Project Creates New Maps of Iowa Lakes
Posted: 03/25/2013
For the next six summers, fisheries staff from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be mapping Iowa lakes using some sophisticated equipment that will provide more accurate maps for anglers and information for the lake restoration program.

Visitors to Iowa lakes may see the operation in progress. A DNR fisheries boat loaded with two lap top computers, a flat screen, a suitcase that contains the brains of the program, and equipment hanging off the side running about five miles per hour crisscrossing the lake.

The software will record lake depth plus information on what type of material is on the lake bed (sand, gravel, muck) and, if aquatic vegetation is present, the height and density of that vegetation.  It will also collect information for lake restoration projects.

Lewis Bruce, fisheries technician working on the project, said they plan to map 115 of the significantly publicly owned lakes in Iowa.

He said they can set up the software so when the information is collected it will generate a file where they can add existing habitat and background information to create new lake contour maps. 

The DNR recently placed new maps for Arrowhead Lake, Badger Lake, Avenue of the Saints Pond, Binder Lake, and Center Lake online at www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/WheretoFish/LakesPondsReservoirs.aspx.  In 2013, they will begin collecting information on Clear Lake, Carter Lake, Brushy Creek Lake, Mariposa Lake, Blue Lake, Springbrook Lake and Volga Lake, if conditions allow.

Bruce said they will avoid mapping on windy days because the waves could cause accuracy issues.  He said water level in many lakes is also a concern.

“Low water levels could play a role in what we can and can’t map,” he said. “Mapping Clear Lake is important but in its current condition with extremely low water level and much of the lakebed now dry land, we may need to wait until the water level improves to have an accurate product.”