Tips to Stay Healthy and Protect the Lakes during Summer Fun

Looking forward to watching the music at Aquapalooza while floating in the water with a cool beverage next weekend?  Or perhaps you are excited about cruising along in your classic boat on August 4th.  However you enjoy the lakes this summer these tips should make your adventure healthier and safer – for you and the lakes!

Protect yourself from the Sun!

Some sunscreens are better than others.  Search for your favorite brand at the Environmental Working Group Sunscreen database to make sure its safe and effective.  Hats, sunglasses and shade are always a great way to prevent a burn.

Be a Green Boater!

Being a green boater means learning how to enjoy your hobby without damaging the water in which you do it.  Read more at and find lots of tips like:

  • Pour gasoline carefully and store it securely in a cool dry place.
  • Don’t let anything fall into the water unintentionally.  Make sure you recycle beverage containers, and dispose of all refuse carefully after boating.
  • Limit engine idling as much as possible.

Save a Musician – Hold the Wake!

Musicians, staff, volunteers and other music lovers will all be gathered together near the floating stage at Aquapaloooza – they need you to keep things safe by limiting your wake.

Prevent Plants from Hitch-Hiking!

Learn how you can prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species on your boat and/or trailer to save our lake’s natural resources and recreation. Also, find out how you can get involved by volunteering for The Clean Boats, Clean Waters Program. Read more at





Lake Algae: What you don’t see can really hurt you

July 17, 2012                               University of Wisconsin Madison News

The strikingly blue algae that afflicted the Madison lakes last week hardly needs a danger sign to warn of its toxicity.

But this stuff could, in the next days or weeks, be followed by blue-green algae that are much more toxic, says Katherine McMahon, an expert on lake ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Surprisingly, the more dangerous algae — technically called cyanobacteria — may not produce slimy gooey mats, but still may contain toxins that attack the liver or nervous system.

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic bacteria that live in colonies. They look like algae, which are floating organisms with a much closer relationship to plants. Toxic cyanobacteria occur in “eutrophic” lakes that suffer overgrowth of plants and other organisms due to high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus caused by runoff of manure and fertilizer.

McMahon, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, says graduate student Lucas Beversdorf has noticed a transition during June or early July that shows “a switch from cyanobacteria that are not so nasty, to the sudden kickoff of some really nasty ones.”

Read more at the University of Wisconsin 

2012: Thermo Fisher at McDaniel Park

Thermo Fisher Helps Clear Long-Awaited Lakeshore  Community Bike Path  

Take a Stake in the Lakes Volunteers

Nearly 80 employees from the Thermo Fisher site in Madison, Wisconsin participated in the latest Clean Lakes Alliance volunteer event, which involved clearing invasive trees and plants from land that will be developed into a 10-mile community bike path.

After four years of planning, development and community anticipation, work officially started on the Lower Yahara River Trail Bike Path, and Thermo Fisher’s Madison, Wisconsin, employees were on hand to pitch in. On June 5, nearly 80 employees participated in the Take a Stake in the Lakes Days, a volunteer event to support the community’s endeavor clean up local lakes.  This project helped improve lakeshore access and provide a healthier lifestyle for area residents, and a safer way to bike.

Thermo Fisher sponsored the Clean Lakes Festival in 2010 and 2011, and now that parent organization Clean Lakes Alliance is partnering with Dane County to enrich the Take a Stake in the Lakes program.

Dane County Arborist Explains How to Properly Remove Invasive Plants

The Thermo Fisher employees divided into five teams, and along with their team captains, picked up litter, removed the overgrown vegetation and invasive species using loppers and band saws, stacked the brush along the trail, and finally, spread wood mulch chips along 300 feet of the trail.

In total, Thermo Fisher contributed 640 volunteer hours to the community project, and also donated $10,000 to help fund it.


When complete, the bike path will span approximately 10 miles from Stoughton through McFarland, and will also connect with the very popular Capital City bike path in Madison.

Significant Results: This extraordinary volunteer effort has improved views from the park to the lake and from the lake into the park, rejuvenated existing native species and seed bank, increased recruitment of seedling swamp white oak trees, a rare and valuable wetland community tree, improved access that will allow Dane County to finalize survey, design and environmental review for this stretch of the Lower Yahara River Trail, improved visibility throughout the park that will deter illegal activity, improved and expanded shore fishing access.

Volunteers cleared invasives on about 2000 feet of shoreline, resulting in a pile of cut buckthorn/honeysuckle that was nearly 500 feet long by 4 feet tall. Dane County will continue to work on chipping and burning the brush that was removed this coming winter.

2012: Jazz in the Park

The Jazz in the Park Festival on Saturday, June 16 was a resounding success.

The festival was hosted by the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association and Wingra Boats at Lake Wingra.  The event consisted of family friendly activities all day including a 5k race, canoeing and kayaking to clean up garbage in the lakes and live jazz music.  Friends of Lake Wingra hosted an interactive education station about the science of the lake.

This year Take a Stake in the Lakes, an event of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission in partnership with the Clean Lakes Alliance culminated in a late afternoon reception at Jazz in the Park.  Volunteers from the 25 years of Take A Stake in the Lakes were honored as Water Champions. Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission Chair Melissa Malott led the Commission’s annual Waters Champion Recognition ceremony. And Clean Lakes Alliance sponsored a tent for volunteers complete with a delicious cake, snacks and beverages.

Volunteers celebrating the 25th anniversary of Take a Stake in the Lakes

The volunteer tent hosted by the Clean Lakes Alliance

The Commodore and Heather Allen partnering up to cut the anniversary cake

Melissa Mallot leading the Commission’s annual Waters Champion Recognition ceremony

Water Champions at Jazz in the Park

Clean Lakes Alliance staff at the volunteer tent

2012: Land’s End Kick-Off

Take a Stake in the Lakes
June 1, 2012 Recap

Roughly 170 Lands’ End employees met at Olin Park to kick-off the 25th anniversary of Take a Stake in the Lakes. Employees were welcomed and thanked by representatives from the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission, the WI Dept. of Natural Resources, and Lands’ End SVP Kasey Mazzone.

Press Conference

A press conference featuring Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Lands’ End CEO Edgar Huber was covered by WISC-TV (CBS) and WKOW-TV (ABC).

Lands’ End volunteers worked at six different locations throughout Madison and Middleton.

Olin Park – Madison

Volunteers removed trash from the shoreline and in the park as well as pulled invasive species from Olin Woods and planted approximately 50 native plants.

Lands’ End volunteer at Olin Park

Results: A dumpster was filled with more than one ton of invasive species pulled from Olin Woods and approximately 50 native plants were planted, over 25 bags of trash were filled from shoreline clean-up, and half a dumpster was filled with algae raked out of Lake Monona.

UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve – Madison

Volunteers removed trash from the shoreline and planted native wildflowers to catch runoff before it reaches the lake.

Results: More than 1100 native wildflowers were planted along the lakeshore and hillside to reduce runoff into the lake.

Town of Westport – Rural Dane County

Volunteers hauled brush for prairie restoration along Lake Mendota in the Jackson Landing area.  This site is the cleanest source of water that flows into Lake Mendota.

Results: Volunteers worked throughout a 15 acres site clearing over one ton of brush along with spraying and marking weeds for future removal before the prairie is replanted with native grass and flowers.

Holy Wisdom Monastery – Middleton

Volunteers cleared invasive species and trimmed trails to help reduce runoff nitrates into the Lake Mendota watershed.

Results: Volunteers walked five square acres, pulled invasive species, cut down invasive trees and treated the area to prevent future growth.  All plants were left in place to compost and fertilize the prairie.

Pheasant Branch – Middleton

Volunteers cut and cleared invasive plants and trees from the hillside above the wetlands and springs at the Pheasant Branch Conservancy.

Results: Stacked nearly 20 piles of trees & plants (8’x8’x8’ stacks) that were treated and will be burned to prevent spores from growing back.

Lakeview Community Park – Middleton

Lands’ End volunteers skimming algae at Lake View Park

Volunteers used rakes and tools to skim algae from Lakeview pond, as well as plant native wildflowers and distribute bark to a park area.

Results: Workers waked the mile circumference of Lakeview Pond, pulling out over one ton of algae and planted hundreds of wildflowers to prevent future runoff from reaching the pond.

Lands' End Logo



UW Limnology Open House June 22

From our friends at the Univesity of Wisconsin – Center for Limnology

UW Limnology Open House June 22

You are probably already aware of the world-class freshwater research going on right here in Madison. But we are hoping to spread the word by inviting the public to Hasler Lab’s first-ever open house!

We would be honored if you could join us to learn about the Madison lakes, the history of limnology in North America, and the research we’re doing across the world. Weather permitting, we will offer short trips aboard our research boat, the Limnos, where passengers can try their hand at using various research tools (seating will be limited). We are also planning a number of children’s’ activities and interactive exhibits that will let people get acquainted with the plants and animals living in Madison’s lakes. Limnologists will be on hand to answer questions about one of Wisconsin’s most valuable resources – water!

When: Friday June 22, 2012, 3:00 – 7:00 pm
Where: The Hasler Laboratory of Limnology, 680 North Park Street, on the UW-Madison Campus.
What: The Center is celebrating its 30-year anniversary with an open house at the Hasler Laboratory of Limnology, 680 N. Park Street. Although the study of limnology at the UW-Madison campus has a history much longer than 30 years, this is the anniversary of the establishment of the Center for Limnology as an independent research facility.
Cost: Free!

Public Health News Release Avoid Blue-Green Algae

Public Health – Madison & Dane County
For Immediate Release Contact:
Jeff Golden 608 243 0302

Summer is Blue-Green Algae Season

Avoiding Contact is Best Way to Avoid Problems

Madison WI – June 13, 2012 – Based on recent news reports and Public Health beach closing notices, this year´s blue-green algae season has clearly begun. The safest response when you see a bloom is to keep yourself, your children, and your pets out of the water and avoid all contact.

While blue-green algae often occurs intermittently throughout the summer season, the dry, hot, and sunny weather forecasted for the next seven to ten days may create favorable conditions for increased blue-green algae blooms on area waterways.

Blue-green algae are actually not algae, but photosynthetic bacteria (sunlight-loving) known as cyanobacteria.  Some of these bacteria are capable of producing toxins. Exposure to these toxins can produce a range of reactions, from rashes and lip blistering to negative effects on the liver and nervous system.  It can include sore throats, headaches, muscular and joint pain and asthmatic and gastro-intestinal symptoms.  Dogs swimming in or drinking water covered with a bloom can suffer near fatal or fatal consequences.

If you believe you have been exposed, contact your health care provider right away.  You should also report this to a lifeguard and call Public Health at (608) 266-4821.

Blue-green algae occur naturally in lakes, streams and ponds and have been around for millions of years.  When water temperature, wind and wave patterns combine with high nutrient levels in the water, these bacteria will grow into ugly mats that are most often blue-green in color, but can also be reddish-purple, or brown.  The only benefit to its disgusting appearance and smell is that it tends to keep people away.

The lakes are always in motion–the wind and waves that bring a bloom to a beach are just as capable of blowing it away.  Blooms can linger for mere hours or days depending on weather conditions, and the public is encouraged to pay attention to changing conditions while enjoying the water and beaches.

The appearance of these blooms is hard to predict and even harder to manage. For example, if we try using herbicides or algaecides, we will succeed in killing the bloom, but as the bacteria die, they will release all their toxins into the water and thus create a potentially bigger problem.

City of Madison engineering has installed special deflectors to help keep blue green algae out of the swimming areas of Olin and BB Clark Beaches.  Public Health is in the process of evaluating the effectiveness of this approach with the hope that it might offer some protection. An innovative water treatment system will be installed shortly on Bernie´s Beach.  Preliminary testing of the system shows it to be very promising.

Reducing the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers that run off into the lakes could have the effect of reducing the high concentrations of nutrients that promote algae growth.  This issue is actively being addressed by a number of interested individuals and groups, but it is a long-term strategy and will not solve the immediate problem.

Public Health-Madison and Dane County monitors water quality at most Madison area beaches including routine, weekly testing for bacteria and blue-green algae. If test results show that beach conditions are not safe, the beach is closed. Follow-up testing is done every day until the problem clears up.

Up-to-date beach conditions are always available online at

For more detailed information on blue-green algae, check out the DNR’s website at


An online version of this release is available at



State of the Yahara Lakes Report Reveals Health of Lakes and Beaches in Summer of 2011

A new report by the Clean Lakes Alliance, the State of the Yahara Lakes Report, released in conjunction with the first annual Save Our Lakes Summit, highlighted ways (or metrics) to evaluate conditions in the Yahara Lakes during the summer of 2011.   The report details information about water clarity, phosphorus levels, beach closures, and more.  For the first time the State of the Yahara Lakes Report pulls together information from a variety of scientific and government sources including Public Health Madison and Dane County, Dane County Office of Lakes and Watersheds, and the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology.

Water clarity, as measured by a black and white Secchi disk, did increase in 2011 in three of the four Yahara Lakes (Mendota, Monona, and Kegonsa).  Water clarity is linked in part to the amount of phosphorus entering the lakes from the Yahara Watershed, as high-levels of phosphorus contribute to fertile growing conditions for algae.  Drought-like conditions in 2011 reduced the input of phosphorus and sediment that entered the lakes thus reducing their concentrations of phosphorus.

Weather conditions are likely to have a strong impact on water clarity in the summer of 2012 and beyond, but there are a variety of tools, citizens and municipalities can employ to improve water quality in the lakes.  The cities of Middleton and Madison, for example, are advancing stormwater management practices such as stormwater retention ponds and rain gardens.  Throughout the Yahara Watershed farmers in agricultural areas are planting cover crops to reduce phosphorus runoff in the winter months.   Earlier this month Dane County kicked off the second manure digester project to be located on the Ziegler farm in Middleton. The cumulative effect of these and other emerging programs should continue to help enhance and preserve water quality in the local lakes, though extreme weather events, and land use changes continue to challenge the resilience of local lakes.

Don Heilman, President of the Clean Lakes Alliance urged citizens to take “saving the lakes” into their own hands saying: “residents of Dane County can protect water quality this summer by taking simple actions at home and in their gardens.”  Rain barrels and compost bins that help prevent stormwater runoff and wastewater pollution are available at the annual sale at the Alliant Energy Center.  This year’s sale is May 12th from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m.  He went on to say “saving our lakes will require all hands on deck, we all have the power to protect and preserve these precious resources.”

The State of the Yahara Lakes Report is available on-line at

Committee Reports from Jan 20, 2012

January 2012 Board and Committee Meeting Reports

On January 20, 2012 the Clean Lakes Alliance Community Board and its committees met to set priorities for the year.  Below are the committee reports.  Any questions or comments can be referred to

Economic Impact and Resources

As a committee of the Clean Lakes Alliance, the Economic Impact and Resources Committee (EIRC) will focus on two tasks: (1) assessing the economic value to the local community and the State of Wisconsin of the Madison area lakes and the value of cleaning up the lakes; and (2) researching methods for obtaining funding or implementing policies to clean up the Madison area lakes.  

Task 1 will primarily consist of researching for existing economic valuations of the lakes and/or locating and hiring an economic consulting group that can estimate the monetary benefits associated with cleaning up the Madison area lakes.

Task 2 will primarily involve researching ways of obtaining local, state or federal funding or implementing policy initiatives that will ultimately either pay for, or lead to, the cleanup actions identified in the Strand report.

Friends of Clean Lakes

The Friends of Clean Lakes Board is charged with developing and growing a volunteer organization to engage our community with the efforts of the Clean Lakes Alliance.  “Friends of Clean Lakes” is an organization of individuals who believe the lakes are the center of our community.

Task 1: Create the architecture of the auxiliary organization.
Task 2: Create a messaging and communication plan.
Task 3: Create a friend-raising plan. 

 Yahara Pride Farm Conservation Board

The Yahara Pride Farm Conservation Board is made up of progressive farmland stewards dedicated to enhancing conservation practices that can reduce runoff from ag land to feeding tributaries in the Yahara Watershed. The board composition is currently 5 producers from across the region, 1 crop consultant, 1 agribusiness, and members of the CLA board.

The group has decided to utilize the Dorn Creek Pilot Project, identified by MMSD for phosphorus reduction, as the pilot for how they best operate as an organization going forward. The first meeting of the 30 farm producers of the Dorn Creek area will take place on March 15 in Waunakee.

As an organization, the group has focused on winter cover cropping as it’s emphasis for 2012. A program for sign-up of interested producers will be developed. Funding for the program will be contingent on agreement to track success and yields. Other information to be collected will include:     
a. field type           
b. crop rotation           
c. timing of seeding
d. seed type
e. spread technique

Strategic Direction

The Strategic Direction Committee provides guidance to the CLA Board of Directors and executive staff on integrating lake clean-up initiatives with CLA’s resources, needs, goals and mission.

Membership of the committee reflects the public-private partnership through which CLA works. The committee is comprised of five representatives from government agencies, five representatives from the area’s business community, and a representative of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Limnology.

Currently, the committee administers the project involving the Strand report, which will provide costs and prioritization of steps listed in the Yahara CLEAN report. The group has tussled with different elements of the process regarding delivery factors of phosphorus to waterways. As a result, has decided to table the process of identifying the top 10 best actions to take, and focus on the long list of actions, priorities, benefits and costs of all opportunities for phosphorus reduction.

The report is due from Strand by March 15, 2012