Lakes Appreciation Month: President’s Message

The following message or a version of this message will appear in the next ILMA email newsletter:


For most of us the world as we know it drastically changed course in March of this year.  As we continue to navigate this time period, the world continues to turn, and events unfold; some encouraging signs appear and others not so much.  The world right now is in a somewhat volatile condition.  Now with a possible relapse of coronavirus on the horizon we may be retreating back into our caves like groundhogs.

It is not our place at ILMA to judge society’s potential unrest or complacency and a desire to return to normal.  This will be a milestone in everyone’s life, particularly our children.  At ILMA it is our job to understand lakes and furthermore the positive effect lakes and their environments have on those people who embrace them.  Our lakes challenge us, but in the end the reward can only be measured by the individual who takes it in.  While we may unintentionally ignore, mistreat and ultimately even pollute them, our lakes are resilient and always welcome us back.

So, with the coming of July please also welcome in Lakes Appreciation Month.  We fish and recreate on them, some of even work on them.  These are even drinking water sources for some of us, but do we really show and advocate our appreciation for them? It’s hard to say.  How is it that we even show appreciation for our lakes?  Consider some of the opening options below:

  • By way of reading this article it is highly likely that you have already joined your local lake association, but have you looked beyond those borders? Perhaps there is a local watershed association as well.  Our lakes and streams tend to reflect what is draining to them and times lake associations tend to get tunnel vision and over-focus on in lake issues.
  • We often joke at ILMA PODS which are generally well attended by our constituents and non-members alike, that if we get the “light bulb” to go on for just one new non-member, then we did our job. The point being continue your efforts to get new people to meetings, workshops, or even webinars.  One silver lining of the pandemic and shelter in place order has been the spike in available online webinars at little to no cost.  I’ve attended webinars as far away as the Maine Lakes Society, and while much of the material looks familiar at first glance, there is always something that can be picked up.  We try to forward as much as much of this as we can so keep an eye on your inbox.
  • Check out your local volunteer lake monitoring opportunities. There is much to be learned by sitting and listening to others but getting your hands on the equipment and learning the components of the number and how the information is collected can give you new insight and understanding.

So, July is a big month; continue practicing social distancing from others, but that should be easy enough to do from your lake’s perspective, boating, kayaking, canoeing, shore fishing, etc.  Consider how you can show you appreciation for your lakes and it will continue to give back to you.

Together with you in the Lakes,

Brian Valleskey, CFM, CLP

ILMA President

Senior Scientist

Geosyntec Consultants

(224) 634-0562


Experts say humans can’t control Great Lakes water levels

The following content is provided via way of the Traverse City Record Eagle online, dated May 16, 2020.  The original link is located here:

ILMA recommends visiting the original link and suggested links at the bottom of the article to see how they may locally apply to an association or local group taking action to address water quality and flooding issues of interest to your lake and or community.  

TRAVERSE CITY — Great Lakes water levels are shattering high records and the experts agree there is rather little that can be done to change that — the environment is almost entirely in control.

“The reality is Mother Nature is going to overtake us,” said Bernd Gigas, consulting engineer for Lake Ontario South Shore Engineering.

A series of experts in hydrology, engineering, shoreline protection, emergency management and environmental law spent hours this week talking and answering questions during online webinars about the ongoing high water levels on the Great Lakes. Both nonprofits Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Petoskey and Great Lakes Coalition in Saugatuck hosted the online events Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The consensus among the experts was the natural environment is far more in control than humans could ever hope to be, and the best way to cope may well be to simply back up from the water’s edge.

Countless homeowners along the shorelines of the Great Lakes have watched the water get closer and closer, and the water gobble up more land with every storm. Many are left wondering how to protect their homes from literally splashing into the rising waters.

Jennifer McKay, policy director with the Petoskey-based agency, said that ultimately, it is often more cost-effective and environmentally sound for shoreline property owners to move their homes further away from the water. It can be done for between $12 and $16 per square foot, she said.

However, many shoreline homeowners instead try to hold back the big lakes and their effects.

“We see excessive or poorly designed structures that can increase damage to neighboring properties and disrupt natural processes along the shoreline,” McKay said.

Adding boulders, seawalls or other hardening methods doesn’t help absorb wave energy, forcing that energy downward and sideways. That results in scouring the lake bottom and often undercutting the structure, or causing undue erosion on neighboring properties, McKay said.

She said those methods are no good for water quality or aquatic habitats, either.

In terms of money, McKay said some property owners may in the end invest more in repeated shoreline measures than if they’d instead moved their home back from the water’s edge, which she said can also be a better long-term environmental solution.

Joe Haas, water resources division district manager for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, said the state agency doesn’t like to permit seawalls — they are typically even frowned upon.

He confirmed attempts to “hard armor” the shoreline often end up with accentuated erosion on neighboring properties and water getting behind the structure, anyway.

Other experts discussed what additional things could be done to affect water levels.

Howard Learner, president of Chicago-based environmental advocacy group Environmental Law & Policy Center, said overall climate trends show movement toward greater extremes for Great Lakes water levels — both low and high.

“We need to recognize climate change realities,” he said, adding better land use planning must be done based on that.

Gigas, a New York-based engineer who said he lives on the Lake Ontario shoreline, said there are only four places within the entire Great Lakes system where humans have any control over inflow or outflow rates.

The Ogoki and Longlac diversions in Ontario for hydropower amounts to the only human-controlled inlet into the Great Lakes at Lake Superior, while the Chicago River and the Moses-Saunders Power Dam at the St. Lawrence River are the only human-controlled outlets.

The Soo Locks serve as an inter-lake control, Gigas said.

“No one controls the weather. Soo Locks and Moses-Saunders Dam have influence but not complete control of water levels,” he said.

Actions the engineer said are reasonable and could help alleviate extremely high water levels include reducing or eliminating Lake Superior inflow diversions — like the Ogoki and Longlac — during high water periods, plus increasing the outflow from Lake Michigan through the Chicago River.

Gigas also said infrastructure changes could be made to increase the capacity of the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, as well as the Niagara River. But that would have flooding impacts downstream and could also prove problematic during low water level years, he said.

And really, he said all that would have marginal impacts, as weather patterns have greater influence on the lakes’ levels.

“There is only so much we can do,” Gigas said. “We don’t control the weather.”

Maybe it’s time to recognize the risk property owners who built too close the shoreline took when they chose where to live — including himself, the engineer said.

Learner said much of western Michigan along the Lake Michigan shoreline wasn’t developed with current water levels in mind, which is why many homeowners there are fraught over the ongoing erosion.

He said it’s time to rethink how building is allowed in these places and not only in terms of residential neighborhoods; Learner pointed to multiple toxic and nuclear waste storage sites along the Lake Michigan shoreline that could become public health threats in the face of continued high water levels.

Meanwhile, physical scientist Deanna Apps with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, reported Lakes Michigan and Huron broke high water level records every month this year since January.

She said those lakes — considered one water body by federal hydrologists — are tracking toward continued broken high water level records at least through July, when the peak is expected before the normal seasonal decline.

Both webinars are expected to be posted at and online.

Lake Notes: Spring 2020 – Conference Recap

Lake Notes: Spring 2020 (Text Only)

Photo by Dennis Gallo, 2020 Photo Contest Winner

Letter from the President

These are unprecedented times for everyone. Waking up every day having to remind yourself what is going on in the world and how the little things have all changed. The pandemic that surrounds us today and for the near foreseeable future will be something we are likely to remember for a long time; and for those of you with kids, perhaps their first glimpse at a national and global threat that truly hits home, impacting their daily interactions with others. Things like this make us realize the realities of the world and how interconnected we are. For those of you who braved this year’s ILMA conference in Champaign, I want to thank you for helping turn what could have been a disappointing venture into a lasting experience for many of the conference attendees. We were a bit lucky that the timing of the conference was in early March. Another week and it would likely have been a complete cancellation. I would like to extend my greatest thanks to former ILMA President Karen Clementi for handing over an excellent game plan to deal with the conference as it was continuously evolving with speaker cancellations and attendance concerns. All said we were not far off our typical conference numbers. Karen has also left me a talented Board of Directors to work with for the next year.

As we strive to push through this pandemic and onto bigger and better things, we should reconsider the earlier topic of connectivity. Our lakes, streams, and watershed interactions are all connected and relatable. We are continuing to try and expose our membership to a wide array of opportunities to better understand and be better stewards of their waterous environments, whether it’s on lakefront property they own, their favorite fishing holes, their back yards or just the watershed landscape in general. Our educational missions are balanced in beginner level topics to assist the ever-growing crop of new waterfront landowners and in more advanced subject matter such as nutrient management and sediment reuse for seasoned members wanting to take a deeper dive into lake management.

I am excited to be President of ILMA. I have served on the board for nearly ten years now, so I suppose it was time. I am hoping to take on new initiatives at ILMA, ones that will help support our mission goals as well as provide greater exposure for the organization. Please feel free to reach out to me or any member of the Board of Directors with any questions you may have. How can ILMA be of service to you? What are the emerging topics of interest (other than dredging)? How can we communicate more effectively? How can we reach more people with our message?

While we are at home, hopefully isolated near our wet environments, give pause to the questions above and what it might be that drives you to continue to get and stay involved with your organizations and what this group can do to continue to inspire you or even elevate your “game” to want to do more for this environment. Never hesitate to reach out to me or anyone else at ILMA. Take care and stay out of harm’s way.

Best Regards,

Brian Valleskey, CFM, CLP
ILMA President
Senior Scientist
Geosyntec Consultants
(224) 634-0562
Note from the Editor

Welcome to our first e-version of Lake Notes! We are so pleased to be able to share ILMA news with our membership online!

This issue focuses on resources that will allow you to continue learn while we are sequestered. The University of Illinois Extensive has provided us some great information on their free Everyday Environment Education series. These webinars will give us some tools to make changes in how we manage our properties for the benefit of our lakes. And don’t forget…ILMA has a blog! If you haven’t visited our website in a while, please check out the blog as well as other resources available to you.

Here is wishing you a great season on your lake!


Lisa Woolford
ILMA Board of Directors and Education Chair
35th Annual Conference Highlights

by Leonard Dane

The Illinois Lakes Management Association hosted our 35th Annual Conference March 12-13, 2020 at the iHotel and Conference Center in Champaign, IL. It was once again a great few days of camaraderie and learning

The conference kicked off with concurrent sessions discussing lake management, pollution prevention and dredging. Breaks held among the exhibitors gave attendees a chance to discuss lake management options with the vendors. A big thank you to all of the Conference vendors and sponsors for their support which helps keep this conference affordable for all to attend.

Clockwise (from top left): Brian Valleskey, Incoming President; Pontiac Unit 90 School District Student Presentation; Joe Bartletti presenting the Dick Hilton Watershed Award to Kip Stevenson (right); Keynote Speaker Doug Blodgett, The Nature Conservancy.

We were inspired by the students from Pontiac Unit 90 School District explaining various environmental projects they are working on. Four scholarships were also presented – The Steve Kolsto $1,000 scholarship and the $500 Robert Esser Student Achievement Scholarship went to Alex Catalano. Integrated Lakes Management continued their tradition of presenting a $1,000 scholarship for college research projects, this year divided into two $500 scholarships awarded to Abigail Health and Jackson Wassik attending Illinois State University.

Additional concurrent sessions included presentations on fish habitat, freshwater mussels, zebra mussel monitoring and a “Splash” panel discussion about homeowner association funding. After the afternoon break, Doug Blodgett of The Nature Conservancy, our Keynote Speaker, presented on their great work at Emiquon. Following dinner, the Annual Meeting portion of the conference included award presentations. The ILMA Lake Guardian went to Mike Mounce of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources; the Frank Loftus award was given to Greg Denny of Diamond Lake, and the Dick Hilton Watershed Award went to Kip Stevenson of the Illinois State Water Survey. Congratulations to these dedicated stewards!

Clockwise: Tim Pasternak engaging participants in raffle fundraiser; Frank Loftus award recipient Greg Denny with daughter Sarah; Concurrent Session in progress; Lisa Woolford presenting the ILM Scholarship to Abigail Heath (center) and Jackson Wassik (right).

The raffle, an ILMA Conference highlight, was once again enthusiastically moderated by Tim Pasternak. Thank you to everyone who donated items and purchased tickets. Congratulations to Holly Hudson of CAP on winning the big prize – the kayak! Congratulations to Dennis Gallo as well who won the photo contest with his picture of electrofishing below the Wonder Lake Dam.

We ended on Friday with presentations on aquatic plant management, algae control, nutrient management, cutting edge monitoring methods, and the rapid expansion of the Banded Killifish in the Great Lakes Region. Hats off to all the presenters, Conference Planning Committee, ILMA Board, iHotel staff and all who attended.

Clockwise: Lake Guardian award recipient Mike Mounce (left) with Trent Thomas; Trent Thomas presenting the ILMA Steve Kolsto Scholarship and Robert Esser Scholarship to Alex Catalano (right).

I look forward to seeing you all next year March 10-13, 2021 in Gurnee where we will be partnering with the Illinois Chapter of the American Fisheries Society!



Check Out the Presentations from the 35th Annual Conference

View Here

Illinois Extension Offering “Everyday Environment” Webinar Series
By Erin Garrett, University of Illinois Extension Educator, Energy and Environmental Stewardship

Small changes in habits can have a positive impact on the environment. From lawn care, native plants, and managing home waste, to understanding animal behavior and atmospheric optics, there is never a shortage of new things to learn about your everyday environment.

The Everyday Environment online webinar series will help individuals understand and consider choices which will protect natural resources. The series, presented by University of Illinois Extension energy and environmental experts, are free and are held Thursdays from 1-2 p.m. Click on the webinar title to register for each session.

1 PM | April 23 | Planting for the Pollinators
How can you support pollinators in your yard? Learn what types of pollinators you can attract to your yard and discover the right native plants attract butterflies, native bees, moths, and more. Presenter: Erin Garrett.

1 PM | April 30 | Natural Lawn Care Part 1: Assessment
Assess the health and prepare for environmentally-friendly lawns. Participants will learn tools and techniques to better assess lawn so as they make an informed natural lawn care plan. Presenter: Abigail Garofalo.

1 PM | May 7 | Natural Lawn Care Part 2: Strategies
Learn strategies to understand your lawn, as well as learn tools to create a natural lawn care action plan. Presenter: Abigail Garofalo.

1 PM | May 14 | Managing Waste in the Home
Have you ever thought about how much trash your household generates? Learn about the management of municipal solid waste in the US, materials that can be recycled or composted, locating recycling and composting facilities near you, and strategies for decreasing household waste. Presenter: Ashley Belle.

1 PM | May 21 | Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Biennial Report
How is water quality in Illinois? The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy guides the state’s efforts to improve water quality at home and downstream by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus levels in our lakes, streams, and rivers. The strategy lays out a comprehensive suite of best management practices for reducing nutrient loads from wastewater treatment plants and urban and agricultural runoff. Learn how the strategy has progressed. Presenters: Eliana Brown, Kate Gardiner, Haley Haverback, Jennifer Woodyard.

1 PM | June 25 | All About Clouds
See various types of clouds, including unique clouds only seen in a few locations and what weather is expected with each variety. Presenter: Duane Friend.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, contact your local registration office. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your needs.

by Holly Hudson

A Special Thanks to our 2020 Conference Sponsors

ILMA Board of Directors


President Brian Vallesky
Geosyntec Consultants, Inc.

Vice President Jeff Boeckler
Northwater Consulting

Treasurer Quentin Jordan
Springfield City, Water, Light and Power

Membership Secretary Alana Bartolai
Lake County Health Department

Recording Secretary Joe Bartletti
Lochmueller Group


Karen Clementi
Fox Metro Water Reclamation District

Tim Holt
Aquatic Control

Ed Lochmayer
Bangs Lake Advisory Commission

Mark Lynch
Bangs Lake Advisory Commission

Mark Serio
Lake Thunderbird Association

Lisa Woolford
Integrated Lakes Management

For General Inquiries: Administrative Assistant: Richard Hilton (800) 338-6909 Access Code 01

Copyright © *2020*Illinois Lakes Management Asscoiation*, All rights reserved.

Our e-mailing address is:


ILMA Hosting 35th Annual Conference

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) will host its 35th Annual Conference this year in Champaign, Illinois at the iHotel & Conference Center.  All interested members and lakes enthusiasts are encouraged to attend.  As more details evolve we intend to provide more information, along with additional information on more upcoming events and opportunities to get involved and expand you knowledge of our valuable surface waterways.

ILMA Link:

ILMA to Co-host another POD with 9 Lakes Watershed Partnership Oct. 29th

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) will collaborate for the second time this year with the 9 Lakes Watershed Partnership (9 Lakes) on another ILMA POD (Point of Discussion).  The POD will take place on Oct. 29th at McGonigal’s Pub (105 S Cook Street) in Barrington.  The POD is entitled “Lake Planning vs. Watershed Planning:
Knowing the difference and why they are both important”.  The POD session starts at 6:30 with presentations/discussion beginning around 7pm.  The PODs typically end with open discussion after Q&A.  All PODs are open to the general public.

UPDATE!!: The final presentations have been uploaded to the 9 Lakes website:



9 Lakes- Lakes and Pond Management Presentation (Co-Sponsored by ILMA)

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) partnered with the 9 Lakes Watershed Partnership to put on a 3 speaker presentation at Lake Barrington Village Hall Tuesday May 21st.  Speakers included Keith Gray of Integrated Lakes Management, Mike Adam of the Lake County Health Department Lakes Management Unit (LCHD-LMU), and Faye Sinnott, watershed coordinator of the Spring Creek-Flint Creek Watershed Partnerships.  The presentation is attached below:

Lakes and Pond Presentation

Upcoming Lakes & Watershed Venues

Although the weather outside might be telling us something different, we are approaching prime time for conferences and seminars.  The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) annual conference will be held this year in Crystal Lake (  The conference runs from the 14th-16th at the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn.  Those interested can register online via the link above.  This Blog (IllinoisLakes Blog) is directly sponsored by ILMA, stay tuned for additional updates such as presenters and conference breakdown.

The Fox River Summit will once again be held at Veterans Terrace at Echo Park in Burlington, WI on March 22nd (  The summit is an excellent one-day endeavor for all things related to the Fox River starting in southern Wisconsin down through northern Illinois prior to its confluence with the Illinois River.  The program always includes a variety of speakers from both states with the common theme of collaboration for the betterment of the entire watershed.

~p0sted by Admin

ILMA – Call for Presenters

ILMA is gearing up for the 2019 Annual Conference.  The call for presenters is below:

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) is hosting its 34th Annual Conference at the Holiday Inn Crystal Lake Conference Center in Crystal Lake, Illinois from March 14 through March 16, 2019. We are looking to fill out our conference sessions with talks and presentations from professionals, teachers, students, or others with detailed knowledge on issues associated with research and management on lakes, waterways, watersheds, and fisheries. Download PDF

We are looking for presentations to be approximately 20- 25 minutes. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Managing Stormwater in Municipal Areas
  • How Stormwater Impacts Water Quality in Lakes and Streams
  • Planning Lake and Stream Restoration Projects
  • Dam and Levee Safety, Management, and Permitting
  • Fishery Research
  • How Land Use in Watersheds Affect Fish Populations
  • Granting Implementation
  • Principles of Hydrology
  • Nutrient Cycling
  • Shoreline Protection and Enhancement
  • Invasive Species Studies and Management

In addition to presentations, a special poster session will be held during the conference. If interested in providing either a poster or being a presenter, please submit abstracts by December 31, 2018.

For questions about presentations or posters, contact Dick Hilton at

Common Carp Management Options

The following excerpt is a summary document provided by Deuchler Environmental (DEI) fish biologist Leonard Dane, originally hosted by the Lake County Health Department (LCHD), co-sponsored by the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) on April 13th, 2018.  The original presentation slides are provided in the Media area of the Blog.  All materials are the rights of DEI and should not be reproduced without permission.

Lakes Forum:  Carp Removal and Fish Habitat Summary

Common Carp are an exotic, nuisance species that is present in many of Illinois Lakes. The most productive and economical way for the removal of Common Carp is by electrofishing.  This method is species selective and can cover the entire area of the lake. It is best to do the removal during the spawning season or during a lake draw down when the fish are congregated in the shallows. Removal of Common Carp using electrofishing will be required over multiple years. In a removal project that has been conducted since 2015, there has been over 5400 pounds of Common Carp removed over three years.  Each year there has been a decrease in the catch per unit effort which indicates a decrease in Common Carp in the lake. Once the Common Carp abundance is at a manageable level, you should develop habitat for the desirable fish species in your lake.

This leads us into the importance and types of fish habitat. Fish habitat is the waters and substrate necessary for fish spawning, feeding, and growth. This includes all physical and chemical factors necessary for all life stages.  Fish habitat is required to provide an area of protection for small fish, an area for predator to hide to ambush prey, and area for food organisms to colonize and grow. Fish habitat is being eliminated by development within the watershed, increased run-off, management of aquatic plants, removing of woody habitat, shoreline development, and sedimentation.

There are various types of natural fish habitat. These include undercut banks, rootwads, boulders, course woody habitat (logs and trees), aquatic plants, deep water areas, overhanging vegetation, as well as shallow areas. However, often times there is a need to increase the amount of habitat available for the fish. The common artificial fish habitat include fish cribs, Christmas trees, fallen trees, and plastic structures.  Fish cribs can be made of various materials and can last over 20 years. They are generally 5-6 feet tall and should be placed in 10-15 feet of water.  Christmas trees are easily collected during the months of December and January. They can be weighted on the bottom by placing them in a bucket and adding concrete. These too should be placed in 10 -15 feet of water.   Tree falls and fish sticks are full size trees put in the littoral zone and should be placed in areas where they won’t be a navigational hazard.  There are many configurations for the use of plastic for fish habitat. For more information on the artificial fish habitat structures please contact me. In general, all the habitat should be placed in deep enough water to be fully submerged at all times.  Also, if it is placed in an area where boating will occur, be sure it is deep enough to not become a navigational hazard. It is also important to have the structures weighted and/or secured so they remain in place over the life of the structure.