Who are we?
The Tomahawk Lake Association is a not-for-profit, 501c(3) organization of people who care about Tomahawk Lake.
The Tomahawk Lake Association was formed in 1989 by local residents to help inform, educate and organize the approximately 350 waterfront property owners on Tomahawk Lake on issues crucial to the continued quality of the shore land and water of our lake, as well as the care and maintenance it requires.
Because we are a 501c(3) organization, we can receive tax-deductible gifts as well as seek grants from the DNR and other government agencies.
Why are we important?
The Tomahawk Lake Association is the only resource dedicated exclusively to Tomahawk Lake. This does not mean that the issues we address necessarily are unique to our lake, but they are of high concern to those who care about our lake. Tomahawk Lake unites us as an “interest group,” and therefore gives us greater capacity to have an impact on our shared concerns through our combined efforts, financial resources and political influence.
What are we trying to accomplish here, anyway?
There are many issues of current and potential concern to property owners on Tomahawk Lake, from boating safety to the management of the water level. However the greatest concern at this time is the urgent need to control the rapid spread of Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM).
EWM is an invasive species of seaweed that reproduces rapidly and has the potential to choke much of the lake, making it almost impossible to use, and adversely affecting wildlife. Parts of Tomahawk Lake are seriously threatened already, and the Tomahawk Lake Association has been leading the way in battling it.
To date, there is no known permanent solution to the problem – all we can do is continually fight its spread. Eventually, EWM must be addressed at the state or federal level, as it impacts all of our region’s lakes. Until we and other concerned residents can make that happen, we must address the issue at the local level, as private citizens.
What do we need to do to make that possible?
We have organized volunteers to address EWM in numerous ways. First, we have volunteers continually search for and identify EWM infestations on Tomahawk Lake, so that they can be addressed. Other volunteers dive and carefully remove patches by hand. (Fortunately, EWM only grows at a depth of 20 feet or less.) Still other volunteers staff boat landings to educate boaters about how they can prevent the spread of EWM.
The strongest defense, however, is chemical treatment, and this costs money. The DNR makes meaningful matching grants to help cover the cost of the purchase and application of these tested and approved chemicals, but formal lake associations like ours must raise a share of the funds. As more areas of infestation are identified, more funds are required. Therefore, even as we raise money and perform volunteer work to save our lake, we must organize and work with other groups of concerned property owners and citizens of Wisconsin to move this issue up on the governmental agenda.
How are we planning to do that?
Those already involved in The Tomahawk Lake Association are working hard to make sure that everyone on the lakefront is aware of the problem and what they can do to help, including an urgently needed financial contribution. This is a prime example of how large-scale issues must be addressed in this country – from the bottom up. To get government to act, there must be an obvious groundswell of public concern and demand. And to get large numbers of people behind any movement takes leadership – smaller numbers of individuals prepared to step forward with their time, money, effort and influence to help build popular awareness and support of the issue. This is what The Tomahawk Lake Association is trying so hard to do, to identify and engage those leaders, and as quickly as possible, because if we wait too long, the job of saving our lake from EWM will become virtually impossible.
If we are successful in this strategy, what difference will it make?
This job will not be easy, and the problem will not go away quickly, if at all. The Tomahawk Lake Association is working hard to keep the invasion of EWM from spreading even further on our own cherished Tomahawk Lake, while helping to sound a broader call to arms, and alerting our elected officials that the legislature must make this an issue of the highest priority. The unabated spread of EWM has the potential to impact the economy of the entire northern half of the state of Wisconsin by making lakes less desirable for tourists to visit. We all must fight this problem on an ongoing basis until a breakthrough solution can be found to eliminate the problem.