By Katrina Hoff | Bloomer Advance

The Bloomer Lake Association, which emerged from hibernation two years ago, has been busy planning for the future of Bloomer’s beautiful Lake Como.

At a meeting held at the Bloomer Moose Lodge on Wednesday, May 27, the Bloomer Lake Association introduced the board to attendees, along with presenting a review of their work over the past two years, a status update, and a plan for the future.

The Past 2 Years

In 2017, the Bloomer Lake Association was brought out of hibernation in response to a growing plant nuisance. The current board, consisting of John Nielsen, Gary Lueck, Mike Randall, Mike Shipman, Mary Rufledt, Gretchen Paape – Treasurer and Secretary, Brad Coubal – Vice President, and Ryan Stolt – President, was elected.

The board was then tasked with creating a plan for the restoration and maintenance of Lake Como. They made it a priority to resume the pumping at Martin’s Bridge on Hwy Q, organizing three clean up operations in 2017.

Next, the board moved on to the discovery and education phase of developing a Lake Management Plan. In this phase the Lake Association started to explore the different options available for treatment and management of the lake and got started towards putting together a Lake Management Plan.

A Lake Management Plan is essential to any treatment for problems in the lake. A Lake Management plan is required by the DNR and must be approved by the DNR in order to get the necessary license for any treatments. In order to get started on a Lake Management Plan the Lake Association found that they needed to conduct a lake survey consisting of a spring, summer and a fall survey to determine all the different aquatic plant life present in the lake.

In the two years since coming out of hibernation, the Lake Association learned that healthy plant life is essential to lakes for keeping the water clear and clean, as well as essential for the fish that populate the lake; however, healthy plant life will require a lifetime of maintenance. They also learned that the silt boom and pumping at Martin’s Bridge is in fact helping, the only identified invasive species, curly leaf pond weed is at manageable levels, the most abundant plant is the native common waterweed, and that all the plant life can be managed using a healthy lakes initiative.

Lake Education & Planning Services, LLC (LEAPS)

After the review of the past two years given by Bloomer Lake Association board president Stolt, as outlined above, Stolt went on to tell those present how the Lake Association then turned to Dave Blumer, owner/operator of Lake Education & Planning Services, LLC (LEAPS) with the lake survey results for his help interpreting the survey data and developing a comprehensive long term management plan.

Blumer has over 20 years of experience in the areas of lake and invasive species education, as well as management planning and implementation. LEAPS is based out of Chetek and services lakes across Northwestern Wisconsin.

A Bit of Education

Blumer then took the floor to educate those present on the survey results, the current status of the lake, things that can contribute to problems in the lake and lake plant life, some of the maintenance options/methods available and some management suggestions.

In his introduction Blumer pointed out that you can do a whole bunch of planning, but if you don’t do the education along with it, it really doesn’t mean much. Starting his educational presentation, Blumer discussed that fact that there are actually two types of plans an Aquatic Plant Management plan or APM plan and a Lake Management Plan or LMP, but that an APM plan is a part of the larger LMP. According to Blumer both of these plans are very important in the case of Lake Como.

Blumer and the Lake Association are in the process of preparing the Lake Management Plan. An updated draft of the management plan is available on Dave’s website at https://leapsllc.com/index.php/lake-como/.

The proposed management plan contains a lot of information, because, as Blumer explained, making an Aquatic Plant Management plan and a Lake Management Plan entails more than just plants.

Other things you have to consider include water quality, the watershed, lake use, and more. In creating these plans, it is important to know what affects the lake as well as how the lake is used. Once finished the plan for Lake Como will need to be approved by the Bloomer Lake Association, then submitted to the DNR for its approval before it can be put into action.

So then, what are the results of the survey? What are we dealing with?

Blumer went on to talk about the results of the surveys, highlighting the types of plants found, the depths at which the plants were found to be growing, the sites where vegetation was found, and the percentages of the different native species.

The surveys found a total of just 18 species in Lake Como. Blumer pointed out that plants are in a lake for a reason, they have a job to do. The problem comes in when there are invasive plants in the lake, because they don’t belong there. However, in the case of Lake Como there is only one invasive species present in limited quantities meaning it is not the problem.

This makes it clear that the native plants are the problem. One of the problems that is currently being dealt with on Lake Como is filamentous algae, which is present because of an abundance of nutrients. The nutrients contributing to the problem are phosphorus and nitrates. Blumer stressed the importance of monitoring the plant growth in the lake of both the native and invasive species, pointing out that the last time a plant survey was done on Lake Como was in 1991.

Blumer then talked about some recommendations he has made for the management of the plants. In the case of Lake Como, he believes that harvesting will be the most beneficial and went on to explain some specifics of harvest such as how often it can be done, where he thinks it would be the most beneficial, and how harvesting is done. He explained that we do not want to get of the plants in Lake Como altogether for several reasons, one being that they will help with water clarity by using up nutrients before the nutrients can be turned into algae. We just want to manage them and keep them under control.

Continuing with his educational presentation, Blumer, went on to explain some of his suggestions for moving forward.

He touched on the fact that Lake Como has two boat landings, one with a really nice sign telling people how to help keep invasive species out of the lake; however, the other boat landing has nothing and should be signed as well.

Regular and consistent lake water quality monitoring should be done every year, possibly every month during the summer, and doesn’t cost anything because of a program sponsored through the DNR. Blumer noted the fact that Lake Como is in almost exactly the same state it was 27 years ago in 1991. In 1991 clarity was three feet with phosphorus levels of 253 (this is high), and chlorophyll levels of 44/45 parts per billion; the results from the 2018 survey show clarity of 3.5 feet with phosphorus levels of 240, and chlorophyll levels of 36 parts per billion. The only other year that Blumer had data for that he presented was 2006, just three years after the dredging project, where clarity was 1 foot with phosphorus levels of 427, and chlorophyll levels of 73. These high levels, almost double what they are now, he explained was because after the removal during dredging the plants had not re-established themselves. This data also illustrated his point concerning plants being necessary to the health of the lake.

According to Blumer what needs to be done is a balancing of what the lake has, what the lake needs, and what the lake uses. Dredging and plant management are like band aids, only offering a short term fix because they only treat symptoms.

What is the problem? Lake Como has a huge watershed with a lot of agriculture, and this watershed is probably contributing to the nutrients coming into the lake; however, this is ONLY one problem NOT the only problem.

Blumer went on to stress the fact that you should never assume that the problem is agriculture. He said the reality is that we are dealing with a whole bunch of shoreline development. Lake Como is an urban lake, almost entirely within the bounds of Bloomer. That means that there are streets all over with storm drains which send the water directly into the lake. He points out that it is not just people who live on the lake that contribute, but everyone in the City of Bloomer. Water off of the streets, roofs, driveways, all over the city ends up in the lake taking with it sediment and grass clippings. These grass clippings sink to the bottom of the lake and decay adding phosphorus and other nutrients to the lake. In order to make long term improvements the nutrient/sediment load from the watershed and near shore area of the lake need to be addressed, along with management.

If the Lake Association can identify where all the nutrients are coming from then it can determine if they can be reduced.

Moving Forward

Moving forward the Bloomer Lake Association plans to complete the Lake Management plan and would like to start implementing the management suggestions Blumer has given them. This is going to require funds that the Lake Association doesn’t have at this point.

They are looking into some different fund-raising ideas. They do not have an exact number, but their best estimate at this point is that they will need $15,000 to complete the management plan and get started on treatments. Unfortunately, there are not any grants currently offered for anything other than invasive species treatments.

What You Can Do

Concluding the meeting the Bloomer Lake Association offered ways that the community can get involved and help them meet the goal of making Lake Como a beautiful and useful asset for everyone to enjoy. The following are ways you can support the Lake Association:

Volunteer: Volunteers are needed for the pumping operations at the Hwy Q (Martin’s) Bridge. About ten volunteers are needed for three separate pumping operations per year.

Turkey Trot: Support or participate in the Turkey Trot. Proceeds from this year’s Turkey Trot will be donated to the Bloomer Lake Association.

Join the Lake Association: Strong membership is beneficial in many ways and the DNR likes to see Lake Associations with large memberships.

Healthy Lakes: Grants exist for five types of individuals projects; rain gardens, rock infiltration, diversion, native plantings, and fish sticks (fish habitats). Contact the Lake Association for more information and check out healthylakeswi.com.

Use the Lake: Get out on the lake, use it. Take advantage of this wonderful resource.

Presentations: If you are part of a club or organization the Bloomer Lake Association showed interest in giving short presentations at club/organization meetings to help get the word out about what they are doing and how the community can get involved.

Word of Mouth: spread the word, let people know that there is a Lake Association.

To contact the Bloomer Lake Association you can email lakecomolakeassociation@gmail.com.

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