|Myre-Big Island State Park|
In 1947, the Minnesota Department of Conservation was authorized to buy the 116-acre island in Albert Lake as a park. While referred to locally as Big Island State Park, the site did not receive an official name until 1953, when it was formally dubbed Myre State Park to honor the senator, who al...
Geneva Lake Wildlife Management Area
|Description: Locally referred to as “Lake Geneva”, this site is a wildlife oasis surrounded by farm country. Located in the southern-most tier of Minnesota counties, its prairie pothole status serve as a magnet for migratory waterfowl. |
Geneva Lake is a large 1875-acre wetland with an average depth of only four feet. It supports substantial areas of submerged aquatic plants and abundant aquatic invertebrates, thereby providing excellent habitat for birds.
Not too many years ago, the shallow lake was murky due to carp. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources implemented a management plan to improve water quality and the Ducks Unlimited organization assisted by engineering and constructing a new variable-crest, water control structure to replace the dam on the Geneva Lake outlet used for temporary draw-downs to remove carp. The water is now clear and healthy, and aquatic plants and wildlife have responded to the improved wetland habitat.
The WMA land, situated northwest of the lake, is primarily lowland habitats of shrub swamp and canary grass slough. The goal of the WMA is to protect wetland habitats along an inlet to the lake, which includes control of invasive purple loosestrife and buckthorn. Prescribed burning, farming and cutting are primary management tools, so don’t be surprised to see fires or workers doing their best to enable wildlife habitat to flourish.
The area provides good wildlife watching opportunities for waterfowl and other marsh denizens.
Wildlife to Watch: A treat for visiting birders is to watch a flock of American white pelicans feed. The pelicans form a large circle on the water, which slowly decreases in size. Under the water, fish dart away from the pelicans’ feet toward the center of the circle. After the fish are herded into the middle, the pelicans gulp below the water’s surface with their large beaks, feasting on the harvest of rough fish.
Large rafts of waterfowl are abundant in spring and fall. So, bring binoculars to get close-up views of American wigeons, gadwalls, wood ducks, northern shovelers, buffleheads, canvasbacks, redheads, ring-necked ducks, lesser scaup, as well as hooded and red-breasted mergansers.
Other birds you might find include marsh wrens, great egrets, great blue herons, pied-billed grebes and three species of terns—black, forester’s and Caspian. Listen for the rough woody rattle calls of belted kingfishers as they fly along the shoreline. Be alert for ring-necked pheasants slipping quickly through tall grass.
Evenings during spring and early summer are filled with the calls and vocalizations of spring peepers and chorus frogs. Muskrats and minks might be spotted, and watch for scampering cottontail rabbits and white-tailed deer that roam the area. On warm summer days, painted turtles enjoy basking on snags and vegetative masses found on the shallow lake.
Special Tips: It’s easiest to get a good view of Geneva Lake by driving along the roads that follow
the shoreline. There is very little traffic, but be cautious. You also can see the lake from the two public water accesses. Most of the lake shoreline is in private ownership, with the exception of the WMA. Please respect landowner rights. Always ask permission before entering private land.
Other Activities: You should also look for two special nester: western grebes and yellow-headed blackbirds. Western grebes perform spectacular courtship dances by running across the water in tandem. Check for yellow-headeds perching on swaying on cattails.
Ownership: MN DNR
Size: 86 acres
Closest Town: Geneva/Albert Lea
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: