Letter: Applaud the Frontenac Sportsman's Club
To the Editor:
Frontenac Pond is a popular local fishery, especially in winter. It is a shallow water body with large amounts of submerged vegetation, two factors that can lead to low dissolved oxygen levels and resultant fish kills during severe winters.
During the winter, sunlight penetration is reduced by snow and ice cover. Sunlight is essential to the aquatic plants and algae that produce oxygen. As winter proceeds with thick ice and deep snow cover, sunlight can no longer penetrate to keep oxygen producing vegetation alive and the dead and dying vegetation consumes oxygen as it decomposes.
If dissolved oxygen levels get low enough it can stress or kill fish. The severity of the kill can range from a few fish to nearly all the fish. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Section of Fisheries does periodic monitoring of oxygen levels in water bodies susceptible to winterkill. Frontenac Pond has a history of low winter oxygen levels and partial winterkill’s during severe winters.
During the winter of 2010-2011, the Frontenac Sportsman’s Club worked with DNR Fisheries to design, purchase and installed an Aire O2 aeration system. The system draws in air (atmospheric oxygen) through its intake ports which mixes with the water and then exits in a high velocity stream of fine bubbles as it’s diffused into the water. The system keeps a small area of the Pond ice-free, allowing additional oxygen to diffuse into the open water. This system has been successful in providing an area of refuge with higher oxygen levels sufficient to sustain fish throughthe winter.
The Frontenac Sportsman’s Club has been responsible for operation and maintenance costs of the system since it was installed, as well as posting the area around the aeration system with thin ice warning signs.
Many lakes in Minnesota suffered winterkill this past winter due to thick ice and deep snow cover. But thanks to the Frontenac Sportsman Club, Frontenac Pond was not one of them.
Kevin Stauffer is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor.