Lake protection organizations in Vilas and Oneida counties received more than $520,000 in aquatic invasive species (AIS) grants in the latest round of state funding, the bulk of which will go toward education, prevention and lake-planning efforts.

What the grants show is that lake associations and lake rehabilitation districts here are some of the most active in Wisconsin, working hard to keep Eurasian water milfoil and other invasive species out of the 95% of lakes that remain uninfested.

A big part of that is the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, where a combination of paid personnel and volunteers spend thousands of hours at boat landings to inspect watercraft and spread the word on AIS prevention methods. Nearly $190,000 in grants were received just for that program.

Planning grants are crucial to prevention and management because no lake group can receive a control grant without first having done a comprehensive lake study. Effective, timely management of infestations is a vital part of prevention because it minimizes the plant colonies that boaters and anglers come into contact with.

At no time in history have lake protection organizations known more about the aquatic vegetation, water quality, woody debris, shoreland habitat and other characteristics of their waterbodies. In the long run, that knowledge will be beneficial to making the right management decisions.

While lake groups could always use more funding to fight the spread of AIS, they do get more than $3 million every year from the Boating Account to fight the spread of AIS. As an example, the town of Plum Lake received $29,778 to continue lake surveys and the town of St. Germain received two large-scale planning grants totaling $48,236. Others went for work on North and South Twin, Muskellunge and Pioneer lakes.

We tip our caps to the hundreds of hard-working volunteers who keep lake associations financially viable and well-staffed, for only a grassroots effort will be effective in the fight to control the overall presence of AIS in these navigable, state-owned waters.

‘Save The Dome’ boosted by Rotary’s $50,000 grant

Kudos to the Rotary Club of Eagle River and its nonprofit foundation for donating $50,000 to the Eagle River Recreation Association’s (ERRA) “Save The Dome” capital campaign, the biggest local boost to date for the $1.5 million fundraising plan.

Rotary, the organization responsible for funding renovations at Silver Lake Beach, the historic railroad depot and hundreds of other local projects, has once again stepped up in a big way to save an ice hockey facility that is vital to Eagle River’s history and the fabric of family life here.

The ERRA is under state orders to replace the 50-year-old ice-making plant that serves the famous Dome, and the project needs to be completed by early fall if there is any hope for hockey or figure skating in that one-of-a-kind facility next winter.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

        Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Michelle Drew.