Crosby and Little Crosby Lakes

Crosby Lake Background

Crosby and Little Crosby Lakes are shallow lakes situated in the Mississippi River floodplain in Saint Paul and part of the Crosby Farm Regional Park and the Mississippi River National River and Recreation Area. The lakes are located within the 1,522 acres of Crosby Lake subwatershed. Crosby Lake is 48 acres in size with a maximum depth of 19 feet. As part of Crosby Farm Regional Park and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, the lakes are visited year-round, with ample opportunities for canoeing, hiking, and fishing.

Little Crosby Lake

Little Crosby Lake is eight acres in size with an average depth of seven feet and a maximum depth of 34 feet. It is connected to Crosby Lake through an 825-foot-long marsh and bog area. Little Crosby Lake is considered a shallow lake even though it has a maximum depth of 34 ft, because it has a littoral area of 90% (less than 15 feet in depth).

Crosby Lake Health

Because the lake receives little local drainage, water quality of Crosby Lake is generally good, with total phosphorus concentrations below the state standard for shallow lakes. However, the lake is showing signs of pressure from high nutrient loads, invasive species such as carp and Curly-leaf pondweed, and altered hydrology. One of the unique aspects of Crosby Lake is that it resides in the floodplain of the Mississippi River. Therefore, the two water bodies exchange water under high-flow conditions, resulting in the potential exchange of nutrients and aquatic organisms. Flooding from the river is likely causing high nutrient concentrations in sediment, though such inundation is impossible to control.

How to Help Crosby Lake

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Crosby Lake Projects

Crosby Lake Management Plan

In 2012, CRWD and its partners created a management plan for Crosby Lake. The City of Saint Paul owns and maintains the park surrounding Crosby Lake, Crosby Farm Regional Park. Together with the City of Saint Paul and many other stakeholders, the plan helps decide a long-term strategy for protecting Crosby Lake. Water quality goals identified by the plan include:

  • Meet state water quality standards for total phosphorus loading. This requires an approximately 47% reduction in watershed phosphorus loading.
  • Develop long-term targets for plant and fish diversity as surveys and data are collected. Target an excellent rating for the submerged aquatic vegetation population using the Floristic Quality Index (Nichols, 1999). Target a good Index of Biotic Integrity score once the IBI has been completed by the Minnesota DNR.
  • Reduce total suspended solids (TSS) in direct discharge to the Mississippi River from the watershed.
  • From the Crosby Lake sub-watershed an approximately 66 percent reduction in total phosphorus loading in direct discharge to the Mississippi River.