State agencies investigating major fish kill in southeast Minnesota trout stream

Published 6:03 pm Friday, July 29, 2022

An estimated 2,500 fish killed near Lewiston

 

By Mark Zdechlik

State agencies are investigating what killed an estimated 2,500 fish, mostly brown trout, along a stretch of trout stream in southeastern Minnesota earlier this week.

The fish kill happened on Rush Creek, near Lewiston in Winona County. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which is investigating the fish kill along with the departments of agriculture and natural resources, says it doesn’t think the fish died naturally.

Previous fish kills have been linked to chemical runoff from farms after heavy rain — and storms dropped heavy rain in parts of southern Minnesota last weekend.

“Field crews from the three agencies have collected fish and water samples and are analyzing results to help determine the cause of the fish kill,” MPCA spokesperson Mike Rafferty told MPR News on Friday, saying the agencies will provide updates when they have more information.

John Lenczewski, executive director of Minnesota Trout Unlimited, described Rush Creek as a “top-notch trout stream that … draws people from not just around the state but from outside the state.”

In the wake of previous fish kills in the region, he said there’s frustration that it has happened again.

“What we want is to see something change,” he said, to prevent additional fish kills.

“If it’s a question of when manure application should take place, and the rules aren’t clear enough or need to create some cushion for timing, then let’s change those rules,” Lenczewski said. “If it’s pesticide or fungicide application rules, well, let’s change those rules so this doesn’t continue to happen.”