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2019 Yahara Watershed Academy Class 2 at UW-Arboretum

Educating a new generation of lake leaders

About the author: My name is Karin Swanson and I am a student of the Yahara Watershed Academy. I work for Clean Lakes Alliance as the Marketing and Communications Associate Manager and I am a Meteorologist. I am sharing my journey through the Academy in an effort to expand our community’s knowledge and passion for the Yahara River Watershed.

The second class of the Yahara Watershed Academy began on March 12th with some sunshine and the promise of warmer temperatures. The forecast held a marked improvement over February’s class, which took place during the biggest snowstorm of the season. Our cohort of 25 Academy students met bright and early at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum as birds chirped welcoming words for our arrival.

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Yahara Watershed Academy - Feb 2019

Growing a new group of lake leaders

Karin Swanson

About the author: My name is Karin Swanson and I am a student of the Yahara Watershed Academy. I work for Clean Lakes Alliance as the Marketing and Communications Associate Manager and I am a meteorologist. I will bring you along on my journey through the Academy in an effort to expand our community’s knowledge and passion for the Yahara River Watershed.

The 2019 Yahara Watershed Academy (YWA) began on a very snowy February 12th. Snow started the evening of February 11th, with ten inches accumulating by the time the storm ended on the 13th. But the snow didn’t stop our group of students from learning about the Yahara River Watershed.

The YWA is made up of five day-long courses once a month, with students graduating in June. The Academy involves a partnership with the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Edgewood College. Graduates will have received the knowledge and skills to become a network of informed leaders for our watershed.

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2019 Frozen Assets Kites
Cover Photo Courtesy Jeff Halverson Photography

Frozen Assets raises more than $1,000,000 net since 2012!

With more than 6,000 visitors joining us at The Edgewater and on Lake Mendota, Frozen Assets raised more than $127,000 net for our lakes this year. THANK YOU to all of our sponsors, guests, volunteers, and event partners who made the festival and fundraiser a huge success!

Thank you to our presenting sponsor Lands’ End and to our platinum sponsor The Edgewater. Lands’ End provides critical funding and apparel to keep our staff and volunteers warm. The Edgewater and its staff were incredible hosts of the festival and fundraiser for the FIFTH year in a row!

Funds raised will be used to purchase easements for three miles of buffer strips, which help capture nutrient-rich runoff from farm fields before it enters our lakes. See some of the other projects we’ve been up to since our founding in 2010.

Keep reading for a recap of the event and respond to our survey below to give us feedback about how we can make next year even better!

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2018 Flooding

Yahara Lakes 2018 Water Quality Monitoring Results

Overview

From May to September of 2018, water quality monitoring took place at piers and beaches around the five Yahara lakes. Volunteers measured near-shore water clarity, air and water temperature, and noted several visual observations. Visual observations included presence of algal blooms (green/blue-green), floating plant debris, swimmers, waterfowl, wave intensity, and general water appearance. Volunteers report conditions on our website, Lakeforecast.org. The website displays updated data in real time.

Highlights

  • 79 near-shore and 7 offshore monitoring stations on all five Yahara lakes (Figure 1)
  • Weekly off-shore measurement of Secchi depth on all five lakes
  • Measured temperature and dissolved oxygen profiles on all five lakes (seven sites total)
  • Weekly monitoring continued at all 25 public beaches
  • 44% increase in number of condition reports from 2017 (Table 1)
  • Collected continuous near-shore temperature measurements at 17 sites on lakes Mendota, Monona, and Waubesa, and Kegonsa
  • Implemented E. coli sampling and cyanobacteria toxin testing pilots
  • Averaged 2.3 condition reports per site each week across all sites
  • Continued weekly Weekend Lake Reports with over 77,000 views on social media
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Lake Mendota Ice

This is the start of something big

A message from Clean Lakes Alliance Executive Director, James Tye

Dear Friends,

As we close the books on a difficult year for our lakes, I want to take a moment to reflect on what went well, and what we can do to start 2019 off in the right direction.

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Madison FUN Lake Explorers

Connecting children with our Yahara Watershed

Grant Feature #7: Madison Friends of Urban Nature (FUN)

American author, scientist, and conservationist Aldo Leopold once said, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

Clean Lakes Alliance knows connections to the land and to our waters begin to develop in childhood. Through a Clean Lakes Grant awarded for 2018, Madison Friends of Urban Nature (FUN) is connecting families and children to nature and our Yahara Lakes. Clean Lakes Alliance contributed $1,250 to the effort, helping to expand outdoor learning opportunities that can lead to future generations of caring and knowledgeable lake stewards.

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Leaf Management

Trees are good, right?

Statewide phosphorus reduction credits for leaf collection

Urban trees provide many benefits to our communities. They help us save energy, reduce noise, and improve air quality. Trees are aesthetically pleasing, can increase property value, and provide natural homes for insects, birds, and other wildlife. Trees are also an important part of the earth’s water cycle. Transpiration from plants and trees is released into the atmosphere, and later becomes precipitation. The rain and snow return valuable moisture to our crops and forests, and the cycle continues.

However, trees can cause problems for our lakes if the leaves that fall from them each autumn are not regularly removed from streets and parking lots. When leaves collect on streets, they create a phosphorus-rich “tea” whenever it rains. The rain water passes through the leaf litter, and allows phosphorus to drain from the leaves. The leaf tea washes into storm drains and flows directly into our lakes, causing water quality to deteriorate.

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Action Alert

Will you help us advocate for our lakes?

We need your help!

At our Yahara Lakes 101 presentation, on Wednesday, October 10th, we heard from Dane County Executive Joe Parisi about the proposed 2019 budget and how it will address flooding concerns and lake health. The Dane County Board is holding a budget hearing on Wednesday, October 17th. There are many initiatives in the budget that will help our lakes, and they need YOUR support! Please advocate for our lakes in the following two ways:

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Volunteer Day

Volunteers remain loyal to our lakes

It was a year of obstacles for our lakes, but volunteers are dedicated to improving our waters

From cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms, to elevated bacteria (E. coli) levels, to flooding, our lakes have had a tough season. With our lakes facing so many obstacles, it makes Clean Lakes Alliance even more appreciative of its volunteers.

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