A Green Bay Experience

A Green Bay Experience:

How Wisconsinites Protect Their Lakes

Last week, 450 Wisconsin lake lovers gathered Green Bay for their 34th annual Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention to learn and share ideas about lake protection.  My wife, Geri, and I were among these kindred spirits.

I was privileged to be asked to give a plenary address to the assembled about challenges to lake protection.  I adapted much of my speech from my book, For Love of Lakes, addressing the paradox: We love our lakes yet we not only allow but participate in their deterioration.  Audience response was wonderful.  Many who had read For Love of Lakes told me they greatly enjoyed the book and its message.

I attended many informative presentations in break-out sessions during our two days there, including presentations about their fisheries research.  Five lakes, with different characteristics, none of which have homes or cabins on their shores, enable researchers to conduct important studies on fish ecology and fishing dynamics that could not be easily done in lakes with developed shores.  Findings from these studies can then be employed in Wisconsin lakes broadly.

Wisconsin is doing two things to protect lakes that I dearly wish we had in Minnesota.  Their University Extension folks provide significant staff help to the Wisconsin Lakes Association. That gives lake advocates a stable source of funding and some great technical help.

They fund an outstanding event every year in their efforts to protect Wisconsin lakes.  By invitation only, they bring together 28 people who are activist types to a three event retreat to train and educate, in the spring, the summer and another in the fall. This develops a cadre of especially qualified lay people each year to advocate for lakes all over the state. It turns out my book is required reading for the spring retreat and I have been asked to attend as a resource person. For not a lot of money they can stimulate lots of great lake protection activities.

Be kind to our lakes.

Darby Nelson

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