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Update on SSC litigation with WDNR

COLA requested in March 2016 that WDNR set an upper-limit of 10 ppb for phosphorus for LCO as a means to preserve the two-story fishery. WDNR did not act, so COLA and the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of the LCO Tribe joined in legal action brought in Dane County Circuit Court to force the agency to set an appropriate phosphorus standard. In 2017, WDNR settled with COLA and the LCO Tribe and agreed to set a new phosphorus standard.  

After five months, WDNR reversed course, reneged on the settlement agreement, and instead claimed that the existing 15 ppb phosphorus limit was adequate for Lac Courte Oreilles.

The Court did not appreciate WDNR’s disregard of its ruling, and, after WDNR’s protracted series of appeals, the Court demanded on July 2, 2019 that WDNR develop an appropriate phosphorus standard for Lac Courte Oreilles. Action from WDNR still awaits.

WI Lakes Partnership Convention - April 10-12, 2019, Stevens Point

This year the WI Lakes Partnership Convention and Water Action Volunteers Symposium is at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Stevens Point. The Convention starts on Wednesday, April 10 and runs through Friday, April 12, 2019.

COLA’s forestry project is first up on Thursday morning. 

Information on the Convention can be found at

New 700 ft Setback Requirements for Enhanced Boat Wakes

A new enhanced boat wake ordinance became effective on November 12, 2018. To view the ordinance click here. The essential elements are as follows:

“No person shall operate a motorboat … on the waters within the Town of Bass Lake, Sawyer County in a manner to enhance an elevated wake for over 50 feet in length closer than 700 feet from any shoreline, dock, pier, raft or other restricted area(s) within the Town of Bass Lake, Sawyer County. An elevated wake is a trail of disturbed water left by the passage of a watercraft in excess of 24 inches. Such prohibited operation shall apply to wake enhancement watercraft by the use of ballast, mechanical hydrofoil(s), uneven loading or operation at transition speed. Transition speed means the speed at which the boat is operating at greater than slow-no-wake speed, but not fast enough so the boat is planning.”

A higher resolution map is provided  here .

A higher resolution map is provided here.

A Lakeside Companion - a new book by Ted J. Rulseh

The University of Wisconsin Press has recently published “A Lakeside Companion,” by Ted J. Rulseh.

According to Michael Engleson, executive director, Wisconsin Lakes, the book “Delivers the magic of lake living while conveying water science topics in a clear and engaging way. Whether you are on the lakeshore or far away, it will bring you back to the waters you love. A great read.”

More information  here .

More information here.

WisCALM Assessment and Guidance Updated for Lac Courte Oreilles

Wisconsin’s Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (WisCALM), from the WDNR, provides guidance on assessment of water quality data against surface water quality standards and for Clean Water Act reporting on surface water quality status and trends.

Attached is the 2018 annual LCO water quality assessment based upon the WisCALM protocol and the previous five years of monitoring data, i.e., 2014 through and including 2018. 

This assessment has been prepared for each of the last 6 years by LimnoTech Inc.

The essential messages from this update are:

1) Based upon total phosphorus concentration, algae growth, water clarity and dissolved oxygen level, the water quality in Musky Bay continues to improve. Recall that the East Bog closed system was placed into operation in Spring 2014.

2) Based on these same factors, the water quality in greater LCO continues to deteriorate. The current total phosphorus criteria for LCO is 15 ppb. LimnoTech notes that for the first time “average TP concentrations in LCO exceed criteria in some portions of the lake.” In addition, LimnoTech states, “the update of the WisCALM assessment for LCO, using data for the most recent five years (2014-2018), confirms impairment of the two-story cold-water fishery habitat for cisco and lake whitefish. The measures of the minimum oxythermal habitat band demonstrate the impairment of this beneficial use.  

The other take a ways from the 2018 assessment are:

  • Continued data collection in LCO is critically important;

  • Understanding and addressing the drivers of the impaired oxythermal habitat for cisco and lake whitefish is high priority; and

  • A site-specific (SSC) TP criterion protective of the two-story cold-water fishery in LCO is needed.

For more information, please review the attached assessment.

Assessing waterbodies against water quality standards and identifying impaired waters that don’t meet standards is part of the overarching federal Clean Water Act (CWA) framework for restoring impaired waters. See more details about WisCALM on the WDNR website.

Fourth National Climate Assessment - Midwest Summary

The Fourth National Climate Assessment was released recently, and chapter 21 provides a summary of the situation in the Midwest.

This report covers the impact of expected climate changes on health, agriculture, forestry, water quality, and natural resources in Wisconsin and nearby states. It specifically mentions the delicate nature of two-story cold water fisheries such as LCO (see Fig. 21.6).

Sawyer County Enhanced Boat Wake Ordinance

Sawyer County has proposed a resolution/ordinance about boat wakes in an attempt to, “provide save and healthful condition for the enjoyment of aquatic recreation consistent with public rights and interests and the capability of the water resources to minimize shoreline erosion.” The resolution proposes a 700-foot buffer from the shore for boats creating enhanced wakes (map for proposed buffer zone on LCO). For more information on effects of boat wakes on shoreline erosion, please refer to:

The Effects of Motorized Watercraft on Aquatic Ecosystems - Timothy R. Asplund, WDNR

Low-Speed Boating . . . Managing the Wave - Doug Keller, LakeLine Vol. 37, Fall 2017

Protecting Water Quality & Resuspension Caused by Wakeboard Boats - Heather Harwood, LakeLine Vol. 37, Fall 2017

Wakeboarding in Michigan: Impacts and Best Practices - Marlena Smith and Erin Jarvie, Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society

2018 LCO Lakes Invasive Weeds Pre-Treatment Survey

The 2018 AIS pre-treatment survey shows that COLA's aggressive AIS strategy has worked well. The fight to eliminate invasive plants will never be completed, but thanks to Steve Umland, COLA’s AIS coordinator, what was once an annual pitched battle is now a mere skirmish. Curly leaf pondweed (CLP) fouled much of Musky Bay and many other parts of LCO 10 years ago. Steve, his many volunteers and AIS “spotters,” supported by several WDNR AIS grants have helped reduce CLP infestations from a high of 90+ acres to less than 10 acres this year. Many of the remaining CLP patches can now be pulled by hand.

Unfortunately, small patches of Eurasian watermilfoil have recently been spotted in big and little LCO. Eurasian watermilfoil has been termed “CLP on steroids,” so Steve’s job will not become any easier. At this point, these patches are being pulled by hand, but COLA needs more property owners to watch for new infestations.