A big event every year for lake and river stewards is the Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers Convention. The 2020 convention was just recently announced, and will be held April 1-3 at the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point.
This year’s title is “Focusing on Resilient Lakes and Rivers.” The event was formerly known as the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention and Water Action Symposium, which some may still know it as. I was able to attend the event two years ago, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. Lake and river stewards from around the state gather to learn, to network, and to teach. I would not be able to pick one session I thought was the best or most informative. Throughout the day I wished there were more than one of me, so I could attend more than one session at a time, as they all looked so interesting.
The agenda for this year’s convention is out now. Wednesday morning’s workshops include “Writing and Securing Grants,” “Aquatic Plants and Invasive Species,” a “Citizen Lake Monitoring” refresher, “Climate Adaptation Training for Water Resource People” and some advocacy training, just to name a few.
There are training sessions for lake district commissioners at all levels as well as lake district treasurers workshops. “Loon Ranger Training” focuses on the ever-favorite species for most lake dwellers. Wednesday afternoon, attendees can learn more about cyanobacteria and how to identify that problem blue-green algae. Strategic planning for lake management is also an option for Wednesday afternoon learning.
Thursday is packed with concurrent sessions of 80 minutes each. While there is less time for each topic, do not be fooled by the amount of information to be gained from each. Each session has a choice of topics such as “Basics of Lakes and Rivers”, “Building on 2019: Year of Clean Drinking Water and Water Quality,” “Ecology: Life in and Around Our Waters,” “Lakes and River Science,” and “Addressing Climate Change.” Each topic presents a different aspect of that topic for each concurrent session. Thursday night ends with the Wisconsin Lake Steward and Water Action Volunteer Monitoring Awards Ceremony and Banquet.
The work these volunteers do is so important to our waterways, it is great to see them recognized for their efforts. Some volunteers truly go above and beyond, living for their lakes and rivers and doing everything they can to not only protect and enhance these waters, but to educate others on how they can help.
Friday’s concurrent sessions are 50 minutes each and include topics such as “People and Policy,” a purple loosestrife biocontrol program, which includes two 25-minute sessions, some information about “Lessons Learned from a Climate Change Workshop,” and the sandhill crane.
Friday morning also features information on surface water grants, a very hot topic for most lake associations, as well as designing road-team crossings, another topic fitting well into Vilas County’s current culvert project.
Truly, there are too many topics and breakout concurrent sessions to highlight all of them here. There are probably more sessions that I would like to attend than I possibly could. I know several lake associations and lake districts that send several representatives. By doing this, each representative can attend different sessions. From there, they come back to the association or district and share what they learned.
There are also keynote speakers each day and exhibits throughout the commons areas of the event. I picked up a great deal two years ago when I went, just from speaking to the organizations and companies who were there as exhibitors.
There is a Lakes and Rivers Photo Contest where everyone can enter their favorite water-related photograph for a chance to win $100. Categories for entries are people enjoying lakes and rivers and natural features in and around lakes and rivers and under water.
There is also a poster contest where participants can share their research, project, or success story of their own waterbody. Five minute lightning talks will accompany the poster contest, which is new this year. Entrants may choose to speak on their poster topic during this time. The deadline for both of these contests is March 11.
I would encourage any lake or river stakeholder who has not attended to make plans to check it out this year. Those interested can register separately for each session and workshop they would like to attend. More information can be found on the UWSP website uwsp.edu by searching UW-Extension Lakes.Beckie Gaskill may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].