Minnehaha Creek Watershed District receives funds to restore headwaters habitat

May 31, 2018

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District announced Thursday, May 31, that it received a state grant for $567,000 to control common carp in the headwaters of Lake Minnetonka.

A watershed district news release says the Minnesota Legislature approved the grant from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The funds help put a carp-management plan into effect. It is part of a 10-year effort to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in the subwatershed of Six Mile Creek and Halsted Bay.

“The MCWD is focusing on carp first because of the damage they cause to our lakes,” the news release states. “Common carp uproot plants and stir up lake bottoms, which degrades habitat and releases nutrients that feed algae blooms.”

This summer, the watershed district will begin removing car in the subwatershed with baited box-net trapping, stream trapping, winter seining and open water seining. Plans call for implanted radio tags in carp to monitor their movement — info that helps future removals.

The grant benefits 2,488 acres of habitat, the release says.

“By partnering with the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council to reduce the population of common carp, we will improve the health of the Six Mile Creek chain of lakes and downstream water bodies including Halsted Bay,” said Bill Olson, a member of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers.

The carp-management plan is based on data from a three-year study by the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. The research team led by Professor Peter Sorensen, assessed the number of carp in the Six Mile Creek chain of lakes, identified their spawning locations and determined their migration patterns. The findings helped shape a management strategy that includes removing adult carp, installing carp barriers, and aerating lakes to ensure the winter survival of bluegill sunfish, which feed on carp eggs.

“I was very impressed by this innovative approach to restoring fisheries and waterfowl habitat in the headwaters of Lake Minnetonka,” said Ron Schara, Lessard-Sams member. “The plan to finally control carp in the Lake Minnetonka watershed is so important. I can’t wait to see the outcome.”