DNR issues ice warning for aerated lakes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warns ice anglers, snowmobilers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts to use caution when going onto any lake covered or partially covered with ice, especially those that have operating aeration systems.

Aeration systems help prevent winterkill of fish populations by adding oxygen to the lake, but they also create areas of open water and thin ice, which are significant hazards. Aeration systems are generally operated from the time the lakes freeze until the ice breaks up in the spring.

A DNR permit is required to install and operate an aeration system. Permit holders must publish public notices, post warning signs and inspect the systems at least once every seven days. Liability insurance is generally required of private parties operating aeration systems in protected waters. For more information, contact an area or regional fisheries manager.

“Warning” and “Thin Ice” signs are used to post aerated lakes. The permittee must maintain “Warning” signs at all commonly used access points to the lake. This sign warns people approaching the lake that an aeration system is in operation and to use extreme caution.

“Thin Ice” signs are used to mark the perimeter of the thin ice and open water area. These signs are diamond shaped with an orange border and white background with the warning “Thin Ice” in bold print. Some municipalities have ordinances that prohibit entering into the thin ice marked area or prohibit the night use of motorized vehicles on lakes with operating aeration systems. These local regulations are often posted at accesses where they apply.

For more information about aeration, call the DNR Information Center at 296-6157.

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