New Mille Lacs Lake fisheries supervisor hired

GARRISON, Minn. - Tom Heinrich, who most recently was the large lake specialist covering Lake of the Woods for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, will now supervise Mille Lacs Lake fisheries management.

“We’re pleased that Tom Heinrich has accepted this new role. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from other large walleye lakes in Minnesota and elsewhere, strong scientific skills and an open ability to communicate with and relate to various groups in the public,” said Brad Parsons, central region fisheries manager.

Heinrich begins as Mille Lacs Lake fisheries supervisor on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the office in Garrison. He will oversee the extensive field operations that happen throughout the course of the year to assess fish populations and harvests; work with fisheries research and other partners to study walleye productivity; study the potential impacts of big fish on young walleye survival; review goals for spawning stock biomass; and coordinate other work needed to answer complex questions about the lake.

“This is an important position because Mille Lacs always has been a vital and popular fishery and there is still a lot to learn about the lake and the changes we are seeing. Adding Tom to the team to perform the detailed, complex work needed will benefit the resource, the DNR and groups with an interest in the lake,” Parsons said.

Heinrich begins his new role as the DNR continues efforts to understand and improve a walleye population in Mille Lacs Lake that has undergone a decline over the past two decades that has coincided with significant aquatic system changes including increased water clarity and decreased walleye productivity; the introduction of zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny water fleas; a changing zooplankton community that may be altering the aquatic food web; and declines in certain forage species, including tullibee.

Heinrich began his natural resources career in New York as a fisheries technician on eastern Lake Erie and worked in that role from 1984 until 1990, when he accepted a position in Baudette for the Minnesota DNR. In 1991, he became the large lake specialist for Lake of the Woods and has been in that position since.

More information about Mille Lacs Lake can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.