Scroll down to view the latest issue of OCLRA eNews. Watch this space for periodic news updates.
------------------------ OCLRA eNews: December 12, 2019
OCLRA is wrapping up a busy year with a couple of nice steps forward. Here’s a summary of recent events:
Rate Your Shoreline
The Tomahawk Lake Association’s Rate Your Shoreline survey (actually borrowed from the Michigan Shoreland Steward program) has gained positive reviews. OCLRA and the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association (VCLRA) plan to approach the UW-Extension Lakes team with a request to adapt it specifically for Wisconsin and give it much broader distribution, such as through lake associations across the state. Both associations will consider financial support for the endeavor, and individual lake associations may do so as well. This is a great educational tool that will help lake residents appreciate things they can do to reduce the impact of their properties on water quality. You can take the survey at https://www.tomahawklake.org/rate-your-shoreline.
Connecting the Realtors
Real estate brokers and agents can be important ambassadors for promoting good lake stewardship to new property buyers, many of whom are not well aware of how unwise development of their land can affect their lake. In November OCLRA board members Bob Thome and Bob Martini visited with about 15 agents at the First Weber real estate office in Rhinelander to make a presentation on lake stewardship and good shoreland practices. The two Bobs and VCLRA’s Dick Jenks made a similar presentation to the Northwoods Board of Realtors at one of their board meetings. In both cases the presentations were well received and the Realtors understood how helping to educate new lake lot owners is both beneficial to the environment and consistent with their business interests. We are supplying the Realtors with a variety of educational materials that they can share with their colleagues and in turn share with clients. This initiative has been a great success on which to close out the year. We will be following up with the Realtors and expanding our outreach to that industry to keep the momentum we have built.
Planning and zoning
We continue to monitor meetings of the Oneida County Planning and Zoning Committee to track items of interest for our lakes and to push for action on key issues, such as passing an ordinance to effectively regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs, also called factory farms).
OCLRA and VCLRA have committed to again conduct the annual Six-County Lakes Meeting. These have been well attended and have drawn strong positive reactions. The meeting agenda and program will be developed in the coming months. The date will be announced early in 2020. Last year’s attendance topped 100 – a record.
Have you ever thought about giving your lake Christmas present? At last fall’s Vilas County Lakes Partnership meeting, a lake association leader told how he had asked members to make it a point to do one thing this year for the lake’s benefit. We could all do something like that for our own lakes in honor of the holidays – or more to the point, pledge to do so, since there isn’t a lot we can do over the winter. What might that “one thing” be? How about resolve to: -Create a shoreline buffer strip to capture runoff and limit the flow of nutrients to the water. -Recruit a new member to your lake association. -Make a donation beyond your dues to the association treasury. -Get a septic system inspection. -Do a better job of picking up pet waste. -Plan a rain garden or other infiltrative area to capture runoff. -Get rid of lead fishing tackle and go with non-toxic equivalents. -Learn to be a Clean Boats Clean Waters inspector. -Check your lake for the presence of invasive vegetation.
Those are just a few ideas. You’re free to come up with your own. Just doing one thing can seem trivial, but if everybody does one thing, the impact is multiplied.
Board meetings The next OCLRA board meetings (both at the Rhinelander airport) are: - Monday, Jan. 13, 9 a.m. - Monday, February 10, 9 a.m. All are welcome.
The OCLRA Board wishes you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy and rewarding year in 2020.
------------------------ OCLRA eNews: October 21, 2019
There is a lot going on with OCLRA these days. This edition of eNews will share some of the highlights. First things first: The next OCLRA board meeting is Monday, Nov. 11, at the Rhinelander airport, downstairs meeting room. All are welcome. Some of the items described below will be on the agenda.
Realtor outreach. We are looking to connect with real estate agents as gatekeepers who might help us introduce new lake property buyers to good shoreline management practices that can help protect their lakes while also protecting their property values. Sandy Ebben of First Weber in Rhinelander attended our board meeting on October 14 and gave us some excellent suggestions on how we might proceed. We’re going to start by attending a meeting of the Northwoods Board of Realtors directors during November. That will be a start toward deciding how exactly we can engage with the real estate profession.
Connecting with Vilas County. Oneida and Vilas counties have a great deal in common where lakes and lake protection are concerned. In the past we have discussed coordinating with the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association, and we’re about to engage more closely with them to share best practices. Of particular interest is VCLRA’s new Lake Property Owners Initiative; we have invited a representative to out next board meeting to discuss how we can adopt elements of it here in Oneida County. The VCLRA plan envisions expansion of the group’s website, along with efforts to reach lake property owners, especially those planning new construction or renovations, through Realtors welcome letters, and county departments. The aim is to provide resources and contacts to help those owners develop a “lake ethic” and become better stewards doing the right things for themselves and the environment. It’s an ambitious program that will take time, effort and resources but is essential to helping protect the lakes we all love. OCLRA looks forward to working with VCLRA so that we can multiply the impact. There will be much more to come as this initiative goes forward.
Rate your Shoreline. At our October 14 board meeting, James Kavemeier, who chairs the Environment and Education Committee for the Tomahawk Lake Association, talked about a volunteer initiative asking lake property owners to take a survey to measure how well their land management practices are protecting the lake. The initiative is based on a program sponsored by Michigan Shoreline Stewards (https://www.mishorelandstewards.org/rate.asp). The program asks participants to rate four areas of the property: Upland Zone. This typically includes the house, driveway, garage, and septic systems and is where the majority of stormwater runoff comes from. Buffer Zone. This zone begins at the lake’s ordinary high water mark and extends 35 feet inland. This zone is very important in protecting the lake ecosystem and maintaining a stable shoreline. Shoreline Zone. This is the transition zone from water to land. It begins at the ordinary high water mark and extends to the interface between land and water. Lake Zone. This is the near-shore area in the water. It is the shallow part of the lake where enough light reaches the bottom to allow aquatic plants to grow. This zone provides food, shelter, shade, and areas to for young fish and wildlife to develop. This is a worthy initiative; conceivably OCLRA can be part of an effort to make something similar available to a wider audience. You can find out more about the Lake Tomahawk program at http://www.tomahawklake.org/shoreland-stewards-guide.
Project North Festival. OCLRA was an exhibitor in the Eco-Village at this festival held in downtown Rhinelander in late September. It was the festival’s first year and we hope it will continue as an annual event. We created a new three-panel exhibit board for the festival and for future events in which we take part. OCLRA board members talked to a number of festival attendees who stopped by. It’s one more way to get our message of lake stewardship out to the community.
Oneida County Budget. The county is facing a round of cuts to its budget for 2020. For a time a cut to the budget for the Aquatic Invasive Species outreach program was on the table. OCLRA members and other lake advocates emphasized to county board members how important the AIS program is to protecting our lakes. As of this writing the AIS program is no longer targeted for reduction.
New invasives infestations. We received news in August that invasive species had been detected in two more lakes. Eurasian water milfoil was discovered near the boat landing on Hasbrook Lake in Oneida County near the community of Lake Tomahawk, and spiny water flea was found in Plum Lake in Vilas County. These discoveries underscore the importance of continued efforts to educate the boating/fishing public about invasive species and Clean Boats, Clean Water practices.
------------------------ OCLRA eNEWS: May 1, 2019
Lake groups from northern counties to discuss current topics at July 12 meeting
Lake group leaders and members from six northern Wisconsin counties will convene for a discussion of current issues related to lake quality and shoreland habitat protection on Friday, July 12, at Nicolet College in Rhinelander.
The meeting, from 9 a.m. to noon, will explore ways to encourage lake residents and lake users to take actions to protect lake and stream water quality and the scenic values of the Northwoods. These include creating buffer strips of vegetation along shorelines to help curtail runoff of nutrients and sediment into the water.
Attendees are expected from Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, and Iron counties.
“The single best and simplest measure people can take to protect their lakes is to keep the shoreline habitat natural or restore it to a more natural condition,” says Bob Martini, president of the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association, which is organizing the event with the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association.
The event will include exhibits from lake-related organizations and several presentations related to water-quality education and best lake management practices. For more information, contact Martini at 715-282-5896 or Steve Budnik at 715-686-7852.
What difference do natural shorelines make? The answer will amaze you.
Centuries ago our Northwoods lakes were undisturbed, simply surrounded by forests. We can use our imaginations to picture what that was like. Of course a great deal has changed. First came the lumber barons. Then came the growth of tourism, small three-season vacation cottages gradually occupying the lakeshores. And then came the modern era of much larger, year-round homes. Progressively, our shorelines have become less natural, to the general detriment of lake water quality.
Patrick Goggin, a lakes specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the UW-Extension Lakes team, explained the effects heavy development during a Science on Tap session on April 3 at the Minocqua Brewing Company. Those who heard him surely came away understanding more fully why it’s so important to protect our lakeshore habitats.
What happened as those small cottages were built? The clearing of land increased the runoff of sediment and nutrients to the water, but not in massive amounts, as the cabin rooftops were just about the only hard surfaces helping to direct the water lakeward.
The bigger houses, though, have brought much more dramatic change. More cleared land, bigger roof surfaces, driveways, walkways and suburban-style lawns produce runoff; the water washes a vastly larger amount of soil and pollutants into the lake than when only the cabins were there.
We obviously can’t go back to the pre-settlement days of truly natural lakes and, let’s face it, we wouldn’t want to. But Patrick’s message was that the more we can edge our shoreland properties back toward a natural state, the better off our lakes will be.
If you want to hear Patrick’s talk, you can find it online (or will be able to soon) at www.scienceontapminocqua.org. It’s definitely time well spent.
What has OCLRA done lately? Actually, quite a bit!
There has never been a more important time to band together to protect and improve our lakes. Although a new and more environment-friendly state administration is now in place, it remains critically important to act locally and inform lake association members and all lake lovers about how to preserve and enhance lake shorelines and water quality. The mission of OCLRA is to educate, advocate and assist in the lake protection process. Memberships make our efforts on your behalf possible. This past year:
* One of our board members, Ted Rulseh authored a fine lake education book, A Lakeside Companion, published by The University of Wisconsin Press. This year he will promote lake appreciation and protection at numerous presentations to lake groups statewide. Contact Ted at email@example.com for information or for material for your association newsletter. Here is a link to his recent guest appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio: https://www.wpr.org/shows/discovering-wisconsins-lakes.
* We have attended nearly all Oneida County Planning and Development Committee meetings to monitor and comment on issues of vital importance to lake property owners and visitors.
* We have helped lake associations with Aquatic Invasive Species grant applications.
* We have supported a 2018 university-sponsored research project that documents the link between lake water clarity and lakefront property values (www.oclra.org/research).
* We have collaborated with the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association.
* We have given water-quality presentations to groups around northern Wisconsin.
* We have regularly taken our lake and river protection message to local radio and print media.
* We have provided our “Doing the Right Thing” booklet of essays to Friday editions of the Lakeland Times.
* We are collaborating with the Oneida County Planning and Zoning Department to develop a packet of information to help property owners understand shoreland zoning and sound practices for lake protection as they develop their properties.
* We seek to better understand how our lakeshore neighbors value the lake experience and how OCLRA could help you protect our lake. Visit www.oclra.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCLRA Board, Monday, May 20, 9 a.m. Rhinelander Airport OCLRA Board, Monday, June 17, 8 a.m., Rhinelander Airport
Members and visitors are always welcome.
------------------------------ OCLRA eNEWS: December 18, 2018
An OCLRA Christmas Wish List for Oneida County Waters
’Tis the season for reflection and giving. In that spirit, the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association presents this wish list of the greatest gifts to the waters of our county – the backbone of a multi-million tourism economy and a treasure for residents and visitors. 1. Enact an ordinance governing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to protect our waters from the disasters seen all over Wisconsin and elsewhere. It’s not difficult: Simply use the Bayfield County ordinance as a model and take action – before we face CAFO problems we lack authority to control.
2. Fix our inadequate mining ordinance. The current ordinance was written in haste under a state-imposed deadline. Now there is time to correct its deficiencies. We have proposed more than a dozen fixes that would protect communities from adverse impacts, ensure that the county derives the optimum economic benefit from any mine and – most critical – safeguards our waters.
3. Heed the 62 percent of Oneida County voters – in a record turnout election – who said “no” to the leasing of county forest land for mining in the Town of Lynne near the Willow Flowage. It’s time to go on the record and ensure that the voters’ intent is respected in county board decisions on mining.
4. Continue a strong program to control aquatic invasive species and keep new species from getting a foothold in Oneida County waters. Education is essential, and so are concrete actions, such as stepped up watercraft inspections.
5. Improve the county shoreline zoning ordinance, which has been progressively weakened by state-imposed limits on local control and does not adequately protect our waters from unwise development. The county must diligently enforce the ordinance provisions, explore further protective measures, and proactively educate property owners to “Do the Right Thing” (http://www.oclra.org/do-the-right-thing.html) – before lake quality reaches a tipping point and repair is impossible.
6. Promote public access and enjoyment of our waters. Positive experiences with water resources lead to a better economy, better health, and a willingness to protect our water assets.
These are truly gifts that keep on giving – for generations to come. They can help protect our waters, improve our tourism economy, and ensure a secure future for people who have chosen to live and invest in Oneida County. Sincerely, OCLRA Board of Directors Bob Martini, President
------------------------ OCLRA eNEWS: September 27, 2018
A University study connects lake water clarity with higher lake property values
Better lake water clarity has a meaningful impact on the value of lakefront properties in Vilas and Oneida counties, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Department of Economics
The study, “The Impact of Water Clarity on Home Prices in Vilas and Oneida Counties, Wisconsin,” estimates gains in residential property value related to improvements in water clarity on 60 lakes in the two counties. The study correlated data on water clarity from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with data on 271 residential home sales. The researchers concluded that an improvement of one meter (just over three feet) in water clarity (based on Secchi disc clarity readings) would improve the market price of an average residential lake property in the two counties by $8,090 to $32,171.
The study’s conclusion states, “There exists a clear economic rationale for the improvement of water clarity on several northern Wisconsin lakes…The variation [in impact from water clarity] is largely dependent upon existing water clarity and the degree to which the lake is already economically developed.
“On lakes with low water clarity, such as McCormick Lake, Killarney Lake, and Fifth Lake, average residential properties would see an improvement in sale price of approximately $30,000. The figures for these lakes are much higher than for others within the study area because the willingness to pay for given improvements is likely higher on lakes where clarity is poor…
“The differences in these increases are also dependent upon the existing level of economic development on the lake. For example, McCormick Lake would be expected to experience a greater gain in property values than Fifth Lake even though Fifth Lake’s clarity is worse. The community surrounding Fifth Lake is more developed when compared to McCormick Lake…
“(T)aken in sum, we conclude that the marginal economic benefits to improvements in clarity are most significant when applied to lakes with low existing clarity and even more so when they are applied to lakes with low clarity and when the surrounding areas are minimally developed. These results reinforce and support the importance of these lakes to the community and should bolster efforts to maintain lake water quality.” (Emphasis added)
OCLRA has consistently argued that the protection and enhancement of lake water quality is important to the continued economic prosperity of Northwoods communities.
A new educational resource for all who love lakes
A new book, “A Lakeside Companion,” published by The University of Wisconsin Press, introduces readers to what makes their favorite lakes tick: to the life in, on, around and above the water. Its content aligns closely with educational component of OCLRA’s mission.
Written by OCRLA board member Ted Rulseh, the book includes a basic presentation of lake science (biological, chemical, physical). It also includes chapters on fish life, lake creatures, aquatic plants, bird life, and lakes in winter. A final chapter outlines measures property owners and all lake lovers can take to protect and enhance water quality and lake life.
The book is written in everyday language to communicate clearly with readers who are not scientists. It also includes recollections of experiences of the kind readers have had, or might like to have, on their favorite bodies of water. Information about the book is available on the UW Press website at https://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/5756.htm.
------------------------ OCLRA eNEWS July 22, 2018
A highly successful Six-County Lakes Meeting Lake association leaders and lake advocates from northeast Wisconsin gathered at Nicolet College on July 13 for the annual Six-County Meeting. A total of 67 participants represented Oneida, Vilas, Lincoln, Langlade, Oconto and Iron counties.
Patrick Goggin of the UW-Extension lake specialist gave an introduction and described the wealth of lake education materials available on the website at www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/UWEXLakes.
Michael Engleson, executive director of Wisconsin Lakes (www.wisconsinlakes.org), outlined his organization’s involvement in state legislative matters including small-scale dredging in impoundment lakes, shoreland zoning, recreational watercraft, boating safety, and others.
The featured guest speaker James Brakken, who shared advice on lake protection from his book, Saving Our Lakes and Streams: 101 Practical Things You Can Do Today. He observed that, “Governments tell us what to do, but don’t tell us why.” His book, he explained, gives the “why” of the various lake protection tips and helps people understand healthy ways to live with their lakes. More information is available at www.badgervalley.com .
The concluding presentation featured OCLRA president Bob Martini, representing the Wisconsin’s Green Fire group (https://wigreenfire.org/) advocating for science-based environmental regulation of water, he drew on his long career with the Wisconsin DNR to describe how responsible regulation on controlling dams, cleaning up the Wisconsin River, and dealing with acid rain helped the environment, the public’s interests and the economy, while also benefiting the industries regulated by helping them save energy and in some cases create new revenue streams by turning what had been waste materials into valuable products.
OCLRA Annual Meeting The six-county session was followed by the Annual Meeting of the OCLRA Board. President Bob Martini outlined the accomplishments of the past year, including:
Monitoring of the Oneida County Planning and Development (P&D) Committee meetings, mainly by Bob and Sue Thome.
Testimony to the P&D committee on timely issues.
Continued distribution of the booklet, “Doing the Right Thing for Our Lakes and Streams.”
Submission of weekly articles on lake stewardship to the Lakeland Times.
An active Education Committee working on projects that include supplying information on shoreland best practices to the county planning department for distribution to building permit applicants.
Ongoing newspaper, radio and TV publicity about OCLRA activities and good lake protection practices.
Work on these priorities will continue in the year ahead.
In other business Jean Roach resigned from the board and will be replaced by Larold (Lud) Lodholz, who will also succeed Jean as president of the Pelican Lake Property Owners Association. Jean received a hearty thank you from board members for her years of service.
Trout Lake Station Open House
The University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology’s Trout Lake Research Station will hold its annual Open House on Friday, August 3, from 1 to 5 p.m. The event includes boat rides, arts and crafts, fish and aquatic plant exhibits, demonstrations, and free Babcock Dairy ice cream. The station is on Highway N, one-half mile west of the intersection of Highways M and N near Boulder Junction.
-------------------- OCLRA eNEWS: June 20, 2018
“Saving Our Lakes and Rivers” is topic for July 13 meeting of northern county lake groups
Leaders of lake groups from six northern Wisconsin counties will discuss “Saving Our Lakes and Rivers at a meeting on Friday, July 13, at Nicolet College in Rhinelander.
The meeting, from 9 a.m. to noon, will explore ways to encourage lake residents and lake users to take actions to protect lake and stream water quality and the scenic values of the Northwoods. The featured speaker is James A. Brakken, author of the book, “Saving Our Lakes and Streams: 101 Practical Things You Can Do Today?”
Brakken is president of the Northwest Water Consortium, a past president of Wisconsin Lakes, and a Wisconsin lakes Stewardship Award member, as well as an award-winning writer. The meeting is expected to draw attendees from Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, and Iron counties.
Steve Budnik, president of the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association, will start the meeting with a welcome. Michael Engleson, executive director of Wisconsin Lakes, will outline current statewide lake-related issues.
Bob Martini, president of the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association, will report on progress with Wisconsin’s Green Fire, an organization of scientists and others devoted to natural resource policies based on sound science. Patrick Goggin, UW-Extension lakes specialist, will lead a discussion of current issues and best management practices for lake property owners.
The event will include exhibits from lake-related organizations, along with pre-meeting coffee and refreshments. Annual meetings of countywide lake associations will follow the session. For more information, contact Bob Martini at 715-282-5896 or Steve Budnik at 715-686-7852.
-------------------------- OCLRA eNews: May 15, 2018
Oneida County looks to craft mining ordinance to protect water resources The Oneida County Planning and Development Committee is at work crafting a mining ordinance to meet a state-imposed deadline of July 1. That is the date set by the state legislature for counties to adjust their local mining ordinances to reflect changes in state mining laws. A large metallic mineral deposit lies under county-owned forest land in the Town of Lynne, and the concern is that mining, if not effectively regulated, could damage lakes, streams and other valuable resources.
The county has hired an attorney, who is also a geologist, to help examine the existing county mining ordinance and recommend improvements. This issue is important to anyone who cares about the future of the county’s waters.
-------------------- OCLRA eNEWS January 23, 2018 In the past two years, OCLRA has worked to educate Oneida County residents about good property management practices that can help protect our lakes. Now we are entering a new and exciting phase.
The Oneida County Planning and Development Committee has agreed to allow the county zoning department to work with OCLRA on educational materials for shoreline property owners. The materials will be created by the OCLRA Education Committee in cooperation with county staff. They will emphasize not only what is and what is not allowed under zoning regulations but what residents can do voluntarily to limit their impact on lake water quality.
OCLRA president Bob Martini noted that since the state legislature has limited the county’s ability to protect lakes through regulation, the best course is to emphasize enforcement of the zoning protections that remain, while relying on education to help people do the right things in their self-interest and for the lakes’ benefit.