Horsehead Lake Study

8/20/2016  Members voted to proceed with our next lake study to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2018. We will use the same DePere, WI company (Onterra, LLC, Lake Management Planning. Timothy A. Hoyman, CLM Aquatic Biologist) we used before. Appoximately 67% of the cost will be covered by the state, but we will have to raise enough cash, beyond the state's initial downpayment, to pay many of the bills. A rebate will be given from the state when the work is done and approved. See the last lake study to find out what we will gain in terms of lake information. Additionally, we will gain a boring down to bedrock (Paleoecology of sediment core) that will reveal the history of our lake, back to European settlement. Cost to our District will be approximately $7,444, after rebate from the state. That's provided our District can contribute "In Kind" participation by our members. That amount is $3,428 and is for things such as: 1) helping with the stakeholder survey, 2) plan development, 3) Kick-off attendance, 4) Wrap-up attendance, and 5) grant project administration. So, our bill would be increased if we won't be able to make those time contributions.

11/8/09   On Oct. 24th Tim Hoyman gave a final presentation on the results of our lake study. See "Lake Study Presentation Highlights" below.

10/28/08  Following is a short summary of the report given by Kris Batchelet, leader of the Lake Study Committee, at our annual meeting (8/26/08) regarding the current status of our lake study.

    1) 55 surveys returned (100 sent out), tallied, and sent to Tim Hoyman for interpretation. That's a good, reliable number to base our decisions on. (See the entire survey results)

   2) Tim Hoyman's crew methodically sampled and mapped 494 points (52 meters apart) on our lake for plant life, algae, etc.

   3) Horsehead Lake has 28 different species of plants, a good and healthy number. We do have two non-native species, Curly Leaf Pondweed and Eurasian Water Milfoil. The most common plants are Flatstem Pondweed, Fern Pondweed, Common Water Elodea, and Coontail. The other species fall off in number dramatically after those already mentioned.

   4) Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM) was discovered ONLY in Kildeer Rd. boat launch area. A recent check in July revealed NO more plants. (a few more plants were found this fall and carefully pulled out by the roots by Tim Hoyman)

   5) We will continue to monitor Curly Leaf Pondweed, which occurs throughout the lake. We have no previous data to compare it with in terms of plant numbers.

   6) Horsehead Lake watershed:

       a) Our lake has two acres of watershed area per acre of lake, which is a very small ratio (favorable) compared to most lakes. We have no agricultural or urban areas that feed into our lake, which is good.

       b) Our lake has a VERY small amount of phosphorus running into our lake per year (162 lbs.) which is practically nothing compared to most lakes.

       c)  Our water phosphorus level is higher than we would expect by the amount coming in.


   7) Surveys: There were no real surprises. The numbers to look at in particular are numbers 3, 5 (watercraft), 6 (activities), Page 6 - numbers 10 & 11 (see survey results on main web page, left), 14 (concerns) - Excessive plant growth is the No.1 concern. Number 18 received much support - "control plants with a variety of methods". Number 20, "Volunteers" - many responses but few gave their name.

   8) Our management plan will include:

       a)  3-5 year harvesting plan and updated at the end of that timeframe.

       b)  Curly Leaf Pondweed & Eurasian Water Milfoil monitoring by volunteers & professionals.

       c)  creation of an "Education Committee" to inform our members of timely information

       d)  tracking of algae blooms as we go forward - to provide a basis of comparison and show patterns.

       e)  management plan will be done by next spring (2009) and will include a general membership meeting of all stakeholders. Watch for the announcement.

       f)  the management plan will be formulated by members of the Lake Study Committee (Beverly Fagan, Hans Delius, Jim Watters, Pat Donnick, Kris Batchelet, and Tim Hoyman).

4/29/08  In the fall of 2007, Tim Hoyman's crew found about a dozen Eurasian Water Milfoil plants in the south dock area. All were carefully pulled out and they will be checking carefully this spring for others that may have been missed. Samples of water, sediment, and plant life have been taken again this spring in order to gain a complete scientific profile of the lake and the fish habitat. One hundred resident surveys were sent out and the responses are nearly all tabulated. That information will be included in the final report which will be completed later this year. The presence of Eurasian Water Milfoil is in addition to another invasive species, Curly-leaf Pondweed which is dispersed throughout the lake. Curly-leaf Pondweed is most active just after the ice goes out in the spring, but the reproductive turions (short spiral-shaped cones) continue to be active throughout the summer and fall. Further updates will appear here as they become available.

4/11/07  A general membership meeting with Tim Hoyman, Aquatic Ecologist with Onterra Lake Management, is scheduled for 9 AM at the Sloan Center on June 2, 2007. A complete explanation of the process and opportunities for participation will be presented. See highlights on main web page entitled, "Lake Study Kick-off Preview".

9/30/06  Our lake management application has been funded by the DNR. Work will begin when the ice goes out in spring, 2007.

8/1/2006   The revised lake management grant application was submitted to the DNR for consideration. We expect to be notified by mid to the end of September whether or not we were successful. Watch for updates.

4/18/2006  The lake management grant proposal submitted on Feb. 1, 2006 was not funded as we had hoped. Despite the careful writing and comprehensive nature of the paper, one factor seemed to matter more than anything else. This year the amount of funding was about 50% what it had been in previous years. All proposals undergo a great deal of scrutiny and many aspects are ranked numerically. Then, the total points for each proposal are added up to arrive at a final ranking of proposals. All proposals ahead of ours was granted; ours would have been the next one.  All is not lost, however. In August, we will resubmit our proposal, with some tweaking. At that time the DNR makes an equal amount of money available as was allotted in March. Tim Hoyman will be working closely with DNR officials in Rhinelander prior to our resubmission to help ensure acceptance. An added advantage of applying in August is that fewer applications usually come in at that time. While we cannot be certain, we are very hopeful that our proposal will pass so we can begin the study when the ice goes out in 2007.
More updates will follow when we know more.

2/16/2006    On Feb. 1, 2006, our lake management study grant was submitted to the DNR for consideration.  We have been told the state budget is very tight and fewer grants will be awarded this year, however, we have a copy of the comprehensive proposal and it is excellent in every way. Keep your fingers crossed :)  According to Tim Hoyman, the limnologist we're working with from Onterra Lake Management, we should find out in March whether or not our grant request will be awarded.
Following an exhaustive study of several qualified lake study companies by Kris Batchelet and Diane Lane, the Board of Commissioners approved contracting with Onterra Lake Management of DePere, WI to conduct the study that will lead to our long-range improvement strategy for the lake. Tim Hoyman, limnologist with Onterra, will prepare our proposal for the DNR and submit it by the deadline of Feb. 1, 2006. The Wisconsin DNR has monetary grants available on a yearly basis and Tim is an expert in getting these grants - he has a 100% success rate in securing these funds for lake clients.

Despite the fact that Tim will be spending many hours preparing the paperwork for the grant, the District has no financial obligation if the grant is not awarded. Tim has assured the District that he will not only be doing the scientific work necessary to pinpoint problem areas, but he will communicate often with our grant committee and hold meetings with District members to help them understand what is happening during the study. He will research lake qualities and investigate the entire watershed around Horsehead Lake to uncover problems needed to be addressed.

DNR grants require lake districts to contribute to any ensuing projects, but it is on a 75% state, 25% local district basis.  We will be aiming for a $20,000 grant to fund our lake study and resulting long-range recommendations for improving the health of our lake. It should be noted that lake "districts", as opposed to lake "associations", are given preferred standing when grants are considered - all things being equal.

It should also be noted that all four commissioners present at the Nov. 7, 2005 meeting voted in favor of Onterra Lake Management because of its' excellent references and work record in lake improvement, much of it in our area. Onterra Lake Management has worked on the following lake projects: Big St. Germain, Little St. Germain, North & South Twin Lakes, Yellow Birch Lake, and Lake Metonga.

Tim Hoyman's Lake Study Presentation
Saturday, October 24, 2009
* It is impossible to adequately summarize the results of a two-year study on the website, but here are a few of the highlights. [Tim Hoyman knows the person who did our last professional study and is familiar with his work]

1)  We have a healthy lake and good fish habitat. Steady management should prevent it from degrading, though it is natural for phosphorus, chlorophyll, and water quality numbers to fluctuate up and down over the years.

2)  Phosphorus is the component that most affects the fertility of our lake. An insignificant amount (162 lbs.) comes from our watershed. The most effective way of reducing phosphorus is to return all lakefront properties to a natural state. While rocks are attractive on the waterfront, they do not filter water runoff, and are therefore not good choices if you intend to help protect the lake from phosphorus.

3)  All lakes fill in and become fertile, meaning they become increasingly more productive in not just growing weeds and algae, but collecting muck, as well. The process takes thousands of years, not decades; man's influence speeds it up.

4)  Though some fluctuation has occurred, levels of phosphorus, chlorophyll and water clarity have been stable, at least since the 1970's, when records were started. These results are probably due to the modernization of our septic systems, which are not a problem at this time. Using our two previous professional lake studies as a reference (1976 & 1992), amounts phosphorus, chlorophyll have decreased and water clarity has improved.

5)  484 separate places on our lake were examined with raked samples to identify aquatic plants and sediment from the lake bottom. GPS technology allowed the testers to cover the entire lake in evenly-spaced segments.

6)  Most of the phosphorus in our lake comes from "internal loading", which is fertile sediment that gets stirred up through wind and wave action. The shallowness of our lake magnifies the phosphorus problem.

7)  Curly-leaf Pondweed is one of two NON-NATIVE plants which are present in various areas of our lake and, in some places, is the dominant strain. Since the 1970's, it has spread but is not threatening to take over the lake. For the time being, our strong and abundant NATIVE plants are keeping Curly-Leaf from growing wildly. We must, however, carefully monitor this plant and be sure its' influence does not increase greatly as it could be a way to make our lake much more fertile - quickly. This plant is most visible just after the ice goes out and recedes in July. Its' decay during the summer helps our other weeds grow faster. The leaves of this plant have a "twisted" look to them. The plant gives off "turions" during the summer which are seeds for new plants. These "turions" resemble little pine cones with a "screw-like" appearance. They are shaped somewhat like drywall screw anchors and are dark brown in color. If noticed on your beach, carefully pull out the plant and roots. Remove and dispose of the "turions", which sometimes float.

8)  Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM) is the other NON-NATIVE plant in our lake. Thankfully, it is confined to one place near our main boat launch in the channel (north) approximately 35 yards from the pier. Tim Hoyman and his team have checked the area two times a year since our study began in 2008, but we need a group of volunteers to receive DNR training so we can maintain a close watch on the lake. If we intend to prevent the invasive plant from spreading and taking over, we must root it out as soon as it appears. Left unchecked, EWM forms a heavy mat on the water surface and chokes out everything under it.

9)  We have 28 NATIVE plant species in our lake, a good, diverse number; more than we had in the 1970's. Four of those plants are far and away more numerous than the others. Those plants are: Coontail, Flat-stem Pondweed, Common Pondweed (Elodea), and Fern Pondweed. Two of those four form floating masses.

10)  Our best defense for invasive species is to maintain strong NATIVE plants.

11)  Cutting aquatic plants, as we have been doing since 2005, does not weaken the NATIVE plants at all.

12)  Plant harvesting, as we have been doing it, on a limited basis, is the BEST way to manage our aquatic plants.

13)  As for our fishery, a DNR survey was done in 1975, and a more recent fish survey in 2010. Tim recommends our that our residents contact the DNR to press our interest in order to avoid possible delays due to budget constraints. When a survey is done, crews actually shock areas of the lake and count the fish and the different species. In this process, using a statistical analysis, fish biologists can determine a fairly accurate profile of our fishery.

14)  Regarding the Stakeholder Survey, 55% responded, a reasonable number. Fifty-six percent of the residents (families) have owned lake property for ten years or less. Comparatively speaking, other lakes show a lower percent with more owning their lake property for several decades. The survey showed three top concerns:  1)  excessive aquatic plant growth, 2) water quality degradation/pollution, 3) algae blooms.

15)  86% of our respondents favor weed cutting to reduce the weeds.

16)  Water clarity on our lake is acceptable, though it varies throughout the year, and has improved over several decades.

17)  Algae blooms are common in EUTROPHIC systems with good water quality. Tim recommended Jim Kreitlow in the Rhinelander DNR service center to help us identify and learn more about the specific algae we have on our lake. Algae is a natural phenomena on lakes.

18)  Keeping our water level where it is, neither at its' highest nor lowest level, is best for the lake, given lake users need to recreate and use the lake for fishing, swimming, boating, & water skiing. We should keep the same number of boards in the dam throughout the year, season after season. Lakes adjust to water levels, so changing them repeatedly is not good for the eco-system. In a natural state, lakes drop during the summer when it is dry and fill back up in spring and fall after snow melts and rain.

19)  Dredging our lake just a yard, even only a few acres, would cost millions of dollars and open the lake to invasive species colonization. So dredging is not a feasible solution to the sediment in our lake.

20)  Our DNR mechanical plant harvest map allows 144 acres of our 367 acres to be cut. According to DNR rules, we may choose 75 acres or less to harvest per year. In 2009, we harvested 59 acres.

21)  Using GPS technology, we can mark our weed-cut grid (map) and locate year to year where the weeds actually are. That grid can be digitized by Tim Hoyman's group and given to Cliff Schmidt, our weed harvester, for precise cutting in just those areas. The equipment Cliff has allows him to leave one cut path and return, within inches, when the next strip is cut.

Implementation Plan

MANAGEMENT GOAL 1:  Understand and Maintain Water Quality in Horsehead Lake

  Management Action #1:  Continue collecting water quality data on Horsehead Lake as a part of the DNR Citizens Lake Monitoring Network.
    Facilitator/s:  Dennis and Kris Batchelet
        Funding:  Funded through DNR program

  Management Action #2:  Reduce phosphorus and sediment loads from immediate watershed.
    Facilitator/s: [this role needs to be filled]
        Funding:  DNR Small-scale Lake Management Planning Grant, Aquatic Invasive Species- Education, Prevention, and Planning Grant

  Management Action #3:  Gain and understanding of filamentous algae with Horsehead Lake beginning in 2010.

MANAGEMENT GOAL 2:  Control and Prevent Aquatic Invasive Species within Horsehead Lake

  Management Action #1:  Monitor and control Eurasian Water Milfoil within Horsehead Lake beginning in 2010.
    Facilitator/s: [this role needs to be filled]
        Funding:  DNR Small-scale Lake Management Planning Grant, Aquatic Invasive Species -Education, Prevention, and Planning Grant

  Management Action #2: Monitor Curly-Leaf Pondweed within Horsehead Lake; 2009-'10.
    Facilitators: Horsehead Lake Board of Commissioners
        Funding: DNR Small-scale Lake Management Planning Grant, Aquatic Invasive Species- Education, Prevention, and Planning Grant

MANAGEMENT GOAL 3:  Maintain Navigation in Open Water and Near-shore Areas on Horsehead Lake     

  Management Action #1:  Use contracted harvesting services to maintain reasonable navigation on Horsehead Lake
   Timeframe:  Ongoing
    Facilitator/s: Horsehead Lake Board of Commissioners
        Funding:  DNR Small-scale Lake Management Planning Grant, Aquatic Invasive Species -Education, Prevention, and Planning Grant (GPS purchase and training)

     Action Steps:
       1)  Volunteers survey lake and mark quarter-acre squares on map grid for harvesting
       2)  Squares tallied and sum acreage of that year's harvesting calculated
       3)  Harvesting map and estimated acreage are provided to DNR 14 days prior to expected harvesting dates.