The Department of Natural Resources will re-establish the Little Rice Lake State Game Refuge in 2019 following the recent public comment period in October showed support for the refuge.
Originally established in 2012 in northern St. Louis County, its refuge status was reviewed after five years to determine if the refuge should be continued.
Six people spoke at the formal public hearing held Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Tower DNR office. The DNR also received 16 letters during the public comment period.
Overall, the majority of waterfowl hunters supported the refuge re-establishment as did the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, Izaak Walton League, and the U.S. Forest Service.
Based on information collected each fall, including weekly migratory waterfowl counts and waterfowl season hunter harvest surveys on the adjacent Big Rice Lake conducted over the past five years, the refuge was successful at providing an undisturbed feeding and resting location for migratory waterfowl.
As a state game refuge, Little Rice Lake is closed to hunting and trapping from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30 each year. The refuge, which includes the lake and forest bog perimeter, is about 288 acres. The refuge remains open to wild ricing and cranberry picking.