Thursday, January 6, 2011

Aerators in Minnesota Lakes: Good for Fish; For People, Not So Much

"DNR: Stay clear of aerators on lakes" (January 6, 2011)

"...As frozen lakes are aerated to help keep fish alive, officials are warning people to be careful around the open water.

"While aeration isn't a new concept, early winter storms have made it more difficult than usual for aquatic plants stuck under the lakes' icy surfaces to get sunlight and produce the oxygen that fish need.

"Consequently, some aeration systems are being turned on earlier than normal, and people need to be careful when they go out on the lakes to avoid the open water and thin ice, said Marilyn Danks, an aquatic biologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources...."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune article says there are only about 270 Minnesota lakes with aeration systems in use this year.

If the Lemming did the math right, that means you've got about a 1 in 37 chance that the lake you snowmobile or ice fish on this winter won't have an aeration system in it. The odds are even slimmer, counting all the ponds, puddles, and damp spots that aren't big enough to count as "lakes" in this part of the world.

Minnesota's authorities recommend that folks use their brains. Lakes with operating aeration systems have signs at public access points that say so. And if a sign says "thin ice:" That means that the ice may be thin.

We're pretty good, in this part of the world, about recovering bodies. But, in the Lemming's opinion, it's better if folks use their heads and stay alive to enjoy another Minnesota winter.

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