Lake groups in Vilas and Oneida counties received more than $831,000 in grants for aquatic invasive species (AIS) education, prevention and planning for 2021 projects and the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, state officials announced

Carol Warden, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) aquatic invasive species specialist, said a dozen AIS lake education and planning grants were approved for Vilas County lake organizations and over 20 were granted for Oneida County groups.

A total of $306,486 was awarded to Vilas County organizations for AIS education, prevention and planĀ­-

ning. In addition, 23 Vilas County groups received $119,682 in Clean Boats, Clean Waters (CBCW) grants for volunteers and students to educate boaters at landings and check watercraft for AIS.

In Oneida County, lake associations and partners were awarded grant funding of $341,343 through the DNR’s AIS grant program for education, prevention and planning. In addition, 13 CBCW grants were approved in Oneida County for $64,018. The Three Lakes Waterfront Association received $12,000 for CBCW.

Statewide, the DNR announced the department awarded more than $6.2 million in funding to communities and lake organizations, including over $1.4 million for AIS treatment and control.

This year, the DNR Surface Water Grant Program selected proposals from 247 eligible award applicants. The projects include outreach and education activities, management planning, habitat restoration, runoff and pollution reduction and aquatic invasive species control.

“The projects selected for awards leverage a substantial amount of local funding and promise to make an important contribution to our natural resources legacy,” said Alison Mikulyuk, DNR lakes and rivers team leader. “One of the strengths of this program is that it supports local groups all along their journey to protect and restore the aquatic systems they know and love. Local groups really come together to do incredible, positive things for our waters.”

Planning grants help communities collect data, assess waterbody conditions and understand the source of water quality problems. Education projects focus on capacity building, outreach, and understanding of prevention and management needs. Funding for these grants originates from the gas tax on fuel used in recreational boats.

Another round of prevention and control grants will be awarded later in the year, allowing lake groups opportunities to reduce AIS in lakes, including Eurasian water milfoil (EWM). The lake groups need the planning grants in advance of the control grants.



Vilas projects

Warden explained some of the Vilas projects.

Muskellunge Lake Association is sponsoring a $49,999 project to manage the EWM population in the lake to be completed by Dec 31, 2022.  

“The project will employ ProcellaCOR herbicide spot treatments in 2021 and 2022.  The project also will include point-intercept surveys, herbicide concentration monitoring and CBCW,” said Warden.

Buckatabon Lakes Association Inc., is sponsoring a population management $50,000 grant to be completed by Dec 31, 2022.  The focus will be to remove EWM via hand-pulling and diver assisted suction harvesting (DASH), and biological control with weevils.  

The city of Eagle River, received $15,152 for lake management planning at Silver Lake.

“The city of Eagle River is sponsoring a project to develop a comprehensive lake management plan for Silver Lake to be completed by Dec. 31, 2023,” said Warden. “Specific project activities include AIS, shoreland, coarse woody habitat surveys, Development of stakeholder survey and Lake Management Protection p, Watershed characterization and water quality monitoring and Point intercept and fisheries data integration.”

The Long Lake of Phelps Lake District is sponsoring a $20,000 grant to be completed by Dec. 31, 2021.  The focus of the project will be removal of EWM via DASH.  The project will include sub-point intercept and CBCW.  

“The Smoky Lake Association is sponsoring a $50,000 grant to be completed by Dec 31, 2023,” said Warden. “The focus will be on removal of Eurasian water milfoil via hand pulling and DASH.  The project will include point intercept surveys, AIS refresher training and CBCW.”

The town of St. Germain received a grant of $5,056 and is sponsoring a project to install an Internet Landing-Installed Device Sensor (I-LIDS) camera at the boat landing (public pier) on Found Lake to prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species into the lake and educate boaters on best practices. 

The town of Plum Lake received $15,000 to sponsor a project to install an I-LIDS camera at the boat landings (public pier) on Laura, Irving and Razorback lakes in Vilas County to prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species into the lake and educate boaters on best practices. 

Warden said several other groups received grants to assist with AIS management in Vilas County. 

The Northwoods Land Trust received $160,000 for shoreland protection projects in Vilas and Langlade counties; and UW-Madison received $150,000 for wild rice projects in Vilas and Oneida counties.

The Vilas County Land and Water Conservation Department received $50,000 for watershed protection. 

“The department is sponsoring a county lake planning grant to complete a watershed management inventory and develop a watershed protection plan for one HUC 12 watershed in Vilas County, with a study completion date of Dec. 31, 2022,” said Warden. “Specific project activities include:  identify five healthy watersheds and then select one of the five for this study; establish a workforce to assist in the implementation; train the workforce and inform the public about the project;  complete watershed field and develop a watershed protection plan.”



Oneida projects

In Oneida County, the Three Lakes Waterfront Association (TLWA) received $49,165 for AIS population management on Long and Virgin lakes; and nearly $50,000 for lakes education and planning on five lakes — Big Stone, Crystal, Deer, Dog and Laurel.

“The TLWA is sponsoring a project to implement approved EWM control activities from their aquatic plant management plan,” said Warden. “The project will include hand-pulling and possible herbicide control, herbicide concentration monitoring and point intercept surveys.” 

The Three Lakes group also received $2,000 for a shoreland restoration project.

The Minocqua and Kawaguesaga Lake Protection Association (MKLPA) received over $71,000 for EWM control on the two lakes. 

“The  MKLPA is sponsoring a project to implement approved EWM control activities from their aquatic plant management plan using hand-pulling, DASH and herbicide,” said Warden. “The project includes herbicide concentration monitoring and point intercept surveys.”

The Squash Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District received $43,425 for AIS control.  The project will implement approved EWM control activities from their aquatic plant management plan. The project includes hand-pulling and DASH efforts, point intercept surveys and CBCW. 

The Crescent Lake Association received $48,206 for preservation and protection.



Other awards

Trout populations and anglers will benefit from several projects funded with surface water grants. Trout Unlimited in the Rock Creek watershed of Forest County will use a $50,000 river management grant to open up 8 miles of trout stream, reconnecting cold water habitat and working with other projects for a holistic approach to habitat restoration in the watershed. 

Statewide 142 groups will receive support to participate in the CBCW program. Local advocates will focus on education and outreach to watercraft users to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species among waterbodies.

“These are just a few of the many projects receiving funding this year,” Mikulyuk said. “While the grant projects from this year are just getting underway, next year’s grant cycle will be here before you know it.”

Organizations or local groups that could benefit from surface water grant should reach out now to determine eligibility and begin developing ideas in advance of the September deadline.

For more information, or to find a Surface Water Grant project in their community, visit the Surface Water Grants Program webpage at dnr.wi.gov where citizens also can find the full list of awards for this year.