Volume V, Issue 1

Spotted: an intrepid biker on Lake Mendota

Spotted on Lake Mendota: an intrepid biker

Happy New Year to the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA) community! The year is off to a good start— we’re busy meeting with our partners to plan for phosphorus reduction projects in 2015.

To support our work in the new year, please become a 2015 Friend of Clean Lakes. Better yet, join the 63Club where Friends of Clean Lakes commit to a monthly recurring donation to support our efforts towards cleaner lakes. Your monthly support makes a big difference for our clean lakes efforts.

To show our appreciation, Friends of Clean Lakes receive free admission to all Yahara Lakes 101 events (a $110 value) and a Friends of Clean Lakes yard sign upon request. Thank you in advance for your contribution to healthy lakes and healthy communities – we continue to grow thanks to your support!

In Partnership,

The CLA Team



Projects & Phosphorus ReductionRural Initiatives – Urban Initiatives


Watershed partners bring in $1.6 million federal grant

NRCS grant press conference

CLA policy director Elizabeth Katt-Reinders speaks about CLA’s role in the project at the County Executive’s press conference to announce the $1.6 million grant award.

This week, the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded $1.6 million to the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department through a new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). CLA is a partner on the project, along with Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Sand County Foundation, UW-Madison, and Yahara WINs. CLA policy director Elizabeth Katt-Reinders and Rural Program Manager Rachel Fossum worked with Dane County and partners to craft and write the successful proposal, which aims to build capacity for a watershed-wide approach to reducing phosphorus and reaching water quality goals.

Highlights of the proposal include the pairing of traditional agricultural conservation practices with new practices and technologies to reduce phosphorus and sediment runoff to lakes, rivers and streams; and with innovative approaches to engaging and supporting farmers throughout the watershed. Roofed feedlots, zero tillage, harvestable buffers, in-stream legacy sediment removal, and a regional community manure processing and storage site will all play a role in this collaborative effort to clean up the lakes and meet water quality standards.

Partners are providing cash and in-kind matches to the $1.6 million from NRCS. Katt-Reinders explains that the project allows partners to play to their strengths and leverage each other’s resources “to accomplish more together than any of us could accomplish by working alone. We’re all in this together to make sure that Dane County farms remain economically strong while operating in a way that helps clean up the lakes and reach our water quality goals.”

The grant process was highly competitive, with 600 proposals submitted nationally, and only 100 awarded across the U.S. The diversity of the public-private partnerships in the Dane County grant, as well as the established relationships and past successes among partners were integral to the proposal’s success.


Community Events

Frozen Assets Festival at The Edgewater


Mark your calendar for Saturday, February 7th and join us on the frozen shores of Lake Mendota for our new FREE, family-friendly festival. There will be something for everyone!

On the Plaza

  • Free ice skating (courtesy of The Edgewater)
  • A “Frozen in Time” Figure Skating exhibition (courtesy of the Figure Skating Club of Madison)
  • A snowman decoration contest (courtesy of our Snowmen sponsors)
  • Photos with Princess Elsa (courtesy of Sugar and Spice Princess Parties)
  • Handcrafted s’mores and locally-prepared hot chocolate

On the Lake

  • A hockey slap-shot contest (courtesy of the Madison Capitols)
  • Curling demonstrations (courtesy of the Madison Curling Club)
  • Ice fishing demonstrations (courtesy of Blue Ribbon Outdoors and Fishidy)
  • Sleigh rides (courtesy of Blue Ribbon Outdoors)
  • Snowshoeing (courtesy of Rutabaga Paddlesports)
  • Shuffleboard, sledding, and broomball (courtesy of KEVA Sports Center)

Check out our event site for more activities and to explore the festival.

Last but not least, register ahead to participate in the first-ever Igloo Walk on Lake Mendota, complete with complimentary hot chocolate, s’mores and snowshoe rentals. The walk is designed to be fun and casual, and will be ongoing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Renowned freshwater scientist and lake-ice expert John Magnuson will be on hand for fun lake science demonstrations. We can’t wait!

Want to get in on the behind-the-scenes fun? Sign up to volunteer at the festival – your support helps to make the festival free to all!

The Fundraiser portion of Frozen Assets is SOLD OUT. Tickets will be mailed to all guests on Monday, January 23rd.

A Special Thank You

Once again, our beyond-generous sponsors have helped us completely underwrite the costs of Frozen Assets. The Edgewater, as a platinum sponsor and event host, provided use of spaces for the festival and fundraiser completely FREE of charge. Our presenting sponsor, Lands’ End, graciously donated quality winter gear and attire for all volunteers and staff. That’s no small feat, as we expect 50-some volunteers! The annual Frozen Assets style guide for the evening fundraiser event was again completely donated, including design, photography, videography, and production provided by our partners. View the guide to see a full list – they deserve cred!

And as usual, our production partners, including Dynamic Events, Studio 88, Majic Productions, Canopies Events, and VAALID, went above and beyond to discount and donate services. Take a look at our full group of sponsors and partners on the Frozen Assets website – you’ll find them at the bottom of every page. They’re local, and they’re worth it!

Thanks to the dedication and passion of these organizations, we are on track to celebrate our lakes in style AND net $100,000.00 for our lakes. Thank you!


Mendota Freeze

On Friday, January 2nd, the Wisconsin State Climatology Office officially declared Lake Mendota frozen! Congratulations to the winners of our annual Mendota Freeze Contest: Laura Graham of Madison correctly guessed the freeze date at 6 p.m. on December 1st, and won the grand prize of a $1,000 gift card to Lands’ End. The contest runner-up was Peppin Karras, who correctly guessed at 8 p.m. the same day and won four tickets to Walt Disney World, courtesy of Spectrum Brands. In total, 15 people guessed the correct date, and the top 11 won various prizes from our sponsors – thanks to everyone who participated!


Yahara Lakes 101


On January 8, Bob Uphoff spoke to our Yahara Lakes 101 audience on Clean Lakes Alliance’s agricultural affiliate, Yahara Pride Farms (YPF). Uphoff is the vice chair of YPF, owner and operator of Uphoff Ham & Bacon Farm, and a very engaging speaker. Conversation with Uphoff, CLA staff, and 101 attendees continued long after the presentation concluded.

In his talk, Uphoff explained how YPF is so different from the many other groups and boards he had participated in previously. He also talked about the YPF cost-share and certification programs. Uphoff shared that “as a farmer, what impressed me was that [Clean Lakes Alliance was] trying to understand that we do run businesses,” and to keep the bottom line in mind when making the case for conservation practices.
Follow Clean Lakes Alliance on livestream to watch Uphoff’s presentation, and to view future presentations live. Videos are available through livestream for a month after the talk, and on our website and our youtube channel afterwards.

Upcoming speakers

  • Thurs., February 12, 2015: Marty Melchoir of Inter-Fluve on the streams-lakes connection & sediment loading
  • Thurs., March 12, 2015: Dr. Ankur Desai of UW-Madison AOS on climate change & the Yahara lakes
  • Thurs., April 9, 2015: Dr. Dick Lathrop on restoring shallow lakes by reducing carp densities


Projects & Phosphorus Reduction

Rural initiatives

Cover Crops in snow

Spotted: cover crops peeking through the snow in Waunakee! These will help keep soil in place when the snow melts this spring.

While the ground is still frozen rock-solid, our agricultural affiliate Yahara Pride Farms is already preparing for spring. Read below to learn more about how we’re working on rural phosphorus-reduction through our Yahara Pride Farmers.

Save the date! Yahara Pride Farms Watershed-wide Conference

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Please join us for this year’s conference, which will focus on “Nutrient Management and Precision Ag.” This topic is at the forefront of ag innovation in our region and around the world, and we’re pleased to be hosting local industry leaders and speakers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Extension to share their expertise.

We expect 100-150 attendees, including farmers, agribusinesses, agency employees, and other watershed stakeholders. Sponsorship opportunities are still available here.

The conference will take place at the Comfort Inn & Suites in DeForest, Wisconsin. If the topic pertains to your work in the watershed, please register to attend free of charge. Lunch is included.

2014 YPF Cost-share & Certification

Since 2012, Yahara Pride Farms has been cost-sharing conservation practices on local farm acreage, thanks to generous funding for the program from Yahara WINs. The program helps farmers to try out or expand practices like cover cropping, vertical manure injection, and strip tillage. In 2014, we exceeded our goal to grow the program: for our fall cost-share sign-up, farmers indicated plans to implement between 5,000-8,000 acres of conservation practices (compared to 3,000 in 2013). We will continue to finalize this number as Yahara Pride farmers report back the total acres that they were able to implement. Every acre counts, because these practices all keep soil on the fields and excess nutrients out of our lakes and waterways.


Urban initiatives

We are in the process of meeting with partners and gearing up for our 2015 urban phosphorus-reduction efforts. 2014 was a successful year of engaging urban residents and getting more people involved in clean lakes efforts – read on here for a summary of last year’s Renew the Blue efforts.

Greater Madison Yard Care Survey – Results

Over 1,600 community members took our online yard care survey, and we have now aggregated the results into a brief report. The Yard Care Survey Report provides a baseline for how urban residents living in our watershed manage their stormwater and fall leaves, and it helps us evaluate the decision-making factors that influence these actions. The report also has confirmed that most urban residents are eager to find more information about sustainable yard topics like healthy lawns, rain gardens, leaf composting, and rainwater collection, and how yard care can affect our lakes. Thank you for helping to guide our urban outreach work!


Thank you to our Funders

In the last two weeks, we have received new grant awards from the following organizations:

  • Patagonia
  • Professional Dairy Producers Foundation
  • Dairy Business Association and Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative
  • Milk Source

These awards will go towards our work in the agricultural community through Yahara Pride Farms. Thank you!


Lake Calendar

Watch the coverage by Gordon Severson of Channel 27 at the link below to view a video and article about the recent RCPP grant award of 1.6 million dollars to the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department. For more about the grant and our involvement in the project, view our press release.

Our very own Elizabeth Katt-Reinders, CLA Director of Policy and Communications, speaks with Severson in the video about the recent grant award.

Channel 27 (1/15/15) – “Dane County receives $1.6 million grant to help with ongoing clean lake effort”


“Out of 600 applicants nationwide, a clean lake project in Dane County was among four projects in Wisconsin to receive federal funding from the USDA. The $1.6 million grant will go towards several ongoing initiatives to reduce the amount of phosphorus in the Yahara Chain of Lakes.”

“Together with countless community partners, the Clean Lakes Alliance and Dane County are working to prevent this runoff from getting into the water. The long list of clean water initiatives includes the creation of manure storage bins and buffer strips to protect the lakes.”

“Cleaning up the lakes and working to reach our water quality goals is something that everyone in the community can have a role in to reaching that solution [said Katt-Reinders]”

Dear Friends of Clean Lakes,

Clean Lakes Alliance has accomplished a lot in 2014, thanks to the support of donors like you. In this issue of Waves in the Watershed, we’ll share the latest progress towards clean lakes and healthy communities. Here are some highlights:

  • Money for the LakesCity of Middleton logo
    Working with our partner, Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, we helped secure funding to improve stormwater quality at a critical gateway to the Yahara lakes by helping to pass the City of Middleton stormwater utility referendum. The utility will provide dedicated dollars for stormwater management, reducing the amount of phosphorus and sediment that ends up in the lakes.
Read More

Clean Lakes Alliance - NALMS Award

TAMPA, Fla. — Last night, at its 34th annual international symposium, the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) awarded Clean Lakes Alliance of Dane County the 2014 Technical Merit Award for Public Education and Outreach.

NALMS awards are intended to recognize outstanding contributions to the science of lake and watershed management. The Public Education and Outreach award is given annually to an individual, group, or program that has creatively and effectively contributed to the development and dissemination of watershed management or related educational programs, materials, or assistance.

James Tye, Clean Lakes Alliance Executive Director, accepted the award on behalf of the organization during the closing banquet in front of hundreds of lake leaders, scientists, advocates, and government officials. During the ceremony, even the presenter of the award was taken aback by the amount of work Clean Lakes Alliance does on an annual basis to get more people involved.

Read More

Healthy Lakes Yard Tour

What do fallen leaves have to do with lake health? When leaves on our streets and terraces steep in rainwater, they create a nutrient-rich tea that enters the lakes via storm drains and fuels excess plant and algae growth.

Each year, our urban communities contribute about 30% of the total phosphorus that enters lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, Kegonsa, and Wingra. That’s about 27,000 pounds of phosphorus from leaves, soil, and other urban runoff.

Fortunately, our community has an action plan and is working to prioritize and implement projects in the watershed. If you have a moment—and perhaps a rake—you can help. Here are three ways to start:

Read More


Thompson Investment Management volunteers collect native plant seeds at the UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve as part of Clean Lakes Alliance’s Renew the Blue Volunteer Days. This summer, companies including Spectrum Brands, Lands’ End, American Family Insurance, Filament Games, CUNA Mutual Group, and Thermo Fisher Scientific helped to protect our waterways by improving our lakeshores.

Thank you for your investment in clean lakes through your support of the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA). We appreciate the time you take as a donor to read Waves in the Watershed to stay up-to-date on our latest efforts to protect and improve water quality in the Yahara watershed.

Fall is a season for shifting gears. We are wrapping up summer initiatives and programs, and beginning to plan ahead for 2015. We invite you to attend our 2014 Ag Innovation Days (October 21st and 23rd), and our upcoming Renew the Blue volunteer day (November 1st). Read below for more information about these and other initiatives, as well as important updates on progress and projects in our watershed.

We appreciate your support of our organization and our mission.

In Partnership,

The CLA Team

Read More

2014_clean-lakes-festival_3Thank you to everyone who came out to the Clean Lakes Festival, including the nearly 300 riders who looped Lake Monona by bike! The weather was perfect for recreation, relaxation, and exploration of all that our lakes have to offer. The photos speak for themselves: take a look at festival highlights here.

Consider joining us for a Yahara Lakes 101 presentation on “Blue-green algae in Lake Mendota: the mystery of the missing nitrogen” with Dr. McMahon on Thursday, August 14th, and a volunteer day at Olbrich Park on Thursday, August 21st. Also, we encourage you to support our lake education programs by becoming a lake buddy.

In the meantime, keep getting out on the lakes, and don’t forget to send us pictures. We’ll keep you up-to-date on our adventures.

In Partnership,

The Clean Lakes Alliance team

Read More

2014_clean-lakes-festival_3Thank you to everyone who came out to the Clean Lakes Festival, including the nearly 300 riders who looped Lake Monona by bike! The weather was perfect for recreation, relaxation, and exploration of all that our lakes have to offer. The photos speak for themselves: take a look at festival highlights here.

Consider joining us for a Yahara Lakes 101 presentation on “Blue-green algae in Lake Mendota: the mystery of the missing nitrogen” with Dr. McMahon on Thursday, August 14th, and a volunteer day at Olbrich Park on Thursday, August 21st. Also, we encourage you to support our lake education programs by becoming a lake buddy.

In the meantime, keep getting out on the lakes, and don’t forget to send us pictures. We’ll keep you up-to-date on our adventures.

In Partnership,

The Clean Lakes Alliance team

Table of Contents
Lake Explorer Camp
Yahara Lakes 101 with Dr. McMahon
Olbrich Park volunteer day
Clean Lakes Festival recap
Loop the Lake recap
“We need to redefine our allies” – TEDxMadison
Community Events and Opportunities

Lake Explorer Camp – Celebratory Field Day

Lake Explorer Camp - Lake Buddy

On Wednesday, August 6th, 180 Boys & Girls Club of Dane County students will arrive at Wingra Park for a lake-centered field day. The students will paddle around Lake Wingra, explore lake history on a pontoon boat, learn to net and identify fish, and try their luck at fishing.

The field day will celebrate the completion of the first annual Lake Explorer Camp. This pilot program was designed to increase understanding and appreciation of our lakes, and teach valuable lake recreation and investigation skills. As part of the camp, Boys and Girls Club students learned about and played on Lake Wingra with trained staff, including a bilingual instructor. Students investigated fish biology, read topography maps, identified lake macroinvertebrates with a microscope, and gained paddling, boating, and fishing skills.

The camp is the result of a partnership between the Clean Lakes Alliance, Wingra Boats, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and the generous support of Downtown Madison Rotary and the Wingra Boats Duck Dash.

To support the Clean Lakes Alliance’s lake education programs, donate to become a lake buddy. Through our lake education programs, we seek to take advantage of the strengths of our partners and make connections to help foster the next generation of lake advocates.

Boys and Girls Club of Dane County Clean Lakes Camp at Wingra Boats, 2014

Yahara Lakes 101 with Dr. McMahon

Trina McMahon Yahara Lakes 101Join us on Thursday, August 14th for Yahara Lakes 101 – this month, we will learn all about cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), with Dr. Katherine (Trina) McMahon. The presentation topic will be “Blue-green algae in Lake Mendota: the mystery of the missing nitrogen.”

The element nitrogen seems to affect how blue-green algae forms and produces toxins in unexpected ways. Dr. McMahon will give us insight into the research on cyanobacteria that is currently underway at UW-Madison and through the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research program. Dr. McMahon will also explain the role of water quality buoys in monitoring blooms, and give a preview of some exciting new genomics-enabled insight into Mendota’s blue-green algae.

Please register online (required).

Dr. McMahon is a Professor at UW-Madison with joint appointments in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Bacteriology. She has been studying the Madison-area lakes since she arrived here in 2003. Her research focuses on the role of microorganisms in determining water quality, in both lakes and wastewater treatment plants. She is also currently a citizen member of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission.

Come volunteer with us at Olbrich Park! (Thurs., Aug. 21)


Here’s your chance to meet some CLA staff members and other lake lovers while volunteering on the lakeshore of the beautiful Olbrich Park. Tools and supplies will be provided… all we need is your presence and enthusiasm! Sign-up to join us on August 21st from 6 – 8 p.m. for beach maintenance and lakeshore cleanup at Olbrich Park.

What a day! Clean Lakes Festival 2014 recap


We are proud to announce that the 2014 Clean Lakes Festival raised $X for our lakes. We were happy to see people of all ages having fun in and out of the water, enjoying great food, good company, stellar views, and plenty of lake education and recreation.

The CLA lake exploration booth was a special hit with young scientists. Thanks to our great staff and equipment on loan from the UW-Madison Center for Limnology and Zoology Department, festival attendees of all ages got to observe first-hand what lives in our lakes.

And of course, thank you to the sponsors that helped make the day free and low-cost for all: Alliant Energy Foundation, Betty Lou Cruises, The Burish Group – UBS Financial Services, Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison, InterCon Construction and Energy Services, Lands’ End, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Spectrum Brands, and Wickcraft Company, Inc.


Loop the Lake – recap


Thank you to the near-300 riders who looped Lake Monona with us on Saturday – it was the biggest ride yet, and raised $X for our lakes!

Energy was high throughout the ride and we are proud to say that even the littlest of us made it back to the finish line at the Clean Lakes Festival. Good thing the Madison Water Utility water wagon was on hand for refreshment and rehydration, and the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Madison was ready with a freshly grilled lunch.

Thanks to the sponsors that helped make the day run smoothly: American Transmission Company (ATC), Dentistry for Madison, Hooper Foundation, Lands’ End, Plastic Ingenuity, Schwinn Bicycle Company, Spectrum Brands, and Woodman’s Markets.

“We need to redefine our allies” – TEDxMadison


Back in June, CLA’s Director of Policy & Communications Elizabeth Katt-Reinders presented her “idea worth sharing” at TEDx Madison, an independently-organized TED event. Elizabeth was one of nine speakers from the community, and their videos are now online for viewing and sharing. Elizabeth spoke about “redefining our allies”, and she shared stories that illustrate how CLA strives to find opportunities for connection and collaboration rather than see competing interests. Check out her TEDx talk here.

Community Events and Opportunities

Yahara in situ – Water Sustainability and Climate blog:

We’re in love with the new “Yahara in situ” blog, courtesy of the UW-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project. The posts are chock-full of insight into local water quality research, full of photos, and very reader-friendly. Check out two of our favorite recent posts:

“New program, old tricks for eliminating phosphorus”

“Geoengineering: Parallels between the Global Climate and the Madison Lakes”

About the blog:

Yahara in situ is a new blog about the Yahara Watershed and, more specifically, about how social and environmental change might affect the region’s water and the many benefits its residents get from nature. Run by the UW-Madison’s Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project, the blog is a collection of research updates, reflections, and images from the project’s diverse team of scientists. Since their research is place-based, they are doing things “in situ.” Learn more about the WSC project at

MSCR Pontoon Boat Program (until lake September)

Have you ever looked at the beautiful lakes in Madison and wanted to get out on the water? The MSCR Pontoon Boat Program was created just for you! MSCR offers drop-in boat rides, boat rentals and specialty trips and events. For pricing and to reserve a ride, please visit the MSCR website and fill out the Pontoon Rental Request Form. The program begins in May and continues on until late September, and trips begin at Tenney Boat Pier at 1615 Sherman Avenue. 

Brittingham Boats SUP Cup (summer Thursdays)

Get out on the lakes with the SUP Cup! On Thursday nights this summer at Brittingham Boats, check out the Stand Up Paddleboard race series for the recreational and competitive paddlers among you! We’re happy to see CLA Community Board member and owner of Brittingham and Wingra Boats, Tyler Leeper, getting more people out on the lakes.

IRONMAN Wisconsin (Sunday, September 7)

Personal Watercraft volunteers needed for IRONMAN Wisconsin.

Personal Watercraft volunteers needed for IRONMAN Wisconsin.

The IRONMAN Wisconsin is looking for boat and personal water craft volunteers. Please mention that you are volunteering on behalf of the Clean Lakes Alliance when you sign up. Register to volunteer online!

Call for Badger Bioneer Nominations

Each year, Sustain Dane honors three Badger Bioneers, local champions working to move the Madison Region toward a more sustainable future, at their annual Badger Bioneers Conference, to be held on November 18, 2014. Click here to nominate someone for this distinguished title.



Volume IV, Issue 6

August, 2014

Waves in the Watershed
Volume I, Issue 3
July 22, 2014

Photo of the isthmus across Monona Bay from Brittingham Park - by Michael Matheson

Photo of the isthmus across Monona Bay from Brittingham Park – by Michael Matheson

We just wrapped up our Community Board meeting last week. We’d like to take a moment to update you on progress towards our goal of reducing phosphorus runoff in the Yahara watershed by 50% by 2025.

The Clean Lakes Festival is only days away; we hope you can join us on Saturday, July 26th at Law Park in one of the many activities that connect us to the lakes.

And, of course, since we are in the middle of peak lake season, we have a lot to share! Project implementation, development, engagement… thank you for taking the time as a donor to read and learn about our many initiatives.

We appreciate your support of our organization and our mission.

In Partnership,

The Clean Lakes Alliance Team

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