2024 Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers artwork

Full Agenda

Click on either image for larger/printable version.
You can view/download the full agenda for the Lakes and Rivers Convention HERE. The Agenda can also be found in the Eventmobi App where you’ll be able to personalize your agenda, as well as send messages to other participants, browse virtual exhibits, and more.

Agenda subject to change.

  • Interactive workshops (full and half day, pre-registration required)
  • Field Trips (pre-registration required)
  • Special Technical Sessions (tentative) driven by participant needs
  • Educational and Business Exhibits
  • Evening welcome reception – great time to network and have fun (must be registered for Wednesday and/or Thursday)
  • Full day of learning and engagement
  • 35+ concurrent sessions; topics include:
  • Educational and Business Exhibits
  • Welcome session and kickoff keynote event
  • Lunch
  • Lightning Presentations
  • Poster Session
  • Golden Gala Awards Ceremony and Banquet for Wisconsin Lake Stewardship & Volunteer Stream Monitoring award nominees and winners (registration required)
  • Lakes and Rivers Partnership After Hours informal networking event
  • Full day of learning and engagement
  • 35+ concurrent sessions; topics include:
  • Educational and Business Exhibits
  • Keynote speaker
  • Closing luncheon
  • Interactive afternoon workshops (pre-registration required)

Virtual participants will be able to participate in several sessions at the 2024 WI Lakes and Rivers Convention. You will have access to select sessions on both Thursday and Friday, in addition to the keynote speakers. 

Thursday, April 11

Virtual sessions on Thursday will include these topics:


Friday, April 12

Virtual sessions on Friday will include these topics:


Benefits of Virtual Event

  • You can stay home (or wherever you are) and save fuel (and reduce emissions!)
  • You can still participate in select sessions AND the keynote speakers
  • You can form a team with other attendees to get points for prizes through the Goosechase app

Convention Agenda Descriptions
Click arrows to the left of each workshop, field trip, or session for a description.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Half-Day Workshops are $50 ($40 early-bird) unless otherwise noted. All workshops are in-person (there are no virtual workshop options).

Morning Workshops

9:00 a.m.-noon

Note: some workshops start at 10:00 a.m.; please confirm time when you register

Wisconsin’s Constitution provides that all navigable waters are “common highways and forever free” and held in trust by the state of Wisconsin. Laws, rules, and court cases have clarified what the Public Trust Doctrine means in practice, evolving over time to reflect new uses of water resources and challenges that might have been unimaginable nearly two centuries ago. This workshop will explore the status of the Public Trust Doctrine today by drawing on recent changes in statutes, rules, and case law, and how this impacts Wisconsin DNR water management. Participants will hear the latest research from environmental law professor, Melissa Scanlan, who over 20 years ago began analyzing the front-line dilemmas of WDNR working to implement the laws that give life to the Public Trust. Her latest research findings are set to be published this spring, highlighting how political and economic forces have steadily eroded the state’s capacity to manage threats to lakes and rivers. A panel will discuss Professor Scanlan’s presentation and reflect on the changes to Wisconsin’s legal and political landscape affecting water in the past several decades.

Michael Cain, co-chair of the Wisconsin Green Fire Public Trust and Wetlands Work Group, Retired DNR attorney
Michael Engleson, Executive Director, Wisconsin Lakes
Daniel Helsel, Wisconsin DNR
William O’Connor, Boardman and Clark
Melissa Scanlan, Environmental Law Professor, Lynde B. Uihlein Endowed Chair and Director, UW Milwaukee Center for Water Policy
Christa Westerberg, Pines Bach LLP

Are you a new member of a Lake District Board of Commissioners? Maybe your lake district recently formed. This workshop is meant to walk you through the basics of Wisconsin’s unique lake districts and the important roles that elected and appointed commissioners play in making them work. We’ll cover the basics of Chapter 33, the state statute that governs lake districts, and other relevant rules and laws that every commissioner should know.

Presenter: Eric Olson, Extension Lakes, UW-Stevens Point

This Basic Angler Education instructor certification workshop focuses on teaching spin casting and incorporating related conservation topics in a K-12 curriculum, youth development program or adult education. We are looking for 2-3 members from a lake or watershed group to join us as a “team,” and use what they learn to implement introductory fishing programs back in their home communities. Successful models include after-school fishing clubs, summer enrichment classes, school-family events, and Boy Scout merit badge training. Workshop participants have the option of attending Part 2 at Schmeeckle Reserve where we’ll fish and then clean and cook the catch. Learn humane fish handling methods and how to safely land a fish in the frying pan for a tasty dinner. Fishing licenses for the 2023-2024 season go on sale mid-March and are required for Part 2. 

Presenters: Theresa Stabo and Cal Sinclair, WI DNR

Join Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Fisheries Management staff and local partners to learn the basics of managing your lake for a healthy fishery. The workshop will cover the three core tools: habitat management, regulations and stocking. We’ll talk through how the WDNR fisheries management program is structured, emerging science, and current policies and initiatives (e.g. the Walleye Initiative). Local partners will feature case studies and lessons learned from their experiences. Expect FAQs like, Why can we stock walleye? Are bass eating other gamefish? And how do I go about restoring habitat along my shoreline?, to be answered. Registered participants will also be prompted to share questions in advance of the workshop.

Presenters: Scott Toshner, Paul Cunningham, and Alex Latzka, WI DNR

This workshop begins at 10:00 a.m.

When people are engaged in civic ecology practices such as shoreline restoration, planting trees, and restoring natural areas, they develop deep relationships to both their social and ecological communities. We’ll explore best practices and processes to build strong volunteer networks and cultivate deep relationships with each other, our organizations, and the land.

Presenter: Joanna Salinas, Waukesha County Green Team

This workshop serves to train volunteers to monitor mussels, but anyone with an interest in learning more about mussels is welcome to join. Classroom instruction will cover native mussel ecology, habitat, threats, and resiliency. Participants will also learn hands-on how to identify native mussels using shell specimens collected from Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers. We will focus on distinguishing mussels with similar growth forms and the differentiating habitats they occupy. This workshop will cover the guidelines for completing a mussel monitoring survey, as well as address the latest updates on mussel monitoring and research.

Presenters: Lisie Kitchel and Jesse Weinzinger, WI DNR

This workshop begins at 10:00 a.m.

The Surface Water Integrated Monitoring Systems (SWIMS) database is Wisconsin’s official repository for all lake, river, stream, and aquatic invasive species data. Natural resource professionals, volunteers, and grant recipients all around the state contribute valuable data to this system. This workshop is designed for those who would like to become familiar with the new layout and features of SWIMS.

The workshop will be split into two portions: Portion 1 will focus on a general overview of the SWIMS database, layout and navigation, the basics of data entry, and finding data, as well how the database uses and interacts with other DNR Water Quality webpages and resources. Portion 2 will allow time for attendees to request specific example demonstrations, become comfortable with entering and finding data, and receive one-on-one support. Attendees are free to leave after Portion 1 if they feel they are comfortable with their ability to use SWIMS.

It is highly recommended that attendees bring their own computers. SWIMS and Viewers work best when using the Chrome or new Microsoft Edge browsers. It is also highly recommended that attendees have or obtain access to the SWIMS database and the preferred internet browsers pre-downloaded and usable. iPads are discouraged, unless using the Chrome browser.

Presenters: Jake Dickmann and Abby Nicholson, WI DNR

A researcher makes a groundbreaking discovery that could change the way we look at water resources. To share her research, she publishes journal articles, presents at conferences, and tries to inform the public by sharing all the complex details and findings of her study. However, by not having a clear, concise, and understandable message her research is overlooked by the general public and even fellow scientists that get confused by jargon, overwhelmed by the intricacies, and bored by the mountain of data being presented. Therefore, the researcher seeks out ways to more effectively communicate her findings and reach a broader audience to disseminate the information. This workshop will offer several techniques to communicate your science to other researchers and the public, including general messaging, oral presentation, and written communication.

Presenters: Amanda Bell, Jamie Velkoverh, and Victoria Christensen, US Geological Survey Upper Midwest Water Science Center

Morning Field Trip

9:00 a.m.-noon

UW Stevens Point is home to one of the nation’s largest undergraduate natural resource programs. Unique facilities include the Water and Environmental Analysis Laboratory, a large student-operated paper manufacturing machine, the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, the Wisconsin Conservation History Museum, and a new $75 million, 177,000 square foot Chemistry and Biology Building featuring a tropical conservatory. Tour participants will be transported to and from the hotel by motorcoach.

12:00 p.m.

Lunch (registration required if joining us for lunch)

Afternoon Workshops

1:00-4:00 p.m.

This afternoon workshop is a follow-up to the morning Public Trust Doctrine presentation and discussion. We will bring together stakeholders, advocates, and citizen leaders to collaboratively outline strategies and actions for breathing new life into our Public Trust Doctrine. We will focus on practical steps that people can take at both the local and state levels to safeguard the public’s interest in water resources. Participants in the afternoon portion will come away with their own “to do” lists for working with lake and river organizations, neighbors, elected officials, and community leaders to defend and build on our Wisconsin legacy of caring for waters. 

Michael Cain, co-chair of the Wisconsin Green Fire Public Trust and Wetlands Work Group, Retired DNR attorney
Bill Davis, River Alliance of Wisconsin
Michael Engleson, Executive Director, Wisconsin Lakes
Rob Lee, Attorney, Midwest Environmental Advocates
Rhonda Nordstrom, Water City Program Manager, Milwaukee Water Commons

Each year, Citizen Lake Monitoring Network Coordinators meet with volunteers at the Lakes Convention. This short workshop is a chance for volunteers to meet with their Coordinator and for Coordinators to share monitoring protocol updates and to distribute sampling supplies and equipment. Learn how volunteer data is used and review quality assurance results and protocol. We will dedicate 30 minutes to a dissolved oxygen meter “how-to” class on the importance of calibration and maintenance.

There is no cost for this Refresher Training. Please contact Sandy Wickman at swickman@uwsp.edu with questions.

Presenters: Sandy Wickman, Extension Lakes and WI DNR and Rachel Sabre, Chris Kolasinski, and Jake Dickmann, WI DNR

Managing a lake district budget is not the same as working with finances for a lake association or other type of organization. This workshop will provide you with the tools and knowledge needed to create and manage your lake district’s budget. We will cover specific compliance rules that all lake districts need to follow. In the second half of this treasurers’ workshop, Attorneys from Boardman & Clark LLP will provide an overview of the most important legal and procedural questions that lake districts face when embarking on major projects. These include dam repairs, dredging, land acquisition, and major aquatic plant management efforts. Before investing significant time and money, commissioners need to be aware of a broader set of laws beyond Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 33 that govern permitting, liability and public debt. We will end the workshop by tackling your questions related to your specific lake district projects.

Presenters: Eric Olson, Extension Lakes, UW-Stevens Point and Jared Walker Smith, Boardman and Clark LLP.

In this introduction to common algae and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in lakes, learn what characteristics are used to identify and distinguish algae and cyanobacteria from each other. We will focus on cyanobacteria and  review environmental conditions that promote the growth of cyanobacteria to nuisance bloom levels. We will discuss health impacts of cyanobacterial toxins on animals and people who ingest, inhale, or have skin contact with cyanobacteria. We will cover recreational guidelines for cyanobacterial toxins and how to determine safer recreational levels of cyanobacteria in Wisconsin’s lakes. We will also review bloom management strategies and what to consider for their use in a water body. Please bring a hand lens or magnifying glass for hands-on identification practice. Due to the short duration of the workshop, we are unable to cover algal identification using compound light microscopes. This workshop is intended for water professionals, field staff, and citizen monitors.

Presenter: Gina LaLiberte, WI DNR

Want to improve your understanding of the fascinating life cycles of aquatic macroinvertebrates and more confidently identify the diverse organisms in our waters? Join PJ Liesch, UW-Madison Extension Entomologist and Director of the UW-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab (a.k.a. the Wisconsin Bug Guy), and Katy Bradford, Water Action Volunteers Program Manager, to learn the fundamentals about Wisconsin’s aquatic macroinvertebrates. We’ll get hands on and look at organisms under the microscope. Participants will receive and work through the Guide to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates of the Midwest during the workshop.

Presenters: PJ Liesch, UW-Madison Dept of Entomology, Katy Bradford and Emily Heald, UW-Madison Division of Extension, and Mike Miller, DNR Stream Ecologist

In this aquatic plant workshop, we will focus on aquatic plant ecology and identification. Participants will learn to identify aquatic plants using pressed plant specimens and a variety of plant keys and other resources. We will focus on distinguishing plants with similar growth forms and habitats and distinguishing among species in the larger genera.

Presenters: Paul Skawinski, Extension Lakes, UW-Stevens Point, Michelle Nault and Scott Van Egeren, WI DNR, and Eddie Heath, Onterra

This workshop is geared toward Loon Rangers and volunteers who are participating in Loonwatch’s citizen science programs. We will cover the basics for both our Annual Lakes Monitoring Program (ALMP) and the Wisconsin Loon Population Survey (WLPS), and will describe the important differences between these two programs.  Learn about loon identification, behavior, ecology, habitat, threats, and protection. Discover how to identify territorial pairs, gain knowledge about nesting loons and chick phenology, as well as learning about the latest loon research updates.  Gain knowledge to fill out the Annual Lakes Monitoring form and Loon Population Survey form.  

Presenter: Erica LeMoine, LoonWatch

Interactions between aquatic vegetation and fish are poorly understood, leading to substantial uncertainty in how to manage aquatic plants to support fisheries goals. Understanding what aspects of plant communities are most important for fish could therefore add a useful tool to the lake management toolbox. A new research project funded by the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership seeks to combine extensive plant and fish datasets across thousands of lakes with the goal of developing guidance for more holistic lake management. In this workshop, we are soliciting public input to help identify the most concerning issues related to managing fish and plants in lakes, categorize characteristics of plant and fish communities most relevant for management action, and prioritize research hypotheses most relevant to managers. These outcomes will directly inform our research and ensure our results are useful to groups interested in pairing fish and aquatic plant management in their lakes.

Presenters: Zach Feiner, Katie Hein, and Alex Latzka, WI DNR

This workshop, provided by August Ball of Cream City Conservation, will help attendees expand their conceptual understanding of “OUR” waters to support the engagement of a larger, diverse community of stakeholders, so all may take advantage of lake opportunities and see themselves as stewards of our waters. During this workshop, participants will establish an understanding of where “sense of ownership” can be helpful and how to recognize potential harms and their respective mitigation tactics. Participants will also deepen their awareness of Lake and River issues beyond algae and other aquatic invasives, gain effective community engagement strategies, and increase confidence to establish and maintain inclusivity and justice in one’s work around water. Upon conclusion, participants will be able to express why incorporating justice into their lake management plan is critical to its success.
Participants will be requested to review a self-paced recording of Racial Equity & Environmentalism prior to this session. This will be provided to registrants in advance via a link.

Presenter: August Ball, Cream City Conservation

There are changes afoot in Wisconsin’s farming landscape that promise positive impacts for streams, rivers and lakes. More farmers than ever are utilizing cover crops, reduced or no-tillage, and other approaches to build soil health. Agricultural producers are forming new connections with each other and their customers to strengthen the resiliency of Wisconsin communities. Lake and watershed groups can participate in these changes and find new ways to help restore a healthy landscape, but stakeholders need to develop a common language and understanding to facilitate future dialogue. This workshop will bring farmers and agriculture advisors to the Convention in order to begin this process. We will hear directly from farmers about their efforts to employ new practices that build soil health and retain water. Workshop facilitators will help brainstorm and prioritize ways that lake and watershed groups can be helpful in promoting wider adoption of conservation practices (including key things NOT to do in the process).

Dan Zerr, UW Madison Division of Extension Regional Natural Resource Educator
Tara Daun, Farmer-Led Watershed Coordinator, Wisconsin Farmers Union

Chase Brouillette, Ozaukee County Land & Water
Sarah Kempen, Ozaukee County Land & Water
Mike Paulus, Paulus Dairy and Chair of Clean Family Farms
Matt Winker, Redline Dairy Farm and Vice Chair of Clean Family Farms

Afternoon Field Trips

1:00-4:00 p.m.

Wild Rose is a reliable workhorse that’s been delivering fishing fun and enhancing and restoring fish populations in Wisconsin for more than a century. Wild Rose State Fish hatchery grows more trout and salmon than any other and produces musky, sturgeon and walleye to test anglers statewide. Major renovations in 2008-2010 updated the hatchery production areas and created a $1.5 million Hatchery Education Center, where you’ll find two large aquariums, interpretive displays, activities, and games that help tell the story of the fish hatchery then and now. We’ll travel to and from the hatchery by motorcoach and we can discuss fishery management ideas and innovations along the way.

Scott Toshner, Wisconsin DNR North District Fisheries Supervisor

Wisconsin’s freshwater resources have long supported a vibrant brewing industry, with high quality groundwater and winter ice harvests initially fueling what has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Beer producers are increasingly realizing the importance and value of water, implementing strategies to use water more wisely and make their operations more sustainable. Join groundwater expert Bill DeVita and Portage County historian John Harry on a fun and fact-filled tour of the Stevens Point Brewery to see (and taste) the process of transforming water, grains, hops and yeast into liquid gold .  We’ll highlight the connections between the beverages we enjoy and groundwater quality and quantity. We’ll also explore how breweries are becoming more water efficient and managing waste to protect our shared resources.

Bill DeVita, Environmental Lab Manager (Retired), UW-Stevens Point
John Harry, Executive Director, Portage County Historical Society


4:00-6:00 p.m.

4:15-4:45 p.m.

Visit with exhibitors and sponsors; dinner on own


Aquatic Plant Taxonomic Assurance Exam (Invite Only)

Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Welcome Reception and Poster Presentations

6:00-11:00 p.m.

You are invited to the 2023 Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers Convention Welcome Reception! Join us in a relaxed environment where we will serve up a few tasty appetizers and beverages. This informal gathering of water lovers is a great way for newcomers to “get their feet wet,” and for seasoned Convention attendees to reconnect. Grab a beverage from the cash bar and check out these activities:

Poster Presentations – 6:00 p.m.

From 6:00-7:00 p.m., poster presentations will be occurring in the Commons. Check out the great projects and research and talk with the presenters about their work. 

The Flow Project Art Exhibit – 6:45 p.m.

Explore and celebrate water through art! Through The Flow Project, undergraduate students from all 13 universities in the UW System were paired with water professionals across the state to create art inspired by water. Stop over at 6:45 p.m. to visit with some of the students who will be present to showcase their pieces. This exhibit will be displayed the entire 3-day Convention.

Pictionary – 7:30 p.m.

Another exciting lake-focused Pictionary game will be happening during this reception. You can actively participate on a team or just watch the fun!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Concurrent Sessions

8-8:50 a.m.

The trust and support of shoreline property owners is vital to ensure success when implementing protection and restoration efforts. During this session, attendees will hear from the Winnebago Waterways Program of Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance about our approach to local implementation of the statewide Healthy Lakes & Rivers Program, including the tools we developed to support our efforts. We will present how we engage and build trust with shoreline property owners by clearly communicating and managing expectations. Tools and resources that have been created to support our efforts to build trust with shoreline property owners include property owner contracts, a comprehensive documentation, reporting, and reimbursement process, site visit forms, and project plans. Examples of success and lessons learned will also be shared, focusing on the rain garden and 350 sq. ft. native planting practices.

Katie Reed, Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance

Wisconsin lakes and rivers should be accessible to everyone in Wisconsin and disabled community members often face barriers in access. This presentation will cover universal design principles and disabled perspectives to expand your understanding of accessibility. You will leave with strategies to reduce barriers in your own communities and increase recreational opportunities for people with disabilities.

Rachael Lewandowski-Sarette, UW-Madison Division of Extension Upham Woods
Heather Stelljes, UW-Madison Disability Access Consultant

To successfully manage their dams and associated lakes, dam owners need to be aware of the rules, processes, opportunities, and limitations that govern the operation and maintenance of dams. Understanding these aspects helps the owner and DNR build trust over time and ultimately make projects such as construction improvements to the dam or aquatic management efforts go smoothly and with a sense of partnership and cooperation. This presentation introduces attendees to the dam safety regulations administered by the WDNR. Topics covered will include: legal requirements of dam ownership; regulations pertaining to inspections, repair, and flow management; different types of dams, their uses, functions, and limitations; who to contact at DNR for technical assistance or questions about dams; where to find resources for dam management; the processes to follow when performing work on a dam; opportunities for financial assistance; and more.

Uriah Monday, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a buzzword heard frequently when discussing agricultural management. But what does it mean? Does IPM make sense for lake management? How can lake managers use IPM principles to find practical solutions for day-to-day management challenges? This session will cover the basics of Integrated Pest Management. After a brief rundown of IPM, there will be an opportunity to hear a lake group’s journey using IPM to work on their lake management solutions.

Madi Johansen, WI Dept. of Natural Resources
Mark Magnusson, Silver Lake, Waushara County

The Wisconsin Constitution declares that all navigable waters are “common highways and forever free” and held in trust by the state for the public good. Often referred to as a “Remarkable Body of Law” the Public Trust Doctrine (PTD is charged with protecting these navigable waters and their water quality as well as peoples’ rights to recreate on them and enjoy their scenic beauty. This presentation will discuss the origins of the Public Trust Doctrine, summarize establishment of Public Rights in Navigable Waters founded in WI case law, outline recent legislative actions that have the potential to impact public rights in WI’s waters, and discuss recent WI Supreme Court decisions that impact protection of WI’s water resources. We will also discuss the social justice and equity implications associated with the Public Trust Doctrine across Wisconsin, affecting Wisconsin’s underserved communities and Tribal Nations.

Michael Cain and Ronald Grasshoff, Wisconsin’s Green Fire

Annually, the WDNR Surface Water Grant program provides funding to support a wide range of projects that protect and restore lakes, rivers and wetlands throughout Wisconsin. Program staff will present on the multitude of subprograms, discuss key steps to successful project development, and provide you with additional resources needed to apply.

Laura MacFarland, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Zooplankton are a highly important but often overlooked group whose community and population dynamics can show early response to ecosystem change. As an intermediate food web link, these microscopic residents in aquatic habitats are strongly linked to both bottom-up drivers like primary productivity and top-down predators. Taxonomically specific zooplankton data can be time consuming and labor intensive to collect and process, meaning that high-frequency and replicable information for zooplankton are often less available than physical and chlorophyll data. Through research vignettes and exploring unique zooplankton natural history, we will highlight ways that zooplankton are informing lake ecosystem studies and explore how advanced visualization tools and genetics are improving zooplankton understanding.

Gretchen Gerrish, UW-Madison Trout Lake Station

9-10:30 a.m.

Wisconsin Water Week agenda Adam Payne307817 1

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Adam Payne will kick off our Thursday morning plenary session with welcome remarks. Sec. Payne grew up on the Byron Flowage outside of Stevens Point and brings a wide range of government and non-profit experience to this important leadership position. 

Panel: How Much Trust Do We Have in the Public Trust Doctrine?

Wisconsin has a complex system of laws and court rulings about water that are collectively known as the Public Trust Doctrine. The State Constitution provides that the lakes and rivers in Wisconsin are publicly held, they belong to everyone. Other laws and court cases establish that the government has a duty to restore and protect these waters, to effectively manage the “trust” so that it is not degraded over time. Recent decades have seen a range of threats facing our waters, from new pollutants like PFAS to climate-driven precipitation events to rollbacks in shoreland zoning. It’s reasonable to ask how the trust is holding up, and how well we the public can trust the institutions charged with caring for our shared lakes and rivers. This plenary panel will recap a daylong workshop on the Public Trust Doctrine taking place Wednesday and share out the results of conversations aimed at shoring up the legal, educational, and advocacy strategies that protect our shared inheritance.

Michael Engleson, Executive Director, Wisconsin Lakes
Michael Cain, co-chair of the Wisconsin Green Fire Public Trust and Wetlands Work Group, Retired DNR attorney
Lynn Markham, Shoreland and Land Use Specialist, UWSP Center for Land Use Education

Moderator: Eric Olson, Director, Extension Lakes

Concurrent Sessions

10:40 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Project Management 101 for Lake Organizations
Lake and river organizations execute projects that require many external partners, like implementing plans, managing aquatic vegetation, and restoring shorelines. Each project is comprised of complex, interconnected components and milestones. Unsuccessful management of these elements can lead to significant problems, like exceeding budgets and deadlines, and failing to meet project goals. Successful management is challenging, yet crucial in avoiding these downfalls. Learn how to be a better manager that successfully leads your team to set and meet practical expectations that culminate in impactful projects that improve our water resources.

Dave Kraft and Kirsten James, Hey and Associates, Inc.

Wisconsin DNR Surface Water Grants: Successful Project Management & Grant Administration
Has your organization recently been awarded a WDNR Surface Water Grant? Or is your organization considering applying for a WDNR Surface Water Grant next fall? If you answered yes to either question, we encourage you to attend this presentation! We will discuss tips and tricks to make your project run smoother. In addition, proper project management and grant administration will ensure that your organization will be eligible to receive the full grant award at time of reimbursement.

Laura MacFarland and Sarah Fanning, Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin waters are used for a wide variety of recreational activities. One activity can have a strong impact on another activity, sometimes without anyone realizing it. This session will introduce you to many different forms of water recreation, from the perspective of people who regularly participate in these activities. Presentations to include:

Fishing by Motorboat
Why is that ol ‘Duffer always anchored right off my shoreline? Why do those guys have to be pitching big plugs right in the middle of the lake? A review of fishing by motorboat with considerations for location, season, species, equipment and the interface with other lake users.
John Heusinkveld

Kayak Fishing in Wisconsin
The sports of kayaking and kayak fishing have grown tremendously over the last decade in Wisconsin, but many users of Wisconsin waters aren’t familiar with the advances in these water sports or the potential conflicts that may arise between kayakers and other water users. I will give an overview of kayak fishing and discuss the needs of kayak anglers so we can all share the water effectively.

Paul Skawinski, Extension Lakes, UW-Stevens Point

Sharing waters with waterfowl hunters
Fall is a beautiful time of year to enjoy Wisconsin’s waters. Boaters and paddlers will be out enjoying the fall colors. Waterfowl hunters will also start enjoying our rivers, lakes and wetlands. This presentation will offer insight to how, when and where waterfowl hunters share state waters. Finally, this presentation will offer courtesy tips for making outings enjoyable for everyone on the water. Please join us to understand how waterfowl hunter hunting overlaps with other fall water users.

Chris Hamerla, Golden Sands RC&D Council

On WisconSWIM! The Pleasure of Swimming in Our Wonderful Waters
We’ve got a lot to celebrate when it comes to open-water swimming in Wisconsin! Our landscape is rich with water resources, and most of them are swimmable. Pamela, part of a 2024 English Channel relay team, will share tips, including safety, gear, and favorite places, for open-water swimming. Learn how you, too, can get your toes – and more – wet in one of Wisconsin’s G/great lakes or rivers.

Pamela Toshner, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Paddleboarding on Wisconsin Waters
This presentation will include a quick overview of paddleboarding, what kind of water or conditions make for the most enjoyable and safe experience, and how a person’s enjoyment of that activity might be impacted by other water users.

Carol Warden, UW-Madison Trout Lake Station

Inland Sailing in Wisconsin
Sailing has been a passion of mine for over 50 years. In this session, Rick will share stories of how sailing can be a lone sport or a family sport. Sailing can take place on small lakes or very large lakes. Sailing is an activity that can be very relaxing and calming, or it can be exhilarating, all depending on the conditions. An enjoyable sail can take place in a small, one-person sailboat or a larger boat carrying multiple people.

Rick Georgeson, Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards (PACRS)

River Corridor Sources of Sediment and Potential Causes for Downstream Variability in Sedimentation Rates
River corridor sources of sediment include gullying and ravine erosion, channel incision, streamside landslides, and bank erosion. These sources of sediment can be highly variable depending on channel and river corridor hydrogeomorphic processes and geologic setting. Increases in downstream sedimentation rates may be caused by watershed hydrology changes from land alterations and climate-change related increases in the frequency and magnitude of large floods. This presentation will give an introduction to changes in river sediment sources and amounts to help characterize potential challenges and provide science support for management of impounded lakes with sedimentation problems.

Faith Fitzpatrick, U.S. Geological Survey

Dealing with Sediment in Impoundment Lakes
The Wisconsin landscape is dotted with impoundment lakes from tens of acres to thousands of acres. Some are valuable recreational resources and others are limited use mill ponds. One thing they all have in common is they are very efficient sediment traps. In this talk we will discuss sediment sources, sediment trap design, and dredging techniques.

Chris Goodwin, Kleinschmidt Group

Conservation Practices in Your Watershed: Different Perspectives, Different Scales but Same Goal
County Conservation Departments across the state install practices to protect both land and water resources. Sedimentation in impounded lakes require a great deal of effort, money and time to remedy. So why not try and prevent the sediment from entering the lakes? The Conservation Departments’ collective goal is to install proactive conservation practices throughout watersheds on a variety of scales in order to address the resource concerns as effectively and efficiently as possible. We will discuss large scale agricultural conservation practices such as grassed waterways, WASCoBs, and cover crops to small scale residential rain gardens, native plantings, and shoreland buffer strips. The faster water moves, the more sediment it can carry. Let’s take a look from different perspectives of how we can slow water down and let it infiltrate.

Tracy Arnold and Dan O’Connell, Portage County Land and Water Conservation Department

Wisconsin’s community members are integral to the state’s AIS management and prevention efforts, whether actively applying for grants to support prevention efforts or simply following the recommended prevention steps when they leave a lake or river. We all benefit from their dedication to AIS outreach and management, because Wisconsin’s waters belong to all of us. Our communities across the state are continuously learning and evolving ways to better communicate, cooperate, and build trust, to improve the success of their AIS education and water protection efforts. In this session, we’re exploring how inclusive language, storytelling, and being more mindful of our words can help us reach even more of our community members and better accomplish AIS management goals in Wisconsin. Three shorter presentations will be followed by a panel discussion and time for questions and discussion among attendees.

Alien Language: Reflections on the Rhetoric of Invasion Biology (10 min)
When we talk about invasive species, what is it that we’re actually saying? While thoughtful language use can improve the efficacy of science communication, poorly-chosen rhetoric can cause confusion and even undermine DEIJ goals in science. This talk will introduce some of the key areas for reflection when communicating about invasive species: how commonly-used military and nationalist metaphors can backfire in communications plans, how species naming conventions can help or hinder inclusive science, and how to use alternative metaphors to more effectively share research with stakeholders.

Presenter: El Lower, GLANSIS Communications Specialist, Michigan Sea Grant

Rethinking Common Names: A Look at Place-Based Names in Invasive Species Communications (10 min)
Traditional common names for many invasive pests, including those with geographic references, may perpetuate slanderous terms or stigmatize people from the same place. To create more inclusive invasive species educational materials, the University of Minnesota Extension’s Invasive Species Community of Practice developed guidelines for the selection of common names. You’ll learn about our process, the names we’ve updated so far, and what’s next.
Presenter: Megan Weber, Aquatic Invasive Species Extension Educator, University of Minnesota

AIS Prevention Message Frames: What Works and Unintended Consequences (10 min)
This session will describe different message frames we have tested in Wisconsin related to preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, which appear to work best in terms of engagement, which trigger negative reactions and possible unintended consequences of AIS outreach in terms of homeowners prematurely choosing more aggressive management strategies when their lake gets a new AIS.

Presenter: Bret Shaw, Associate Professor & Environmental Communication Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

Amy Kretlow, Aquatic Invasive Species Team Leader, WI Dept. of Natural Resources
Bret Shaw, Environmental Communication Specialist & Associate Professor in Dept. Life Sciences, UW Madison Extension
Megan Weber, Aquatic Invasive Species Extension Educator, MN Extension
Jacob Slattery,
Bakaan Ingoji Gaa Ondaadag (Non-Local Beings) Program Manager, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

This presentation will summarize recently completed comparative research on the size, energy, and power of boat-generated wake waves produced by a number of recreational boats under various modes of operation. We will also share an overview of ongoing research seeking to characterize the propeller wash created by recreational boat operations and its implications on water quality. Finally, we will present our plans for an upcoming research study being funded by the State of Minnesota, the motivation and objectives of this study, and a discussion around priority research needs for safe and fair use of lake resources.

Jeff Marr and Andrew Riesgraf, Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota

Foundations in Wisconsin steward over $11 billion in assets and use the interest earnings to fund a wide range of charitable projects. Community foundations generally focus their work on a specific geographic area, while other foundations operate statewide or nationally but with a narrower programmatic focus. Join this session to hear from a representative of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation and leaders from two central Wisconsin community foundations based in Wausau and Stevens Point. They will discuss the principles that guide their efforts and share examples of how lake and river groups have partnered on projects. This includes lake associations that have created dedicated endowment funds within a foundation, as well as lake and river groups that receive funding through regular grant opportunities.

Tim Parker, President, Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin
Lindsey Taylor, Conservation Programs Coordinator, Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation
Jenny Riggenbach, Chief Executive Officer, Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin



Every Drop in a Watershed Matters

We all play a role in watershed management, are you doing your part? Perspectives from agricultural landowners to shoreland property owners are all important in our collective goal to protect our natural resources now and in the future. County Conservation staff will discuss aspects of different perspectives, on different scales and how to effectively manage the water as it flows through the watershed in its entirety.

Tracy Arnold, Portage County Land and Water Conservation Dept.

Drawing Water Art and Science Collaborations: Building Deeper Understanding Through Mentoring

UW-Madison’s Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction has been fostering art and science collaborations for 17 years and recently launched a new initiative bringing together teams of students, scientists, and professional artists to work together at the boundary of art and science. Science mentors from Trout Lake Station, the WIDNR Northern Highland Fishery Research Area, and the Lac Du Flambeau Tribal Natural Resources Department worked with three professional artists to mentor three art/science students. During the field season, each trio assisted on research projects ranging from wild rice to fisheries to water quality, allowing students to develop passion projects linking art and science. The program will continue for two more years and will include the creation of a traveling art and science exhibit. Come explore how an art and science partnership could help your lake community build trust while finding inspiration and meaning in protecting waters.

Amber Mrnak, UW-Madison Trout Lake Station

12:15-1:30 p.m.

Wisconsin Water Week agenda Debra Shore Credit EPA 512x640 1
USEPA photo by Eric Vance
One of Debra Shore’s roles is manager of EPA’s Great Lakes National Program, fostering restoration and protection of the largest freshwater system in the world. Prior to joining EPA, Shore was an elected member of the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
Also an award-winning author, Shore founded Chicago Wilderness magazine, was a leader in the creation of the Chicago Wilderness Alliance, and founded Friends of the Forest Preserves. Shore has been an active habitat restoration volunteer in oak woods and savannas, prairies and wetlands of local forest preserves for more than 25 years.

Concurrent Sessions

1:45-2:25 p.m.

Measuring Trust in Community Science and Applying what We’ve Learned

Trust is the basis for successful collaborations, including community science projects in which the public and scientists’ partner to produce actionable research. In this talk, we draw on lessons learned from the Snapshot Wisconsin project, a statewide community science effort for monitoring wildlife. Snapshot Wisconsin managers practice iterative evaluation, regularly soliciting feedback from over 1800 volunteers and adjusting the program based on feedback received. We describe how we have measured volunteers’ trust in data produced by the program, as well as factors we have found to influence that trust. We conclude by detailing how we have applied what we have learned and provide recommendations to those interested in better understanding trust within their own collaborations.

Christine Anhalt-Depies, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Being Strategic About Your Communications

Whatever you do, you want to get the most out of your time and effort.

RP Bower is a Communications Specialist with the Wisconsin DNR who specializes in strategic planning for controversial issues like climate change and natural resources. His talk will help you strategically identify communities you’d like to grow closer with, devise strategic goals and plans to get your message out, and gracefully deal with any pushback/resistance from the public.

You’ve spent countless hours working towards your goals. Let’s discuss how to get them across the finish line.

RP Bower, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Agricultural sources are recognized as a major contributor to surface water pollution, but working at the top of the watershed to reduce field runoff is a huge challenge. This presentation will discuss what lake associations have been doing to successfully collaborate with local farmers and what else can be done. Tara will also present on the challenges farmers face in regards to conservation, what practices farmers are adopting and how they help watershed quality, and what non-farmers can do to help prevent pollution from leaving farm fields and ending up in surface waters.

This session is presented on behalf of four farmer-led watershed councils in northwestern Wisconsin who work to reduce field runoff pollution by educating and paying farmers to adopt conservation practices.

Tara Daun, Farmer-Led Watershed Councils

Lake Altoona, Wisconsin is threatened by excessive sedimentation from the Eau Claire River. The cause of delta formation is evident in the river bedforms upstream from where a sediment trap was installed, so sediment trap efficiency seems to be demonstrated by differences in the occurrence river bedforms above and below the trap. This study would evaluate the performance of a bedload sediment collector which is a passive-hydraulic system that includes one or more large (30-ft long) rectangular hoppers placed perpendicular on the riverbed. An open grate at the top (1-ft wide, gravel-sized spacing) lets sediment fall into an internal channel system where an internal or external pump is used to move river water through the bedload sediment collector to slurry sediment through appropriate hosing/plumbing to a terrestrial placement area. The objective is to collect sediment at the natural transport rate to eliminate the need for inefficient mechanical dredging of the sediment trap.

Chuck Theiling, US Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC

Aquatic plants are an important part of any lake ecosystem, but from time to time they need to be controlled for recreational access or aquatic invasive species control. Water resource managers in Wisconsin have a wide variety of management solutions to choose from. Join in to listen to a panel of aquatic plant management experts. They will discuss the pros and cons of different management techniques and answer your questions about aquatic plant management.

Madi Johansen, WI Dept. of Natural Resources
Amy Kay, SOLitude Lake Management
Barb Gajewski, Many Waters
Michelle Nault, WI Dept. of Natural Resources
Peter Jopke, Dane County
Sara Hatleli, Aquatic Plant & Habitat Services, LLC

More and more people are recreating on our lakes in wider varieties and sizes of watercraft. Is there a point where a lake could exceed its capacity to support even more folks on the water before it impacts its environment or even limits folks’ enjoyment of being there in the first place? In this session, we’ll attempt to provide a simple way to collect data on your lake and determine whether it is over capacity in terms of safety, aesthetics, and environmental impact. We’ll show how that information can be used to guide decisions to protect and preserve the lake and the public’s right to enjoy its waters.

Mike Engleson, Wisconsin Lakes
Paul Dearlove, Clean Lakes Alliance

Learn more about how you can participate in and benefit from the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP), a collaborative that enables its partners to better protect, rehabilitate, and enhance sustainable fish habitats in glacial lakes of the Midwest United States for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. MGLP partners include a diverse array of management agencies, researchers, extension staff, stakeholders, and others interested in lake conservation from Wisconsin and the entire Upper Midwest. The MGLP accomplishes its conservation goals through four overarching strategies, which are: 1) Conduct scientific assessments such as those found in the MGLP Conservation Planner to determine the condition and threats to fish habitats. 2) Enable partners to complete on-the-ground habitat conservation projects through grant funding provided by the partnership. 3) Conduct education and outreach such as the Lake Conservation Webinar Series to improve understanding and spark action resulting in fish habitat conservation. 4) Provide a forum for those seeking inland lake fish habitat conservation to share strategies and resources.

Presenter: Pamela Toshner, WI DNR

The sediments of lakes contain a large amount of information about the water quality history of the lake. This talk will discuss how this information is used to compare present day water quality with pre-settlement conditions. If changes have occurred, when did this happen and what were the causes? Has the lake’s infilling rate changed; are nutrient levels higher now than historically; are algal blooms more common now? The sediments contain algal fossils and chemicals such as phosphorus and other indicators of soil erosion. Fossils found in the sediments can also give an indication of changes in the macrophyte community. This information can be used to best direct management efforts for improving water quality.

Paul Garrison, Onterra, LLC

Concurrent Sessions

2:35-3:15 p.m.

This talk will discuss how organizations have partnered with Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) to achieve successful lake and river planning and implementation projects. I will provide an introduction to RPCs throughout the state of WI including their duties, roles, and functions with a nearly 25-year perspective on how the Southeastern Wisconsin RPC (SEWRPC) has supported local governments and non-governmental organizations in a variety of lake and watershed planning/implementation projects. SEWRPC is one of 9 RPCs in the state of WI, one of 4 RPCs recognized as a Metropolitan Planning Organization to carry out comprehensive transportation planning, and one of 2 RPCs designated as a water quality planning agency. This authority granted by the Governor combined with an inclusive/collaborative approach has allowed the SEWRPC to function as an unbiased (non-regulatory) catalyst for exceptional water resources planning in Southeastern Wisconsin and the State. Case study examples will be presented.

Tom Slawski, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC)

In 2015, Eau Claire River Watershed stakeholders embarked on a community-driven, bottom-up effort to create a 9-Key Element Plan. Community members desired that the plan not be limited to the minimum requirements for non-point source (phosphorus) reduction. The resulting plan was approved by the EPA in 2017 and integrated lake management plans, a fisheries and habitat element, a farmer sociological survey, soil health strategies, and a strong civic leadership component. To guide and coordinate the 9KE Plan’s implementation, a diverse coalition of lake groups, private citizens, county land conservation staff, WDNR, and others was created and continue to meet regularly. The Watershed Coalition’s accomplishments have included educational workshops, demonstration farms, soil health test kits, farm and lake tours, and fostering collaboration. This presentation will share the experiences and civic engagement activities from the 9KE Plan’s creation, then highlight the Coalition’s development successes, challenges, and ongoing efforts.

Chris Straight, West Central WI Regional Planning Commission
Daniel Zerr, UW-Madison Division of Extension

Sedimentation and sediment resuspension have impacted the ecosystem and commercial navigation in Upper Pool 4 of the Upper Mississippi River (UMR). Increased turbidity, reduced water depths and light penetration for aquatic plants, and long-term erosion to islands have caused habitat loss and aquatic/terrestrial degradation within the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Pierce County Islands Wildlife Area. Let’s explore the steps to initiate a multimillion-dollar habitat project that uses a federal program to leverage funds through a cost share agreement, accomplished through strong community stakeholder support. These programs align natural and engineered processes to deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits efficiently and sustainably through river infrastructure that results in long term cost savings. The goal is to deliver ecosystem and navigation services to the UMR, a nationally significant ecosystem and nationally significant commercial navigation system, the only inland river with such a designation.

Brenda Kelly, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Introducing Wisconsin’s Phragmites Management Strategy

The Wisconsin DNR has developed the Phragmites australis Statewide Management Strategy to create a long-term Wisconsin-wide approach to managing the aggressive wetland plant, non-native Phragmites. The strategy incorporates Phragmites impacts, ecology, and biology into adaptive management planning and control. It outlines and elaborates on the vision, goals, and objectives integral to the success of a cooperative, landscape-scale, integrated pest management approach that empowers partners, land managers, and landowners. Additionally, the strategy is meant to facilitate Phragmites-focused planning and control projects competing for Surface Water Grant Program funds. The strategy defines the obstacles to successful Phragmites management and presents management alternatives. The aim is to align individual, site-specific goals with the large-scale, statewide goal of strategic, science-based management and to enhance Phragmites control efforts throughout the Great Lakes region.

Matt Puz, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Do Managed Wetlands Approximate Undisturbed Reference Wetlands?

Invasions of narrow-leaved and hybrid cattail displace native wetland vegetation and can develop into dense, monotypic stands that frustrate management efforts. We evaluated the use of selectively-targeted applications of the aquatic herbicide imazapyr for reversing cattail invasions in wetlands of the Mukwonago River. We then conducted detailed post-treatment monitoring of managed sites and compared them to undisturbed reference wetlands to determine if management efforts resulted in restored plant communities that were compositionally similar to those found in reference wetlands. Our chemical suppression approach resulted in greater than 99% reduction in cattail abundance, with concomitant increases in native vegetation abundance and diversity. Factor analysis ordination showed that managed wetlands were compositionally similar to reference wetlands, indicating that active management was accomplishing restoration goals.

Craig A. Annen, Integrated Restorations, LLC and The Nature Conservancy

The Public Trust Doctrine in Wisconsin is widely interpreted to give an individual a right to recreate on Wisconsin’s waters. But what happens when that recreation negatively impacts the environment or the rights of other users to enjoy recreating on the waters themselves? In this session, we’ll dive into what Wisconsin’s courts say about the right to recreate under the public trust as well as engage in a discussion of whether that interpretation can hold in the 21st century.

Presenter: Mike Engleson, Wisconsin Lakes

Water quality in impounded lakes could be substantially improved through the USDA-NRCS Watershed Program which provides technical and financial assistance to plan and implement capital improvements on a watershed scale along tributary streams.

The Program can provide up to $25M for systemic engineering and agronomic improvements across property lines and public rights-of-way to create a win-win for agricultural producers and lake users. For example:

• improve the sinuosity of straightened streams for more efficient sediment transport (dispel the myth that straightened streams sluice sediment through a system). This will open up drainage outlets, and restore aquatic habitat.

• improve the capacity of stream crossings for improved drainage and aquatic organism passage

• valve tile outlets for drainage water management in fall and winter months for denitrification),

• install contiguous sequences of buffers on a large scale to reduce sediment delivery for the benefit of drainage petitioners and the ecology.

• Develop plans & specifications for tributary streams along with a 50 or 100-year agreement with County Sponsors or their agents to maintain the riparian corridor for both agricultural producers and the ecology. In other words, not drop a bunch of money in channel work and then let it unravel or entangle in Box Elders in 25 years.

Steve Becker, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service

Wild Rice Decline in Northern Wisconsin

Wild rice is an annual grass that grows in shallow water in lakes and slow-moving streams in the Upper Midwest. It is a valuable food source for wildlife and people, but populations of wild rice have been declining in parts of northern Wisconsin. We are following six populations of wild rice; two healthy populations, two populations growing near invasive aquatic species, and two previously healthy populations that have not done well in the last five years. After two years of field work in these different populations, we are beginning to identify where and when wild rice is most vulnerable, the status of seed banks and the impacts of herbivory and plant competition.

Susan Knight and Gretchen Gerrish, UW-Madison Trout Lake Station

Returning Wild Rice to Spur Lake – A Long and Unfinished Journey

A once prolific wild rice water in Oneida County, Spur Lake has gone unharvested for nearly two decades. Starting in 2019, during a climate adaptation workshop in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, a group of concerned entities created a road map in hopes of returning rice to Spur Lake. This presentation follows our groups journey from inception to reseeding, and all the data collection, engineering, hand pulling and swamp devil work in-between.

Carly Lapin, WI Dept. of Natural Resources
Nathan Podany, Sokaogon Chippewa Community
Scott Van Egeren, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

3:30-4:30 p.m.

Lightning Talks are a way to feature many presenters who have something to share in 5 minutes or less. These are popular as attendees get to learn a lot in a short amount of time. Lightning Talks include:

  • Wake Boats: Getting Along, Presenter: Jane Getting
  • Catapult Collaboration, Presenter: Jane Getting
  • Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We are in Without Going Crazy, Presenter: Adam Scott
  • Goats, Citizen Shepherds, and Invasive Species Management in Vernon County, Presenter: Matt Wallrath
  • Your Approach to the Message Matters, Presenter: Jeanne Scherer
  • Japanese Stiltgrass: On the Lookout, Presenter: Shelby Adler
  • Digital Governance: Improving Efficiency and Community Involvement, Presenter: Meagan Myrick
  • Internal Phosphorus Loading in Lakes: What is it and how do we manage it?, Presenter: Dendy Lofton
  • Examining Access to Public Lakes, Presenter: Austin Holland
  • Stop Spiny! A Regional Prevention Campaign, Presenter: Zach Stewart

3:30-5:30 p.m.

We know you all spend time and money creating and printing brochures, newsletters, and other educational resources. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for us to share our publications with each other and see what others have developed so we can learn from each other and improve our messaging? We invite you to bring shareable examples of your materials to the Convention and join the Publication Resource Exchange. Interested in sharing your work? Sign up here so we have enough tables set up. We’ll respond to everyone who signs up with additional information.

4:30-5:30 p.m.

Explore the posters and connect with presenters during this informal networking time. 

Posters include:


4:30-5:00 p.m.

AIS Verifier Test (Invite Only)

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Please join us in celebrating the 2023 Wisconsin Lake Stewardship and Volunteer Stream Monitoring Award winners at our banquet and awards ceremony on Thursday evening. The Wisconsin Citizen Lake Monitoring Network and Water Action Volunteers Program Leaders will also congratulate several long-term volunteers.

Lake Stewardship
The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership presents the annual Lake Stewardship Awards to recognize the extraordinary volunteer and professional efforts of individuals and groups who protect and improve our lakes. People are nominated for Stewardship Awards by their peers – what a meaningful way to say, “Thank you!” to the people in your community who work so hard to care for our lakes. Winners of these awards join a select group of individuals and organizations whose unmatched dedication, vision, and commitment ensure that Wisconsin’s legacy of lakes will be safe and secure for generations to come.

Volunteer Stream Monitoring
The Division of Extension at UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recognize a small selection of individuals and organizations every year for their efforts leading to increased participation in stream monitoring, collecting stream data and sharing their knowledge and data.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Concurrent Sessions

8-8:50 a.m.

A new session of the Wisconsin Legislature began on January 1, 2023 and Governor Tony Evers began his second term as well. With a state budget due to be passed by the end of June and lots of lake and water related issues out there that could (or could not) see action, find out what’s happening and what’s in store for water policy in the next year or two. From AIS to PFAS, from recreation to water quality, we’ll take a deep dive into the policy landscape of 2023.

Presenter: Mike Engleson, Wisconsin Lakes

The School of Freshwater Sciences at UW-Milwaukee is the first school in the nation dedicated solely to the study of freshwater and is a launch pad for critical and fascinating freshwater research. For more than 50 years, the faculty and scientists have been conducting internationally recognized freshwater research across four essential themes: human and ecosystem health, freshwater system dynamics, freshwater technology, and freshwater policy and economics. It is crucial that we share this research with our stakeholders and the larger community to encourage people to be informed and knowledgeable about their local waters. Learn about the ways that we reach out into the community through K-12 activities, public programming, and a graduate student water ambassador program.

Liz Sutton, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences

How can we face systemic crises without being overwhelmed to the point of inaction? Learn practices that can be used as personal reflections, structured partner conversations, or group activities. These practices will nourish and strengthen your response to the challenges of our times and empower you to make a difference in the world. Active Hope practices can be adapted for building trust and creative power within any group.

Adam Scott, Madison Metropolitan School District

Trees play a critical role in Wisconsin’s wetland forests by protecting water quality, controlling soil erosion and site hydrology, and providing wildlife habitat. Learn about several of the state’s important wetland forest tree species as we discuss their biology and management. What species are appropriate for planting along shorelines? How are changing natural disturbance patterns, invasive species, and climate change going to impact these tree species in the future?

Greg Edge, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) is commonly used to control invasive aquatic macrophytes, including Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM). Lake Ellwood, Wisconsin was treated with 2,4-D to control EWM annually during 2003 – 2012. Fish surveys following treatment revealed natural recruitment failures of largemouth bass and bluegill. We hypothesized that these species had been negatively influenced by the chemical treatments. Limnological and submersed aquatic vegetation conditions did not change on Lake Ellwood post-chemical treatment. Total zooplankton density increased immediately post-chemical treatment on Lake Ellwood and then stabilized, whereas total zooplankton density did not change on the reference lakes over time. Analyses indicated immediate increases in recruitment post-chemical treatment for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, and yellow perch. Back calculation of year class strength confirmed failures occurred during treatment for northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill, and black crappie. Our results provide evidence to suggest long-term 2,4-D treatments may negatively influence fish through lethal and sublethal mechanisms.

Greg Sass, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

The definition of capacity is “the maximum amount that something can contain or produce”. When we think about organizational capacity, we think about the potential of an organization to produce maximum results. The more capacity an organization has, the more it will accomplish and the more likely it is to meet its goals. Organizations with less organizational capacity will have a harder time getting things done, but there are ways that they can focus on boosting their own capacity over time. Whether you are part of a lake association, lake district, river, or watershed group, you are contributing your time and skills to make that organization more effective. Developing a strong organizational foundation means creating strong relationships with volunteers, meaningful partnerships with external organizations, and ultimately, lake protection and restoration programs that are impactful. This session will introduce four components of organizational capacity and share ways you can begin to produce maximum results.

Sara Windjue and Eric Olson, Extension Lakes, UW-Stevens Point

9:15-10:15 a.m.

More boats and a wider size range of watercraft in recent years brings questions of enforcement of recreational statutes and ordinances to the forefront. DNR Warden Darren Kuhn will discuss what the Wisconsin statutes and administrative code says in regards to how local municipalities can create local boating ordinances, including those regulating enhanced or hazardous wakes. In addition, he’ll cover what recreational boating regulations DNR wardens can enforce and where their authority ends. Warden Kuhn is the warden tasked with recreational boating and has presented to numerous lake and community groups, as well as to the Natural Resources Board on this issue.

Presenter: Darren Kuhn

Boats for All Folks!

Boats and water have a special kinship. Since 2013, All Hands Boatworks (AHB) has inspired and educated thousands of Milwaukee youths in building wooden rowboats, sailboats, kayaks, and canoes and using them for recreation, while also raising appreciation and understanding of their urban watershed. This presentation will highlight how this nonprofit community organization is building more diverse, equitable and inclusive opportunities for youth, families, and the larger community through hands-on projects and on-the-water activities. AHB’s first step in building trust around our waters is through small-group wooden boatbuilding projects. In the second step, crews of youth builders create real, functioning boats that are put into service on local rivers and Milwaukee’s lakefront, not only for their enjoyment, but also available to ALL folks.

Presenters: Bill Nimke and Patrick McBriarty, All Hands Boatworks, Inc.

Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants that Manage City Fertilizer

The sewer service area of the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (the District) generates approximately 110,000 gallons of biosolids each day, resulting in around 36-38 million gallons applied to over 5,000 acres of farm fields each year. The District’s current approach is to beneficially reuse these recovered resources in the form of biosolids which creates a closed loop nutrient cycle. By taking a holistic approach as urban farmers, we ensure the wealth of nutrients we collect from the urban service areas through the treatment process is returned to the food cycle from where they originated. We also ensure that the nutrients are recycled in a way that supports the work of Yahara WINS, the District’s 20-year adaptive management project focusing on improving regional water quality. This presentation will focus on the challenges and opportunities for a municipal wastewater treatment plant that is part of a closed loop nutrient cycle by focusing on: the increased regulatory and operational pressures faced by treatment plants; the impacts of farmers implementing conservation measures to reduce nutrient and soil runoff; the effects of increasing urbanization and climate change; and how nutrient reduction plays a role.

Presenter: Martye Griffin, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District

Want to SEE what good waterfront property stewardship and shoreland zoning can accomplish? We’ll showcase a short new video about how what you do on your land can benefit our waters. This video could be a great way to reach more waterfront property owners! Come join the conversation.

Lynn Markham, Center for Land Use Education, UW-Stevens Point

Historically, the “aerial insectivores” (all six Wisconsin swallows, Chimney Swift, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Common Nighthawk, and the woodland-nesting flycatchers, as well as bats) were common and widespread in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest. While still widespread, this group has undergone some population declines. Reasons for those declines are being investigated but are still incompletely-known. Decline of insect populations has been hypothesized as one possible important reason, but because insect ecology and abundance for many species are still not thoroughly monitored or tracked, our knowledge for this massive group of organisms is also incomplete at best. The core group of avian aerial insectivore species, their ecology and current status are the focus of today’s presentation.

William Mueller, Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

This session will feature presentations from water quality, wildlife, and public health experts. First, each person will provide a brief overview of how PFAS contamination impacts human health, fish and wildlife, and our surface waters. Then, there will be a facilitated panel discussion. This session will offer plenty of time for Q&A, so be sure to bring your PFAntaStic questions!

Mimi Johnson, Sean Strom, and Meghan Williams, Wisconsin DNR
Nathan Kloczko, Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services

A practical guide on how combining manpower and resources provides more results. This workshop details how two lakes located just a few miles apart operated for years separately from each other. A recent change of leadership in the Lake Districts brought about a new way of thinking, bringing both lakes together to share ideas, projects, volunteers, and grant monies. There are still plenty of problems to solve. But the lakes tackle them together, building trust between groups, raising awareness, and giving the Lake Districts a bigger voice in the community and political arena.

Mike Lea, Lake Eau Claire District and Michele Skinner, Lake Altoona District

Concurrent Sessions

10:45-11:45 a.m.

Ashippun Lake is a small, <100-acre spring fed lake in southeastern Wisconsin. When residents noticed impacts to the lake environment from enhanced wakes created by wake boats, they decided to take action. In this session, we’ll hear the story of how the lake district researched the problem, and collaborated with a lake resident, who is the 2022 US National WakeBoard champion, to develop a plan to mitigate impacts. By building trust without sacrificing the science, Ashippun Lake District is showing the way to successfully manage recreational impacts on their waters. They will share with participants their 2023 research plan and ongoing pilot programs. In addition, they emphasize why it is important for scientists to understand the wake boat sport as much as wake boarders are asked to understand environmental impacts.


Paul Gardetto and Mary Nohl, Ashippun Lake

Managing Rain Where It Falls – A Community Approach

Historical rainfall events experienced across Wisconsin make clear that we must act to make our communities more resilient to heavier precipitation events and other climate change impacts that are already upon us. Clean Wisconsin, in partnership with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), community organizations and neighborhood associations, continues to do just that by installing green infrastructure (GI) practices in underserved Milwaukee neighborhoods as well as educating and encouraging GI installations throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Participants in this workshop will learn more about Clean Wisconsin’s work to address stormwater management in the City of Milwaukee’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor through community engagement, outreach, and small-scale green infrastructure practices.

Presenter: Nancy Retana, Clean Wisconsin

City of Madison Green Infrastructure Initiatives, Project Implementation and Lessons Learned

The City of Madison has been installing green infrastructure for 15 years. Over the last 4 years, the City has focused green infrastructure efforts in a pilot study area and implemented a rebate program for privately installed rain gardens. Additionally, Madison has conducted watershed-wide hydrologic and hydraulic modeling future green infrastructure build out scenarios to assess the potential impact of wide-scale green infrastructure implementation. This presentation will cover these topics and share lessons learned about our programs and construction projects.

Presenter: Phil Gaebler, City of Madison

In 2016, School of Freshwater Sciences began an extensive mapping project of Milwaukee’s lower estuary. We mapped 42 miles of shoreline in the harbor to find where freshwater fish are living. Designed by Associate Professor Kim Beckmann, the resulting public maps show wildlife teeming below the surface. At the completion of the Milwaukee project, we expanded along the shoreline with the total effort including all the harbors between Algoma and Kenosha. In each harbor we connect with governmental agencies, fellow researchers, non-profits, and community groups to paint a full picture of the aquatic habitat. The harbor maps have spurred organizations that can take on large-scale improvement projects and are being distributed to the public to inspire residents and visitors to be stewards of our local ecosystems.

Presenters: John Janssen, Jeff Houghton, and Liz Sutton, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, and Brennan Dow, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Wisconsin’s streams, inland lakes, and spring ponds support a diversity of fishing opportunities for trout. Anglers may fish for lake trout in deep lakes or brook trout in spring ponds of the Northern Lakes and Forests, brook trout in meandering streams of the Northern Central Hardwood Forests, brown trout in high gradient Driftless Area streams, or rainbow trout in rivers and urban ponds in the Southeastern Wisconsin Till Plain. Many of our trout fisheries are wild, some are stocked, and all have been shaped by centuries of land use and fisheries management. Here, Bradd will provide an overview of Wisconsin’s trout management program, status of coldwater fisheries, and challenges to maintaining abundant angling opportunities for trout. Matt will follow by providing a research perspective on three challenging issues for trout management, including stream habitat restoration, beaver management, and brook trout stocking and genetics.

Bradd Sims and Matthew Mitro, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Wisconsin Water WELLness – Caring for Your Private Well Water

News about well water quality in Wisconsin may have people wondering about the quality of water coming out of their faucets at home or cottages. Some water quality concerns may be important to talk about because of potential health reasons. Other common complaints people often have about the taste, color, or odor of their well water. In this presentation, we will provide information on common well water quality concerns and explore the complex relationship between land-use, geology, soils, well construction, and well water quality. Lake associations and residents may also be interested in how well water quality data collection efforts could inform management of their lakes. The goal of this presentation to provide an overview of the science and other useful information every rural homeowner should know for managing their well water. Attendees will gain a better understanding of what to test for, possible solutions to well water quality problems, and better information on the connection of groundwater to lakes.

Kevin Masarik, Center for Watershed Science and Education, UW-Stevens Point

Mosquito Spraying and Other Pesticides in Your Yard

Did you know killing mosquitoes with pesticides can kill other beneficial insects? By attempting to extinguish the mosquitos with sprayed pesticides, other insects such as monarchs, beneficial purple loosestrife beetles, and other pollinators can also perish. In this session, we’ll talk about other options for mosquito control, and take a look at what research studies have found about how pesticides affect pollinators, songbirds, pets and people.

Lynn Markham, Center for Land Use Education, UW-Stevens Point

Are you having a hard time finding people who are interested in becoming board officers? Are the same people volunteering for the same positions time after time? If you know what skills are needed for your board to be effective, and if you know what skills your lake neighbors have, you can invite the right people to join your board. A simple gap analysis, or board matrix, helps pinpoint the best candidate for each position. Three lake organizations will share their experiences using a skills gap analysis including how they launched their analysis, the results they received, and how they used the results to improve the effectiveness of their organization.

John Richter, Plum Lake Association
Peter Jensen and Nancy Wilhelm, Eagle Spring Lake Management District
Dave Quady, Sand Lake Association

Closing Lunch

12:00-2:00 p.m.


2:15-4:00 p.m.

Last Wilderness Alliance is a coalition of lake property owners and others  in Wisconsin’s northwoods (especially Vilas County) who, among other things, grew concerned over impacts they were seeing on their lakes from wakeboats and other watercraft creating enhanced wakes. From working on local ordinance solutions, to calling for statewide reform, Last Wilderness Alliance is building a coalition around managing enhanced wake impacts through education and advocacy. In this session you’ll see some of the educational tools they use, hear about their advocacy efforts, and learn about the ups and downs of using a coalition.

Presenter: Jeff Meessmann, Last Wilderness Alliance

Salty Streams and Sustainable Solutions

Across the state, Wisconsin lakes and streams are getting salty. Local waterbodies are sinks for the salt inputs from winter deicing, water softening, and food production. Salt is a permanent pollutant whose use has gone unchecked for too long. Learn how municipalities and businesses are taking steps to right-size their salt use and identify action steps for residents and advocates.

Presenter: Allison Madison, WI Salt Wise

Chloride Management Planning – A Case Study from Starkweather Creek

Starkweather Creek, an urbanized stream in Madison, Wisconsin, is one of four waterbodies in Dane County that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has listed as impaired by chloride. In total, there are over 40 waterbodies in Wisconsin with chloride concentrations that are toxic to aquatic life. De-icer (road salt) used on roads, parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks is a major source of chloride pollution in our surface water and groundwater. In 2020, the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission was awarded a DNR River Planning Grant to work with a steering committee of local stakeholders to develop a Chloride Management Plan for the Starkweather Creek watershed. This presentation will give an overview of the plan development process and highlight chloride monitoring results and plan implementation efforts to reduce salt use to date.

Mike Rupiper, Capital Area Regional Planning Commission

Climate change is affecting the ability of the Ojibwe member tribes of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission to continue exercising their off-reservation treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather. We assessed the climate change vulnerability of 66 beings of tribal interest by integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) with Scientific Ecological Knowledge (SEK). Climate change impacts on culturally important beings were reported by TEK interviewees across the Ceded Territories, and Ojibwe people are so intertwined with some of these beings that they fear a loss of identity as they disappear from the landscape. The combination of TEK and SEK broadened our understanding of climate change impacts on these beings. The second version of the vulnerability assessment, titled “Aanji-bimaadiziimagak o’ow aki,” can be accessed here: http://data.glifwc.org/download/archive.bio/Aanji-bimaadiziimagak_o_ow_aki_digital_02212023.pdf.

Presenters: Rob Croll and Hannah Panci, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC)

Cyanobacterial Blooms: What Makes Lakes Vulnerable and How Can Blooms Be Managed?

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, live in all water bodies. Their growth to nuisance levels, called blooms, is primarily driven by nutrient pollution. In Wisconsin, lakes created by impounding rivers with dams are more susceptible to blooms, but blooms can grow in any water body. Bloom occurrence is exacerbated by the higher temperatures, longer growing seasons, and intensifying rainfall and drought events that we see in Wisconsin due to climate change. In this session learn the basics about blooms – what they look like, where and when they grow, and why impounded lakes are vulnerable to blooms. You will learn important considerations for evaluating bloom treatment and management methods. You will gain insights into the actions you can take to reduce blooms and protect the ecological functioning and resilience of lakes now and into the future.

Gina LaLiberte, WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Harmful Algal Blooms and Your Health

Cyanobacteria are a natural part of Wisconsin’s water bodies. High temperatures and nutrients can promote the growth of cyanobacteria, resulting in what is known as cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs are a public health concern because some cyanobacteria are capable of producing toxins that can make people and animals sick. The Wisconsin HAB Surveillance Program exists to prevent and manage blue-green algae related illnesses in Wisconsin with the goal to protect and promote the health of Wisconsin residents. Since its inception in 2009, our program has collected and investigated human and animal HAB-related illness complaints. We have since improved our understanding of these illnesses as well as identified knowledge gaps. This presentation will discuss the current state of knowledge regarding health effects associated with HAB toxin exposure, give an overview of Wisconsin’s HAB Program and case surveillance data, and highlight unique human and animal case studies.

Jordan Murray, University of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Located in the Central Sands region, Pleasant Lake has faced a range of threats in the past twenty years including high-capacity wells, which could impact the lake’s water level, potential increases in manure spreading in the watershed, which could harm water quality, and aquatic invasive species. In response, leaders from the Pleasant Lake Management District have sought out strategic partnerships and participated in coalitions to aid the district’s efforts and increase their odds of successfully meeting their challenges. This presentation will highlight a range of collaborations to illustrate what “external capacity” looks like in practice.

Francie Rowe, Central Sands Water Action Coalition

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