Lake Thompson is a crucial habitat for migratory birds. The simultaneous presence of open water, shallow mudflats, cattail marshes, and wet meadows offers a diverse landscape for shorebirds, waterfowl, wading birds, and gulls.
Herons and egrets use the shallow water and mudflats on the lake’s fringes. Pelicans, gulls, terns, and ducks thrive in the open water.
The dead trees that remained standing were perfect nesting habitat for cormorants, eagles, herons, and egrets. Eventually, the dead trees collapsed, and the habitat changed again.
Besides affecting farmland and wildlife habitats, the expanding lake has flooded several roads. For example, 218th Street, also known as Oldham Grade, crosses the southern part of the lake. It was closed for much of the 1990s. It is open again, but the area’s roads often need repair from the high water.
Landsat data can be used to map these changes and help organizations like South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks understand the interaction between lake levels and wildlife populations.