geese. This picture, taken in 2007, exemplifies the severity of the summer drought, for the green expanse in the middle of the picture is usually under water.

THIRD LAKE
Third LakeFond du Lac Office of Water Protection’s monitoring work shows that Third Lake is has significant nonpoint source impacts. Manure management at a small horse farm on the shore of the lake is a problem because it causes soil erosion that washes sediments into the water and allows animal wastes to get into the lake. Third Lake experiences heavy summer algal blooms, leading to decreased water clarity and high pH readings. Measurements of Secchi disk depth (a water clarity parameter), total phosphorous, and chlorophyll a (a measure of lake productivity), indicate this lake has undergone eutrophication, meaning enough nutrients have entered the lake to increase productivity (mostly algae), and reduce stability. In short, this lake is severely impaired. Mid-summer daytime pH readings have exceeded 9 on several dates (7 is neutral), most likely from high rates of photosynthetic activity, which is likely to impact aquatic organisms. The zooplankton in this lake are smaller in size than in other Reservation lakes, and the community as a whole exhibits reduced diversity. This may indicate the presence of environmental or ecological stressors. Turbidity readings from Third Lake are greater than in any of the other monitored water bodies on the Reservation. The two lakes closest to Third Lake, First Lake and Second Lake, are shallow lakes oriented east-west on the landscape. In contrast, Third Lake is deep (20 ft) and oriented north-south on the landscape. Because of these differences, there is some question as to whether this bathtub-like lake is manmade. Regardless of its origins, working with landowners will be key to improving water quality in this lake.

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STREAMS OF THE FOND DU LAC CREEK AND OTTER CREEK WATERSHED

FOND DU LAC CREEK
Fond du Lac CreekFond du Lac Creek is a designated trout stream, so it is closely monitored for nutrients, temperature, and habitat integrity to ensure that trout can survive in this stream. The most significant apparent impact to Fond du Lac Creek is the poorly installed culvert under Reservation Road, which is perched too high to accommodate fish passage and maintain the hydrologic connection to the St. Louis River. Aside from this obvious physical impairment, however, monitored habitat quality and water quality parameters indicate a relatively healthy coldwater stream ecosystem, supporting a diverse macroinvertebrate assemblage and fish community. Nonpoint source impacts are considered moderate.

BIG OTTER CREEK AND LITTLE OTTER CREEK

Big Otter Creek
Big Otter Creek as it flows through the golf course.

Big Otter Creek
Big Otter Creek in its natural state.

Big Otter Creek is also a designated trout stream, and is closely monitored for impacts from commercial and recreational development at the Black Bear complex, including the golf course. Impervious surface runoff from parking lots and rooftops during storm events carries toxic chemicals, nutrients, and road deicing salt and contributes heated runoff to thermally sensitive streams. Stormwater Best Management Practices have been put in place, both at the new casino and the golf course, including buffers that prevent stormwater from entering into and polluting the stream. Before the casino complex and golf course were built, this site contained a gravel pit and the stream alterations existed when the land was purchased by the Band.

The Office of Water Protection was instrumental in recommending course design changes, identifying potential mitigation projects, and developing comprehensive monitoring plans for water quality and erosion control on the golf course. Routine erosion control inspections proved effective in preventing sedimentation problems in Big Otter Creek and adjacent wetlands during construction. Aerial photography was acquired during pre- and post- construction to identify areas of ground water intrusion in the wetland buffer zone between the course and Big Otter Creek. Four observation wells were established in this buffer zone before construction commenced, and four additional wells were established on the course after completion. Ground water has been routinely monitored in the observation wells for nutrients, nitrate, pesticides and herbicides beginning in 2003 in order to detect potential impacts to shallow ground water, the adjacent wetlands, and Big Otter Creek.

The headwaters of Little Otter Creek drain the area south of Big Otter Creek. Because it is a small headwater stream that contains trout, it is considered a sensitive stream. When the US Forest Service conducted logging near the stream, they put a 200 ft no-logging buffer around the Little Otter Creek to protect it. Aerial photos show that the headwater region may have been channelized in the past. Other threats to water quality include nearby farms and an auto salvage yard that sits directly on the bank of the stream.

JOLICEUR CREEK
Joliceur CreekThis small, spring-fed coldwater creek flows into Big Otter Creek near the Cloquet-Carlton County airport. The Reservation has funds to repair failed culverts that have caused this creek to pond on either side of a small roadway. The water temperatures in Joliceur Creek are cold enough to support trout, though the Reservation has no recent monitoring data to confirm that trout exist in this stream.

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MOOSEHORN RIVER WATERSHED

This watershed is the only area of the Reservation that does not drain to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior; this watershed drains to the Kettle River, the St. Croix River, and ultimately into the Mississippi River. There is concern that invasive species such as carp may work their way upstream and onto the Reservation – they are present in downstream watersheds. Carp are a threat to wild rice because their foraging behavior uproots the shallow-rooted rice.

WILD RICE LAKE
Wild Rice LakeWild Rice Lake is the headwaters of the Moosehorn River, which exits the lake under Highway 210. Beaver activity, as well as culverts that were installed too high and are improperly maintained, and the fact that that are not enough culverts to ensure proper drainage, have altered water levels, impacting wild rice productivity in Wild Rice Lake. Since other monitored water quality parameters do not indicate stressors that could affect wild rice, water depth is believed to be the major contributor to the declining wild rice densities in this lake. Efforts to clear and maintain culvert drainage, coupled with active reseeding efforts, are leading to a gradual but measurable increase in wild rice stands. Clemson pond levelers were installed to help drain the lake through the culverts even when beavers dam the passage. There is also a potential impact to the lake from roadway maintenance (plowing, deicing chemicals, and right-of-way herbicide applications). As the nonpoint source impacts appear to be reversible (with specific intervention techniques proving successful), the severity of impairment is considered moderate.

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ST. LOUIS RIVER WATERSHED

The 3,584 mile St. Louis River watershed is arguably the most pristine major river system in Minnesota. Preserving the high quality ecological functions within the watershed should be the goal of future management activities.

St. Louis RiverThe St. Louis River represents the extreme headwaters of the St. Lawrence River. At 194.5 miles long, the St. Louis River flows from its headwaters at Seven Beaver Lake in northeastern Minnesota, to its outlet at the Lake Superior entry along Minnesota Point. When the river nears Lake Superior, it widens substantially to form an important freshwater estuary. The portion of the St. Louis River that flows through the Reservation has a narrower channel and includes numerous first-order and second-order unnamed tributaries that drain directly into the river. The aquatic habitat within this reach of the St. Louis River is relatively healthy and intact, with no significant modifications. Monitoring at the Highway 2 bridge reconstruction has detected negligible erosion control problems on site.

St. Louis RiverIn 2005, a survey of the St. Louis River was completed through a collaborative effort between Fond du Lac’s Resource Management Division, the 1854 Treaty Authority, and Minnesota DNR Fisheries. By sampling the river at regular intervals along its length, the field researchers were able to get a sense of the physical and biological health of the river. Data gathering included information on the physical features of each reach that was studied, including width, human structures, erosion sites, etc. Researchers also took data on the water quality of each reach, including temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH, alkalinity, total hardness, and color. Biological data collected included information on the fisheries and macroinvertebrates in the river. Fish were also collected for contaminant analysis. Overall, current physical and biological conditions within the watershed are similar to those reported in 1979.

Want to learn more about the Saint Louis River? Go to the Saint Louis River Citizens Action Committee’s homepage: http://www.stlouisriver.org/

FIRST LAKE
First LakeFirst Lake, which is near the urban/industrial area on the extreme southern edge of this watershed, has been impacted by dredging and filling along the shore. The lake also receives sediment from stormwater drainage ditches and culverts at the intersection of Big Lake Road and Reservation Road. Reservation Road cuts off approximately 1/3 acre of the aquatic bed wetland from the main lake. The 1/3-acre area used to be open water habitat that supported ducks and their offspring, but it was illegally filled in the 1980s. Monitoring data from First Lake shows the water is murkier than similar shallow lakes nearby. The cumulative effects of the hydrological and shoreline modifications have resulted in moderate nonpoint source impacts that negatively affect the ecological integrity of this lake. Despite these problems, Canada geese are abundant on this lake, and swans and ducks use it as well.

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