Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes Area was incorporated October 23, 1973 under the name Property Owners Association, Inc. Barnes/Eau Claire Lakes Area. There were four directors: Grant Snyder, Irene Pease, Glen Hall and Leslie Hall. The organization was dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural environment of the Eau Claire Lakes Area of Bayfield and Douglas counties. Membership was open to all interested persons.
The organization’s activities led to a deeper understanding of what was necessary to keep our lakes clear and beautiful. Members became involved in monitoring lake health by testing and observation. They focused on educating lake users about the science of good lake stewardship. They learned the importance of policymaking and civic engagement to protecting and preserving the quality of the lakes. In 2006, we partnered with the Town of Barnes in the development of a lake management plan for the Eau Claire Lakes (copies available upon request).
Today, the local water quality is listed in the top 10% of all Wisconsin waters. We have a dedicated group of volunteers who continue to monitor the water quality and educate the population on how to maintain this remarkable asset. We work with local governments, local businesses and environmental organizations to advance our mission.
Our organization developed and funds an award-winning educational program with the Drummond Public School District that takes middle school students outdoors for hands-on learning. We sponsor programs and seminars for adults in the community about everything from cooking to successful fishing to maintaining septic systems. We initiated a cooperative program with the Town of Barnes to develop and fund an effective boat landing watercraft inspection program to protect the lakes from invasive species. Our members volunteer to inspect the shoreline for any signs of invasive species and work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in control efforts.
Our mission to “protect, preserve and improve the environmental and aesthetic qualities of the Eau Claire Lakes Area watershed, including its lakes, rivers and streams, shorelands, wetlands, forests and attendant wildlife resources” has been embraced by others all over the Eau Claire Lakes Area and our membership has grown to more than 250 households.
The geographic area we serve includes the towns of Barnes and Highland, and the eastern half of Gordon from just west of Simms Lake to the middle of Lower Eau Claire Lake. All of Upper and Middle Eau Claire Lakes lie in Bayfield County, but Lower Eau Claire Lake is “split” between Bayfield and Douglas counties, lying partly in Barnes (Bayfield) and partly in Gordon (Douglas). There are dams at the bases of Upper, Middle and Lower Eau Claire lakes.
We are part of the St. Croix watershed which drains to the Mississippi River. Our primary catchment area is made up of the 11 or so seepage, drainage and impoundment lakes comprising the Eau Claire chain of lakes. These lakes form the headwaters of the Eau Claire River. The Eau Claire River, at Gordon, is the first tributary in the St. Croix River after it arises from its headwaters near Solon Springs.