September 2009

The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.





Did heavy August rainfalls increase lake levels in drought-stricken areas of Minnesota?

Portions of east-central Minnesota remain in moderate to severe drought as we enter autumn. Precipitation totals since early summer of 2008 have fallen short of average by more than 10 inches in this region. As the result of the dry weather, water levels in east-central Minnesota lakes are well below historical averages. Thankfully, August 2009 brought an abundance of rainfall to central and east-central Minnesota. August rainfall totals exceeded average by two to five inches across some of Minnesota's driest landscapes. The wet weather halted the downward trend in lake levels, but in many cases did not lead to a significant water level rebound.

In the aftermath of drought, it can take months or years of above-average precipitation to return water levels on some lakes to a point within their typical range of ups and downs. Lakes without river inflow, typically having small watershed areas compared to their size, are often slow to respond to climatic conditions. These lakes interact closely with ground water, and the level of the lake reflects the condition of the interconnected aquifer or aquifers.

- Greg Spoden, DNR waters climatologist


The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works with the University of Minnesota Extension Service in conducting the Master Naturalist program. What is the program and how does a person become a Master Naturalist?

The Master Naturalist program is a community-based natural-resource volunteer program that is open to any adult who is interested in learning more about the natural world. This program is different than the Master Gardener program as it will provide participants a broader based understanding of the state's natural environments.

Those who sign up for the program will have the opportunity to be trained in any one, or all, of Minnesota's biomes - prairie, deciduous forest or coniferous forest. However, in order to be certified as a master naturalist, volunteers must complete 40 hours of training and a supervised sponsored outreach project. Following training, these conservationists will assist the DNR, the Extension Service and other partners with public outreach and management of the state's diverse natural environments.

Additional information is available at

- Dawn Flinn, DNR Stewardship Education coordinator



DNR Question of the Week Archive