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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Lake of the Month: Cedar Lake of Manitowoc County

Cedar Lake lies in the shadows of Lake Winnebago in the quiet town of Schleswig, Wisconsin. Although dwarfed by Lake Winnebago, at only 136 acres, it is the largest inland lake in Manitowoc County. Known for its clear waters and great fishing, the lake’s popularity has boomed since the early 1900s when the first European settlers arrived.

An article from "Manitowoc, the city of opportunities" pamphlet touting Cedar Lake as "the Largest and most beautiful inland lake."  Source:  Town of Schleswig.In 1900, the first log cabin was built on the south shore of the lake by a farming family. Soon afterwards, in 1905, an ice house and outdoor dance pavilion were built for the public to enjoy. As the lake’s popularity increased, starting in the 1910s and 20s, cottages sprang up around its shores.

To accommodate the growing population, in 1924 the Cedar Lake Resort was built by the resident Harmon and Livingston families and replaced the ice house and dance pavilion. According to the lake’s historian Phil Knauf, at its start, the Resort had multiple attractions: large dance hall, rental cottages, vendor stand, merry go round, high dive, log roll, and giant water wheel. The popularity of the resort attracted big name bands through the years including Guy Lombardo, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Sylvia.

On February 15, 2006 Cedar Lake Resort burned to the ground in a devastating fire. However, the remains of the Resort were bought by Ray and Debbie Brickner in 2007. By 2009, the pair had rebuilt and re-opened the renowned Cedar Lake Resort, bringing back the weekends of music and dancing. Like Cedar Lake Resort, when the lake needed rehabilitation, the residents stepped up to the job.

Residents Mitch Ashe and Erin Otterson showing off their catch of the day. Photo by Scott Otterson.

In 1950, the Cedar Lake Improvement Association was established with the purpose of weed cutting and lake management. However, by 1967 as the popularity of the lake boomed, and boating and industry increased around the lake, water quality declined. The Association needed help and so created a Sanitary District for the lake.

The Sanitary District’s duties included weed harvesting, lake monitoring, and setting boating and building regulations on the lake. One early management step was the creation of a 600 foot deep, 500 gallon per minute well, to pump water into the lake as needed and keep the lake water level constant to prevent shoreline erosion.

The Sanitary District has been successful at improving and maintaining water clarity. By the 1970s Cedar Lake had become eutrophic. But, the district’s management steps brought down phosphorous levels in the lake and nudged the lake’s trophic status to mesotrophic. Eutrophic lakes with high levels of phosphorous can experience frequent algae blooms and reduced water clarity. Today, Cedar Lake is mesotrophic, meaning it has medium levels of primary productivity, clearer water and supports a large array of aquatic life.

Although the Sanitary District and the Lake Association have been diligent at improving water quality, aquatic invasive species have spread to Cedar Lake through its public boat launch.

“We have a public boat landing and, as with most lakes that have one, this is where we notice our invasives first,” says lake resident Dick Jens. “In the recent past, we have had zebra mussels, Eurasian milfoil and the banded mystery snail introduced into Cedar Lake. The Sanitary District is in charge of attempting to control these and prevent other invasives that aren’t here yet.”

In 2004 the Town of Schleswig received a lake planning grant from DNR to help combat the spread of purple loosestrife, curly leaf pondweed, and other invasives in the lake,. With this grant, the Town outlined steps to combat the spread of invasive species. These steps included watercraft inspections, ongoing weed harvests, and outreach to lake residents and visitors.

Cedar Lake has long been a sanctuary for residents and visitors alike and will continue to be so into the future. With the Cedar Lake Improvement Association and the Sanitary District monitoring its waters, the quality of the lake will remain in good hands.

For more information on the efforts of the Sanitary District and Lake Association, contact Scott Otterson at Scottsotter@aol.com. For more history of Cedar Lake, contact the lake historian Phil Knauf at pfknauf100@gmail.com.


 Entry written by Alyson Douglas, DNR aquatic invasive species outreach assistant.
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A Powerful Ally for Those Who Enjoy Lakes.

Some of the most popular lakes in Wisconsin result from the impoundment of large rivers by hydroelectric dams and produce artificial lakes or flowages that can be hundreds to thousands of acres in extent. The management plans for these water bodies can be of keen interest and importance to the landowners and recreationists who inhabit them. Yet, these water users have often been missing from the dam relicensing process and plan review. Now, Cheryl Laatsch of DNR’s Bureau of Watershed Management has in the works efforts to give these parties a stronger voice in the process.

Aerial view of hydroelectric dam on the Wisconsin River in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin that forms Lake Wisconsin (at bottom). (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman/Released)

Aerial view of hydroelectric dam on the Wisconsin River in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin that forms Lake Wisconsin (at bottom). (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman/Released)

With oversight of hydroelectric licensing, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the federal agency responsible for issuing and renewing hydroelectric dam licenses which are valid for 30 to 50 years. In addition, the license holder, often an electric company, must create a management plan for the dam and resulting impoundment. Increasingly, many impoundment management plans include provisions for managing aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Further, Cheryl’s handiwork should reduce paperwork and redundancy through teamwork and partnerships. For example, the license holder’s management plan might call for AIS monitoring within the impoundment. Instead of hiring a staffer or consultant, the license holder could instead help fund the efforts of county AIS coordinators who are already monitoring invasive species. Likewise, the license holder might support lake groups that are monitoring water quality.

Turtle Flambeau Flowage (Photo by S. R. Streck)

Turtle Flambeau Flowage (Photo by S. R. Streck)

Three to five decades is a long time in which to accurately anticipate the management needs of a water body. Consequently, lake groups and AIS coordinators might want to be actively engage with the management of these water bodies, and participate in the public process for FERC licensed hydroelectric dams in order to offer their perspectives and expertise.

Further, lake groups will want to be familiar with the project boundary of the hydroelectric dam because the license holder is responsible for various management actions within the project boundary. This boundary commonly extends beyond the waterline. Lakefront property owners would benefit from knowing where project boundaries lie and the FERC requirements therein. Further, the FERC license addresses issues important to lake enthusiasts such as water levels, dam operations, repairs and maintenance, recreation, timber management, wildlife, land management, fisheries and the management of both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. In addition, FERC deals with the management of drawdowns and fish kills.

Sunset on the flowage (Photo by Adam K.)

Sunset on the flowage (Photo by Adam K.)

To get a sense of the scale of the lake and AIS management opportunities, consider that some 206,000 acres of surface waters occur at 147 dam sites monitored by DNR and 135 of them have management plans.

The ultimate goal of Cheryl’s efforts is to use better data sharing to increase efficiency and improve the science guiding management of these important water resources.

If you are interested in becoming a FERC ally, Cheryl invites you to contact her to learn more, get involved and be part of the FERC network. She can be reached at cheryl.laatsch@wisconsin.gov or (920) 387-7869.

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