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March 24, 2018

3/10/2018 7:29:00 AM
Fish like a girl
Lakes Convention is a great opportunity for stakeholders

Beckie Gaskill
Outdoors Writer

The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention and Water Action Volunteers Symposium is set for April 18-20. Simply known to most as the "Lakes Convention," the UW-Extension Lakes convention partners with the Water Action Volunteers Symposium to bring three days of invaluable information and networking to lake association and district members as well as to lake stakeholders across the state.

This will be my first year attending the Lakes Convention and, although I will not be able to attend all of it, I am really looking forward to what I will be able to attend. Last year I talked to quite a few people who attended, and each of them came away with a very positive memory of the event, recharged and ready to take more control of the management of their lake.

Attendees can sign up for workshops of their choice throughout the three days. I think the most difficult part of attending the Lakes Convention will be deciding what workshops to attend. Some lake organizations have several members attending who can then share the information they learned in various workshops with the association or district after the convention, which I think is a great idea. There is no way for one person to attend everything that would be of interest to a lake group, so finding someone else in your organization who would like to go might be a great way for the group as a whole to get the most out of the convention.

Wednesday there are day-long workshop options as well as morning and afternoon workshops. Thursday and Friday have several morning and afternoon options each. There is a limit, of course, to the number of participants in each workshop, so anyone interested would do well to sign up as early as possible.

Wednesday's all-day workshops include "Focusing on Healthy Lakes: Breakouts and Fieldwork." The Healthy Lakes initiative focuses on habitat and shoreline restoration for lake property owners. This program focuses on smaller projects that almost any homeowner can undertake. There are even grants available to help reimburse the costs associated with these projects.

The Water Action Volunteer (WAV) Basic Training workshop is also a day-long workshop on Wednesday. It focuses on streams and is targeted toward those wishing to become a citizen stream monitor. Topics include stream temperature, transparency, dissolved oxygen, biotic index, flow and habitat. Unless the weather is horrible, participants will even go to a stream to learn more about monitoring in a hands-in environment. There are several other WAV workshops throughout the convention as well, such as Wednesday afternoon's Macro-invertebrate Identification.

A Citizen Lake Monitoring Network (CLMN) Refresher is also part of the convention. This workshop is not only designed as a refresher for CLMN volunteers, but also for others on the lake who would like to know what that volunteer is doing and the type of data they are collecting. For those thinking about becoming a CLMN volunteer, this workshop is a great way to learn what is expected of a volunteer and what goes into monitoring.

Another workshop I think would be interesting (OK, all of them would be, but as I go through the agenda, there are several that catch my eye) is the "Aquatic Plant Ecology and Identification" workshop. I have written about my love of field guides in the past and learning to identify plants and animals on the landscape. So, this one would be a natural for me to attend. Participants will leave the workshop, not only with knowledge gained, but also with two aquatic plant identification books. There is an additional cost for this workshop, I would guess to cover the costs of the books.

"Oh look," I said as I opened the tab for Wednesday afternoon. "Loon Ranger!" While this workshop is geared toward volunteers in the LoonWatch program, anyone can attend, I just might. Another very interesting learning experience, if you ask me. Everything from loon basics to monitoring techniques will be covered in this workshop.

A workshop on blue-green algae in Wisconsin and an "Introduction to Lake Eutrophication Modeling" are also options for attendees.

There are several workshops aimed specifically at lake districts as well. There is treasurer training as well as commissioner training. A workshop on dams is also scheduled including an overview of dam regulation in Wisconsin and a review of the regulatory framework of dams.

Thursday's offerings include topics such as "General Aquatic Invasive Species," "Reconnecting Rivers Through Culvert Replacement" or "Removal and Understanding Watersheds." "Starry Stonewort," something fairly new to many of us, has its own time slot in the AIS realm.

Each concurrent session has several different topics from which attendees can choose: there are different sessions in AIS, ecology, policy and politics, research, restoration and watershed connections and Water Quality.

To list all of the workshops and learning sessions throughout the entire convention would take far too long for the purposes of this column. But suffice it to say there is something each day for every lake stakeholder. There are four different concurrent session, with multiple choices each session, on Thursday and five such sessions on Friday. There are multiple opportunities to network with other lake stakeholders as well as key-note speakers. If there were a "must-attend" for lake stakeholders in Wisconsin, I feel as though this would be it. I know I am looking forward to it. I hope to see many of you there, and I am looking forward to bringing back some information to share myself. More information can be found on the UW-Extension Lakes page of the UW-Stevens Point website. It is easiest to search "Wisconsin Lakes Convention" in any search engine and find the UWSP link.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at

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