DNR sticking to ice house removal deadline despite deteriorating ice

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is hoping anglers in the Twin Cities will self-police and remove ice houses before spring-like temperatures hit this weekend.

The deadline for ice house removal in the metro area is currently March 6, but conservation officer Lieutenant Adam Block says with deteriorating ice conditions, he wouldn’t wait another day.

“Bumping that deadline up and then expecting compliance and getting the word out is unfair to the angler,” Block responded when asked why the date wasn’t being pushed to earlier. “We’re hoping common sense kicks in when the temperature warms up –that they aren’t looking at the calendar and looking at the temperature.”

Lt. Block talked to Fox 9 on Prior Lake, where a dozen fixed ice houses could be seen from shore. The boat entry was covered in water and slush.

“We’ve got standing water on top of the ice, we’ve got wind blowing that water, it’s chiseling it away as we speak, and they should be getting their shelters off now.”

University of St. Thomas professor and thermal scientist John Abraham says longer days, more sun, and warm air temperatures have made ice on metro lakes very unsafe.

“If I had an ice house out there, I would get used to it. This is the new normal,” said Abraham.                      

Abraham explained that while the ice on most metro lakes may measure well over a foot, the quality of ice is so low that those measurements don’t equate to the same thing  they did earlier in the season.

“If the ice is opaque and it’s got air bubbles in it. If it looks like it’s rotting, or if its white-- that’s what you need to be concerned about,” said Abraham. “This year both the air temperature and the increase in light are working together to make our lakes unsafe.”

The removal date for northern Minnesota lakes is March 20.

The DNR says the earliest reported ice out in Minnesota was March 11, 1878.