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Lake Tides

​The FREE newsletter for people interested in Wisconsin Lakes



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​Volume 29 No. 4 Fall 2004

Readers of Lake Tides often send letters and emails with questions or comments on the articles.  One reader recently thanked us for Lake Tides and wondered about the history of the newsletter and how we are able to send it out at no direct charge to the readers.

The first Lake Tides was published in August of 1975.  The cover article was titled Welcome to Our Trial Balloon.   A paragraph in the article stated, “This is a trial issue.  Your comments will determine whether the balloon is a flyer or a bust.  Please let us know if and how this newsletter might be useful to you in your dedicated efforts to save your lake.”  The article was signed by Lowell Klessig and Robert Sterrett, UWEX Lake Management Specialists.
Much has changed since that time.  In 1975 there were 30 lakes with a new form of governance called a lake district, today there are over 200.  About 300 people received that first issue of Lake Tides.  Thirty years later, about 24,000 lake homes receive this newsletter, and some receive it via the web.
In 1975 a web was something a spider made, and the newsletter was typed on a typewriter.  Today technology helps us gather information and deliver it in different ways.  The newsletter is now laid out with a graphic design program and sent electronically to a printer.  Lake Tides also offers an online editor’s corner on our website where editors of local lake newsletters can download articles and pictures for use in their publications. 
Lake Tides costs about twenty-five cents a copy to print and mail.  The dollars to fund this newsletter are generated through part of the tax on the sale of gasoline in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin legislature designated a share of this tax money to finance waterway projects with the understanding that not all our gas is used in cars and trucks…some is used by boat motors.  This fund is called the Water Resources Account of the Conservation Fund and is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Over the years Lake Tides has been faithfully researched and edited by a host of great people.  We thank you for your support and hope to serve you and assist your work for years to come. This trial balloon is still flying high.

For the Record

Ice On/Ice Off

The morning of first ice is a magical time. The first layer of ice brings a halt to motion on this liquid surface...a leaf frozen in time, bubbles frozen in place. Soon it will become strong enough to venture out upon. Peering through this crystal window, you can look straight down on a forest of aquatic plants and watch fish swim below your feet.

First ice brings a change to lake activities, a shifting of outdoor pursuits, cooler temperatures, and eventually that shield of ice will cover the lake until next spring when it fades away.  

Exactly when that first layer of ice appears on the lake and how long it stays varies from year to year, depending on temperature and weather.  Northern Wisconsin lakes typically freeze about a week and a half earlier than their southern counterparts.  On average, however, ice cover seems to be arriving later and leaving earlier than it used to, not only in Wisconsin, but around the globe.
Ice cover information collected from Lake Mendota over the past 150 years shows the period of time the lake is covered by ice has actually been shortened from four months to three months, a dramatic decrease.  The longest period of ice cover recorded on Lake Mendota was 161 days in the winter of 1880-1881.  The shortest duration of ice cover on Lake Mendota was only 47 days in the winter of 1997-1998.
Information collected on dozens of lakes and rivers throughout the northern hemisphere between 1846 and 1995 show similar findings to Lake Mendota.  Warmer average temperatures around the globe seem to be affecting lakes and rivers with later freezing and earlier breakup dates.  Records from Japan, Russia, and Finland reveal warming trends beginning as early as the 16th century. 
So who collected ice information hundreds of years ago, and why?  Dates of freezing and thawing of lakes and rivers have been kept well before professional scientists began to record these things.  A remarkable amount of ice on/ice off data has been collected over the years.  Early observations were typically for practical and cultural reasons such as figuring out when boat deliveries or log drives could be made, or when ice was safe for travel. 
Ice observations were also recorded for religious purposes.  Lake Constance in Europe has ice cover observations dating back to the 9th century.  The lake did not freeze over every winter, but when there was enough ice, a Madonna figure was transported between two churches: one in Germany, the other in Switzerland.  The figure remained on one side of the lake until the next ice-covered winter, when it was possible to carry it back again.  Records such as these provide information on global warming trends. 
Sometimes ice records have also been kept out of plain old curiosity, such as those records of ice on/ice off dates kept by families at their lake cabin, or lake organizations that hold annual ‘guess the date of ice out’ contests.  Not that long ago, communities raised money by dragging an old car out on the ice.  Residents used intuition and luck to pick the date the car would slip through the melting ice.
Wisconsin’s Self-Help volunteers contribute to this wealth of ice information.  They can record annual ice on/ice off dates when they send in their Self-Help data.  While many volunteers are already gone from the lake enjoying warmer climates, those volunteers who record ice on/ice off dates create an ice history for their lake.  The Self-Help database holds all the ice data that’s been collected by volunteers since 1986.  With a few clicks on the DNR website, anyone can view the ice dates that have been recorded on a particular lake by a Self-Help volunteer.
Simple ice records kept over time are showing a decrease in ice cover around the world.  These records provide independent indications that warming is occurring.  Simple observations such as these underscore the value of keeping records over time.  Now is a great time to start record keeping at your lake.  Who knows how lake data recorded today by volunteers around Wisconsin will be used hundreds of years from now?

Guidance Needed

The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership is currently re-writing "A Guide to Wisconsin’s Lake Management Law." For almost 30 years the guide has been used by lake organizations, providing lake officers and lake district commissioners with information on forming and running their lake organizations. This update will be the 11th edition of the guide and will replace the 1996 edition.

If you think the guide needs clarification or more detail on procedures regarding the formation or day-to-day operations of lake organizations, or if there are other topics you think should be covered, please email them to, or send to UW-Extension Lakes, 800 Reserve St., Stevens Point, WI 54481. To view a copy of the 1996 edition of this guide, go to

Pier Rules

Your Turn to Input

Autumn – leaves turn gold, orange and red, then fall to the ground. Time to harvest pumpkins and squash, carve a turkey. Piers and boats are tucked away for winter storage; no need to think about them again until spring...or is there?

Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind

Act 118, a new law that went into effect in February 2004, changed the regulations for piers and similar structures in chapter 30 of the State Statutes. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was required to write emergency rules (NR 326) regarding the changes in this law. Prompted by confusion over these new rules, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules suspended the emergency rules until revisions could be made. To accomplish more workable rules, the DNR convened a Citizen Stakeholder Group. Seven citizens made up this group and have worked to develop a new proposal for rules governing piers, boat shelters and swimming rafts.
This small group is composed of a campground owner, a realtor, a waterfront property owner and marine contractors. The group has reviewed the law changes and brought fresh perspectives to the table. They worked many hours to develop an alternative proposal and obtain support for their approach.

What’s In the Proposal?

The Citizen Stakeholder Group was given the task of developing common-sense, permanent rules for piers, boat shelters and swimming rafts - rules that are easy to understand, and that protect the habitat and natural beauty of our lakes and streams. Under the group’s proposal, people can continue to place pre-existing and new piers without a permit if they meet certain requirements. Some of these requirements are: 1) piers are no more than six feet wide, 2) piers may extend out into the water to a depth of three feet or what’s needed to dock the boat, and 3) property may have two boat slips for less than 50 feet of frontage, three slips for the first full 50 feet, and one slip for each additional 50 feet.
The group also proposes allowing piers to have wider loading platforms up to 120 square feet, as well as benches, flagpoles and navigational accessories. For full details see the NR 326 proposed revisions factsheet (
New piers will require a permit if they are proposed to be located in trout streams or other sensitive waters identified under the new law. A new pier or wharf is defined as anything placed after April 18, 2004. The group proposes to grandfather larger pre-existing piers, which they accomplish by a new general permit that allows most piers that have been in place for at least six years to get a quick approval. That permit would not expire when the property changes hands.

Here’s Where You Come In

We need your input! The Citizen Stakeholder Group’s proposal is now available, and open for public comment. Open Houses and Public Hearings were held around the state November 1-10. If you did not get a chance to attend the hearings, you are encouraged to review a factsheet about the proposal, or read the rule itself and send written comments by mail or email. Comments are welcome and encouraged through December 15, 2004 and they will be used to develop a final rule (comment period extended).

For more details on the proposed changes to NR 326, including a factsheet and copies of the rule proposal, go to DNR’s home page at, and choose the topic "Waterway and Wetland Permits," then "Public Hearings."

by Liesa Lehmann
Statewide Waterway Policy Coordinator
Wisconsin DNR

Proposed Categories for Permits

The "do-it-yourself" category, with no need to contact DNR or pay a fee. A project that meets all the requirements can be placed without a permit.

General Permits - "GP"
For projects that are not exempt, but can be approved through a quick, one-time process. Submit an application and small fee with information to show that your project meets the GP standards, and you’ll usually receive a permit within 30 days.

Individual Permits - "IP"
For projects that are more complex, located in critical habitat or don’t qualify for an exemption or GP.  Project flexibility is allowed for specific purposes, but permit review involves greater scrutiny, a higher fee and a public notice.

Tiny Shrimp

Not for the Bar-B

It was just after dark as we slipped into the waters of Green Lake, off Norwegian Bluff on a cool fall day in 1973. We descended into the crisp clear water with visibility over 30 feet. At a depth of about 40 feet my light swept the rocky underwater bluff and my eye caught the movement of some small unfamiliar creatures. I swam toward the bluff for a closer inspection. To my amazement I was staring at what appeared to be a school of tiny shrimp no more than one inch long.

Yes, believe it or not, some of Wisconsin’s lakes possess freshwater shrimp. They are called Opossum shrimp. Their scientific name is Mysis relicta. Mysis are called Opossum shrimp because they carry their young in a brood pouch
underneath them. They breed in the winter and give birth in the spring. The shrimp live for one to two years and reach a maximum size of one inch.

Their native range is limited to glaciated areas of the northern hemisphere. This includes the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries. These shrimp live in cold bottom waters of deep lakes. The lakes must possess good water quality since the shrimp require high oxygen levels in deep waters all year round. Some of the lakes in Wisconsin where these shrimp are present include Green Lake, Trout Lake, and Geneva Lake, as well as Lakes Superior and Michigan. All of these lakes are relatively large and over 100 feet deep.

These organisms are a prime food resource for lake trout. Consequently, during the day they live just above the sediments where there is minimal light and fish cannot readily find them. As dusk approaches they move up the water column, sometimes as much as 360 feet, into areas where their preferred foods are found. They return to the lake bottom at dawn. When available, they eat microscopic animals called zooplankton. If these plankton are not available in sufficient numbers the shrimp will also eat algae and other organic detritus.

Because of the high caloric content of these shrimp, cold water fishes (lake trout and salmon) grow very well when they are able to feed on shrimp. Consequently, Mysis were deliberately introduced into many reservoirs and large, deep lakes in the western U.S. and Canada. Mysis were not naturally found in these lakes because these areas were not regionally glaciated. Nearly 50 years ago, a team of lake managers took Opossum shrimp from Green Lake, Wisconsin and transplanted them into Lake Tahoe. They believed the shrimp would help Lake Tahoe’s trout population grow. As with many introductions of exotic organisms, their introduction had a significant impact upon the native populations. Some of the key zooplankton species disappeared from the lake or were restricted to bays where Mysis could not survive. Across the west, the results of such experiments did not go as expected and in some areas the fisheries declined instead of flourishing. Dispersal of benthic species from one lake to another as a management tool is now generally recognized as inappropriate.

Mysis relicta is believed to have evolved as a freshwater shrimp from another shrimp, Mysis oculata, through a process where melting glaciers gradually decreased the saline content of the waters that Mysis oculata lived in. The shrimp adapted and evolved into the freshwater species we know as Mysis relicta.

Freshwater shrimp are very popular in the aquarium trade. These shrimp are truly "freshwater." The lack of salt intake for fish (especially for marine animals) is desirable since these fish are constantly working to expel salt from their bodies. Producers around the world raise Mysis relicta to be sold for fish food, and one pound can sell for as much as $18.

In some ways our freshwater lakes can be thought of as a microcosm of the oceans. If you look carefully at the right time in the right place you may be privileged to find all manner of unusual relatives to their saltwater cousins, jellyfish, sponges and bryozoans. What we do to promote and support policies that will assure clean healthy lake ecosystems may have profound consequences on such creatures.

By Paul Garrison
Research Scientist, Wisconsin DNR

Hitchin' A Ride

Clean Boats, Clean Waters Slows the Spread of AIS

Although water travel has slowed to a trickle, we haven’t iced the challenge of dealing with the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) throughout Wisconsin. Last summer, 381 volunteers stepped up to help by attending Clean Boats, Clean Waters Volunteer Watercraft Inspection workshops. Adults and youth learned how to organize and conduct boater education programs in their communities. After they were trained, volunteers performed watercraft inspections at landings and educated boaters on how and where invasive species are most likely to hitch a ride into waterbodies.

Results of this effort revealed boaters are not aware of the role they play in moving aquatic plants and animals from one waterbody to another. Watercraft inspection efforts uncovered hidden plants on the boat trailers and other recreational equipment. With each inspection, volunteers discussed prevention steps boaters need to take each time they leave a waterbody. More training is needed if Wisconsin hopes to decrease the spread of AIS.

UWEX, Wisconsin DNR and Wisconsin Association of Lakes are currently scheduling 2005 training workshops for the Clean Boats, Clean Waters Watercraft Inspection Program.

If slowing the spread of AIS is important to you, please contact Laura Felda-Marquardt at 715-365-2659, or for training details. Clean Boats, Clean Waters workshops will begin in April 2005 (at the Wisconsin Lakes Convention - see page 9) and extend through August.
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Water In Our Veins: Celebrating Lake Volunteers

2005 Wisconsin Lakes Convention
April 28-30, 2005
KI Convention Center/Regency Suites, Green Bay

Hooray for volunteers! This is the message of the 2005 Wisconsin Lakes Convention, to be held April 28-30 in Green Bay. Wisconsin lake enthusiasts spread an amazing amount of tender loving care over the waters of our state. They are busy in the areas of water quality monitoring, conservation and restoration efforts, public education and more. What makes a great volunteer? How are we motivated to action? These issues and others will be some of the topics addressed at the 27th annual Wisconsin Lakes Convention. This conference represents an exceptional opportunity to listen, learn and discuss with others your experiences and questions on lake and water resource management, law, land use and watershed planning, shoreland restoration, economics, youth and adult education and other important topics.

If you are new to the lake or a committed supporter, this is a great opportunity for you and your lake organization to learn and gain significant information in a short period of time. It is a great time to find answers to your many questions about lake management, meet new friends and catch up with old ones. Look for a detailed agenda in the next edition of Lake Tides, the Lake Connection, and on-line at the UWEX Lakes website. Invite a fellow lake enthusiast that has not yet had the opportunity to attend.

Don’t forget about the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Photography contest. We are looking for striking images of lakes, wetlands and streams as well as of people enjoying Wisconsin’s waters. Additional details can be found online at

Come join us in April of 2005!

WAL Member Rebate

To advance their conviction of the importance of lake education, the Wisconsin Association of Lakes (WAL) is pleased to announce that individual members will receive a $20 rebate for attending the 2005 Wisconsin Lakes Convention. This rebate will be offered to folks who are already individual members, or those who join WAL as a new individual member. After you have received your registration confirmation, contact WAL to receive your rebate.

Wisconsin Association of Lakes
One Point Place, Suite 101
Madison, WI 53719-2809
(608) 662-0923 or (800) 542-5253 (in WI)

If you’re not a current individual member, consider joining today for a minimum of $30 and save on your convention costs and other member discounts during the year.
For more information about WAL see


More Important Than Ever

What does the future hold for Self-Help Lake Monitoring? Many changes are on the horizon, involving Self-Help manuals, grants, databases, training opportunities and more.

Is your self-help volunteer manual dog-eared and water stained from accompanying you in the boat to monitor your lake? In March every volunteer will receive a brand new, updated manual for secchi and/or chemistry. This new manual will also be on the Internet in an interactive format.

Starting this spring, volunteers will no longer need to apply for grants for Self-Help chemistry monitoring. Last April Governor Doyle signed legislation allowing the DNR to write large contracts for volunteer monitoring activities, so now all chemistry monitoring will be under one contract, instead of individual Self-Help grants.

The option of contracts also means that in coming years, you will see more and new training opportunities through Self-Help. Much of the training will likely be in more of a short course format in the future, at local technical colleges. There may be more "advanced" training opportunities for existing volunteers as well. This will also enable the Self-Help program to take on more volunteers.

The infrastructure of the database that holds Self-Help and other lake data, is going to change as well. The DNR is now developing a water monitoring database to hold physical, chemical and biological data on lakes, rivers and streams. Entering Self-Help data will be similar, but you can expect improvements in every aspect over the next two years. When you log in, you will be directed to a place where you can report exotics, water quality, plants and other data, and get all of the current reports and information on your lake, and on each lake in the state.

Improvements in the database and website will also let you know about additional lakes that need volunteer monitoring for research purposes. You’ll be able to sign up to do occasional monitoring of other lakes if interested.

One other change is that Self-Help will likely become part of a statewide volunteer monitoring network which is currently forming. This network will work to integrate all volunteer monitoring, including LoonWatch, lakes, rivers, frogs and other terrestrial and aquatic monitoring opportunities.

So what does this mean for you?

Improvements are on the horizon, but the fundamentals of being a Self-Help volunteer will stay the same. Keep monitoring, recording and reporting data, and perhaps most importantly, keep sharing that data with others.

By Jennifer Filbert
Lake Water Quality Assessment Specialist
Wisconsin DNR 

Will Satellites Replace Volunteer Monitors?

Volunteer monitors are more important than ever! Self-help monitors have played a key role in Wisconsin’s efforts to collect satellite water clarity data since 1999. Secchi readings collected by dedicated monitors when a satellite was overhead has greatly helped researchers start to interpret satellite images, but a satellite can’t replace the important information collected in a lake. To start with, each individual satellite picture needs to be ground-truthed, so field information is essential. Secondly, satellite data is not very frequent. If all goes well, researchers only get satellite readings once or twice a summer, whereas most volunteers are out monitoring every two or three weeks.

In the future, however, satellite data can supplement our on-the-ground data and can provide important information on lakes that are not monitored by humans.

The Wisconsin Division of Public Health

Seeking volunteers for a mercury study.

Participants will receive a free mercury exposure assessment, which involves providing a hair sample for analysis and completing a brief questionnaire.

To participate call 1-866-236-3461
or log on to


February 1, 2005: Application deadline for Lake Planning and Aquatic Invasive Species Control Grants. Contact your DNR Lake Coordinator for more information.

March 10, 2005: Early bird registration deadline for the 2005 Wisconsin Lakes Convention. See page 8-9 for details.

April 1, 2005: Deadline for 2005 Wisconsin Lake Stewardship Award nominations. See for details.

April 28-30, 2005: 27th Annual Wisconsin Lakes Convention - Water in our Veins: Celebrating Lake Volunteers, KI Center in Green Bay, WI.


December Lakes

Waters flat and skies of gray
"V"s of geese on their way
The first ice rims, the lake will freeze
Few memories of a summer breeze
Frogs and turtles their blood is slow
Piers on shore, it’s time to go…
- R. Korth

Lake Tides -- 905032

College of Natural Resources
University of Wisconsin
800 Reserve Street
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Volume 29 No. 4
Fall 2004
Wisconsin Lakes Partnership

Published Quarterly
Phone: 715-346-2116
Editors: Mary Pardee, Robert Korth, Tiffany Lyden
Design Editor: Amy Kowalski
Contributing Editor: Carroll Schaal, DNR
Photos by: Robert Korth (unless otherwise noted)
Illustrations by: Carol Watkins, Chris Whalen
The contents of Lake Tides do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of UW-Extension, UWSP-CNR, the Wisconsin DNR or the Wisconsin Association of Lakes. Mention of trade names, commercial products, private businesses or publicly financed programs does not constitute endorsement. Lake Tides welcomes articles, letters or other news items for publication. Articles in Lake Tides may be reprinted or reproduced for further distribution with acknowledgment to the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership. If you need this material in an alternative format, please contact our office. No state tax revenue supported the printing of this document.

©1993- University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point