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Conservation Conversations: Cedar Lake Wildlife Management Area in Aitkin County

Bob Karls
Cedar Lake Conservancy

This month we learned about one of Northern Waters Land Trust's projects: Cedar Lake WMA in Aitkin County. Joining our conversation were Annie Knight - Grants Manager and Conservation Specialist with NWLT, Bob Karls - NWLT Board Chair and Cedar Lake Conservancy Board Member and Rick Bruesewitz - Aitkin Area DNR Fisheries Supervisor.

The Cedar Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) grew in size by 46 acres in May 2021 with the purchase and conveyance of the Skylar Tuthill Trust property by the Northern Waters
Land Trust (NWLT) to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The 100 acre WMA is located in Farm Island Township, Aitkin County, on Cedar Lake.

The recent addition to the WMA includes 1,650 feet of lake frontage along Cedar Lake. The uplands are a mix of open fields, conifer plantation, and hardwood forest. The shoreline and emergent vegetation greatly benefit fish populations. The open fields will be replanted to a mixed hardwood/conifer forest with accesses and several small openings.

This restoration will benefit forest wildlife species and provide
additional recreational opportunities for hunters and wildlife watchers. Nearly 1,500 acres in size with 30 miles of shoreline, Cedar Lake is categorized as an “outstanding” lake of biological significance by the DNR.

Cedar Lake supports sensitive, cold-water species such as tullibee (cisco) which are susceptible to habitat degradation in the watershed and warming temperatures. Tullibee are a preferred forage fish of walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, and lake trout. They require cold,
well-oxygenated waters, a condition most common in deep water lakes with healthy watersheds. The watershed for the Lake is approximately 20,570 acres of which 42% is now protected.

Heidi Holtan has worked at KAXE/KBXE for over 22 years. She currently helms the Morning Show as News and Public Affairs Director where she manages producers, hosts local interviews and programs, oversees and manages web stories and establishes focus areas of programming like phenology, clean energy, Indigenous voices, Strong Women, local foods, clean energy, economic development and more. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North. In 2018 Heidi received the “Building Bridges in Media” award from the Islamic Resource Group for her work on KAXE/KBXE hosting conversations about anti-Muslim movements in rural Minnesota. During the pandemic, Heidi hosted 14 months of a weekly statewide conversation on COVID-19 for the AMPERS network.
As a mail carrier in rural Grand Rapids, Minn., for 35 years, John Latimer put his own stamp on a career that delivered more than letters. Indeed, while driving the hundred-mile round-trip daily route, he passed the time by observing and recording seasonal changes in nature, learning everything he could about the area’s weather, plants and animals, and becoming the go-to guy who could answer customers’ questions about what they were seeing in the environment.