Hunters may face challenges getting on Pelican Lake this fall

A project to improve long-term water quality and wildlife habitat on Pelican Lake in Wright County may cause some short-term inconvenience for waterfowl hunters this fall, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

The public water access managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the west side of Pelican Lake will not be usable for boats larger than a canoe or kayak, due to lower water levels created by a drawdown of the lake.

While boats may be launched from the state-managed public water access on the southwest side of the lake, parking there is limited. Parking is not allowed within the immediate ramp area; it also is prohibited along the shoulders of 40th Street Northeast, the adjacent road.

The DNR is in the process of designing and constructing a new public boat access on the northwest corner of Pelican Lake.  The project will be started in the fall, but likely will not be completed this year. Some private lake access may be available by arrangement with local landowners; contact DNR area wildlife manager Fred Bengtson for more information: 320-223-7840.

Pelican Lake is in the middle of a multi-year drawdown aimed at improving water quality and creating better habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. Once considered a waterfowl mecca, slowly rising water levels over some 30 years had killed much of the aquatic vegetation that stabilizes shoreline and provides needed food for migrating ducks.

With help from Ducks Unlimited and constitutionally dedicated money from the Legacy Fund, an outlet was created for the lake in 2014 to lower water levels in several stages, with a pumping facility added in 2016. The drawdown will allow soils to consolidate and promote the growth of aquatic vegetation needed by ducks for food and habitat. In addition to providing critical waterfowl habitat, the project also will result in significantly cleaner water.