The beginning stages of a new Lake Management Plan (LMP) for Pigeon Lake were unveiled at the Clintonville High School Auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 23.
A presentation was given by Mark Kordus, Dale Buser and James Scharl, who work for Stantec. Their goal is to help the Pigeon Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District (PLPRD) achieve their goals in improving the lake’s condition.
Stantec has provided environmental engineering/consulting services in the Midwest for more than 50 years. They have five offices throughout Wisconsin, and are familiar with the region’s ecosystems, regulatory requirements, and best practices. They offer a wide range of lake management services.
The existing LMP was adopted in 2006, and focused on aquatic invasive species management – especially Eurasian water-milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed. Operations have included limited mechanical harvesting. Water level manipulation and dredging were discussed, but not implemented.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) recommends plan updates every five years, so the PLPRD partnered with Stantec to create a new plan. The plan will capture new data and updates on the current condition of the plant community at the lake. The plan must be reviewed by the WDNR technical team in order to be grant-eligible.
The new plan is being created in hopes of implementing a better overall management strategy for Pigeon Lake. Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species is a top priority, and the new plan will determine the effects of chosen management options. A systematic approach with measurable outcomes will be a key component of the new plan, as the PLPRD continues to bring awareness of benefits and problems with the lake to members of the public. Ideally, the plan will put the district in position to obtain grant funding for specific action items.
The plan will be created using existing data, baseline data, water quality information, and an important public opinion survey to gauge the perception of the lake and how people want to be able to use it.
A watershed analysis will include all land surface area draining into the lake, and how the land use within the watershed affects water quality. Nutrient input from runoff and storm sewers will be scrutinized, along with modeling based on land use to show nutrient effects on the lake based on current and predicted land use.
Current water levels at the dam will also be reviewed. Outlet design and operation are linked to management goals, as the function of the dam could be used to help decrease phosphorous flux, increase the volume of water tangibly contributing to the fishery, and enhance downstream water and fishery quality.
Current sedimentation issues will also be addressed, with many options to meet varying goals for varying locations. Sediment thickness, volumes and properties will be analyzed, and sustainability of treatment options will be emphasized. For example, dredging may be an option, but it is very expensive and may not be a long-term remedy in some areas.
Brady and Fairway Lakes will be targeted for possible sediment control basins. The current ecological significance of these two lakes will be discussed, along with possible options for increasing water depth (targeted dredging) and lessening sediment delivery to Fairway Lake.
Current aquatic plant issues are of high importance, as plant matter is currently very dense and is growing at nuisance levels. Weeds often hamper recreation activities and enjoyment of the lake. Weed growth is being enhanced by nutrient inputs from the watershed. There are limited management options to combat the nuisance weeds, and there are increasing costs to keep the weeds in check. The benefits of certain aquatic plants will also be kept in mind, as plant life is important for fish and wildlife habitat and erosion control.
Fisheries concerns will be a focal element of the new LMP. The WDNR is in the process of completing a Fisheries Report, which will be reviewed by the PLPRD when it becomes available. Secondary effects of sediment and dam management activities will be studied, along with a full review of the life cycle habitat needs for target species of fish. Kordus, Buser and Scharl all noted that the lake is particularly vulnerable to invasive species due to the number of boat launches on the lake. They also noted that the dam is the first barrier, which can be used to the fishery’s advantage.
Plant management options such as mechanical harvesting, water level drawdown and herbicides will all be discussed as new or continuing options for weed management.
A public opinion survey will be available for citizens to complete on Feb. 4. The survey will remain available for 30 days. Hard copies can be obtained from the PLPRD, or the survey can be completed online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Pigeon-Lake-Survey. The survey must be completed or returned prior to March 6.
Survey results will be incorporated into the LMP. Watershed evaluation and modeling will be completed in February, and water quality sampling will be conducted this summer. An aquatic plant point intercept survey will be completed in July/August. A draft of the LMP will be available for review in October/November, and a final presentation of the LMP to the WDNR will take place in December 2014 or January 2015.
To learn more about the LMP, visit http://www.pigeonlake.org/. Buser can be reached at 262-643-9170 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Kordus can be reached at 715-781-9976 or email@example.com; and Scharl can be reached at 920-344-7951 or firstname.lastname@example.org.