Slow-No-Wake within 100 ft. of shoreline

The web address below will direct you to an article regarding the new Wisconsin boating rule designed to protect shorelines, improve water quality, and reduce the frequency of chopping up aquatic invasive species like Eurasian Water Milfoil.

http://dnr.wi.gov/news/DNRNews_article_Lookup.asp?id=1417

Lawrence Eslinger
Oneida County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator

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Clean Boats Clean Waters Volunteer Watercraft Inspection Program

See attachment from Stephanie Boismenue on the implementation of our DNR grant to revitalize AIS boat inspections at the landing.  This is designed to help prevent new infestations of Eurasian Water Milfoil from entering Squash Lake.

Meanwhile, Stephanie reports that our scuba divers have made significant progress in removing the majority of the known infestations of EWM through our DNR early detection grant.  Although we only had 3-4 divers over the weekend of May 22-23, Stephanie has hired other divers who have been working diligently since then.  The next step is to rigorously monitor the lake for any new growth of EWM plants and pull them before they can multiply.

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Squash Lake has Given Each of Us Enjoyment, Solitude, Recreational Opportunities, Gratitude towards our Natural Environment, and Life. Now it is our turn to give back to Squash Lake by taking the responsibility of keeping our beloved lake free of additional Aquatic invasive species.

With the growing number of concern over the spread of Eurasian water milfoil in Squash Lake and other potential aquatic invasive species entering the lake, many individuals and groups are looking for ways to get involved. The Clean Boats Clean Waters Volunteer Watercraft Inspection Program is an opportunity to take a front line defense against the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Your involvement as a Clean Boats Clean Waters Volunteer Watercraft Inspector will help to keep Wisconsin’s waters and Squash Lake free of additional Aquatic invasive species by increasing awareness about the potential impacts of aquatic invasive species and inspecting boats and trailers before entering and when leaving Squash Lake.

Clean Boats Clean Waters Volunteer Watercraft Inspectors are trained to conduct boater education at the boat landing. It’s a very simple and fun process that includes:
1. Educates boaters on how and where invasives are most likely to hitch a ride into water bodies and what they can do to help prevent the spread of invasives.
2. Communicate about the laws and issues surrounding the existence, spread, and effects of invasives to Wisconsin’s waters.
3. Perform boat and trailer checks -looking for any plants, animals and mud that must be removed before entering and when leaving every water body,
4. Distribute informational brochures and
5. Collect data that will assist the WDNR to evaluate the potential spread of invasive species, public awareness of invasive species issues, and the effectiveness of the invasive species program

As gratitude towards Squash Lake, please give back to this lake that you love and volunteer a couple of hours each month as a Clean Boats Clean Waters Volunteer Watercraft Inspector.

Below are the links to the Clean Boats Clean Waters home page, the watercraft inspection questionnaire (that we ask boaters while inspecting their boats) and the instructions for the questionnaire. You can find the entire Clean Boats Clean Waters handbook and other goodies at this website.
http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/uwexlakes/cbcw/default.asp
http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/uwexlakes/cbcw/handbook_forms/WCIform2010.pdf
http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/uwexlakes/cbcw/WCIformInstructions2010.pdf

One last note:
I am turning over my Clean Boats Clean Waters Volunteer Watercraft Inspection Coordinator position to Jane Pfeifer. Jane, who has lots of experience at this, has been hired as the new Aquatic invasive species Coordinator for Squash Lake, Crescent Lake, and Lake Julia, which was made possible by the these three lakes combined Educational Grant. Please give Jane a warm welcome and lots of your time to volunteer.
Though I have had much weight taken off of my shoulder by handing over this coordinator position to Jane, I am still Squash Lake’s Aquatic invasive species/Eurasian water milfoil Coordinator – most likely until the day I leave this earth.

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, please contact Jane Pfeifer.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Boismenue

Schedule of boat inspection times

Hello to all Squash Lake Association members!

Now that our Eurasian Water Milfoil eradication efforts are underway, we need to redouble our efforts to prevent any new infestations.

We are pleased to announce that Jane Pfeifer has been hired to coordinate AIS prevention/education efforts, including AIS boat inspections, for Lakes Squash, Crescent, and Julia as part of a 3-year DNR grant.

Attached is a schedule of boat inspection times already covered to date.  We are asking SLA members to volunteer for at least two 2-hour increments (4 hours total) to cover the landing for the following high use times through Labor Day:

Fridays 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturdays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sundays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
July 5 (Monday after July 4 holiday) 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Labor Day Sept 6 (Monday) 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Several of our SLA members have taken the Clean Boats/Clean Waters class, and together with Jane’s help you can be “trained on the spot.”

I hope to see you at our annual meeting on July 11, starting with a potluck brunch at 11 a.m.  Look for a flyer with the details coming soon.

WALLEYE UPDATE

DNR fisheries biologist says he will recommend raising the minimum length limit for Squash Lake walleyes to 18 inches and removing the 14-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass. Those recommendations, which if approved by the DNR would take affect no earlier than 2012, were contained in the Fisheries Survey of Squash Lake report published in March and based upon fish population surveys conducted in April and September 2009. Based on the lake fish survey, which included both netting and electro shocking fish.
Senior DNR fisheries biologist John Kubisiak estimated that the lake walleye population was about 809 adult fish, or about 2 walleyes per acre. The report said that the 2 walleye per acre population was below the average of 3.5 per acre for a 396-acre lake supported by natural reproduction, but within the normal range of 1.1 to 10.7 walleyes per acre. The largest walleye captured during the survey was 25.6 inches, but 79 percent of the walleyes captured were 15 inches or larger with 3.9 percent exceeding 20 inches. The report said that based on the survey. Squash Lake shows “weak to moderate natural reproduction of walleye’ and therefore the current no minimum length limit on walleye, but only one fish over 14 inches “is inappropriate for a lake with weak recruitment (reproduction) and should be changed to an 18 inch length minimum.”

The report also noted that largemouth bass are the dominant bass species in the lake, surpassing smallmouths. Of the 155 largemouths captured during the survey, the dominant size range was 13 to 15 inches with 43 percent of the fish larger than 14 inches. The largest fish caught were two 17.4-inch largemouths. “The spring survey suggest that Squash historically had a strong smallmouth population, but largemouth bass increased in abundance and surpassed smallmouth in recent years,” the study said. The report also noted that some studies have associated high largemouth populations with decreased walleye population. “If walleye are a primary management focus, then it may help to encourage harvest on largemouth by eliminating the 14 inch minimum length limit,” the report concluded. Kubisiak said that because of the time it takes to get new length limits through the DNR approval cycle, the earliest the walleye and bass length
limit changes could be implemented would be the 2012 season. He said that Squash is not a candidate for walleye stocking because its native population and reproduction rates are sufficient to maintain adequate walleye levels in the lake. As always, for those fisherman concerned about declining walleye populations, catch and release goes a long way in maintaining current walleye levels.

President’s Message

Welcome to spring on Squash Lake! We had an unseasonably warm winter, with the ice going out on March 30 this year. For the last two winters we have found active bear dens near the lake. Now spring bird migrations are in full swing, with geese, bald eagles, common mergansers, buffleheads, loons, sandhill cranes, juncos, brown creepers, purple finches, phoebes, and more. Marj Mehring’s first water quality reading of the year indicates that lake water clarity and dissolved oxygen levels are very good. But water levels remain about two feet low.

This year it is all about the Eurasian Water Milfoil that was discovered in Squash Lake last summer. We have been awarded two grants to address both eradication and the prevention of future infestations thanks to the efforts of Stephanie Boismenue, Janet Appling, and our board. We will be asking all of you to assist in whatever way you can.

The state finally approved NR 115, the revised shoreland zoning rules, after several years of public hearings and debate. It is the first revision in these rules since the 1960’s, and is long overdue. It is seen as a compromise between preservationists and the continuing pressure to develop waterfront property.

The state also recently passed laws prohibiting the transportation of any aquatic plant from a boat landing (not just invasives), and establishing a slow/no wake zone of 100 feet from all shorelines.

As you can see from the newsletter, there is a lot going on. Thanks for your interest in working with the Squash Lake Association to help preserve and protect Squash Lake. I hope to see you at our annual meeting on Sunday July 11.

Pat Dugan

DNR Walleye Population Survey 2009

By Craig Zarley

Squash Lake’s walleye population is relatively dense and self-sustaining. That’s the conclusion from DNR’s spring walleye population survey. DNR fisheries biologists placed 8 nets from April 17-21, capturing 306 male walleyes and 93 females, according to Oneida County DNR fisheries biologist John Kubisiak. The DNR clipped fins of each of the captured walleyes and then returned to the lake April 25 for a follow up survey in which they shocked the entire shoreline and counted stunned fish.

During the shock phase of the population survey, Kubisiak said 96 male walleyes with unclipped fins were counted and 98 with clipped fins, indicating the latter group were counted the week before. Eight females were counted during the shock phase, 4 of which had clipped fins. Based on the combined results, Kubisiak estimates there are about 809 adult walleyes in the lake, or about two per acre. Because of the high ratio of recaptured fish in the shock phase of the population survey, he called the population estimates very accurate with only a +/- 7 percent margin of error.

Additionally, about 80 percent of the walleyes counted were longer than 15 inches with the bulk of the fish falling in the 16-inch to18-inch range. Kubisiak said based on the size of the walleyes counted, there is a chance the DNR will change the lake walleye regulations from three walleyes per day, only one of which can be greater than 14 inches to three per day with a minimum length of 15 inches.

“That’s a pretty solid population,” he said. “The walleyes are doing fine on their own.”

As a result, Kubisiak said there would be little if any benefit to stock the lake with walleyes and that the DNR would not grant a stocking permit. He said one goal of a stocking program is to bring the walleye population in a lake up to about 2 walleyes per acre, the level that already exists in Squash Lake. And he cautioned that there are potential downsides to stocking the lake with walleyes.

By bringing in fish bred in another lake, those fish would interbreed with native Squash Lake walleyes and alter the genetic makeup of their offspring. There is a risk that those genetically altered fish may not be able to adapt as well to Squash Lake conditions and thus may not be able to sustain a healthy population in the future. He also noted that when stocked fish are dumped into a lake, there is a slight chance invasive plant or fish species could be introduced.

“Once you go down that road [stocking walleyes], you can’t go back,” he said.

Kubisiak noted that based on a population of about 800 walleyes, 35 percent or 280 fish can be harvested each year without adversely affecting the population.

He suggested that one avenue for increasing walleye populations could be to keep fewer fish. He explained that since the practice of catch-and-release for Muskies took hold in recent years, the DNR has seen a dramatic increase in Musky population in county lakes. But fishermen tend to keep most walleyes they catch and he doesn’t expect catch-and-release walleye fishing to catch on as it has for Muskies.

With stocking fish not a viable option, perhaps the best strategy for boosting Squash Lake walleye numbers is to keep a few and release the rest.