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!

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.

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.

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)

USDA Issues Warning Regarding Unsolicited Seeds Mailed from China

Jill Jacoby, Douglas County AIS Coordinator, reports there have been people in our area who have received unsolicited mailings from China containing seeds. Residents in all 50 states have received these mailings and USDA officials are advising people to not plant the seeds, which are unknown and could be invasive species or be harmful to people or livestock. The USDA Farm Service Agency issued a bulletin (click here) advising people what to do if they receive one of these mailings. People with questions can also call the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) 844-820-2234 (Monday-Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET).

Prevent the Spread of Oak Wilt

Recent brushing operations on the River Road right-of-way damaged oak trees, creating the possibility of an oak wilt outbreak. Paul Cigan, WDNR Forest Health Specialist in the Hayward office, shared a flyer about oak wilt in our area and how to prevent its spread (click here).  He also wrote the following:

Oak wilt disease was confirmed for the first time in Bayfield and Douglas counties and in 16 new northern townships in 2018. Oak wilt is caused by a deadly fungal disease that causes tree death within just a few weeks after infection. Oak wilt negatively impacts property values, forest producer and industry earnings, property aesthetics, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities across the county and northern region.

Bayfield County is home to some of the densest, most valuable oak woods in the entire state. In Bayfield County, the disease was found in the towns of Barnes, Cable, and Drummond. In Barnes and Drummond, all of the roughly half dozen diseased oaks were found along the right-of-way of County Highways N and A. The primary cause of infection was ROW brushing during the riskiest time of the year: April 15 to July 15, when fungal spores readily infect open wounds. These infected oaks were cut down and destroyed to prevent fungal spore production in this area. After tree death, healthy oaks growing up to 100 feet away may also become infected if the disease continues to spread belowground through root grafts, which is often the case. This makes the disease very costly and often impossible to control—so disease prevention is key.

A number of state, county, and municipal organizations have policies and practices in place to prevent the spread and damaging impact of oak wilt. The main theme of all of them is to avoid harvesting, pruning, brushing, and any injury to oak trees between the months of April through July. Another strategy by one county is to conduct brushing activities only on non-oak areas such as: non-forests, aspen stands, lowland forests, or pine stands. Here are some examples of oak wilt prevention measures in place by various entities.
1. Bayfield County Forestry Department lands & other Wisconsin County Forest Association lands
• “Do not harvest or conduct activities that may wound oaks April 15 – July 15.” Certain exceptions and modifications may apply subject to proper documentation and forester approval.
2. WI DOT – Section 201 Clearing and Grubbing 2017 201.3 (4)
• “From April 15 through July 1 of each year, pruning paint must be applied to all final cuts on oak trees immediately after cutting.”
3. Public Service Commission – PSC 113.0511 Oak tree cutting and pruning
• “In urban/residential areas: From April 15 through July 1 of each year, no pruning or cutting of live oak trees is permitted except in emergencies.”
• “In rural areas: From April 15 through July 1 of each year, pruning paint must be applied to all final cuts on live oak trees immediately after cutting.”
4. WI DNR lands
• “Do not harvest or conduct activities that may wound oaks April 15 – July 15.” Certain exceptions and modifications may apply subject to proper documentation and forester approval.
5. USDS National Forest Service Lands
• “No harvesting (or other activities that may damage oak trees) will be allowed in stands with greater than 20 square feet of oak basal area per acre between April 1 and July 15 except under the following conditions”
6. Town of Woodboro roadside brushing ordinance:
• “The Town of Woodboro will not mow or brush the town roads before July 15.”

For more information, contact Paul Cigan at Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov; 715-416-4920.  Also visit “Northern Oak Wilt Detections” on the WDNR website.

FOECLA Awards First Student Scholarship May 15, 2019

Iris Wichman and board member Martin Olson.

Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes Area is pleased to announce Iris Wichman is the recipient of its first annual student scholarship. Ms. Wichman, a 2019 graduate of Drummond Area High School, will pursue a degree in environmental studies at UW-Barron County this fall. FOECLA board member Martin Olson presented Ms. Wichman with her $1,000 scholarship at the school’s Senior Scholarship Night on May 15.

“We created this scholarship to assist students who wish to enter any field of study that would promote our mission to protect and improve lakes, rivers, forests and wildlife resources,” said Kevin Shriver, FOECLA board president. “Now more than ever we need to support young adults like Iris who care about the environment.”

FOECLA also partners with the Drummond Area School District in providing a unique educational program for seventh grade students. The “Lake Ecology Education Program for Youth” (LEEP) provides students with classroom lessons and field experiences designed to prepare them for becoming life-long lake stewards. The curriculum meets Wisconsin education standards. “Creating this annual scholarship underscores our commitment to the education of our youth,” noted Shriver. “We are very happy to put our resources to such good use, and we congratulate Iris on her award.”

In addition to supporting the education of our youth, FOECLA also supports the following important programs:

  • Town of Barnes AIS Committee – We provide financial support to the Town in its efforts to control the spread of aquatic invasive species, and we refer volunteers interested in monitoring their shorelines for invasive species.
  • WDNR Citizen Lake Monitoring Network – This spring, we provided funding to purchase new water testing equipment for citizen monitors to use on area lakes. We also refer individuals interested in this program.
  • Town of Barnes Clean Boats Clean Waters – We provide funding to support the hiring of monitors at boat landings who inspect boats and educate boaters on “aquatic hitchhikers”, and we refer individuals interested in becoming boat landing monitors.
  • Town of Barnes Vatten Paddlar – We sponsor this annual race that highlights the beauty of our lakes. We also refer individuals interested in volunteering for the race.
  • Annual Education Program – Every August, we host an educational program for the community at the Barnes Town Hall.

We couldn’t do any of this without the support of our members! If you aren’t yet a member, please consider joining or renewing today.

FOECLA Awards 2nd Annual Student Scholarship

Bode Rasmussen, a graduating senior at Drummond High School, has been selected to receive this year’s Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes Area $1,000 Scholarship. Bode will enroll in UW-Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources in the fall. Bode’s chosen course of study strongly aligns with our mission to help protect, preserve and improve the quality of area lakes, rivers, shorelands and wildlife. (We are pleased to remember that Bode and his fellow seventh grade students participated in our LEEP Program a few years back!)  Congratulations to Bode!

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