Blog

Panorama of the Waubesa Wetlands

Behold The Things We Cannot See

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 forgotten and sometimes unknown pieces of our watershed

“Behold the things we cannot see.” Take a moment to think about that sentence. What does it mean? We are so plugged in these days, but there is an abundance of information we can absorb that isn’t on Google or in a text book. There are actions occurring all around us. We may not know those things are happening, but we must trust and behold those occurrences – even if we cannot see the processes happening.

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Press conference announcing Dane County's 160 acre land purchase

Pheasant Branch Conservancy set to grow by 160 acres

On Thursday, May 16th, Dane County announced plans to purchase 160 acres of property for conservation. The property acquisition will be the largest conservation preservation investment in the county’s history, costing nearly 10 million dollars.

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Cows on Farm Tour 2017

Dane County Board adopts lake-friendly ordinance

Flooding and historically large cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms last summer are symptoms of a changing climate and a harder, less resilient landscape. To address these challenges, Clean Lakes Alliance has expanded our advocacy efforts at both the municipal and county levels to address flooding and slow down runoff.

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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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EIPC Meeting

It takes ALL of us to make a difference

Help Clean Lakes Alliance advocate for change

In Greater Madison, the time has come to put lakes at the top of our community agenda. Recent flooding and historically large cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms are symptoms of a changing climate and a harder, less resilient landscape. The Center for Climatic Research has documented southern Wisconsin’s increasingly wet climate, with more frequent heavy rain events causing flooding throughout the region. This is impacting lake water quality by bringing increased sediment and nutrient pollution to our lakes and streams. We need a change in how we manage the landscape surrounding our homes, farm fields, and city streets to accommodate a wetter climate in our region.

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Wednesday rain causes visible runoff into Lake Mendota

Controlling construction erosion

Grant Feature #1: Construction erosion inspections with Dane County

Did you know that construction erosion is a serious and ongoing threat to our lakes? Controlling construction erosion is one of 14 recommended actions to reduce algae blooms in the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Phosphorus Reduction. It is also one of eight focus areas in Plan 2020: A Clear Path Forward, Clean Lakes Alliance’s strategic operating plan.

With every failed, missing or improperly installed erosion-control measure, the risk of dirty runoff entering our lakes rises each time it rains. Whether this leads to a muddy street or a dirt-choked storm sewer drain, a mismanaged construction project can spell big trouble for water quality.

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