DNR issues ice warning for aerated lakes
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) warns ice anglers, snowmobilers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts to use caution when going onto any lake covered or partially covered with ice, especially those that feature aeration systems.
"Open water areas created by aeration systems can shift or change shapes depending on weather conditions," said Marilyn Danks, DNR aquatic biologist. "Leaks may develop in air lines creating other areas of weak ice or open water."
About 285 Minnesota lakes will have aeration systems operating this winter. Private hatchery operators also use aeration systems, usually on small lakes without public accesses.
Aeration systems generally operate from the time lakes freeze until ice break-up in the spring. They help prevent winterkill of fish, but they also create areas of open water and thin ice, which are significant hazards.
Both "Thin Ice" and Warning" signs are used to identify aerated lakes. The person who applies for a permit is required to maintain "Warning" signs at all commonly used access points to the lake. This sign warns people approaching the lake that an aeration system is in operation and to use extreme caution.
"Thin Ice" signs are used to mark the perimeter of the thin ice and open water area. These signs are diamond shaped with an orange border and white background with the warning "Thin Ice" in bold print.
It is the permittee's responsibility to post and maintain "Thin Ice" signs at 100-foot intervals. Some municipalities may have ordinances which prohibit entering into the marked area and/or prohibit the night use of motorized vehicles on lakes with aeration systems in operation. These local regulations are often posted at accesses where they apply.
Aeration systems are inspected for safety and compliance with regulations by permittees and DNR personnel.
For more information call a regional fisheries office or the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).
The following is a list of area lakes that will likely have aeration systems in operation this winter.
BECKER COUNTY: Big Cormorant, Bijou, Eunice, Fifteen, Island, Little Cormorant, Melissa, Sallie, Wolf.
OTTER TAIL COUNTY: Adley, Big McDonald, Fish (Parkers Prairie), Fish (Pelican Rapids), Lida, Lizzie, Marion, Pelican, Perch, Pete, Tamarac, West McDonald.
HUBBARD COUNTY: Petite, Wolf.
WADENA COUNTY: Stocking.