Welcome to the first Lake-o-Gram of 2014!
Snowmelt season is upon us, and spring is right around the corner! As we wrap up a [very long] season of enjoying our frozen lakes with cross country skiing, ice skating and ice fishing, we’re excited to look ahead to the thaw. Here at Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA), we’re gearing up for spring programming and projects, and we hope you get involved. Read on for more on these opportunities.
The Clean Lakes Alliance Team
UPCOMING – Save Our Lakes Breakfast
Please mark your calendars for the upcoming Save Our Lakes Breakfast, a community breakfast and the annual meeting of the CLA. Save Our Lakes was created to bring the community together to review our progress towards cleaner, healthier lakes. This event is anopportunity to celebrate and assess the past year and to launch new programs and initiatives for the year ahead. Presentations include the State of the Lakes Report – the community report card for water quality in the Yahara lakes – and the Clean Lakes Alliance Annual Report.
The objectives of the Save Our Lakes Breakfast are to report progress on lake cleanup initiatives, build alliances with local companies and organizations, procure funding for action and implementation, educate the community about how we can clean up our lakes and advocate for watershed awareness.
This year’s theme is “Schooling for Cleaner Lakes”. Just like fish that school together in the same direction, this theme recognizes that many groups and entities are working together towards a shared goal of cleaner lakes. This spring, the CLA and American Family Insurance DreamBank are inviting the public to participate in a Schooling for Cleaner Lakes community art project. This project is designed to increase understanding of our lake ecosystems. The idea for this initiative materialized in response to an exhibit at DreamBank that identified “clean lakes” as a top priority for the Madison community.
Schooling for Cleaner Lakes
The CLA and American Family Insurance DreamBank encourage dreamers of all ages to participate in their hands-on, creative community art project. Participants are invited to decorate life-size cutouts of fish chosen to represent the Yahara lakes, which will be proudly displayed at venues throughout the Madison area. Clean lakes enthusiasts are welcome to pick up their project materials at DreamBank, 1 N Pinckney St, in Madison, starting on Monday, March 3.
The decorated fish are due back to DreamBank on Friday, April 4. The kits will be voted on by local judges and prizes will be awarded to the most creatively decorated boxes of fish cutouts. The CLA will award $250 to the top grade school and top middle/high school kit and award $500 to the top community kit.
These life-size fish will then be transformed into mobiles, which will be presented on Friday, April 25 at the CLA’s Save Our Lakes Community Breakfast at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, accompanying the release of the State of the Yahara Lakes report. Winners will be awarded at the event and mobiles will be displayed throughout the community after the event.
Yahara Lakes 101
This month’s Yahara Lakes 101 on Thursday, March 13, features the topic of urban runoff and flooding, presented by Madison’s Storm and Sanitary Principal Engineer Greg Fries. This event will be a great opportunity to get informed about why controlling urban runoff is absolutely vital to protecting our water systems.
Greg will examine and discuss the primary issues and concerns with respect to urban stormwater runoff, and the challenges of managing both water quality and flooding at the municipal level. He will also provide information regarding the primary pollutants in urban stormwater runoff, and what the City of Madison is doing to reduce stormwater runoff pollutants and flooding in flood-prone areas.
RECAP- Dennis Frame’s talk on “Manure Management and Ag Innovation”
On Thursday, February 13, Dennis Frame was the featured guest speaker at our monthly Yahara Lakes 101 science café series. Dennis is a Professor Emiritus of UW-Extension and Yahara Pride Farms’ (YPF) Conservation Resource Manager. At the beginning of his “Manure Management and Ag Innovation” talk, Dennis welcomed the audience to challenge him with questions, interruptions or clarifications. The result was an engaging discussion about the unique opportunities and challenges of dairy farming in Dane County.
The topic of the talk was timely, as late winter is a crucial time for manure management. Mr. Frame explained that early winter snow is typically light and not densely packed, which increases the chance that manure spread will be able to come in contact with the soil. In late winter to early spring, however, snow has usually gone through several thawing cycles and is typically denser, and soil may be in an impermeable “concrete frost” state or be covered in an ice crust. As a result, nutrients from manure spread during mid to late winter are much less likely to be retained and more likely to run off into nearby waterways.
Dennis explained that Dane County is fortunate to have very strong farms and knowledgeable farmers committed to best management of their land. Since Dane County land prices are comparatively high and grain prices are strong, those who work in the dairy industry often do so by choice rather than necessity, and most often have a long family history in dairy and strong knowledge base.
To witness the expertise of our Yahara Lakes 101 speakers first-hand, please pre-register on the CLA’s website. Presentations are held in Bluephies cafe at the Verex Plaza, 150 East Gilman Street, on the second Thursday of every month. Meet and greet begins at 7:30 a.m. with the presentation from 8-9 a.m. with Q&A following. Admission to one event is $10 for the general public and free to all 2014 CLA donors. Coffee, pastries and fruit are provided.
Yahara Pride Farms
Over the past few years, CLA’s agricultural affiliate organization, Yahara Pride Farms (YPF), has built a tremendous amount of momentum and recognition around sustainability in agriculture. This success is largely due to their focus on education. While the ground is still snow covered and the planting equipment is still stored in the shed, YPF is busy engaging the Yahara watershed communities in educational programs that advance conservation in the watershed.
On a snowy Thursday last month, Yahara watershed producers gathered at Rex’s Innkeeper in Waunakee for an educational Manure Management Workshop. Todd Stuntebeck from United States Geological Survey (USGS) began by explaining the importance of USGS water quality monitoring in identifying crucial phosphorus runoff periods. This information is essential for helping producers implement best management practices for their manure management activities.
Professor Emeritus of UW-Extension and YPF’s Conservation Resource Manager, Dennis Frame, continued to reinforce the need for best management practices during these critical runoff periods. Dennis led an open forum with the producers on how winter manure spreading could be reduced in their operations. The interactive discussion yielded useful solutions that will be implemented in upcoming years.
This month watershed stakeholders will gather at Lake Windsor Golf Club for their Watershed-wide Conference, Building on our Progress, to learn from industry experts about new technologies for securing phosphorus to the landscape, with a focus on cover crops. The conference is a valuable opportunity for producers, government workers, and agribusinesses to gain more knowledge and understanding of the economic and environmental benefits of these new technologies. These technologies will be explained with the opportunity to ask questions and sign up for demonstrations. An update on the Yahara watershed and YPF will also be a highlight of the conference.
As a young, growing organization, YPF has already witnessed the impact of their focus on education and action. Just this year, YPF helped secure over 3,000 pounds of phosphorus to the landscape through conservation practices and innovative technologies. Soon the snow will be melting, tractors will be tuned for fieldwork and YPF members will be working towards keeping phosphorus on their fields and out of our waterways with their improved best management practices.
UPCOMING – World Water Week – Madison
Please join us as we celebrate World Water Week Friday, March 21 through Sunday, March 30 at participating local restaurants. During this week, the CLA is partnering with local businesses to raise awareness and financial support for clean water.
Through this program, we recognize that all water is connected. From the aquifers that provide our tap water, to the lakes and streams we all enjoy, we must protect our water to protect our quality of life.
While dining, customers will be invited to donate $1 for tap water normally provided free of charge. These donations support the CLA’s efforts to improve water quality in the Yahara watershed, including citizen monitoring, watershed education and water quality improvement projects, all in line with our goal to achieve a 50% phosphorus load reduction in our watershed by 2025.
Restaurants that choose to participate position themselves as community leaders raising support for clean water in Dane County. Restaurants that sign up by Wednesday, March 12th will be provided with outreach materials and featured in a variety of promotional materials, including advertisements in the Isthmus.
New Phosphorus Bill
In late January, new phosphorus compliance legislation was introduced to the Wisconsin state legislature. The CLA testified in front of Assembly and Senate committees to share our concerns about the bill’s unintended consequences for the Yahara lakes. The legislators took our concerns seriously from the start, worked with us to find a compromise, and then introduced amendments that keep our watershed on track for cleaner lakes. While there are still some concerns for impacts statewide, the CLA views the amendments as a win for our watershed.
The amended bill has passed the Assembly and the Senate, and the governor is expected to sign it into law this spring.
Citizen Water Quality Monitoring
It is (almost) that time of year again. Starting in April, we will begin to meet with and train returning and new Citizen Water Quality Monitoring volunteers.
If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out a volunteer form on our website. Be sure to specify that you are interested in Citizen Water Quality Monitoring by responding “Yes” to the “Interested in helping in field” question.
For more details about the program, please visit the program page on our website.
WE Badger Volunteers
The CLA is thrilled to welcome our WE Badger Volunteer (WEBV) teams on board for the 2014 Spring semester. The WEBV program provides UW-Madison undergraduate and graduate students a hands-on opportunity to become more involved in key environmental issues in the Madison community. Here at the CLA, our volunteers engage in numerous outdoor and indoor projects ranging from water quality monitoring and lakeshore clean up, to assisting with program and outreach. Volunteers dedicate three hours of their time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to support the CLA’s efforts to improve and protect the lakes, streams and wetlands of the Yahara Watershed. Thanks, WEBVs!
Emily Yoss (team captain) is a senior studying Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is interested in water resource management, water remediation, snow skiing and reading.
What’s the best thing about our area lakes? “The endless activities and recreation fun that can be done on the lakes: swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, etc!”
Emily Blum is a freshman studying Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is interested in hydrology, music and reading.
What’s the best thing about our area lakes? “How it brings people together for entertainment, sports and provides a peaceful spot to rest.”
Sawyer Olson is a freshman studying Journalism and Political Science. He is interested in policy, music and acting.
What’s the best thing about our area lakes? “Scenic views!”
Emily Czaikowski (Team Captain) is a senior studying Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences with a certificate in Environmental Studies. She is interested in climate science, non-profit management, and conservation.
What’s the best thing about our area lakes? “Beautiful views! I love all the walking paths surrounding the lakes.”
Noratikah Ali is a junior studying Actuarial Science. She is interested in statistics, management and the environment (conservation).
What’s the best thing about our area lakes? “Clean and plenty of activities to do.”
Sarah Petri is a sophomore studying Environmental Studies and German. She is interested in community engagement and policies/conservation (…and chocolate).
What’s the best thing about our area lakes? “They are accessible to everyone and can be used all year round for a number of activities, whether it’s swimming, sailing, ice fishing or ice skating!”
Holly Henriksen (Team Captain) is a junior studying Wildlife Ecology and Environmental Studies with a certificate in African Studies. She is interested in education, sustainability and recreation.
What’s the best thing about our area lakes? “The access all Madison citizens have to enjoy them, all seasons of the year!”
Barrett Clausen is a senior studying Spanish and Geography. She is interested in water quality, languages and sustainability.
What’s the best thing about our area lakes? “How heavily used they are! I love visiting them in the summer and seeing all of the activity. I think that the lakes in the Yahara watershed are a huge part of what makes Madison an awesome place to live.”
Frozen Assets Recap
We are happy to announce that this year’s Frozen Assets brought in a net profit of $45,000 for our area lakes. These funds help us engage residents of the watershed, implement phosphorus reduction projects and report community progress.
Become a Friend of the CLA
Interested in joining our efforts to protect and improve the Yahara lakes?
Become a Friend of Clean Lakes for a minimum of $35 a year, or take your support a step further and join the 63Club — Friends of Clean Lakes who commit to a monthly recurring donation to support our efforts towards cleaner lakes! Thank you for your support.