Eurasian Water Milfoil

Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophylum spicatum) is a submergent aquatic plant native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa.  Eurasian water milfoil is not known to be present in city lakes, but it and other exotic plants pose a threat to lakes in the area. 

Eurasian milfoil first arrived in Wisconsin in the 1960’s. It was introduced to the United States by the aquarium industry.  During the 1980’s, it began to move from several counties in the southern part of the state to lakes and waterways in the northern half of the state.  As of 1993, Eurasian milfoil was common to 39 counties and 75 lakes in Wisconsin.  By the end of 1994, Eurasian water milfoil was in 48 counties of Wisconsin, and at least 237 lakes including shallow bays in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior and Mississippi River pools were infested.   Nearby infestations include Nancy Lake in Washburn County, Beaver Dam Lake in Barron County, and Big Round Lake in Sawyer County.

Eurasian water milfoil grows best in fertile, fine textured, inorganic sediments.  In less productive lakes, it is restricted to areas of nutrient-rich sediments.  It is an opportunistic species that prefers highly disturbed lakebeds, lakes receiving nitrogen and phosphorus-laden runoff, and heavily used lakes. 

Eurasian water milfoil reproduces vegetatively by fragmentation, allowing it to disperse over long distances.  Boats readily disperse milfoil fragments (which can stay alive for weeks if kept moist) on motors, trailers, bilges, live wells, or bait buckets.

Dense stands of Eurasian water milfoil inhibit recreational uses like swimming, boating, and fishing.  Some stands have been dense enough to obstruct industrial and power generation water intakes.  Cycling of nutrients from sediments to the water column by Eurasian water milfoil may lead to deteriorating water quality and algae blooms in infested lakes.

Preventing a milfoil invasion involves various efforts.  A sound precautionary measure is to check all equipment upon leaving a lake and remove all aquatic vegetation.  All equipment includes boats, motors, trailers, and fishing/diving equipment.   Public awareness of the necessity to remove weed fragments at boat landings and a commitment to a watershed management program to keep nutrients from reaching lakes and stimulating milfoil colonies are necessary to prevent the spread of milfoil.

Monitoring and prevention are the most important steps for keeping Eurasian water milfoil under control. Lake managers and lakeshore owners should check for new colonies and control them before they spread.  The plants can be hand pulled or raked.  It is imperative, however, that all fragments be removed from the water and shore.


Lake access

Shell Lake

Shell Lake currently has 13 public access points. These access points are classified into Class A, Class B, and Class C access as follows:

Class A: Boat launch with parking area.

· Camping area and pier.

Class B:  Boat launch ­ no other accommodations

· Tip Town landing                         

· South Bay landing

· Donavon Cove landing

· North landing

Class C:  Access is by foot if by land, access is by boat if by lake.

· Eight access points      

These Class C landings are undeveloped and typically do not allow vehicle access to launch a boat.  Small craft may be carried to or from the lake manually.  Other amenities such as parking are also limited.  The west shore has 5 sites, the south shore has 2 sites, and there is one undeveloped site on the east shore.  See Figure 6 for site locations.

There is little potential for new residential development on the lakeshore of Shell Lake, so future residential development will be on back lots.  Improved Class C access points would better serve back lot development. These improved sites could offer launch/retrieval capacity and parking for public users.  Improved public access points have the potential of increasing the desirability of the lake and the city itself. 

A few of the class C access points are located in areas not suitable for their intended purpose because parking and other limiting factors exist.  The City of Shell Lake may wish to review the benefits of selling these sites to adjacent landowners and using the proceeds to enhance other access points

Round Lake

Round Lake has one public boat landing.

Little Ripley Lake

There is no public access on Little Ripley Lake.

Campground/city beach

The Lakefront & Mainstreet Improvement Committee was formed in 1998.  The committee works in conjunction with the Shell Lake Industrial Development Corporation, Shell Lake Leisure Activities Committee, Shell Lake Plan Commission, Shell Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Shell Lake City Council.  The committee has completed a plan that outlines a complete upgrade of the beach area. The existing parking lot will be reclaimed to grass and the terrain will be sloped to provide a better view of the beach area from Main Street.  A new parking lot will be located further south away from the lake.  There will be a lighted walkway to the beach from the parking lot, and a performing arts building will be constructed.  Funds for the projects are being solicited from the Department of Natural Resources, individuals, corporations, and service organizations

Economic Development

The City of Shell Lake and its residents clearly have a considerable financial stake in maintaining the water quality of their lakes.  Over 60% of city property tax revenues are provided through lakeshore property taxes.  Should the value of lakeshore property decline, the proportional property tax revenues they provide would also decline.  The value of lakeshore property is affected by several factors including water quality, public safety, and business development.

A study published by the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station revealed, “water quality significantly affects property prices around Maine lakes.  Controlling for both the current and historical water clarity of the lake in the implicit price equations, a 1-meter improvement in lake water clarity results in changes in average property prices ranging from $11/ft frontage to $200/ft frontage.  These implicit prices, when aggregated for an entire lake, equate to millions of dollars in improved property prices per lake.”  

While the property values for the lakes in the City of Shell Lake may be different from the values in the Maine study, the study illustrates the fact that declining water quality may erode the tax base significantly.

Shell Lake has an established Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).  This IDC was formed during the 1970’s with the purpose of assisting business formation and growth in the Shell Lake community.  The IDC performs its function independently from city management, and it has no authority to issue building permits.  The IDC, however, is responsible for making recommendations to the Shell Lake City Council for administering the Tax Increment District (TID).  The TID is primarily in the industrial park on the southeast edge of the city.   A conflict between development and lake protection may exist; particularly in regard to a 3.5-acre parcel of lakeshore, the former Roger Anderson parcel, that is in the TID.  The TID has recently expanded to the north to include additional acreage and lakeshore.

In 1985, the Shell Lake City Council adopted a comprehensive plan.  This plan created “The Shell Lake Overall Development Strategy.”  This document listed the following economic development goals;

· To help both local and outside businesses grow and expand in Shell Lake,

· To create job opportunities,

· To increase family incomes,

· To increase the tax base,

· To maintain the high degree of environmental quality.

Development of the Tax Increment District (TID) was a component of implementation of the comprehensive plan.  Anticipating development in the TID, the city added two seepage cells to the municipal wastewater treatment plant.