By Heather Brown


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Since the tourism slogan was created in the 1920s, Minnesota has been known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

However, Politifact Wisconsin recently pointed out the state’s new tourism chief claimed the Badger State has 5,000 more than that.

Secretary-Designee Sara Meaney waded into the long-time debate telling WTMJ radio, “Yeah, we win.”

So, it is true? Which state has more lakes? Good Question.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota technically has 11,842 lakes. Those lakes are defined as bodies of water 10 acres or more.

According to the Wisconsin DNR, Wisconsin has 15,074 “documented” lakes. Those are defined as bodies of water 2.2 acres or more. Of those lakes, about 6,000 are named.

If Wisconsin were to measure lakes like Minnesota, its lake count would be closer to 5,300.

At the federal level, the U.S. Geological Survey does not have an official definition of lakes, but it does lump together ponds and lakes as water body features. The USGS counts 124,522 water body features in Minnesota and 82,099 in Wisconsin.

Finally, Minnesota still comes out ahead by counting surface area covered by lakes. But by adding what both states claim for Lake Superior and Michigan, Wisconsin has twice as much lake surface area.

Heather Brown

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