Update: 2017 ILMA Annual Conference

As our primary sponsor, we offer a friendly reminder regarding the upcoming Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) annual conference in Crystal Lake, IL.  The conference will be held at the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn.  More details regarding the conference can be obtained directly from ILMA’s website.  The ILMA conference committee has made extra effort to incorporate subject material that is relevant to the region and its membership.

Specific to the area are our Keynote speakers.  Our first speaker will be presenting specifically in regards to the Prairie Crossing subdivision and the culture and policies behind a conservation community that are much different in design and concept than traditional subdivision design of then and today.  The second keynote speaker is Joe Keller of the Fox Waterway Agency (FWA).  Joe will be speaking on the some of the issues and concerns of the agency and where they are headed today despite the challenges of the IL State budget.

Concurrent sessions will be ongoing with expert speakers from throughout the area and state.  The Lake County Health Department – Lakes Management Unit will be hosting an excellent workshop regarding the development of lake management plans.  Sure to be heavily attended so register early.

Stay tuned for future updates or follow along on the website linked above.

~p0sted by Admin


Lake Spotlight: Slocum Lake (Lake Co., IL)

Perhaps one of the larger, lesser known lakes in Lake County, Slocum Lake is landlocked by private property holders keeping it somewhat of a secret to non-locals of the Wauconda-Island Lake area.  The 228 acre lake is much less developed than many of the other lakes in upper Illinois.  It is a shallow, glacially formed lake located southwest of the intersection if IL Route 176 and Darrell Road which ultimately drains to the Fox River 1 mile downstream.  The lake is detailed within reports completed by the Lake County Health Department – Lakes Management Unit here:  https://www.lakecountyil.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/14196.

The lake itself has a long and arduous history of sedimentation and nutrient loading and the situation has been exacerbated by overpopulation of carp.  Slocum Lake receives limited management effort from the local lake management association, the Slocum Lake Management Association (SLMA).  The group is a loose aggregation of independent landowners, Island Lake residents, and unincorporated homeowner’s associations in Lake County.  While the commitment to maintaining the lake exists, the dedicated few are somewhat challenged by a small number of end users and stakeholders which greatly limits the funding base.  Outside of the occasional weed spraying, the lake is unmanaged.

Slocum Lake has a stunted fishery in many regards.  Occasional reports of a decent crappie haul near the spillway occur otherwise large catfish do exist on the lake.  The remaining sport fishery is sparse at best due to a lack of concentrated structure and extremely high turbidity which makes thing extremely difficult on predator species other than the aforementioned catfish.  Creel surveys bring in the routine 5-6″ black crappie and yellow bass, with bottom fishing bringing in a heavy survey of carp with assorted catfish and drum.  These are observations made primarily from creek survey.  The Lake County Health Department – Lakes Management Unit used to have an fish inventory assessment for Slocum Lake included within one of their older reports; however with a quick search we were unable to recover the information.  Fish inventories are typically performed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the information is shared with other government agencies.

The bottom structure of Slocum Lake is routinely soft, mixed, and unconsolidated organic layer of various watershed constituents, releasing a heavy smell of sulfur when exposed to the air.  I can be traversed in waders with some effort.  The cattail/phragmites weed line extends to a water depth of 15-18″ at the most giving way to thick beds of Eurasion Milfoil upon ice-out conditions.  The weedline (both emergents & submerged vegetation alike) varies around the lake.

The lake has a common inlet located on the east side of the lake commonly named Bangs Lake Drain (drains from Bangs Lake outfall in Wauconda) which drains most of the storm sewers in Wauconda the IL Route 176 corridor between Wauconda and Island Lake.  The water quality from the Drain is poor which is a reflection of the watershed, not the source.  The material deposits in Slocum Lake prior to discharging over outflow weir on the on the south side of the lake.  The discharge waters (referred to as Slocum Lake Drain), confluence with Fiddle Creek approximately 1/2 mile downstream prior to reaching the Fox River in Port Barrington.

Although the fishing is a bit suspect the lake does have good wildlife views.  Routine Great Blue Heron and Sandhill Cranes frequent the wetland edges, and residents also have photographic evidence of resident eagles among the bird population.  Large snapping turtles also frequent the lake.  As mentioned previously the lake is underdeveloped which is a good thing as it has kept the shoreline protected; however much of the vegetation present is either overgrown and/or invasive.  With land rights being what the are, the correction to this will either have to fall under an understanding landowner, or progressive conversation with a landowner willing to accept prescriptive easements over the property.  Neither option is altogether appealing.

Finally, there may be some opportunity to eventually obtain public access to the lake assuming a negotiation can be had between the SLMA, local landowners and either the Wauconda Township and/or Lake County.  Both agencies own property adjacent to the lake, but limited lake access itself.  Should lake access be obtained and shared for the common good of the public, perhaps grant dollars or other funds can be obtained to better address in-lake issues.

~p0sted by Admin


Make a New Year’s Resolution- For Your Lake

Time for a New Year’s Resolution.  One you can aspire to follow through on.

No more putting it off.  No more waiting for the phantom grant to appear.  No more pointing fingers and blaming it on everyone else.  No more unresolved arguments with your neighbors or fellow lakeside owners.  It’s time to come together.  For the sake of the lake, for the sake of your property (value), and for the sake of generations to come.  Perhaps it is time to take inventory of what you have and what you may like to have.  What projects are the (lake) group, HOA, other entity pursuing?

Or perhaps we just prefer to drive to Wisconsin where the water is clean and keep passing the buck on to the next generation.  Regardless of the situation, so many people feel powerless the to do anything about the waters of Illinois.  Why is this?

The New Year, a new you, and a new attitude towards lake management.  Not one of us can do it without the other.  We spend a lot of time both actively and passively dealing with dealing with the nuances of daily life, what could the addition of a monthly or bi-monthly discussion or meeting hurt?  As it turns out, many individuals who get involved in local lake management initiatives wish that they had gotten involved earlier.  In several cases this can lead to local lake activists taking on a larger role in professional and semi-professional lakes groups to share their experiences with other and better network with peers and professionals alike.

The science and understanding is so much better than say, 25 years ago.  There are less limiting factors in finding the right materials and resources to make informed decisions.  Social media, the internet, digital archives all serve as valuable resources when properly accessed.  This Blog, for example, serves as one of many resources to educate and at times motivate professionals and non-professionals alike.

Below is a brief list of 3 reasons to get involved:

  1. Understanding.  Simple actually.  Knowing and being informed is much more constructive than individuals that consistently confront others in a groups setting to push their own agendas.  They often quite easy to pick out.  We ask you to not be “that guy”.
  2. It protects property values.  This should resonate most loudly with adjacent land property owners as water quality consistently shows a return correlating with resale value of land.
  3. Legacy.  Preserving something for our children to witness, potentially with their children and grandchildren.  Obviously our grandparents and parents may not have done the best job protecting the environment, but they receive at least a partial pass by lack of knowledge.  We can no longer bear that as an excuse.  The science has been proven out.  It merely requires a follow through.

So there it is.  Hopefully this convinces you to at least explore the concept of involvement in your local lake or watershed group.  While we do not have an extensive list of resources and contact on this Blog YET, we hope to in the future.  For the time being the County or local municipality may have contacts or alternatively, your own HOA may be engaged.  If that fails feel free to contact any of the names within this Blog and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Cheers to a Happy New Year and everything lakes and water.  See you in 2017!

~p0sted by Admin

Alum Treatment- ILMA POD Available

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) will host a free Point of Discussion (POD) session on Wednesday, January 25th at the Wauconda Moose Lodge in Wauconda.  Start time is scheduled for 6PM.  This may be an interesting discussion topic for anyone diagnosed or concerned with rising or persistent phosphorus issues in their lake.  Please see the attached flyer for more information.



EPA’s National Lakes Assessment

In a short article recently released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), results of a national assessment indicated an alarmingly high ratio of lakes within the United States suffer from too much nutrient pollution.  4 in 10 lakes suffered from to much Nitrogen AND Phosphorus.  Key word is AND.  Atrazine levels are persistent in lakes which will hopefully provide credential for an eventual ban.

The full information on the article can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/national-aquatic-resource-survey/nla

Discussion:  While the results may be a bit eye-opening, we don’t think anyone who works within the profession is overly shocked.  Any lake that currently exists or has historically existed within an agricultural watershed is likely to have legacy nutrients bound within the sediment and/or vegetation that can be re-released upon re-suspension or decomposition.  This is specifically likely within northeastern Illinois where agricultural watersheds have slowly transitioned to an urban to semi-urban environment.  While Nitrogen and Phosphorus may slowly be introduced to a new team of urban nutrients, including heavy metals.

It would be even more interesting to see a more robust breakdown of the data by land use, location, watershed size, geography, etc.  The National Aquatic Resource (NAR) Survey data is not available for the latest survey (2007 survey data is available; however) so a thorough review of location based statistics may be forthcoming.

Obviously by now it is common knowledge regarding the hypoxia taking place in the Gulf of Mexico.  Many of the lakes within the Midwest serve as subservient sediment traps for the greater watershed as the streams drain to the Gulf.  The same components that wash into the Mississippi river collectively drain to and from our respective lakes and streams.  With the rich soils found throughout the Midwest and the history of agriculture, the Nitrogen and Phosphorus levels in this area should be anticipated to occur at a higher ratio than nationally.

Additionally another resource for exploring this same concept can be located at: http://americaswatershed.org/reportcard/.  This explores a similar concept focused directly within the Mississippi River Basin level.  The information was also presented at the 2016 Fox River Summit in Burlington, WI.  While there are some signs that are encouraging the overall picture is less than ideal in both instances.  Course correction takes more than professionals and agency staff.  It requires the collective course correction of private landowners and stakeholders alike.  As always education is key and that is what this Blog is here to provide as a resource.

~p0sted by Admin


Fox Chain O’ Lakes: Offseason Perspective – Part II

Welcome back for Part II of the Fox Chain O’Lakes, an Offseason Perspective.  Northeastern Illinois’s premiere water resource and also one of the most impacted.  We continue to discuss key points surrounding the dynamic conditions of the lake, management prospectus and key pollutants.

Turning our attention now to the waterway, indifferent of stakeholder and agency politics, how does one begin to tackle the problems of the system?  You have watershed problems tied to enormous annual loading of sediments.  There is an ecologically challenged wildlife and fishery that reflects this.  Property-side landowners that do little to no actual shoreline protection or on-lot treatments that are beneficial to the waterway, and what is likely an overused, potentially abused recreational aspect that is also the largest revenue base for the waterway.  What do you do when the largest base revenue source is also one of the largest individual source impacts?  You begin to see how things become heated and political in a short amount of time.  Hundreds to thousands of different voices with different agendas.

But in all reality are our agendas all that different when you distill them back to their source?  Excluding any cases of individuals (or industry) who seem indifferent to the future condition of the Chain O’Lakes, most everyone should understand that there needs to be a realistic, long-term management plan in place to address these issues and placate all users and stakeholders.  The disagreement almost always seems to stem from how to implement such a plan and more specifically in what order to implement the actions necessary to complete the individual steps.

As mentioned in Part I, current management of the Chain O’Lakes consists of treatment techniques focused on the result, not the actual cause which is an expensive way to tread water.  Documented elsewhere, the overall largest load is delivered from the Fox River north of the border, however the largest average annual pulse of sediment is being delivered from in-state.  This would also include a much larger per acre volume of water based on the proximity of impervious surfaces to the Chain O’Lakes.

How do you keep sediment from making its way into the waterway?  Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “1 ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and it could not be more true in the land use paradigm.  While the FWA has the charge of maintaining the waterway, it only has control of the end point of the sediment and currently lacks the mechanism to address watershed based control.  If only there was a way?  Ah but there is.  We refer to these things as partnerships.

Somewhere along the line the concept of partnering was never realized or never considered, but ultimately there are no functional partnerships that are resulting in worthwhile land management objectives.  Perhaps they once did exist, but never materialized.  Hindsight being what it is the only logical, somewhat economically conscious method of reaching equilibrium with the landscape will be through better watershed practices and structured partnerships.  What kind of partnerships?  Where is the economical gain?  Who controls land management use?

Part III of the offseason perspective coming soon.

~posted by LL&S


Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) to Partner with IllinoisLakes Blog

In a unanimous vote during last night’s Board of Director’s meeting, ILMA has accepted a proposal to partner with IllinoisLakes Blog.  ILMA is Illinois’ premiere lakes association and has been around for over 35 years providing education and training for interested lake property owners, agency partners, consultants, educators, and students.  The partnership is ideal for both parties as it provides access to a multitude of users/readers on behalf of the IllinoisLakes Blog (IBlog) and should provide ILMA a simplified means of depositing dedicated information, articles, and other resources other than the newsletter format used for so many years.

The timing of the announcement comes roughly four months before ILMA’s big spring conference March 30th-April 1st 2017, located in Crystal Lake.  ILMA is anticipating record numbers for this conference and has planned for an exciting conference complete with a wide variety of speaker sessions and hand’s on workshops.  More on the conference to come in future posts.

IBlog also intends to make announcements regarding the partnership through other connected lakes and watershed user groups social media outlets over the next several days.  Subscribe to our feed to stay informed of other interesting developments over the winter and thank you for reading our Blog!  Come back soon.

Fox Chain O’ Lakes: An off-season for Perspective – Part I

With another year in the books, it’s time to look at our area’s premiere water resources destination, the Fox River Chain O’Lakes.  In this Part I of a multi-part perspective on the Chain O’Lakes, we will explore the workings of the waterway from several directions.  After a not-so friendly article was written last week, there have been murmurs from the general public regarding complacency of the Fox Waterway Agency (FWA) over the years.  Now while some of this reaction may be warranted, it should be better focused on its origin.  Management housecleaning was performed fall 2015 and the current management while working out the kinks has made many positive strides that should be reflected upon.  For example, the FWA has gotten actively involved in watershed planning and water quality initiatives.  Something that would never have been on the table 5 years ago.  I know because I openly approached the Agency about it in 2011.

All that aside, we should focus back on the waterbody itself.  The history of the FWA is a potential column in itself.  The “Fox Chain” as we refer to it in this Blog is under a constant bombardment of watershed constituents and is essentially a regional sediment trap.  The FWA’s primary objective year in and year out is to empty the trap or keep it from filling up.  The truth of the matter is that the task is somewhat of a fool’s errand because you are treating the result and not the cause.  This is what watershed planning is about, to identify causes and turn the attention to where is counts.

It would be somewhat exhaustive to attempt an effort to list all the possible sources of pollutant loading into the Fox Chain, and to be truthful it is just as easy to cite the work of other work groups such as the Fox River Study Group, Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP), and Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), just to name a few.  It may be just as easy to look at how the watershed and lake are used and how these activities compound the situation.  What seems like everyday observances can help lead to changed behavioral differences of stakeholders that have a direct, positive impact on our waterways.  To think that the Fox Chain has been in its current state for such a considerable amount of time and its current condition is all that most stakeholders know.

The unique circumstances surrounding the Fox Chain is simply that such a large amount of the constituency does not live on the lake(s), nor even reside in the surrounding communities or tributary watershed.  This grouping of stakeholders leads to a likely division in the care level needed to appease the end user.  All that being said, the body of water is public and the user base diverse.  Additional users and stakeholders are beginning to voice opinion on use and conditions.  Social media has allowed for additional avenues of communication which has made it easier for stakeholders to voice their ideas & concerns, many of which may be way off base, but just as many that have some degree of merit.

Come back soon for Part II.