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Combine, Courtesy Illinois Farm Bureau

Wet weather forces farmers to alter harvest

As farmers across the area rush to get crops out of the fields, wet soil continues to slow this season’s harvest. In many cases, the wet soil made it impossible for farmers to get large trucks and trailers into the fields. As a result, farm equipment continues to be parked and loaded on the road.

“The rain and snow we experienced this fall has delayed the harvest by almost two months. When farmers are forced to park on the road it creates a safety issue when motorists drive too fast or too close to those trucks.”

Jeff Endres, Yahara Pride Farms Chairman
Combine used during harvest, Courtesy Illinois Farm Bureau
Combine used during harvest
(Courtesy Illinois Farm Bureau)

Helping with the harvest

Yahara Pride Farms’ partnering organization, Clean Lakes Alliance, wanted to draw more attention to area farmers working in altered conditions. This week Clean Lakes Alliance purchased more than 50 safety strobe lights that can attach to vehicles and equipment parked on the road.

“Yahara Pride farmers work to incorporate farming practices every day that help keep our lakes clean and safe, so it’s important to us to promote safety as they work to finish their harvest.”

James Tye, Clean Lakes Alliance Founder & Executive Director

Yahara Pride Farms board members will distribute the lights to the participating farmers in the watershed in the next few days. The goal is to have them in use as soon as possible. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is reminding motorists to avoid distractions and be mindful of speed limits as farmers work during hours of darkness to harvest their crops.

Working together since 2011

Yahara Pride Farms is a farmer-led nonprofit working to promote the adoption of conservation practices within the Yahara River Watershed. Clean Lakes Alliance founded and incubated this farmer-led organization. We have invested more than $500,000 to-date. Our investments have helped expand the group’s reach and impact.

Read more from Clean Lakes Alliance.

Beach inventory

Funding for environmental conservation, restoration, and education projects has been awarded this year by the Dane County Environmental Council totaling more than $17,000. These grants go to communities and non-profits that do work within Dane County.

Clean Lakes Alliance will receive around $3,500 to fund projects such as our farm tours and water quality monitoring. This award will help to purchase necessary equipment for our volunteers and provide transportation to offsite projects.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said, “We can always accomplish more when we work together. By partnering with these communities and non-profits, we have the ability to educate and inspire others, and continue our work to improve and conserve the county’s outdoor spaces,” and we couldn’t agree more!

To see which other projects were funded, read Sun Prairie Star’s article HERE.

Healthy Farms Healthy Lakes Task Force - Closeup of cow

Our lakes face challenges from urban and rural sources of phosphorus. A new Dane County “Healthy farms, Healthy Lakes” Task Force will focus on agricultural sources of phosphorus, with a goal to promote thriving farms and healthy lakes.

The Healthy Farms, Health Lakes Task Force is a coalition of farmers, government agencies, and environmental advocacy groups, including Clean Lakes Alliance, that was formed in July of 2017. The group hopes to release a blueprint of how to best help both farmers and the lakes by the end of this year.

Learn more about this task force in The Cap Times’ article.

Cyanobacteria (Blue-green algae)

A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources study of sources of phosphorus pollution to the Wisconsin River has provided more information about human impact on this much-loved waterway.

Clean Lakes Alliance’s Director of Marketing & Development Adam Sodersten comments, “Most importantly it will take a transformational and cultural shift in how we approach lake health, like the societal shift to recycling and composting that took place decades ago.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a series of planned public meetings next month to discuss its draft study of the river between Lake Wisconsin and Vilas County.

To learn more about this study, read the State Journal’s article.

Leaf Management

Help spread the world about leaf clean up and phosphorus reduction this fall. Removing leaves from the street can greatly reduce the amount of nutrient loading this season.

Listen to NBC15 and Clean Lakes Alliance Marketing Director Adam Sodersten to find out what you can do to help.

Click here to listen.

Frozen Assets ice fishing

The Frozen Assets Festival is back for its 3rd year, with new events and a continued commitment to bringing people together to connect with the lake. Here is an excerpt from Journal Sentinel’s article featuring Adam Sodersten, the Director of Marketing and Development at Clean Lakes Alliance, on the lakes: 

“They are one of the big reasons people live here, and the quality of the water in those lakes is certainly worth protecting and promoting.This festival is all about enjoying the lakes in the winter and making more people aware of what’s being done to clean them up, while at the same time getting folks behind efforts to continue improving them.”

Read more at jsonline.com!

Lake Mendota, Don Sanford

Until last fall, most folks knew Don Sanford as one of the pack of “water rats” who raced their sleek, wind-powered craft on the waves and ice of Madison’s lakes. But with the publication of a book 12 years in the making, Sanford took on an unlikely new role: keeper of the history and lore of Lake Mendota.

“I’ve always been a sailor, never a writer,” says Sanford, an agile-looking man with a grizzled beard and sea-grey eyes behind wire rim glasses. “When I started the project, the last thing I had written was in grad school back in 1974.” Yet he dove in, driven by knowledge that Lake Mendota was too often a mystery to the people who lived along its shores. “I’d pick up friends from the Memorial Union for a boat ride, and we would start cruising down the shoreline. Without fail, somebody who’d spent their whole life in Madison would say, ‘Where the hell are we? I don’t know what this place is.’ Whenever that happened,” Sanford recalls, “it always made me think that somebody— somebody else, that is—should produce a lake guide.”

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Our community loves our lakes, and we’re in it for the long haul. And like every serious relationship, there are always “what-ifs.” Take the long view and ponder the future along with this opinion piece in Madison Magazine — by Jenny Seifert, science writer and outreach coordinator for the Water Sustainability and Climate project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The second annual Lake Explorer Camp wouldn’t have been possible without generous funding from American Family Insurance, American Girl‘s Fund for Children and the Wingra Boats Duck Dash.

The program gets kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County out on the water learning about lake science and recreation. Thanks to our funders, hours for the initial camp days were DOUBLED compared to last year and more kids were able to participate in the celebratory field day.

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The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center plays no small role in the implementation of the Lake Mendota research buoy and in the Lake Forecast partnership. The SSEC is instrumental in outfitting and maintaining the buoy as well as working with the data that it generates.

The Space Science and Engineering Center recently wrote a very informative, in-depth article about their work with the buoy, even back to the first buoy deployed in 1959. Our Watershed Engagement Intern, Justin Chenevert, is quoted in the article.

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