Scroll down to view the latest issue of OCLRA eNews. Watch this space for periodic news updates.
---------------------- OCLRA eNews: May 25, 2021
Northwoods six-county lakes meeting July 16 to highlight natural shorelines and lake stewardship
Lake group leaders and members from six northern Wisconsin counties will convene for a discussion of natural shorelines, lake stewardship, and other current issues related to lake quality and protection on Friday, July 16. At present, plans are to hold the event via Zoom, but it could be held live pending progress against the Covid pandemic. Watch for details to come.
The meeting, from 9 a.m. to noon, will explore initiatives underway and planned to encourage lake property owners to keep their shorelines natural and take other measures to help protect water quality, safeguard fish and wildlife habitat, and sustain healthy lake ecosystems.
Other topics will include an update on state legislation related to lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater; wakeboating and other water recreation; and tribal perspectives on fisheries and sustaining healthy fish populations. Attendees are expected from Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, and Iron counties.
The event is jointly sponsored by the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association ( www.oclra.org ) and the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association (www.vclra.org). Updates will follow as the agenda is finalized and speakers are confirmed. For more information, contact Bob Martini at 715-282-5896 or visit either sponsoring organization’s website.
County lake groups launch Northwoods Businesses for Clean Waters initiative
The Vilas and Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Associations have begun recruiting members for a new Northwoods Businesses for Clean Waters program. Its mission is to create partnerships between conservation professionals and local businesses that rely on water resources, with the aim to protect the lakes and rivers vital to the Northwoods economy and recreation.
The target groups for membership include fishing guides, dock and lift companies and marinas, bait shops, watercraft rental companies, boat dealer and campgrounds, but membership will be open to other businesses, as well. Program staff members are:
Celeste Hockings of the Lac du Flambeau Tribe
Emily Heald of the North Lakeland Discovery Center
Cathy Higley of the Vilas County Land & Water Conservation Department
Stephanie Boismenue of the Oneida County Land & Water Conservation Department
---------------------- OCLRA eNews: February 14, 2021
Wisconsin Water Week March is an important month for all who love lakes. This year’s annual convention, sponsored by the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership, is labeled as Wisconsin Water Week. It’s five days of educational sessions (March 8-12) covering a broad range of issues involved in protecting and enhancing our lake and stream ecosystems.
Like last year’s convention, the 2021 event will be held virtually. Although in-person is definitely better, there are some advantages to the virtual format – chiefly that you can attend without traveling. In other words, it should be easy for you or a member of your lake association (or district, or friends group) to take part in at least some sessions.
The convention theme is “Navigating Through Turbulent Times,” and the days’ events will spotlight innovative ways in which water groups are advancing their work in the face of unprecedented challenges. And what do those challenges include? Invasive species for one. Increasing development. High water levels. Boat traffic and boat wakes. Rising pressure on the waters from short-term rentals. Mining. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).There’s much work to do, and much to learn from the convention.
Here’s a breakdown of the days: Monday:This first day of Wisconsin Water Week focus on water cycles, notably groundwater and climate, both major yet mostly invisible parts of the water inheritance we all share. Tuesday: Exploring water bodies, looking into the science of monitoring lakes, rivers, wetlands and watersheds, and evaluating the health of the waters and the plant and animal communities that rely on them. Wednesday: Focus on water actions – how people and communities are taking on water-related challenges of many kinds in the face of formidable obstacles. Thursday: The program will be built around multiple one-day, place-based conferences, addressing issues and concerns of the most importance to specific regions. Friday: This final day will provide a menu of smaller local events that draw on the week’s activities as a basis for outlining action plans for the spring and summer ahead. Some of these might be held in person, depending on public health considerations.
OCLRA plans Wisconsin Water Week event OCLRA will host a special program on Friday, March 12, as part of Wisconsin Water Week. Plans are now being assembled and the program will be announced shortly. The event will cover concerns related specifically to the water resources of Oneida County. You can ask for an invitation to this Zoom program by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Protection Via the Refrigerator Sometimes simple ideas can be highly effective. That seems to be the case with a new refrigerator magnet available from the Cary Institute in New York State. This magnet is headlined: 4 Steps You Can Take to Protect Our Lakes. It advises: -Giving wildlife space -Keeping shorelines natural -Observing no-wake zones -Preventing the spread of invasive species
OCLRA has ordered 1,000 of the magnets to share with our members and county lake associations. It’s a great way especially for people who rent out their homes or cabins to remind guests about being good lake stewards. For more information about the magnets, you can email to: email@example.com.
Shoreline stewardship conference The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership and the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership are offering a free online conference, “A New Wave of Thinking,” on Wednesday, March 24, from 10 am to 4 pm via Zoom.
Learn some of the secrets of promoting healthy shorelines and making lasting changes. Find out how waves work and why understanding them is important to preventing shoreline erosion and some of the concepts being used in natural shoreline design in high energy situations.
Lakefront property owners, contractors, state and local governments, educators, non-profit organizations, lake suppliers, native plant growers, landscape designers, and others interested in learning more about lake shorelines and protecting and restoring them are encouraged to attend. More information is available at the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership.
Next Board Meeting The OCLRA meets by Zoom on Tuesday, March 9, at 9 a.m. If you would like an invitation, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
------------------------ OCLRA eNews: November 18, 2020
Lake-related issues gain attention from Oneida County Planning and Zoning
The Oneida County Planning and Development Committee has recently debated various issues of interest to OCLRA and lake advocates generally. Here are a few notes gleaned from recent meetings of the committee:
CAFOs. Concentrated animal feeding operations are becoming more numerous as smaller family farms go out of business; they are potentially significant sources of groundwater pollution from the high volume of manure. The committee has placed this issue on its priority list, since the county at present has a CAFO moratorium (which expires at the end of January) but does not have an ordinance to regulate these operations.
Tourist Rooming Houses. Homes and cabins rented out by the week on websites such as VRBO and Airbnb are causing consternation for neighbors and for lake associations. These places are often rented by large groups as party houses; they create disturbances for neighbors, add stress to the lakes, and potentially overload the septic systems. The county Planning and Zoning Department has been receiving numerous complaints about these properties. The committee is seeking to locate all the properties being advertised online so that the county can bring into compliance those that have been operating without the necessary permits. The county has 338 of these properties on record. At the moment, the county is negotiating with a company to perform an identification process on a total of 670 units being advertised. Those not already permitted will be subject to enforcement action.
Septic systems. The county is planning to assess owners of septic systems an annual administrative fee of $5. Each owner will receive a notice of the fee by mail. It is estimated that this fee will generate some $100,000 in annual revenue.
Zoning districts. The Planning and Development Committee is looking to refine and standardize the language around the various zoning districts. There is public sentiment for limiting mining as a permitted use to industrial zoning districts only.
Watch for more information on these important Oneida County topics. -----------
Outdoor recreation flourishes under COVID
A new report from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism shows that the COVID-10 pandemic led to a major upsurge in outdoor activity – creating yet another argument for the importance of high-quality water resources.
The report, prepared by the Headwaters Economics independent research firm, noted that the outdoor recreation economy contributes $7.8 billion per year (2.4%) to the state’s gross domestic product – larger than the contributions from mining and farming combined.
The report stated, “While the COVID-19 pandemic’s long-term impacts to Wisconsin are unknown, two things are clear: the outdoors is critical to health and well-being, and the recreation industry is poised to help lead economic recovery…Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are seeking outdoor experiences in unprecedented numbers…the state’s outdoor recreation industry is seeing the economic impact of this amplified interest.” By spring 2020, the state had seen:
371% increase in searches for hikes and trails on TravelWisconsin.com
24% increase in sales of ATV trail passes
100% increase in first-time buyers of fishing licenses
DNR proposes higher fees and stricter regulations for metallic mining
The Wisconsin DNR has proposed changes to mining regulations that would raise permitting, licensing and other fees to $502,000 per project. The regulations would apply to mining for minerals other than iron, such as zinc, copper, silver and lead and would cover exploratory drilling and prospecting in addition to actual mining.
The proposal lists areas where mining would not be allowed, including state-designated natural and wilderness areas, the watersheds of designated wild and scenic rivers, national and state parks, wildlife refuges, endangered species habitat, lands with unique geological features, and historically significant sites.
Mining has been a contentious issue in Oneida County, as at least two proposals for metallic mines have come forward, most recently involving core samples at a site in the upper Wolf River watershed. That project was stopped after the mining company did not find enough minerals present to make a mine economically viable.
Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers Convention expands its scope
The 2021 Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers Convention will run March 8-12 with the theme of “Navigating in Turbulent Times.” As in 2020, the event will be virtual. The convention will spotlight innovative ways in which water groups are advancing their work in the face of unprecedented challenges. The convention will be a part the first ever Wisconsin Water Week. To find out more about this week of inspiring content and connections among water lovers, visit https://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/UWEXLakes/Pages/programs/convention/default.aspx.
Last year’s virtual Lakes and Rivers Convention was brilliantly executed and a joy to attend. Be sure to check out the agenda and mark your calendar.
Learn about lake research
On October 29, lake biologists from UW-Madison, UW-Extension, and the DNR fisheries and lake management branches came together to talk about research taking place here in the north. You can view the entire event at https://youtu.be/IyH0totUTi8.
Hope for control of zebra mussels?
The common wisdom says that once an invasive species gets into a lake, it is there forever. That seems especially true of zebra mussels, which can spread until they cover areas of the bottom and festoon every pier and boat lift and other hard surface.
We don’t have zebra mussels in Oneida County lakes, and let’s hope we never do. But if that were to happen, there are – believe it or not – some remedies under study. These are chemical and biological controls that to a significant degree select for the mussels while limiting collateral damage.
A study by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), with the U.S. Geological Survey, is testing application of inexpensive copper sulfate for zebra mussel control on a bay in Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka. So far the results are encouraging.
Meanwhile, the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Michigan and research partners are evaluating a biological control product called Zequanox. The formulation is made up of dead bacterial cells that, when eaten by the mussels, disrupts their digestive processes and kills them. The test involves about three acres of a lake bottom.
Finally, the MAISRC this year began a test of RNA-interference (RNAi) for zebra mussel control. This technique aims to disrupt the expression of genes that are important in the spread and establishment of zebra mussel populations. The study aims to reveal genetic weak points in the mussels and to help in devising means of biological control that could be scaled up to lake-wide treatments in lakes that already have heavy infestations.
------------------------ OCLRA eNews: May 31, 2020
Six-county lakes meeting goes virtual
Lake advocates and lake lovers from six northern Wisconsin counties are invited to an online discussion of issues related to lake quality and protection on Friday, July 10.
The live discussion, from 9 a.m. to noon, will explore ways to encourage lake property owners to follow lake-friendly and environmentally responsible practices. Participants are expected from Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, and Iron counties, and from outside the area.
“Traditionally our meetings have been held in Oneida County venues, but we’ve chosen an online forum out of concern over the coronavirus,” notes Bob Martini, president of the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association (OCLRA). “On the plus side, the online format will open the discussion to a larger audience because people can attend without having to travel. This should mean even greater participation than in past years.
The event is jointly sponsored by OCLRA (www.oclra.org) and the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association (www.vclra.org). There will be several presentations related to water-quality education and best lake property management practices.
The agenda and speaker program are now being developed; updates will follow as plans are made final. For more information, contact Martini at 715-282-5896.
You can still “attend” the 2020 Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers Convention
The annual convention was held online this year because of the coronavirus. The sessions were recorded and most are available by visiting www.uwsp.edu/uwexlakes. Click on Convention 2020 Archive under Events in the left navigation list. You'll also find a link to the photo contest winners and speaker contact information.
------------------------ OCLRA eNews: May 2, 2020
Six-County Lake Meeting to explore outreach to property owners
Lake group leaders and members from six northern Wisconsin counties will convene for a discussion of current issues related to lake quality and protection on Friday, July 10, at Nicolet College in Rhinelander. (The meeting will be held online if coronavirus precautions still preclude large gatherings).
The meeting, from 9 a.m. to noon, will explore ways to encourage lake property owners to develop their land using lake-friendly and environmentally responsible practices. Attendees are expected from Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, and Iron counties. Last year’s event attracted more than 100 lake protection advocates.
The event is jointly sponsored by OCLRA (www.oclra.org) and the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association (www.vclra.org) . There will be several presentations related to water-quality education and best lake management practices. If conducted on site, the event will also include exhibits from lake-related organizations. Updates will follow as plans are made final. For more information, contact Bob Martini at 715-282-5896.
OCLRA issues position statement on sulfide mining
On April 22, the Oneida County Planning and Development committee unanimously approved a permit for Badger Minerals to drill up to ten exploration holes on private land near the Wolf River. The company wants to find out if the area could be a good place for a metallic mine.
This is first exploratory drilling permit the county has approved under a revised zoning code on mining. Badger Minerals, a Michigan-based subsidiary of a Canadian company, plans to drill ten exploration holes to an average depth of 400 feet. Some of the holes would be within a few thousand feet of the Wolf River. In response, OCLRA has issued the following position statement:
The mission of the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association is to protect and preserve the quality and riparian habitat of our county’s inland waters. Accordingly, OCLRA and its lake association and individual members will strongly oppose any project that presents a significant threat to our surface waters or groundwater, whether from mining, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) or any other source.
Our organization will use science-based evidence to inform the public of such threats and will use media outlets, public meetings and other channels to distribute information to Oneida County property owners. Preserving the quality of our lakes, rivers, and streams for today and for the future is paramount in sustaining our economy, aesthetics and way of life for our citizens.
The proposal by Badger Minerals to conduct test drillings for sulfide minerals in the Town of Schoepke, in the headwaters area of the Wolf River, has again raised serious concern about the environmental impacts of mining in this lake-rich region of Wisconsin. We believe that any sulfide mining proposal in our county must undergo regulatory re-view with the utmost care and with the requirement that the protection of our water resources is the paramount consideration.
In 2018, more than 62% of Oneida County voters opposed a proposal for a sulfide mine upstream of the Willow Flowage, which is of regional significance. The Wolf River, meanwhile, is a waterway of statewide importance and extremely significant to the Menominee Nation downstream. Both of these are recognized by the State of Wisconsin as Outstanding Resource Waters; the Wolf is also a federally recognized Wild and Scenic River.
Furthermore, Oneida County has 1,129 lakes encompassing 106.95 square miles; 222,600 acres of wetlands covering 347.81 square miles (28.2%) of the county; and more than 800 miles of rivers and streams, many home to naturally reproducing trout populations.
Leaving aside their incalculable recreational, cultural and aesthetic values, these water resources form the backbone of the Oneida County economy. In 2019, the county’s residential waterfront properties were assessed at $4.2 billion, representing 73% of total assessed value and generating $85.5 million of property tax revenue. In addition, maintaining the health of the lakes and rivers is crucial to the tourism and recreational economy on which the county depends: Visitors to the county annually spend some $229 million at hundreds of resorts, stores, restaurants, hotels and numerous other local businesses.
The mineral deposits in Oneida County are associated with ancient rocks of volcanic origin. These deposits were buried under thick layers of glacial drift and water when the glaciers receded. Our lakes, streams, and wetlands are intimately connected to the water contained in this glacial material. The pumping required to keep an underground sulfide mine reasonably dry has potential to reduce surrounding lake and groundwater levels, reduce stream flows, and impair wetland function.
Furthermore, these deposits contain minerals that are compounds of metal and sulfur; the mining and milling of the metallic ore creates an enormous amount of waste material (tailings) which, if not properly stored, will become exposed to air and water. This leads to acid drainage that, as experience with numerous sulfide mines has shown, can damage downstream waters and decimate fisheries for hundreds of years. High costs to repair such damage often fall upon the public, long after the mining concerns have profited and left town.
In recent years, Wisconsin’s mining regulations have been significantly changed in ways designed to make it easier for mining companies to receive permits and run their operations. The concern is that these changes have come at the expenses of local public involvement and the protection of lakes, streams, wetlands, groundwater, and the environment in general.
The future of Oneida County depends on protecting our water resources now and for generations to come. We appreciate that metallic mining is an essential industry that if conducted responsibly can bring economic benefits in jobs and tax revenue. However, those considerations can never override the importance of maintaining the scenic, environment environmental and economic value of the county’s waters. Any mine that threatens those values has no place in Oneida County.
------------------------ OCLRA eNews: April 5, 2020
News from Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association
Here’s hoping all of you are staying safe during the COVID pandemic. OCLRA is continuing its activities but meeting virtually in line with the social distancing guidelines.
Membership and renewals. The annual OCLRA Membership Appeal will be sent by mail in the very near future. If you are already a member, we encourage you to renew; if not, please considering joining and helping to amplify the voice of advocacy for lakes and rivers in Oneida County and for water resource policy across Wisconsin. Once again you will have the option to renew or join at the regular or sustaining level.
COVID travel advisory. Oneida and Vilas counties have issued advisors asking owners of seasonal homes/cabins to stay home. The reasons: the county populations are older, thus more at risk than the general population; and the counties’ healthcare facilities are limited and would be overwhelmed by a COVID-19 outbreak. Here is a link to the Vilas County advisory; the Oneida County advisory is essentially the same. https://health.vilascountywi.gov/uploads/Press%20Release%203.20.2020%20(1).pdf
Planning and development. Board member Bob Thome and wife Sue, and other board members from time to time, continue to monitor the activity of the Oneida County Planning and Development Committee that affect our county’s waters. Items of current concern include the county board’s approval of a 5-foot minimum setback from wetlands for grading purposes. Another concern is the issue of seasonal/vacation rentals (homes and cabins being rented out by the week on services such as Airbnb and VRBO. It is estimated that the county now has 3,000 such properties. The issue is the impact of these rentals on the volume of lake usage, the effects on septic system performance, and more. Also of concern are concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and the establishment of a county-wide animal manure storage ordinance.
Public outreach. OCLRA and the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association are reaching out to two key groups with educational initiatives: new shoreland property owners, and real estate agents, who can be key conduits for lake stewardship education to property buyers. Both OCLRA and VCLRA have PowerPoint presentations suitable for presenting to these groups. OCLRA supports the adoption of VCLRA’s system for digital distribution of helpful brochures to new shoreland owners. In addition, OCLRA is developing a “business card,” modeled on an item developed by VCLRA, for mass distribution to property owners inviting visits to our website.
Rate Your Shoreland survey. The state Department of Natural Resources has acknowledge OCLRA’s support for adapting, for state-wide purpose, a “Rate Your Shoreline” survey originally created by Michigan Shoreline Stewards. At present the Michigan survey is being used by the Tomahawk Lake Association and can be accessed at https://www.tomahawklake.org/rate-your-shoreline. This survey has great potential as an educational tool to help lake residents do the right things when developing and using their properties.
Annual Six-County Lake Meeting. This highly successful and well attended event has been tentatively scheduled for Friday, July 10, at Nicolet College. Whether and how the event goes forward will depend on the status of the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing guidelines. VCLRA and OCLRA will jointly sponsor the event, which also includes Forest, Langlade, Iron and Lincoln counties. The tentative theme of the event is “Shoreland Owner Outreach.”
Future of Water. WXPR public radio in Rhinelander has invited OCLRA board members to a “Behind the Headlines – Wisconsin’s Water Future” event at Nicolet College on May 8. Several board members plan to take part.
Mining exploration. In late January, Badger Minerals, a Michigan-based subsidiary of a Canadian company, announced plans to drill several holes on a tract of land in the Town of Schoepke between Monico and Pelican Lake, aiming to assess the potential for metallic sulfide mining there. Although the site is in Oneida County, the Langlade County Board has adopted a resolution expressing concern about a mine’s possible impact on the Wolf River. The resolution calls on the state legislature and governor to repeal state laws that streamlined and weakened the mining permitting process. Citizens in Oneida County are now preparing a similar resolution. You can read more about the exploration proposal at https://wsau.com/news/articles/2020/feb/12/mineral-company-asking-to-test-drill-in-oneida-co/984105/. OCLRA is formulating its own response to the mining company’s proposal, which has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can read the Langlade County resolution at http://www.oclra.org/uploads/7/4/3/4/74342595/langlade_res_15-2020.pdf/
The next OCLRA board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 13. In all likelihood it will be a virtual meeting in accord with social distancing guidelines.
------------------------ 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.