Wake legislation, PFAS, Six County Meeting and more: News from OCLRA

OCLRA eNews – February 2024

Please share this information and the OCLRA website (www.oclra.org) with the members of your lake association, district and/or friends group and with your personal networks.

The next OCLRA Board meeting is Monday, March 11, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., at the ADRC building in Rhinelander, across the parking lot from Trig’s grocery. You will receive the agenda in advance and there will be an option to attend via Zoom. All are welcome.

IN THIS EDITION:

Theme announced for 2024 Northwoods Six-County Lakes Meeting

Fish consumption advisories for PFAS set on county lake chain

Wisconsin enhanced wake legislation is dead for now

Local enhanced wake ordinances advance

Wisconsin’s Green Fire issues report on wakeboat impacts

Vermont enhanced wake rules to take effect for this year

Discovery Center plans Woods and Water Conference

Save the Dates for 2024 Lights Out!

Wisconsin Conservationist online magazine makes its debut

Lakes and Rivers Convention theme: “Partnering for Our Waters”

Musky Fishing Expo set for March 2 in Watersmeet

Winter Water Talk highlights key factors in lake and stream health

Neonicotinoids: An unseen threat to our water ecosystems

Theme announced for 2024 Northwoods Six-County Lakes Meeting

The 2024 Northwoods Six-County Lakes Meeting will focus on “Protecting Our Lakes: It’s Up to Us All!” The meeting will be held Friday, July 12, at Nicolet College, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. A committee is now developing the program. Last year’s meeting drew record attendance of 183.

Fish consumption advisories for PFAS set on county lake chain

The DNR and the state Department of Health Services have set advisories to suggesting people eat no more one meal per month of fish caught from the Moen Chain of Lakes. WXPR radio reported that the DNR based its advisory on a fish consumption standard from the Great Lakes Consortium, which recommends a limit of one meal per month when PFAS levels in fish

range from 50 to 200 parts per billion. A DNR toxicologist said average levels in the Moen Chain ranged from 34 ppb in rock bass to about 94 ppb in walleye. The fish that were tested came from Fifth Lake on the chain, but the advisory covers all five lakes.

Wisconsin enhanced wake legislation is dead for now

Last November, Legislation to regulate enhanced wakes appeared to be on a fast track. But for the current legislature session, which ends late this month, the issue is dead. State Senator Andre Jacques has introduced a bill that would limit wakeboats to lakes 1,500 acres or larger, but according to Wisconsin Lakes it has no chance of passing.

Local enhanced wake ordinances advance

While state legislation is off the table for now, efforts to regulate enhanced wakes at the township level is advancing. In the Oneida County Town of Newbold, the town board will soon hold a public hearing on an ordinance that would prohibit creation of enhanced wakes on lakes smaller than 1,500 acres. The Vilas County Town of Winchester earlier this month held a public hearing on an ordinance that would prohibit the creation of enhanced wakes on all lakes in the township except North Turtle and Birch, and on those lakes the boas would have to operate at least 700 feet from shore and in water at least 20 feet deep. The ordinance will be discussed again and possibly approved at the town board meeting on March 4.

Wisconsin’s Green Fire issues report on wakeboat impacts

Wisconsin’s Green Fire released a new report on the effects of wake boats on lakes in the state. The report compiles findings from more than 175 scientific studies that document negative effects from wakeboats. It recommends limiting enhanced wakes to areas at least 600 feet from shore, in water at least 20 feet deep, and to areas of at least 40 contiguous acres with those conditions.

Vermont enhanced wake rules to take effect for this year

Vermont’s regulations on enhanced wakes, so far the strictest in the nation, will take effect for the coming boating season. The rules prohibit wake sports on 43 of the state’s 73 lakes. On the remaining 30, enhanced wakes

are limited to at least 500 feet from shore, in water at least 20 feet deep, where a zone of at least 50 acres has been designated for such activity. Also, to prevent the spread of invasive species in ballast water, wakeboats would need to be registered to operate on a specific lake, and their ballast tanks would have to be decontaminated before the boat could be taken to another lake. Many lake advocates including members on Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes worked together to see these rules enacted.

Discovery Center plans Woods and Water Conference

The North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters is holding the North Lakeland Woods and Water Conference on Friday, May 3, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The program will focus on partnerships and collaboration. Attendees will celebrate water, explore solutions, and stay informed about the science and research related to the Northwoods and its treasured lakes. Topics include watershed partnerships, wakeboats, shoreline restoration, AIS and citizen science. Registration opens at 7:30 and will be followed by an optional bog hike on Statehouse Lake led by Licia Johnson, naturalist and education director. The day will end with a social in the center lodge.

Save the dates for 2024 Lights Out!

One of the best things about living in the Northwoods is enjoying the starry skies. Voluntary Lights Out! Events will be held on the weekends of June 7-9 and Aug 2-4 to highlight importance of darkness as a natural resource. To learn more, contact Quita Sheehan, mashee@vilascountywi.gov. And visit DarkSky International to explore why dark skies are important.

Wisconsin Conservationist online magazine makes its debut

Beckie Gaskill, outdoor writer for the Lakeland Times and tournament angler, has launched the Wisconsin Conservationist online magazine, highlighting the state’s natural resources and the people who care about them. The inaugural edition includes stories on the state’s deer herd, the endangered bat population, wakeboat concerns, PFAS, and much more. Find out more: WIconservationistmag.com

Lakes and Rivers Convention theme: “Partnering for Our Waters”

The 2024 Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers Convention will be held Wednesday through Friday, April 10-12, at the Holiday Inn, Stevens Point, on the theme of “Partnering for Our Waters.” You can save money by opting for early bird registration, available until February 29. This convention is an ideal place to learn about our state’s waters, explore current issues and concerns, and network with other lake enthusiasts and advocates. Check out the conference agenda.

Musky Fishing Expo set for March 2 in Watersmeet

The Invasive Species Control Coalition of Watersmeet will hold its inaugural Musky Fishing Expo Saturday, March 2, at the Northern Waters Casino in Watersmeet, Michigan, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes presentations by four fishing pros, refreshments, raffles, vendor exhibits, informational booths and more. Admission is $20. RSVP to 906-285-9262.

Winter Water Talk highlights factors in lake and stream health

“An Overview of Key Factors that Affect Stream and River Health” is the topic of Winter Water Talk sponsored by the Wisconsin Citizen Lake Monitoring Network and Water Action Volunteers. This presentation, given by DNR steam ecologist Mike Miller, is excellent and well worth an hour’s time. Visit https://oclra.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=733526d172b760b79d5f3ae78&id=d6e1f56fbb&e=3c979e360a.

Neonicotinoids: An unseen threat to our water ecosystems

Some threats to our surface waters are easy to pinpoint: impervious surfaces, manicured lawns to the water’s edge, obvious erosion. But some threats cannot be seen, and one of those is neonicotinoids (commonly called neonics). These compounds are insecticides for crops; they are synthetic versions of compounds made naturally by plants such as potatoes and tomatoes. However, in the higher concentrations in which these chemicals are applied, they can harm the lowest strands in food webs. They are very toxic to aquatic invertebrates, which in turn are eaten by fish. Due to a loophole in the EPA regulations, there is no way to track seeds treated with neonics, which are used on most of the corn and soy beans planted our state. A DNR study is under way to determine the amount of neonics present in rivers and streams and whether they are linked to a decline in mayfly hatches in the Mississippi River.

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