Four Oneida and Vilas County residents were recently recognized for completion of a training program designed to help protect Wisconsin’s lakes.
Dan Butkus of Squash Lake, John Primozich of Bear Lake, John Richter of Plum Lake and Ted Rulseh of Birch Lake were among 26 participants who graduated from the Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute in a ceremony at Aldo Leopold’s shack.
Butkus is president of the Squash Lake Association, a co-lead petitioner for the formation of the Squash Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District and a volunteer milfoil monitor for the lake. He has completed the first two lakeshore habitat protection best practice projects in the state on his family’s property under the DNR Healthy Lakes Initiative.
Primozich is the lead for the ongoing Bear Lake comprehensive lake management plan. He has also has been a Bear Lake District commissioner and is actively involved with additional Bear Lake and lake outlet projects.
Richter is president of the Plum Lake Association and chairman of the Town of Plum Lake Lakes Committee. He is also a founder of the Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative, which advocates for water resource protection and represents lake associations, lake districts and government entities in efforts to repeal and remediate legislation that removed local control of shoreland zoning from county and local governments.
Rulseh is education coordinator and past treasurer of Friends of Birch Lake and is the Citizens Lake Monitoring Network volunteer for the lake. He is also a member of Wisconsin Lakes and serves on the board of the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association.
Lake Leaders is a statewide program aimed at helping lake stewards gain a better understanding of lake ecology and how to work with state and local governments to ensure that lakes get the attention they need. Through a combination of reading, classroom activities and field experiences, the participants learned about lake management, natural resource law in Wisconsin, and civic governance.
“With over 15,000 lakes statewide and a modest amount of state staff in service to protect them, it is clear that no one agency or unit of government can independently provide the attention that each lake deserves” says Patrick Goggin, UW-Extension lake specialist. “This leadership program provides local lake leaders with effective tools and resources to assist them as they volunteer their skills and talents to the stewardship of their lakes, and all of our lakes.”
The Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute draws participants from across the state to take part in a series of three two-day seminars. Participants demonstrate a commitment to protecting the integrity of the lakes in Wisconsin with an investment of their time and a $300 tuition fee. Since its inception, over 300 participants have graduated from the Institute and have made significant contributions in addressing a host of diverse water management challenges.
The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership created the Lake Leaders Institute in 1996 to assist citizen lake leaders in developing and enhancing their technical and people skills, ultimately enriching their communities and the waters within them. The biannual program has received national accolades as an effective strategy to enhance lake stewardship and protection.
The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership is a team made up of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the citizen advocacy organization Wisconsin Lakes. Together they recognized the need for new and ongoing leadership in the management of our lakes.
For more information about the Lake Leaders program, contact the UW-Extension lakes staff at (715) 346-2116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.