Identifying Worthwhile Stewardship Ventures

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to identify worthwhile stewardship ventures and opportunities is to evaluate the concept of stewardship at its roots.  The idea of stewardship stems from an ethic that centers around the responsible planning and management of resources, in this case environmental resources.  Lakes of course are just one component of our natural environment but cannot be isolated in their care.  Looking more specifically at environmental stewardship, Wikipedia defines it with terms such as conservation and sustainability.  Further referencing the great Aldo Leopold and the land ethic concept.  For those of you who have never read the Sand County Almanac, what I consider and environmentalists staple, I highly recommend it.  If it does not stir some emotion of an intertwined environmental bioverse nothing will.

Back to the to point behind this blog post.  We all have places to go, people to see, politics to complain about.  Of all the ventures we may choose to support on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, how well do we connect with our water resources or environmental stewardship of lake, streams and watersheds?  It’s a difficult question to answer for some.  As a consultant I attend a number or watershed and lake meetings, sit on numerous boards, committees or the like.  You begin to see a lot of the same faces.  The ones you see time and again work well with each other, smile and greet each other, and have bought into the process of these grass roots programs a long time ago, nor

The new faces (or the one you may not recognize) are often their to complain about something not being done, are in unfamiliar territory, or are ignorant to any sort of working processes.  If the ‘workgroup’ is lucky, with the right words there may be a convert inside this individual.

So while stewardship efforts may have a skeletal framework with agency framing, the backbone and muscle of the groups reside in the individuals who comprise them.  These grass roots effort groups provide a number of stewardship efforts and opportunities for anyone who is willing to sit down and listen.  So since you are reading this blog, we assume you are interested in one of a few things:

  1. Your local lake.  Either its long term care or its immediate needs.  You lack a local lake group or are unsure of the capability of your local group to function properly.
  2. Your local water body.  This may take the form or a common water that you periodically frequent or maybe the creek your kids play in nearby.  You have seen something that bothers your and want to know where to go with questions.
  3. HOA commitments.  HOA boards are often ill prepared for dealing with open space issues and need some sort of homing beacon.
  4. Park districts, NFP patrons, or other open space agencies.  Open to new ideas, networking ideas.

At this point we do know from independent surveys that people do believe that the internet is the is the best resource for information which is not to say people are misinformed or under informed, but let’s just say you get back what you put into it.  This is likely to be a future blog piece. 

In northeastern Illinois where stewardship groups are somewhat dense, the structure consists of one or more of the following which can often overlap with the geographic interests:

  1. Watershed Groups:  If you need to find the watershed that your local waterbody of interest resides in, the easiest resource is the EPA Surf your watershed webpage.  It can be down for maintenance routinely, so check back if you cannot find it.  Additionally we are trying to create a repository here as well.  If you do not know what a watershed is, search this blog and there are descriptive blog posts as well.  The internet is also a somewhat viable source.  Just as always with the internet.  All information should be check against more than one source.
  2. Lake or waterbody group: Some lakes, creeks, and streams have their own advocacy groups.  If you are having trouble finding one specifically.  Please contact ILMA and we’ll do our best to help you out.  Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start.  For example in Lake Zurich, IL, there is the local lake group which is responsible for the management of the lake itself.  The local sustainability group is known as the Ancient Oaks Foundation.
  3. Regional advocacy focus groups.  Examples of these could be the Conservation Foundation, Openlands, Barrington Area Conservation Trust (BACT), Chicago Wilderness are only a few examples.  Each of these groups may represent a slightly different geographic range or focus, but each have worthwhile efforts.

The best fit may be more than one group depending on your interest level.  Some have found it good to hear a different voice from time to time.  Visiting a alternative group or neighboring group can also be enlightening.  Prior to forming the 9 Lakes Watershed Group, several of the lakes belonged to the 4 Lakes Initiative. Some of the best interaction the group felt was the interaction with the other lake groups and the different approaches they each took to solve intermediate lake problems.

Keep the following things in mind.  Lake groups tend to focus on in-lake problems.  Watershed groups look from the top down to solve water quality problems.  Lake groups can sometimes become lake-centric meaning they don’t realize that the problems they are treating can stem from the watershed.  Throwing money at a in-lake result that begins at the watershed level can be like throwing away money.

Regional groups while looking at a more watershed level approach also tend to integrate policy issues which is important when looking at institutional change that can have a ripple down effect.  These policy practices can provide changes which when integrated with land use policy.  Once in place these policies can provide land development and local government officials the needed tools to enact change at a watershed scale.  Watershed level changes impact the quality of our surface waters.  Therefore, you can see how these levels interact.

There is a lot of knowledge to be gained by interacting at any and all levels.  Of course the interaction also requires time.  Above all is the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) which works to network our membership with all these groups at our annual conference, POD sessions, and web pages (this blog, our facebook page, and our general internet page).

You may find a lot of familiar faces operating at several different levels.  This is not by accident, but often by design.  This includes ILMA and its partner groups.  We encourage interaction at as many of these levels as possible, including attending available conferences or workshops these groups may have to offer.  These may also offer exposure to vendors and additional expertise.

Look no further than the upcoming ILMA Annual Conference (March 22-24), the Fox River Summit in Burlington, WI (March 23rd) for some of these opportunities.

~p0sted by Admin

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Lake County Hosted Lake Management Workshop

The Lake County Health Department, Lakes Management Unit (LMU) will be hosting a workshop on developing and writing your own lake management plan.  Lake Management Planning Workshop Feb 24 2018.  These are useful documents to establish lake milestones and gauge the progress of your lake  and association performance over time.  Coupled with applicable watershed plans they can serve as valuable road maps to improving the water quality and internal working of your lake.  The workshop is assisted in its presentation with staff member Holly Hudson of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and co-sponsored by the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA).  Tune in here for any changes!

~p0sted by Admin

Call for Presenters

Illinois Lakes Management Association
2018 Conference
Parke Regency Hotel & Conference Center
Bloomington, IL
March 22-24, 2018
The Illinois Lakes Management Association is hosting its 33rd annual conference in 2018 in Bloomington, Illinois from March 22nd to March 23th (with workshops held on the 24th). 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 lake, waterway, and watershed management.  Presentations should be approximately 20 minutes with time for questions following. Our conference sessions include the following topics:

– 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 Production in Hyper-eutrophic Lakes
– How Land Use in Watersheds Affect Fish Populations
– Granting Implementation, Managing Projects from Inception to Close-out
– Principles of Hydrology
– Nutrient Cycling in Lakes
– Managing Lake Shorelines
– Promoting Sustainable Development
– Invasive Species Management

In addition to presentations, a poster session will be held on Thursday. If you are interested in either providing a poster or being a presenter, please submit abstracts by December 15 th , 2017. Abstracts should not exceed 250 words and be submitted [online] at http://www.ilma-lakes.org/call-for-presenters or [emailed] to Bryan Cross at bcross@prairieengineers.com. Audio and video will be provided by ILMA. Notification of abstract acceptance will be provided by ILMA no later than December 31 st .

ILMA Phragmites POD Upcoming

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) will be hosting another Point of Discussion (POD) at Emmett’s Ale House in Palatine, IL on November 9th at 7:00PM.  The phragmites issue in northeastern Illinois as well as areas throughout the midwest has become a critical issue.  This very destructive invasive will be reviewed and discussion will be led by Mr. Paul Bollinger of Bollinger Environmental, Inc. (BEI).  Paul has been in the environmental consulting field for over a decade and has liaised on projects for local and regional agencies.

FYI – The presentation has been uploaded to the Media Center as of 11/15/2017.

Join us for a lively discussion at Emmett’s and enjoy a few crafts brews.  Emmett’s Ale House is Located at:

110 North Brockway Street
Palatine, Illinois 60067

Phone: 847-359-1533

https://www.emmettsbrewingco.com/

 

ILMA to begin survey process

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) is in a constant process of trying to better understand the needs of it constituency: lake managers & their associated groups, the lake-stakeholder decision making process, watershed group function, and ILMA’s role in an advisory capacity.  Although this is a role ILMA has provided since inception of the association, the course of these surveys is to drill down deeper into the overall cross section of lake & surface water users and dissect the results top to bottom.  This can help ILMA better understand and serve both individuals and groups with educational content from presentations, seminars and workshops.

Soliciting information is tough for any group.  Response rate for typical surveys is often less than 25% and can often be as low as 10% depending on the target audience.  At any rate, the information is necessary for ILMA to continually provide valuable information and determine who is receiving the information and how it is being used.

In 2014, the ILMA Board of Directors (Directors) attempted an open forum for discussion at their annual conference in DeKalb as an attempt to receive “fresh material” or ideas from attendees of the conference.  The forum constituted a session within the conference that could be attended by anyone at the conference including vendors and industry experts.  Upon an open request for topical input, ILMA direction, or general questions, a roomful of nearly 100 individuals ranging from lake and industry experts to general lake property owners, not one unprompted response was provided.  Because of this, it is uncertain that if such solicitation of information is best approached in isolated conditions or in smaller groups.

At this time ILMA will be focusing on reaching out to constituent groups such as those listed above; however an additional focus is warranted to better serve the total user base.  Most lake groups consist of members of varying education or participation levels.  Some are extremely dedicated, including those who have invested personal time to expand their understanding of the lake and watershed environment.  This person may often lead the group while the remain board or stakeholder membership may consist of local residents simply looking to lend a helping hand.  With this survey ILMA intends to extend into this secondary group and explore not only group leaders but the entirety of the membership that make up these groups.

Test survey groups will be explored later this month with representative pilot surveys and the results and surveys will be refined as the work progresses.  The initial surveys will likely be hand or email distributed to help improve effectiveness.  Subsequent delivery of surveys will very in presentation from what is suggested above to possible internet delivery.  Test Group 1A is the Tower Lakes Improvement Association (TLIA) and Bangs Lake Advisory Committee (BLAC) of Tower Lakes and Wauconda, respectively.

~p0sted by Admin

10 Things You Can Do to Know Your Lake Better

It is important that we step back and consider the group of individuals that are on the fence when it comes to lakes.  There is obviously a dedicated group of individuals that help care for and are directly connected to the management of a water body, but many individuals who are lake or stream side property holders or enthusiasts either feel disengaged or not intelligent enough to become actively engaged with day to day activities.  At the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA), our primary sponsor of the IllinoisLakes Blog we feel “the more the merrier”.

In the context of the title “your lake” it may reference a body of water you currently live on, frequent, or may mean several lakes.  Getting engaged IS important as it helps set directives for your organization and may help them better allocate future funding.  In the case of public or quasi-public lakes it may have the ability to influence outside funding sources.  Perhaps the list below can be used to help assist in influencing involvement as well or better manage overall.  Without further ado:

  1. Seek out your lake management association if you have one 🙂 – to some this is great place to start.  Some groups operate better than others, but observing the initial input and back and forth conversation will allow you to better understand what issues are involved in the overall management of the lake and where your piece of the pie might fit in.
  2. Enjoy some simple ecology.  The water is the source of all life and habitat to so many different species from plants to insects, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.  So many of these things rely on each other to survive, it will make you think twice about reducing shoreline habitat to bulkheads and seawalls which support places for various young fish and other insects to forage.
  3. Find the lake gage.  Hydrology impacts how the lake or water body elevations fluctuate from time to time.  Seeing how the water responds to certain amounts of rainfall is fun.  Precipitation is needed to move stagnant water around from time to time (affecting residence time), so it is an important element in the success of the lake or waterbody.
  4. Get to know the “ins and outs” of the system, literally.  People tend to see these areas as trouble areas but they are extremely useful indicators for monitoring conditions.  If the water coming into the lake is “dirtier” than the water leaving your lake then your lake is soaking up the difference.  If it’s the other way around than you may have an internal cycling problem.  Simple observations can mean a lot.  How to do this with minimal cost may be a future topic of discussion.
  5. Search for documentation regarding your lake.  What seems somewhat tedious in the world of lake management is the oblivious nature at which people base their decisions.  The year is 2017 and there is much more literature out there about lakes and most likely something about your lake!  The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has been under mandate by the Clean Water Act (CWA) to study the watersheds draining to the majority of our streams and lakes and as such has already started a dialogue.  Those of you living in Lake County are likely aware of the fantastic background work completed by the Health Department’s Lake Management Unit.  There are other sources out there in the form of watershed plans as well.  These may all identify issues that can further help you understand your lake.
  6. Have a cold one.  So many of us ignore the lake once the ice cap goes on but there are observations to be made during the winter and colder months as well.  Some trouble areas can be more visible once the vegetation dies back.  This is a great time to do some ground truthing.
  7. Eye in the sky.  If you’ve never taken a detailed look at the area around your lake via aerial photography it’s worth a look.  Looking at various land use and road patterns may lead you to questions as to “how much chloride is coming of that road?”  “Is that a problem?”
  8. Where do those pipes come from?  Many people see water draining from phantom pipes into the lake or stream and think nothing of it.  These pipes serve a purpose and that is to drain water away from somewhere else and keep people reasonably safe from flooding.  The unintended consequence however is that materials other than water comes along for the ride.
  9. Learn the difference between algae and plants.  Reason:  While some animals do consume algae, having it in your lake is usually an indicator of something that is above it natural range.  A little algae is certainly normal but with today’s concerns over potentially harmful algae strains it is time to start reconsidering why the algae may be there in the first place.
  10. Look at the plants in your lake.  Get to know them.  The terms native and invasive are important to know.  If your lake is encumbered by large amounts of invasive species it can be tough for the native species to compete.  The invasive plants have limited end users and by displacing native species they complicate the food web for fish, amphibians, and invertebrates.

~p0sted by Admin

What is Lake(s) Management?

The question seems simple enough, but the answer is almost always different depending on who you ask.  It certainly takes on a different meaning if you are a consultant vs someone sitting on a lake association board.  This creates somewhat of a dividing line between those who are formally educated and/or experienced in the application and management of lakes, streams or surface water bodies from those who are stakeholders on some various level just enjoying the views.  Not only do views change among individuals, but textbooks and guidelines show differing opinions on management strategies.  Additionally management style may also be dictated by available funds.

Furthermore it could be determined that some lakes require more hands-on management than others.  In one case an oligotrophic lake in northern Wisconsin, with limited nutrient input from the watershed can seem self sustaining versus and urban impoundment in suburban Illinois which needs constant restocking and algal control.  So maybe the question isn’t as easy to answer as initially thought.  What appears certain within the realm of lake management; however is that it involves more than just the lake and whats happening from shoreline to shoreline.

In an ideal world all bodies of water (lakes, river, creeks) work the same, but that is most certainly not true.  If a human body is the reflection of what we put into it and we can agree that (for the most part) lakes function in much the same way, why do we continue to dump the majority of our money into treating the lake rather than the input?  Is it a sense of instant returns?  Yet these are the requests we see every day…a need to treat “weeds”, the desire to dredge, more shoreline frontage. Few of which constitute any direction improvement on water quality.  Isn’t that what we are really after?

At the end of the day there is really no blueprint to correct lake management.  All this article suggests is a look beyond the shoreline and for better ways to spend your time and money than spraying algae beds.  Find out what watershed your lake is in.  Be conscious of how the water gets in and where it has been.  Try to learn about the processes that lead to in-lake changes.  Get to know your neighbors and neighboring lakes.  Strategize with others to make a plan.  After all lake management should be fun and not frustrating…

-p0sted by Admin