Louise, Wabedo and Little Boy Lakes are located in Cass County near the City of Longville. These three lakes are connected by a channel which is an important ecological connection between the three basins through a “sensitive shoreland” area.
The Louise Lake Aquatic Management Area (AMA) was established in 2005 with a 6.6 acre tract. More recently, nearly 20 acres were added to the AMA with the purchase and conveyance of the Jim and Linda Pleski property by the Northern Waters Land Trust (NWLT) to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
More than 60% of the 2,600 foot stream channel connecting the three lakes is now protected in the AMA. The new tract protects spawning, nesting and feeding areas critical for fish such as crappies, black bass, bluegills, pumpkinseed, sunfish, pike and possibly muskie. Wild rice and other aquatic emergent vegetation provides important habitat for nesting, feeding and migrating waterfowl.
Natural areas that support a diversity of species and habitats help comprise a healthy ecosystem. Protection of this channel will help to minimize fragmentation and maintain a healthy ecosystem in the three lakes. Sensitive shorelands provide critical ecological habitat for unique aquatic plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds that are rare, declining or vulnerable to decline.
AMAs provide angler and management access, protects critical shoreland habitat and provide areas for research and education. The DNR AMA program administers more than 700 AMAs and 770 shoreland miles in 73 of Minnesota’s 87 counties.
NWLT secured Outdoor Heritage Funds through Lessard – Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) grants in 2018 and 2019 to acquire the recent addition to Louise Lake AMA. Wabedo – Little Boy – Cooper – Rice Lakes Association (WLBCRLA) and Jim and Linda Pleski generously provided the required 10% match for the grant. The WLBCRLA contributed their portion of the matching funds through member contributions and a grant from the Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies, Inc., Hugh C. Becker Grant Committee.
Jim and Linda Pleski worked with NWLT for 16 months to protect this property. They reflect that, “It gives us great pride and peace of mind to know that our sale of this land will go towards a very valuable cause and purpose. Its beauty will be forever protected along with its surrounding waters…..”
Doug Schultz, DNR Fisheries Walker Supervisor, has identified this as an important area for protection and that “this acquisition is the product of exceptional collaboration between the Little Boy-Wabedo Lake Association, NWLT, and the DNR. The efforts to protect these aquatic and terrestrial habitats for the continued benefits to fish and wildlife species was also supported by the Township and County Boards.”
Partnerships are key to projects as noted by Kathy Wagner, former WLBCRLA President. “The WLBCR Lakes Association wishes to thank Jim and Linda Pleski and the Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies, Inc., Hugh C. Becker Grant Committee for their generous donations. This project protects water quality, spawning areas and sensitive shoreline. Future generations will benefit from these actions. Our lake association is honored by this significant support and we look forward to working with our partners to preserve additional properties in this area.”
The NWLT Clean Water Critical Habitat Program was established 2011 to protect high priority lakes and their watersheds in the north central “lakes country” (i.e., Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard) using grants from the State of Minnesota for conservation easements and fee title acquisition. NWLT partners with public agencies, such as Counties and the State of Minnesota, and private organizations such as lake associations to identify willing sellers and properties important to the agency land management goals, to secure funding through grants, and to acquire and convey those properties to partner agencies.
The Outdoor Heritage Fund was created in 2008 when Minnesota voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment (Legacy Amendment) to the Minnesota Constitution. These funds "may be spent only to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife."
Bob Karls, Northern Waters Land Trust Board Chair, notes that “The addition of this land to the Louise Lake AMA was a partnership between the Wabedo – Little Boy – Cooper – Rice Lakes Association, Jim and Linda Pleski, the Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies, Inc., Hugh C. Becker Grant Committee, Northern Waters Land Trust and the DNR. Collaborative efforts such as these are needed to preserve land with the ultimate goal of protecting our northern waters. These efforts support healthy natural resources and resilient local communities and economies.”