It’s hard to think about open water fishing when it just keeps snowing but eventually warmer temps will win out and the 2020 season will be here.

While some of the bigger bodies of water in the area are naturally the target of many anglers, Minnesota isn’t called the Land of 10,000 Lakes for nothing.

There are a lot of places to cast a line.

And most of those are managed one way or another by officials from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with a little help from the public.

That’s where lake management plans come into play.

If you are interested in learning about the DNR’s strategies for managing lakes and streams in the Tower area, then you might want to take part in the process by commenting on plans for several spots in the area this spring.

According to the DNR, Lake management plans describe the past, present and desired future conditions of the fishery. The plans identify specific management activities planned for designated lakes over the next five to 20 years.

They include background information such as water chemistry characteristics, water temperature information, and species presence.

Comments and suggestions from the public are crucial for planning and determining management success. For anglers, this is the best opportunity to influence how these lakes are managed.

Every year, DNR fisheries staff prepares or revises individual lake management plans for several waters in each management area. In the Tower area, plans for the following lakes in St. Louis County will be reviewed: Agassa, Cub, Bird, Discovery, Erickson, Grassy, Iron, James (Jammer), Norberg, Oriniack, Purvis, Saint Mary’s and Skeleton (Horseshoe).

The comment period will run through March 30.

Normally draft plans for these lakes, as well as recent fish survey information, could be viewed in person but due to COVID-19 related closures, electronic copies may be requested by calling 218-300-7802 or emailing lisa.sanderson@state.mn.us .

Questions or comments about the plans may be sent by email to Tower area fisheries supervisor, Edie Evarts, at edie.evarts@state.mn.us.

Comments and suggestions for management of other lakes and streams in the Tower area are welcome at any time and will be considered when those plans are due for review.

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Cancellations

The DNR is adjusting and canceling some public events, open houses and meetings in response to the current COVID-19 precautions being put in place throughout the state.

State park and recreation area changes

State parks, recreation areas, campgrounds, and other public lands remain open to the public for people to enjoy.

“Now is a great time to get outdoors,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Parks are a great place to do some social distancing and enjoy the health benefits of nature.”

However, to ensure the DNR meets health guidance, visitors will experience some changes in services available. State park visitor centers, contact stations, and other ancillary buildings will be closed until further notice. With contact stations closed, visitors will pay through self-pay and informational kiosks located at each facility. Visitors are also encouraged to purchase daily and annual park passes through the online portal before they visit.

For the time being, state parks naturalist programs are canceled. We are working to determine which of these programs are compatible with social distancing and will resume naturalist programing to the extent possible.

State park bathrooms, vault toilets and shower buildings that are currently open will remain open, with increased cleaning protocols.

Public urged to use online and telephone options

The DNR also is encouraging the public to use social distancing options for doing business with the agency, such as buying or renewing licenses online, calling rather than stopping by your local DNR office, using online or telephone reservation systems and using email or phone to request information from the DNR’s Information Center.

The DNR has adopted Minnesota Department of Health social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining six to 10-foot distances, at front-counter operations with the public.

Postponed events

Here are events that are postponed at this time:

•All safety education training, including firearms safety training.

•Deer open houses.

•Elk input meetings in northwest Minnesota.

Because this is an evolving situation, please check with your meeting contact or the DNR website for additions and modifications to this list.

For more information

Contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Email the center at info.dnr@state.mn.us. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Deer Management Plan

Despite the in-person restrictions, the DNR is still looking for comment on the state’s deer management plan.

People are invited to call or email their local wildlife manager. For the Tower Area that is Tom Rusch. He can be reached by phone at 218-300-7861 or email at tom.rusch@state.mn.us.

Public engagement on DNR issues like deer management is still a top priority; however, public health is more important.

The deer meetings are a result of the DNR’s statewide deer management plan and officials there are using the feedback from those discussions to inform future deer seasons. In order for the DNR to use input for the upcoming seasons, it needs to reach local wildlife managers by Wednesday, April 1.

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