Fifty-four people representing 31 local and statewide organizations attended last Wednesday’s conference at the Great Northern Hotel, which was highlighted by speakers from the Wisconsin DNR, the Iron County Land and Water Conservation Department, and the ICLRA. A recap of the day’s events was published in this week’s Iron County Miner and is reprinted here. Of special interest to me was the presentation by Alison Mikulyuk of the WDNR outling the structure of the support systems that exist in the state to maintain the health of our waterways and address problems that might arise. She was kind enough to share her presentation, and you can read it here.
My takeaway at the end of the afternoon was that there are definite threats upriver to the health of Lake of the Falls, including the presence of aquatic invasive species in Rice Lake and Pike Lake that are headed our way. Preventative action on our part can head this off, but we will need to really focus on this in the coming years. The first step includes gathering as much information as we can on the current status of our lake and its surroundings. Fortunately, we already have several years’ data on water temperature and clarity for LOTF and First Black, and this year we will begin taking samples for water chemistry as well.
Something else we can do on our own properties is follow the recommendations of the Healthy Lakes program by using native plantings, water diversion practices, etc. to prevent erosion and runoff and keep our water in good condition. The folks at the Iron County Land and Water Conservation Department can provide information and grant opportunities to help with this. A good way to start would be with their annual Native Plant Sale (information and order form are here). A lot of us are already following good shoreline practices, but it’s not 100%.
Residents of the upriver lakes in the watershed will be working hard in the near future to curb the threat of AIS and hopefully will be able to head it off before it comes down to Lake of the Falls. This is everyone’s problem, though, and I think we’re off to a good start to meet the challenge.