There are 41 miles of shoreline on Beaver Dam Lake and a little more than half of it is developed.
That means a new program offered through Beaver Dam Lake Improvement Association has plenty of room to grow. BDLIA is one of 13 lake groups in Wisconsin that was approved for five projects under the Department of Natural Resources Healthy Lakes Initiative.
Healthy Lakes Initiative is a new program that provides funds for projects to support installation of fish sticks (downed trees and large branches) to improve habitat, native plants or diversion practices along the shoreline to slow runoff; and upland practices like rain gardens that manage runoff from structures and impervious surfaces.
Lakeshore property owners, municipalities and businesses complete the projects with grant funding of up to $1,000. BDLIA received $4,320 from the DNR. In order to meet the grant’s 25 percent match requirements, participating property owners pay a portion of the costs or contribute volunteer time to complete their projects.
Earlier this week officials from the Healthy Lakes group visited three of the local projects.
The first stop was to take a look at a shoreline improvement made by Bill Foley, who owns a home in the Miller’s Woods subdivision on the west side of Beaver Dam Lake.
“Grass is boring,” Foley said while standing in front of a patch of native plants he installed along the shore of his property.
Using a template available from the Healthy Lakes Initiative, Foley and his wife spent about 30 hours in planning, preparing and planting. J.W. Jung Seed Co. in Randolph helped locate the plants
“We did it ourselves, so it was a labor of love,” Foley said.
But it paid off within weeks. Foley said frogs and snakes reappeared quickly demonstrating an improved habitat. The garden also will prevent erosion and runoff on the gentle slope.
“We’re being good stewards for the area,” Foley said. “We’re doing our bit for the lake.”
Foley, who is vice president of the BDLIA, and Bill Boettge, who is president, said they are demonstrating leadership by getting involved in the first year of the Healthy Lakes Initiative.
Boettge’s project was the second stop on the tour. He also had a native planting along the shoreline. His garden includes taller plants and grasses in an area along the west shore of the lake. He carefully documented his project to share with others.
The tour ended at a property of Karen Huber near Edgewater Park on the east side of the lake. Huber made note of the pervious brick fire pit and driveway pavers she installed that were not part of the project, but do contribute to a healthier environment by slowing runoff.
Her project was a garden along a channel leading into the lake that had been overgrown. She hopes the native plantings will attract more birds.
The city of Beaver Dam is participating and will complete a project in 2016 at Edgewater Park and the final project in this grant cycle also will be completed. Each project must be completed within two years and must be maintained for at least 10 years.
BDLIA learned of the Healthy Lakes Inititive through the Lake Tides newsletter (www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/UWEXLakes) and decided to pursue the grant.
Boettge said the plan is to add five more projects in 2016 and BDLIA members will be able to use their experience to help with the next round of projects.
“This is just one step to improve the lake,” Boettge said.