Musky Bay is already listed as an impaired water because of excess phosphorus. Unfortunately phosphorus levels in other parts of LCO are now rising to dangerous levels as well. COLA and the LCO Tribe have completed an assessment of the last five years of sampling data and determined these levels that will result in the extinction of the cold-water fish in LCO. In addition, these high levels of phosphorus are resulting in more algae and algal blooms, a decrease in water clarity, and excessive aquatic plant growth. See the full story with complete details and how you can be ready to help.
Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, has approved a scope statement submitted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) on May 15, 2017, that initiates the rulemaking process to establish a protective water quality standard for Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO).
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regularly conducts fishery surveys of area lakes and reservoirs to gather information on species composition, population size, reproductive success, size/age distribution, and growth rates. The information from the netting and electrofishing surveys helps the WDNR determine the best management practices for that body of water. Another important aspect of a fishery is the amount of harvest that is occurring on the lake. This information is collected by creel census or creel survey. See the 2016-2017 Report with explanations and conclusions by Max Wolter, Fishery Biologist, WDNR.
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. WisCALM is updated for each biennial surface water assessment cycle and was recently updated for the 2018 assessment cycle. See the attached update for Lac Courte Oreilles. 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.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Geographic Information Systems Center (GIS Center) selected the Courte Oreilles Lakes Association (COLA) for its annual Outstanding Partner Award. The award recognizes COLA’s long-term commitment to gathering scientific and geographic evidence at the watershed scale and applying it to protect the two-story fishery on Lac Courte Oreilles.
Positive Outcome for Fleur de Lane Rezoning Request
The Courte Oreilles Lakes Association (COLA) has helped reach a positive outcome with the Sawyer County Board and Zoning Committee, regarding the Billings Family Trust request to rezone a property adjacent to Fleur de Lane. COLA worked with representatives from the Billings Family Trust, Fleur de Lane neighbors, the two lawyers involved, and Dale Olson—Zoning and Conservation Administrator—to find a solution to the rezone dilemma. See the Lac Courte Oreilles Districts Zone map here.
A letter related to Wisconsin’s phosphorus water-quality standards circulated through the WI State Legislature for sign-ons. It asked Wisconsin's Congressional Delegation to allow the state to revise phosphorus standards by loosening phosphorus regulations. Clean Wisconsin sent a response on behalf of the conservation community. The Wisconsin State Journal covered the news and its impacts.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Geographic Information Systems Center (GIS Center) has completed a study that contains the modeling and mapping necessary to help both farmers and lake associations in the Upper Couderay River Watershed identify farm parcels most vulnerable to erosion. See full story here, which includes:
A UW-Stevens Point Geodesign Project received an award for the geodesign methods and GIS techniques it used to analyze the potential vulnerability of agricultural lands to erosion on lands surrounding Lac Courte Oreilles. The analysis summarizes indicators or soil erosion by individual tax parcels. The results provide conservationists with tools to identify landowners and future collaborators in the fight to limit erosion and keep nutrients on agricultural fields and out of Lac Courte Oreilles. See the feature in UWSP Geo News.
Negotiated Settlement & Petition Stipulation - March 31, 2017
Negotiated Settlement Overview - Includes details of this settlement and the wins for COLA and Lac Courte Oreilles, plus next steps in that rulemaking process by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Madison, WI, which include approval from Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin state legislature.
Petition Stipulation - This stipulation to the settlement above outlines that petitioners' claims one through four (1-4) from the original petition for judicial review filed in June 2016 are included in the settlement and that petitioners' claim five (5) shall be dismissed without prejudice. COLA and the LCO Tribe, however, do retain the right to revisit and address claim (5) as a separate action.
See Full Press Release Here - Details include the WDNR's timeline, which starts with approval by Governor Walker after he receives the new proposed standard from the WDNR by May 15, and COLA's offer of $100,000 to the cranberry operations on LCO to assist with this solution.