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Healthy Fish, Ash Borer Eradication: This Cold Snap Has Some Upsides

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Believe it or not, there are some major benefits to our arctic weather.

In the height of summer, in the depth of winter, the lakes of Minnesota are always in full swing. Shawn Shopek and Stacy Reese spent the day ice fishing on Medicine Lake.

"It's fun, something to do, what I like to do in the winter," Shopek said.

Osseo High School teacher Christopher Flores spent the day fishing Medicine Lake, enjoying an unexpected Thursday off.

"I think it brings us all closer together, definitely true," he said.

But there's more than just the spirit of community that validates our cold weather. Emily Schilling, who teaches biology at Augsburg University, says the hard freeze is good for our great bodies of water.

emerald ash borer
An emerald ash borer (credit: CBS)

"It means the spring thaw will likely come later because we have more ice, it takes longer to melt, and that's really good for our cold water fish species. They like the water to stay cold," she said.

It means trout and other cold water fish should be more plentiful when the ice does melt. And it should make a dent in aquatic invasive species, like milfoil.

"Turns out the lakes aren't the only benefactors of the generous amount of cold we've received this week," Schilling said.

Lakes aren't the only benefactors of the generous amount of cold we've received this week. The deep freeze could also make a dent into the emerald ash borer outbreak that's killing trees all over the Twin Cities.

"So there's definitely some good impact on our ecosystem and also our wildlife in Minnesota," Schilling said.

Assistant Professor Schilling says another reason the cold is good for the lakes is that it helps preserve the ice by giving balance to our warmer winter days.

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