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Invasive species in city lakes

Waupaca must update lake management plan for DNR grants

By Angie Landsverk


Eurasian Watermilfoil

The city of Waupaca wants to seek grants from Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources to manage the aquatic invasive species in Mirror and Shadow lakes.

But the city needs to update its lake management plan first.

Its current plan dates back to 2012.

“We have had conversations before about going after grants. The DNR said without an updated lake management plan that takes care of AIS, we have no chance,” Andrew Whitman told the common council last month.

Curlyleaf pondweed

He is the city’s parks and recreation director.

Whitman contacted Onterra for a proposal.

The De Pere-based firm provides lake-related services, including lake management plans.

He said the firm is highly recommended and was also used to create Stratton Lake’s management plan.

Onterra’s cost estimate to complete a study and management plan is $28,439.

Its proposal includes preparing a grant application that – if received – would cover 67% of the plan’s cost.

“It’s all based on actually getting that grant,” Whitman said.

He said in-kind donations by Friends of Mirror and Shadow Lakes (FOMSL) would cover $2,724 of the cost.

FOMSL formed in 2003 through a lake study grant.

Its efforts center on the health of the two lakes.

Whitman said the cost for the city’s Inland Lakes Fund would be $6,660.

However, that is more than what will be left in the fund at the end of the current year, he said.

The Inland Lakes Fund’s cash balance was $3,074 as of June 30, according to Kathy Kasza, the city’s finance director/treasurer.

In August, Whitman plans to request funds from the Inland Lakes District to update the lake management plan and address the AIS in the lakes.

“After some research, I found that we started 2007 with $25,000 in the fund for the Inland Lakes District,” he wrote in a memo to the mayor and common council.

He said those funds lasted a long time due to FOMSL’s work and hours.

Carol Elvery is the group’s chairperson.

She told the council the fund has paid for two phosphorous studies and an aerator.

When a small infestation of Eurasian watermilfoil was found in Shadow Lake in 2011, the city worked with the DNR to arrange a herbicide treatment.

That cost just under $13,000, with a grant paying for part of it, Elvery said.

Invasive species increasing

The city is seeing an increase in aquatic invasive species (AIS) and algae in its two inland lakes.

Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed and zebra mussels have been found.

In 2014, Eurasian watermilfoil was found in two separate spots in Shadow Lake, Elvery said.

“We had to have certified divers pull it,” she told the council.

That summer, the city also began educating its lifeguard staff about AIS.

They were taught how to identify curly-leaf pondweed and pull it by hand out of the water.

Certified divers have pulled Eurasian watermilfoil out of the lake other years as well.

Three years ago, zebra mussels were found in Shadow Lake.

Last summer, several Eurasian watermilfoil plants were found in Mirror Lake for the first time, she said.

“The problem with having it in the lake is you will always have to practice management,” Elvery said.

AIS are plants or animals not native to a particular area.

They dominate an area when they are introduced, disrupting food chains and degrading habitats.

Whitman said FOMSL has spent a lot of time and effort keeping the two lakes healthy.

“We have been working with FOMSL to continually figure out the best ways to care for the lakes,” he said. “Mirrow and Shadow lakes are a vital part of our community as they hold our South Park Beach, two shelters, two boat landings and two fishing piers.”

The group supports updating the lake management plan.

“Nature is never static and our lakes have changed since the 2012 management plan was approved. We receive more complaints of an increase in the presence of algae,” Elvery wrote in a letter to the mayor and common council.

She noted the AIS have expanded into Mirror Lake and the channel between the two lakes.

“We in the Friends of Mirror Shadow Lakes have reached the edge of our knowledge and ability to protect our lakes,” Elvery wrote. “We remain firmly convinced that the city needs her lakes to continue to draw people to Waupaca and the area if the ambitious plans for the future of the city are to succeed.”

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