You Are Invited to Our Annual Meeting!

Please join us on Saturday, July 17, 2021 for our annual meeting. Following the 9 am business meeting, we will welcome our guest speaker, Jim Bakken. Jim will present information about why area lakes rise and fall, current lake water levels, and a new project undertaken by Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes Area to monitor lake levels. We hope you will leave with an understanding of why we are concerned about high lake water levels and steps we can all take to mitigate damage.

FOECLA Awards 3rd Annual Student Scholarship

Congratulations to Kayla Schultz, the first student from Northwood High School to be awarded the Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes Area Student Scholarship! Our $1,000 scholarship is awarded to graduating seniors who plan to pursue degrees that support our mission “to protect, preserve and improve the environmental and aesthetic qualities of the Eau Claire Lakes Area watershed, including the lakes, rivers, shorelands, wetlands, forests and attendant wildlife resources.” Kayla will be attending UW-Eau Claire in the fall, majoring in Education. She plans to use the “outside” (the environment) as a major focus in helping create positive habits in young children regarding relationships with the environment.

Kayla was Team Captain for several athletic teams, served as Class President and her grade point average ranked third in her class. Scholarship Committee Chair Marty Olson said, “We were very pleased to receive several very outstanding candidates for the scholarship and most excited to award it to Kayla, a very deserving senior at Northwood High School.”

Registration Now Open for July 10, 2021 Vatten Paddlar

Join the Fun! Paddle northwestern Wisconsin’s most beautiful chain of lakes in Barnes, Wisconsin. This year’s Vatten Paddlar will be held on July 10. Whether you decide to enter to win or to just enjoy an adventure with dozens of other paddling enthusiasts, your day on the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes will be amazing. Learn more/register HERE for the 10 Mile Canoe and Kayak Race or the 5 Mile Canoe, Kayak and SUP Race.

Covid-Cautious Event:  Organizers will follow public health guidelines to make it a safe experience for everyone.

FOECLA Awarded 2021 DNR Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grant

Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes Area (FOECLA) has been awarded a 2021 Healthy Lakes & Rivers (https://healthylakeswi.com/) grant from the Wisconsin DNR. The purpose of this grant program is “to protect and restore the health of our lakes and rivers by increasing property owner participation in habitat restoration and runoff and erosion control projects.”

FOECLA will receive $13,000 to support 13 projects on Upper, Middle and Lower Eau Claire lakes undertaken by property owners. These projects will include fish sticks, shoreline native plantings, rain gardens and other runoff diversions.

Thank you to the DNR and to the property owners installing these projects. We all win when we work together to protect and preserve our lakes!

Registration Now Open for 2021 WI Lakes and Rivers Convention, March 8-12

Anyone who loves water is invited to participate in Wisconsin Water Week, a virtual, interactive event occurring March 8-12. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from respected experts, engage in discussion sessions and interactive workshops, and enhance their network of water-focused professionals. Join the event online from wherever you are for one day or the whole week using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday all include mornings with an impressive offering of live, content-rich educational presentations and time for speakers to answer questions from the audience. Afternoon content will be more interactive, with live panel presentations and small group discussion breakouts that invite participants to contribute their ideas and experiences to the gathering. Thursday focuses on ten simultaneous regional water conferences that will explore issues and solutions specific to their area. Friday, March 12, provides an opportunity to connect with your local lake, river, or watershed organization (or maybe just a small group of neighbors) to take what you’ve learned and turn that enthusiasm, knowledge, and shared experience into local action.

Each of the first three days feature unique themes. Monday is a day for big water systems, looking at climate, groundwater, and massive waterways like the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Tuesday’s agenda focuses on the water bodies of Wisconsin, including the plants and animals that live in and around them, exploring the science of monitoring the health of lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Wednesday highlights water actions, with presenters sharing success stories and discussions centered on how individuals and communities can take action to improve their local waters. Nearly 200 different presenters will join the event live to share their knowledge of water, ecology, advocacy, and management.

Several keynote presentations are scheduled throughout the week. Monday’s keynote will be presented by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist whose research focuses on understanding what climate change means for people and the places where we live. Her presentation will integrate social science and climate research to explain why we need more than just facts to help us avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The keynote session on Tuesday will feature former Wisconsin Governor Tommy G. Thompson, now President of the UW System, and Dr. Marissa Jablonski, Executive Director of the new Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin based at UW Milwaukee. They will explain how all the campuses of the UW System are contributing to water management solutions. Wednesday’s schedule includes a morning keynote from Dr. Patty Loew, a longtime journalist on Wisconsin Public Television who is now Co-Director of Northwestern University’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. A lunchtime presentation will highlight new science-policy fellowships that leverage the research capabilities of UW Madison to help state agencies like the Wisconsin DNR accomplish their missions.

Registration for Wisconsin Water Week is open now at wisconsinlakes.org and costs only $20/day. The registration site linked at wisconsinlakes.org includes the entire week’s agenda. This event was created through the efforts of the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership, including Wisconsin DNR, Extension Lakes, and Wisconsin Lakes. Stop by and see how you fit into this unique Partnership and help care for our shared water legacy.

South Shore Road Bridge Replacement

A video describing the South Shore Road bridge replacement scheduled for Summer 2022 is available on the Town of Barnes website. In the video, Cooper Engineering Project Manager Jacob Friberg describes the project in detail. Originally built in 1938, the bridge roadway over the Middle Eau Claire Lake dam and lock will be slightly widened to meet today’s minimum 24-foot standard width. Solicited bids will include a decorative railing to replace the existing chain link, and a wider sidewalk underneath the bridge along the lock. No work in the waterway will take place; the lock and dam will be untouched during the construction. It is hoped the construction, which will take 2-3 months, will have minimal or no impact on the 2022 Vatten Paddlar. Racers may be required to portage if construction is underway. Eighty percent of the project cost is being funded by the State’s Local Bridge Improvement Assistance Program; the remaining twenty percent is being paid by the Town of Barnes.

A Day on the Water with the BAISS Boat Crew

The Town of Barnes BAISS boat crew harvested curly-leaf pondweed (CLP) on June 23 as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of this aquatic invasive. Two divers joined the boat operator for six hours on Upper Eau Claire Lake. In addition to “bagging” a lot of CLP, the crew noted the presence of another aquatic invasive, the Chinese Mystery Snail.  They capped off their day with a sighting of a loon parent with a new chick riding on its back. For a glimpse of a day on the water with the BAISS boat crew, click here.

White Hummingbird Visits Sweet Lake

White Hummingbird 8/26/20 (Credit: Thom Storm)

A white hummingbird was seen on Sweet Lake on August 26. While it moved too quickly to get a good look at it, it’s more likely it was a leucistic hummingbird than a true albino. True albinos have pink eyes, while leucistic hummingbirds have black eyes, bills and feet. Whichever it was, it provided the homeowners with a wonderful surprise as it lingered for hours, enjoying the impatiens blooming on their deck.

Playful River Otters in Upper Eau Claire Lake

A friend sent in this photo from a video he made of 4 river otters playing in Upper Eau Claire Lake one recent morning. He said he hadn’t seen river otters for a long time and it was fun to see them swimming past his pier.

In Wisconsin, river otters are generally found in the northern portion of the state. They can live 10-15 years and adults average 20 pounds in weight. They’re very playful – in the summer, they jump in and out of the water and chase each other, and in the winter, they like to push off with their feet and slide across the snow. River otters can dive to depths of 40 feet and are able to stay underwater for 4 minutes or more, so don’t worry if you see them disappear for a while!

River otters in Upper Eau Claire Lake, 8/3/2020. (Credit: Bill Pearce)

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