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2018 LCO Lakes Invasive Weeds Pre-Treatment Survey

The following report reviews the invasive weeds status in LCO in May, 2018.

James Scharl
Senior Biologist - Lake Services Manager, Wisconsin Lake and Pond Resource, LLC.

On Musky, Stucky, and Barbertown bay we used the pre-established sample locations from past surveys to look for aquatic invasive species (AIS) only, mainly curly-leaf pondweed (CLP) and directly sampled these spots.  When travelling between areas we visually surveyed for AIS either growing or uprooted and floating on the water.  In Little Lac Courte Oreilles we completed a meander survey where we jogged in and out around the entire perimeter of the lake while visually surveying and taking rake samples.  Results for each area are as follows:

Musky Bay:  Overall things looked pretty good.  We did find 9 sample locations with active CLP growth (Figures 1-3).  Most of these were located in the northeast part of the bay and included in a recommended treatment area of 5.0 acres.  Here the growth was patches of CLP in shallow water. There were few natives nearby, mainly elodea, and no turions were present.  

The other locations of CLP found appear to be single plants on the rake mixed in with a healthy diversity of native species.  These spots, thought present, are too small to successfully treat and offer limited herbicide contact/retention time.  Additionally, the density of CLP was very low, and we did not turn up additional plants with extra rake samples taken near them.  We didn't record native species as it's much too early for many yet, but anecdotally we did see a fair amount more of fern pondweed (it was near 0 in past surveys). 

Stucky Bay:  When we first got in we saw a lot of plant material on the surface.  Upon inspection it was topped-out fern pondweed, which can look like CLP at a glance but does not have toothed leaf edges and lacks the distinct mid-leaf vein along with having the leaves much denser and closer together.  We did find a small population of CLP in about the same spot it's always been out from the channel (we did NOT survey the channel).  The CLP here was low growing below the emerging lily pads and had some fern pondweed (Figure 4).

Barbertown Bay:  This area had the coldest water of the three bays.  There were some native pondweeds (large-leaf, white-stem, and fern) already emerged on the deeper portions of the Bay and out from Trails End's shoreline.  We did find a band of CLP in very shallow water (~1.5 ft) that was still small, but abundant.  We delineated this at 1.75 acres (Figure 5).  The big surprise was, unfortunately, the presence of Eurasian water-milfoil (EWM).  I located a group of two plants (both pulled & removed) at one of the locations indicated in red on the map.  I checked the DNR's record and see it was observed in 2017, but it has not yet been verified.  I have the plants yet and can send in to Mark Sundeen if he'd like.  Attached also is a picture of the plants we found.  After looking closely, we did not locate any additionally EWM.  

Little Lac Courte Oreilles:  The good news:  we found no CLP.  The bad news:  we found a good amount of EWM - approximately 3 acres (Figures 6-7).  The EWM was found in two locations and in a narrow band in each location, adjacent to deeper water.  Density ranged from scattered single plants to moderately dense clumps.  Area A was where I first found it a few years ago.  Since then, it has expanded and should be managed this year.  Many of the natives were already up and growing, intermixed within the EWM.


COLA Petitions WDNR to List Correct Cause of Impairment for Lac Courte Oreilles in 2018 Impaired Waters List

Every two years, Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to publish a list of all waters that are not meeting water quality standards. In the proposed 2018 list update, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) proposes to add 240 new water segments.  The WDNR issued a notice on November 15, 2017, soliciting public comments on its proposed 2018 list of Impaired Waters. The WDNR is proposing to list all of Lac Courte Oreilles as impaired—which is a good—but, it is proposing to list “low dissolved oxygen” (DO) as an indicator, or symptom, of that impairment without citing Total Phosphorus as the cause of the impairment. During the Public Comment Period, through Dec. 29, 2017, the Courte Oreilles Lakes Association (COLA) and others are requesting that the WDNR also correctly list the cause of the low DO impairment of LCO (click here for the full story).

Please help by sending a letter or email requesting that the WDNR amend the listing by including the correct reason for impairment — Total Phosphorus. A sample message is available here.

The following is from the WDNR: “Public comments may be submitted by December 29, 2017, and can be emailed to DNR at, or sent by U.S. mail to Ashley Beranek, DNR, Water Evaluation Section (WY/3), Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707. Comments postmarked or received by December 29, 2017, will be considered before submitting the final draft list to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.” 

COLA and the LCO Tribe Request that All of Lac Courte Oreilles be Listed as an Impaired Water

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.

Creel Survey Report for Lac Courte Oreilles 2016 to 2017

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.

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. 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.

COLA Receives "Outstanding Partner Award" from UW Stevens Point

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.

COLA, Sawyer County Board, and Zoning Committee Reach Positive Outcome for Fleur de Lane Rezoning Request

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.

COLA Joins Clean Wisconsin and 20 Conservation Groups to Counter State Legislature's Proposal to Ease Phosphorus Standards

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.