Greetings from the cool and windy shores of Tomahawk Lake! For those of you who live and play on Tomahawk for only a few months of the year, you’re missing a heavy dose of seasonal transitioning. The locals are scurrying around getting ready for winter, while also trying to enjoy the last few warm days of autumn. Almost all of the boats are put away and only a few die-hard fishermen or an occasional work barge is still venturing out onto the chilly waters of the lake.
Autumn is also a time to reflect on how well the summer went. As I assess progress against TLA goals, I am pleased by our many successes. However, this year’s EWM treatment wasn’t as productive as we planned.
Our Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW) effort to educate TLA members and lake visitors was a huge success again in 2011. While fewer boats visited our public boat ramps this summer – no doubt due to the tough economic environment – our CBCW volunteers and staff did an awesome job. Our ramp attendants went to great efforts to make sure that each and every boat was met with a welcoming smile and great information about maintaining the health and wellness of Tomahawk Lake.
This year we installed a CBCW Attendant’s booth at the Lake Tomahawk Town Ramps, which greatly helped bring our message of good lake stewardship to the forefront. The Town of Lake Tomahawk Board of Supervisors was very helpful in making this happen.
Next year, we need a volunteer coordinator to help recruit and schedule CBCW attendants. Our volunteer numbers have dwindled over the past few years – we need to bulk up in this area! If you would like to volunteer for either job, Coordinator or ramp attendant, please call or e-mail me at your first opportunity.
TLA’s Annual Town Hall & Lake Fair was held on July 23rd and featured a host of activities and presenters. But without a doubt, the major storm that struck during our Town Hall Meeting was a memory we won’t forget! Our President, Paul Shain gave an informative presentation about the TLA’s initiatives, while the tent sides rattled with heavy wind gusts and copious amounts of rain. Roughly 75 gutsy members enjoyed the excellent picnic lunch prepared by the Indian Shores Owners Association. As the lunch ended, the clouds parted and the sun came out, along with a large number of additional fair goers. While the inclement weather no doubt had an effect on attendance, we still had an estimated 250 kids, parents, and grand parents come to the fair. Many thanks go out to all of our volunteers, and to the presenters that gave out a huge amount of valuable and fun information. We couldn’t have done it without you!
TLA Educational Presentations were given to four township board of supervisor meetings and at lake gatherings including the Pottowattomie Colony annual “Powwow”, Bloom’s annual picnic, Kemp Woods Picnic, and the Lakeside Condo Association annual meeting. These presentations educate stakeholders on the TLA’s efforts to protect and enhance the Tomahawk Lake Watershed. In addition, this year we gave a keynote addresses at a strategic lake planning workshop held by the Oneida County Extension. Representatives from many counties and lake groups attended this workshop.
TLA Research projects. The TLA has remained an active participant in an ongoing Army Corps of Engineers research project to study the rate of chemical herbicide dissipation in different aquatic environments. Our participation involved collecting water samples for two weeks during and following our chemical treatment applications in the spring. Samples were taken each day, hourly, at six locations on the lake. The analysis provides data that shows the effects of localized environmental conditions on treatment success. This is the third year we have participated and the results should be forthcoming from the Army Corps.
Starting next year, we have asked to be included in a multiple year study regarding the use of weevils for EWM control. In late December, we will find out if we will be included in the study. We are hopeful that our participation will give us yet another weapon to use in the fight against EWM.
TLA Sentinels Surveys are a major tool in our battle with EWM. Twice each summer, 17 groups of volunteers survey specific areas of the Tomahawk Lake watershed to record the location and details of EWM infestations. This data is indispensible for two reasons. First it is used to schedule harvest sites for our Hydraulic Conveyor System (HCS). Second, it provides our scientific surveyor a great deal of data to evaluate infestation sites for chemical treatments. Each survey requires approximately 40 volunteers for 6 hours. The quality of data is outstanding. Many thanks go out to these men & women who are committed to the health of our lake.
TLA’s Hydraulic Conveyor System continues to operate at a highly efficient and consistent level. Our harvesting records for the summer are very similar to last years results, with about 20,000 pounds of drained EWM removed from 90+ sites within the lake. These numbers are impressive when one considers that, due to an extremely late spring, the growing season for EWM didn’t heat up until the latter half of June. Once the water temperatures finally warmed up in late June, and continued through the rest of the summer, EWM infestations grew like weeds.
This year’s dive team comprised of two Limnology students: Ben Brown from UW – Stevens Point and Justin Forest from the University of Minnesota – Brainard. Both men have extensive diving experience and are committed to pursuing water science careers.
2011 EWM Chemical Treatment Results
This year we learned that EWM chemical treatments are greatly affected by the cold water temperatures that result from a late spring.
Our Chemical Treatment Program utilizes a broadleaf aquatic herbicide. To be effective, the herbicide must contact EWM’s leaves. The plant takes the herbicide in through its leaves and transports it to its root system which kills the plant.
This year, water temperatures remained very cold until the second week in June – which delayed plant growth in the lake. To compensate for the delayed growth, our partners at the WDNR allowed us to push back our treatment eight days after the official application cutoff date. But even with the treatment delay, the EWM was not developed enough to take in sufficient chemicals to effectively kill many of the plants.
Dr. Susan Knight of the UW Extension Trout Lake Station examined EWM plants in Kemp Bay in mid July, and found that EWM plants exhibited chemical burning in their lower extremities, but normal new plant growth in the tops of the plants. It appears that the cold water didn’t allow for sufficient plant chemical absorption to take place.
What does this mean for our plans for next spring? It means that we will be re-treating most of the areas targeted this year. In addition, we will be treating substantial new areas of dense EWM which have been discovered in the lake – many of them are adjacent to 2011 sites. In all, we will be chemically treating approximately 113 acres of dense EWM in 2012 compared to 52 acres in 2011.
This is a big hit to our program and budget. However, if we don’t make these treatments, we will see additional spread of EWM in 2013. For no other reason, we must remain diligent in our efforts!
In addition, we continue to research every possible means to combat EWM in our watershed. Initiatives include:
- Investigating chemical treatments which show better results when lake water is cold.
- Working with UW/ extension to gain inclusion in their weevil study in selected areas of our lake.
- Participating in EWM research studies.
- Mapping and observing all of the areas of EWM in our lake through two Sentinels and three scientific surveys.
We will continue to look for new and innovative ways to wage war against EWM. The key to success is remaining diligent, consistent and committed to keep this invasive weed in check.
I have gazed out across the weed free waters of Tomahawk every summer for the past 49 years. I’m not ready or willing to give her up! I hope that you’re not either. If we all work together, we can and will regain the upper hand against EWM!
Tomahawk Lake Association, Inc.