Pleasant Lake Fends Off Invasives

Pleasant Lake in Walworth County has had moderate trouble preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) to their lake. With help from DNR, they hope to keep their spring fed lake as healthy as possible by preventing the intrusion of other species into their lake. The lake has received four DNR grants in the past to help manage water quality and stave off the spread of invasive species common to nearby lakes.

Pleasant Lake boat launch.  Photo courtesy of Pleasant Lake Association.

Pleasant Lake boat launch. Photo courtesy of Pleasant Lake Association.

In 2007, Pleasant Lake received a small scale lake planning grant to examine the lake’s water quality and create an aquatic plant management plan. Small scale lake planning grants are the first step in creating an efficient lake management plan. They help the residents gather necessary lake information in order to assess its current status and future management needs. If the past and current states of the lake are recorded, any future changes in the lake can be detected and diagnosed.

In 2010, Pleasant Lake received a DNR aquatic invasive species early detection and rapid response grant. Unlike maintenance and containment grants, this grant promotes creating detection and response plans specific to the lake and the available resources.

In 2011, with aquatic invasive species plans and procedures in place, Pleasant Lake received a Clean Boats, Clean Waters grant. The Clean Boats, Clean Waters (CBCW) program helps volunteers on lakes communicate proper boat inspection and cleaning techniques. In addition, CBCW volunteers monitor the local boat launch where they talk with boaters and monitor their AIS prevention steps as they leave and enter the lake.

Boaters with poor boat hygiene practices are educated on proper cleaning and maintenance procedures they can use to help stop the spread of invasives. Data on the number of boaters and where they have recently boated are collected by the volunteers and entered into a statewide DNR database. The data help DNR monitor the general movement of boaters, and any invasive critters that may have been on board.

In 2012, the Pleasant Lake Association used data obtained with its first lake planning grant and successfully applied for another grant to study water levels and the lake’s outlet pipe replacement options.

Since 2007, when their first small scale planning grant was received, Pleasant Lake has undertaken studies to better manage their lake. Their vigilance at the boat landing has resulted in no new invasive species being found in their lake. With the proper data, and training from DNR staff, the Pleasant Lake Association is taking steps to better manage the lake. Because of these efforts, Pleasant Lake’s outlook is a little more…pleasant.

 Entry written by Alyson Douglas, aquatic invasive species program assistant.
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Aquatic Invasive Species Bridge Snapshot Day: Where Rivers Meet People

For many a bridge is just a way to conveniently pass over the river below. The trip is the main goal; the river just a spot along the way. For others a bridge is a portal to what is below and provides easy access to miles of river. This is great for those looking to explore the stream near that bridge crossing. However, the easy access and increased human activity also means an increased likelihood of invasive species being present near that bridge.

Wading in to look for aquatic invasive species.  Photo by Tim Campbell.

Wading in to look for aquatic invasive species. Photo by Tim Campbell.

DNR and the River Alliance of Wisconsin have been working for years to understand the distribution of invasive species in rivers. Project RED (Riverine Early Detectors) is a citizen-based monitoring program that has been promoted by both organizations as a way to monitor for invasive species while boating. Project RED has been effective at involving paddlers in monitoring rivers throughout the year. However, the commitment level may be a barrier for getting more citizens involved. This led Laura MacFarland, Invasive Species Director for the River Alliance, to seek other ways to get citizens involved in stream monitoring for invasive species. With the help of DNR and Wisconsin’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) partnership, Laura thinks she has developed another way citizens can be involved.

“AIS Bridge Snapshot Day will provide a look at what invasive species are present near our most accessible stream sites,” says MacFarland. “Nearly 100 citizen volunteers will monitor over 150 stream sites in one morning.” MacFarland believes the short time commitment makes it easier for volunteers, and the large number of volunteers will allow for a broad picture of invasive species at road crossings across the state. The Wisconsin Citizen Based Monitoring Network and DNR are providing funding for this first-of-its-kind monitoring event in Wisconsin.

Volunteers patrol the river banks looking for invasive species.  Photo by Tim Campbell.

Volunteers patrol the river banks looking for invasive species. Photo by Tim Campbell.

On the morning of September 13th, Snapshot Day volunteers will receive a short training on invasive species identification and the monitoring protocol. Volunteers will then head to their selected bridge crossings and look for invasive species, such as non-native Phragmites and purple loosestrife, from both in and above the river. For example, volunteers will use kick net sampling and other methods to see what’s in the water. After monitoring their sites, volunteers will return to their training site and report their findings.

Maureen Ferry, DNR’s AIS Monitoring Coordinator, believes that Bridge Snapshot Day may help locate invasive species along alternative invasion pathways. “In recent years we have discovered new infestations of nonnative plants, such as water lettuce and yellow floating heart, which were likely the result of releases. Given the opportunity these could harm Wisconsin waters,” said Ferry. “Bridge Snapshot Day will allow us to detect these species early and eradicate them before they spread. This event is also an opportunity to let people know about alternatives to release, such as giving unwanted organisms to a friend or calling an animal rescue.”

Before the event has even begun, MacFarland already believes it is a success. “The engagement we already experienced has been great, and hopefully this is the start of many more successful Bridge Snapshot Days.”

More information, including the location of training and monitoring sites, can be found at www.wisconsinrivers.org/events.

 Entry written by Tim Campbell, AIS Communications Specialist, University of Wisconsin Extension and DNR.
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2014 Landing Blitz Reins in Aquatic Invasive Species

2014 is the Year of the Horse in the Chinese calendar. People born in years of the Horse are characterized as excellent communicators, cheerful, talented and ones who cannot abide failure. All of those features were on display during the July 4 weekend, when DNR and partner organizations mounted the sixth annual Landing Blitz.

The Blitz celebrated the work of the Clean Boats Clean Waters volunteers who gallop to their local boat launches each season and pony up their time and talent to corral the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). This year’s Landing Blitz spanned the days of July 3-6 when more boaters traditionally stampede to boat landings than any other time of the year.

Enthusiastic boat washing to remove aquatic invasive species at Sheboygan harbor.  Photo courtesy of Steve Klock.

Enthusiastic boat washing to remove aquatic invasive species at Sheboygan harbor. Photo courtesy of Steve Klock.

At the launches, CBCW volunteers branded into boaters’ minds the need to follow the AIS prevention steps: Inspect, Clean, Drain and Never Move. In addition, DNR provided participants with free hand towels for boaters found practicing these prevention steps.

In addition to the important educational efforts and boat inspections, some Landing Blitz events included free food and boat washings to rope the attention of boaters. Rollie Johnson, president of Big Moon Lake Association reported, “We had a great turn out and served 160 brats!” All these efforts garnered attention from print and television media.

Kacie Baillies, a Clean Boats Clean Waters volunteer, being interviewed at High Cliff State Park. Photo courtesy of Diane Schauer.

Kacie Baillies, a Clean Boats Clean Waters volunteer, being interviewed at High Cliff State Park. Photo courtesy of Diane Schauer.

In addition, state politicians took notice. A 2014 Conservation Legislator of the Year, State Representative Jeff Mursau, co-chair of the Assembly committee on Environment and Forestry and member of the Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage committee, attended a Landing Blitz event at Berry Lake in Oconto and Menominee Counties. Mursau enthused, “I had a great time seeing the good people and interesting sites in Berry Lake and promoting clean lakes in Wisconsin.” Meanwhile, State Senate candidate Martha Laning attended the Landing Blitz at the Deland boat landing in Sheboygan harbor.

This year, neighboring Michigan, who has been watching the mounting success of Wisconsin’s Landing Blitz, rounded-up participants for their first Landing Blitz. Like DNR, Michigan recognizes that keeping AIS from getting out of the gate is more effective than racing to control them once in a lake or river. We hope other neighboring states hitch onto the Landing Blitz to bring the spread of AIS from a canter to a walk to a halt.

To see who participated in this year’s Landing Blitz and their impressive results on DNR’s website, click here.

 Entry written by Michael S. Putnam – Water Resources Management Specialist

 

 

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The Quiet Lakes of Northern Wisconsin

Surveys of lake front property owners throughout Wisconsin identified two amenities of great importance – tranquility and watchable wildlife. These desirable amenities regularly rank higher than activities often associated with lakes such as boating, skiing and fishing. If you are looking for tranquility and good wildlife viewing than you might start with the Quiet Lakes.

MSJund Credited TEAL LAKE

The Quiet Lakes, a chain of three lakes located in Sawyer County, are located within the borders of the 1.5 million acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The largest lake, Lost Land Lake, at 1,264 acres, is the headwaters of the Chippewa Flowage and flows into Teal Lake, 1,024 acres and Ghost Lake, 384 acres. Ghost Lake received its name in the 1800s when a logger looked out at the sprawling waters and thought they disappeared into a “ghostly fog.”

Lake residents would say the lakes stay quiet and true to their name. On any given summer day, while other popular tourist destinations up north are subject to loud motor boats and jet skis, the Quiet Lakes have avoided noise pollution with a 10 mph speed limit since the 1960s. The low speed limit has helped maintain the peace and serenity of the lakes, while also creating a fishing paradise. The aquatic plant beds at the bottom of the lake are rarely disturbed and support a vibrant fishery.

In addition, the homeowners association requires lake residents to have at least 200 feet of shoreline property, compared to the standard 100 feet, to preserve the residents’ peace and privacy.

While the Quiet Lakes are quiet now, the land around them once echoed with the fall of virgin timber when logging was booming in the 1800s. Moving large, 100+ foot logs was made easy when all the lakes connect and flow into Teal River, which eventually connects to the Mississippi River. Because of forests like those around the Quiet Lakes, Wisconsin was the number one lumber producer in the world by 1899. After being extensively cut over and then sold as farm land that often failed to support farming, the land reverted to government ownership. In 1933, the forests surrounding the Quiet Lakes were added to the national forest system by Franklin D. Roosevelt and are known now as the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF).

Nearly five score areas within the CNNF were planted with trees by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The surrounding forests are now rich with both coniferous and deciduous trees. The Ghost Lake State Natural Area covers most of the eastern shore of its namesake and was so designated because of its high quality upland hardwood forest. The restoration of these forests has the added benefit of supporting much watchable wildlife. Animals once extirpated in Wisconsin, wild turkeys, fishers and elk, were later reintroduced and now live in nearby areas of the national forest.

Fisher on the look out.  Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.

Fisher on the look out. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.

Anglers in northern Wisconsin enjoy a large array of fishing on the Quiet Lakes. Muskellunge, largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill, perch, black crappie, pumpkin seed, and bullhead are all common throughout the Quiet Lakes.   In fact, many visitors are attracted from around the Midwest to the resorts on the Quiet Lakes for the fishing and have been returning across generations. On the lakes, wildlife watchers enjoy the haunting calls of common loons and the flights of fish-eating birds of prey like osprey and bald eagleTeal Lake sports six state-owned islands where boaters can stop for a short hike or picnic.

Bald Eagle. Photo by Herbert Lange.

Bald Eagle. Photo by Herbert Lange.

The Quiet Lakes offer a place of solitude. Whether attracted by the National Forests, or the great fishing, residents and visitors alike continue to enjoy the tranquility that enfolds Lost Land, Teal and Ghost lakes.

For more information on the Quiet Lakes, contact Bob Dale, President of the Teal/Lost Land/ Ghost Lakes Improvement Association.

 Entry written by Alyson Douglas, aquatic invasive species outreach assistant and Michael Putnam, water resources management specialist.
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