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Geneva Lake Wildlife Management Area
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. <br><br> Geneva Lake is a large 1875-acre wetland with an average depth ...
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Minnesota Lake
Description: Glacial Lake Minnesota was formed over 10,000 years ago as glacial ice was melting. Once covering more than a half million acres, all that remains today is the very shallow 1900-acre Minnesota Lake.

In time this area became a pastoral prairie scene where tall grasses and wildflowers waved in the breeze. Bison, antelope, elk, wolves and a host of other prairie mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects, then frequented the land. Native Americans harvested the plants and hunted wildlife for hundreds of years before European explorers and adventurers arrived in and around Minnesota Lake.

Drawn to the region initially by liberal and lucrative land offerings, entrepreneurs and farmers began to trickle in. By 1858 the town of Marples sprung up on the shores of old glacial Lake Minnesota where Natives once camped and fished. In 1866 the community name was changed to Minnesota Lake and was known far and wide as one of the principal stopping places for immigrants, travelers and land hunters.

Natives were displaced, and ungulates, wolves and the prairie ecosystem too, as the soil, some of the richest in the world, was tilled and transformed into farmland.

Today, Minnesota Lake residents have committed to becoming a nature-friendly community. They, along with government and non-governmental agencies, have focused their efforts on the lake. The Quad Lakes Project benefits Minnesota, Rice, Bass and Lura lakes along with other wetlands. This project will stabilize the lakeshore and improve water quality in Minnesota Lake.

The island in Minnesota Lake hosts an important nesting population of white pelicans. An observation deck was built along the north shore of the lake and improvements were made to the quiet city park to enhance wildlife watching opportunities.

On the east side of the lake, the old lagoon was dredged to create the Old Mill Pond and the DNR stocks it for children and senior citizen fishing. A wooden memorial boardwalk was constructed around the pond, with local families purchasing planks to pay for the boardwalk and its upkeep. A local company donated the cement bridge crossing between the pond and the lake. Metal railings and Old Mill form were designed and constructed with materials contributed by residents.

For bird watching and hiking, the Old Mill Pond Memorial Boardwalk, which begins in the park, follows the north shore of the lake to the site of the original footings of Godfried Schostag's mill. Habitat restoration and wildflower plantings attract butterflies and insects, as well as help build songbird bird populations. Three gardens, including a butterfly garden, have been planted and are maintained by volunteers.

Clearly, residents are making strides to create a community focused on the beauty and bounty of natural resources. Consequently, the Minnesota Lake area is a great site for birders, nature photographers and those who enjoy seeing and hearing the sounds of nature.

Enjoy beautiful sunsets. Take a walk on the boardwalk or rest on the wooden benches along the pond. You may also find respite out of the sun in the gazebo.

Wildlife to Watch: This site hosts a wide diversity of waterbirds and waterfowl. Of course, the most obvious are the great blue herons, great egrets, double-crested cormorants, ring-billed gulls and American white pelicans nesting on the island. They nest or roost not only on the island, but also along the shoreline, as well as in the open water. An estimated 500 pelicans reside at Minnesota Lake with the population thought to be growing. Egret numbers also appear to be on the rise.

Look for other black-crowned night herons, western grebes, black terns, Forster’s terns, mallards and Canada geese nesting in the lake’s marshy fringe. You can see all these birds in the air coming and going throughout the day too.

In the fall, northern ducks migrating south often stop to feed on area cornfields and rest on the lake. The DNR estimated there were about 11,000 ducks and coots on the lake during a recent summer, as well as about 1000 geese.

Two rivers, the Maple and the Cobb, traverse the area. They meander through farmland, timber and grasslands, offering additional canoeing and wildlife watching opportunities.

Special Tips: People aren’t allowed on the island during nesting season and access is discouraged at other times to avoid damage to the nesting habitat. Please view nesting birds from a distance using binoculars or spotting scopes. Waterbirds do not tolerate disturbances, which may result in loss of eggs or young. Approaching a nesting colony will also cause young birds to panic and cluster together, sometimes resulting in death by suffocation or trampling. You can get a good view of birds from the observation deck and from the park, although not as good of a view of the island from the latter.

Waterbird nesting colony info:
MNDNR-Ecological Resources
Nongame Wildlife Specialist

For lake info:
Nicollet Office

Other Activities: On the north side of town is the 456-acre Stokman Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This is another place for prairie and wetland wildlife viewing. You might spot a white-tailed deer, a skittering ring-necked pheasant or strutting turkey. Watch for waterfowl floating on the small pond and basking turtles loafing on a log. As you hike, the fast wing beats of a Hungarian partridge might give you a startle. Grassland snakes and small mammals also inhabit the area.

Within a ten-mile radius of Minnesota Lake are four other WMAs, which include marshland, timber and upland habitat and supplementary prospects to see, hear, enjoy and photograph wildlife.

Ownership: MN DNR 
Size: 1914 acres 
Closest Town: Minnesota Lake

RestroomsParkingPicnic tablesHandicap AccessibleSmall BoatsRV Pullout

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Young Egrets - Photo by Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
MN Hwy 22 runs diagonally northwest to southeast between the lake on one side and the town and Stokman Marsh and WMA on the other. On the north side of town, take Blue Earth County Rd 20 west to the lake observation deck. Go east on Co. 20 to the WMA.

Old Mill Park located on the lake off of 5th Street W.

Map Link

Minnesota Lake : Wildlife Viewing Area