WASHBURN COUNTY -- There is a Washburn County not-for-profit organization working to protect all of our water resources for both water enthusiasts and the public. Washburn County Lakes & Rivers Association (WCLRA) is a group of dedicated people who have been organized since 1999, to preserve the 964 lakes and 700 miles of rivers and streams, and just as important, the shorelands and wetlands that provide safe harbor for wildlife. A few interesting wildlife examples right in our backyard include 52 nesting eagles, an occasional bobcat, over 400 species of clams, 160 species of fish in the State of Wisconsin, a sustaining loon population in northern Wisconsin, and otters moving a little too fast and far to be counted! All people who are interested in our outstanding local natural resources are invited to join WCLRA, whether or not they are shoreland owners.
Mission that matters
This is the time of year that WCLRA reflects on recent accomplishments and reestablishes goals to address the many environment-related challenges affecting local waters. WCLRA provides education and advocacy to encourage responsible use of our waters. With over 350 individual members and 26 lake or river organizations, our actions benefit not only property owners, but lake and river districts and associations, local government, the general public, and future generations. The excellent water quality resources of the area directly benefit area tourism and the economy.
We’re proud that both youth and adult education has been a long-time commitment. We are grateful to continue to partner with Hunt Hill Sanctuary, Wisconsin DNR, and Washburn County Land and Water Conservation Department to retain clean local waters with involvement and support from all ages. We also partnered with Michelle Martin at Spooner Tourism to provide an educational display on “Tourism’s Tribute to the Lakes” theme.
Here are some of WCLRA’s newest collaborations with WI DNR, the City of Spooner, and others:
- Worked with the City of Spooner to obtain a DNR surface water grant valued at over $22,000. This project includes volunteer “Rain Rangers” who inventoried and monitored stormwater outfalls to the Yellow River and other nearby waters. This information will be used to help plan cost-effective non-polluting improvements in Spooner’s stormwater run-off system.
- Assisted Lake Associations and Districts, for example, we supported the Minong Flowage Lake Association’s application for a lake drawdown to combat Eurasian Water Milfoil and assisted the Spooner Lake District in presenting environmental impacts of a proposed campground to the County Zoning Committee and Board of Adjustment.
- Became the first partner organization of the newly formed, non-profit Yellow River Protection Conservancy (YRPC). The goal of YRPC is to create an ecologically resilient land and water corridor of privately owned property along the Yellow River from Spooner to Danbury.
A third area of achievements is ongoing advocacy with Senator Janet Bewley and Assemblymen Nick Milroy and David Armstrong for needed legislation. Our Association’s top legislative priority for 2021, renewal of funding for the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Fund, was passed in the State Budget. The Fund addresses preserving natural areas, water quality, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Also approved at the State level were several timely Conservation Congress resolutions that we introduced in Washburn County including local control of shoreline zoning, high capacity well limits, buffers on streams and ditches, and climate change. Another role that was crucial to safe shoreline development practices, given increased shoreline development, was providing credible information on environmental impacts at County Zoning Board Conditional Use Permit hearings.
For more information, please visit wclra.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.