Lake and Land Management Tools

 

Public Opinion Survey Results

A public opinion survey conducted during 1997, asked city residents to list actions they felt needed to be taken to address their concerns for the lakes.  Lake level stabilization received the most votes overall.  Other popular choices include septic compliance, fish stocking, and monitoring of water quality.  The survey identified newspapers and newsletters as the best way to communicate information about lake concerns.

Survey Results:  Top Four Lake Actions

Actions to Deal with Concern

Shell Lake

Round Lake

Little Ripley Lake

Off  Lake

Lake stabilization

X

X

 

X

Septic compliance

X

X

 

X

Fish stocking

X

X

X

 

Planning

X

     

Lake organization

 

X

   

Plants/algae management

   

X

X

Aeration

   

X

 

Shoreline Restoration

     

X

Education

   

X

 

Shoreline and Watershed Management

City lakes are impacted by land use practices in the watersheds that drain to them. Most of the pollutants that enter surface water resources are carried in runoff from many diffuse (nonpoint) sources.  The major pollutants of concern are sediment carried from areas with bare soil such as construction sites and crop fields, and phosphorus attached to soil particles and dissolved in water from fertilizers.  

The portion of the City of Shell Lake east of State Highway 63 drains primarily by overland flow to one of the city’s lakes.  Runoff water picks up accumulated sediment, nutrients, petroleum products, heavy metals, and other pollutants as it flows across roofs, roadways, sidewalks, and lawns.  This means that the land management practices of all residents, businesses, and government can potentially affect city lakes.

Wave action erodes shorelines and also carries the sediment out into the lake.   Fluctuating lake water levels can increase erosion problems at the shoreline.  High water levels can also kill vegetation, adding nutrients to the water as it breaks down.

Management Practices

A lakeshore buffer strip helps prevent soil erosion and also filters nutrients that can enter the lake through runoff.  Native vegetation is also an important source of food and shelter for a variety of wildlife.  Maintaining plants that grow near the shoreline, such as cattails, arrowhead, and various rushes improves the habitat for fish, waterfowl, and aquatic species.  There are many educational resources to encourage shoreline landscaping and other lakeshore management practices. 

Shoreline owners can prevent sediment from entering surface waters by following simple rules: 

  • Plan construction activities so that soil is disturbed a minimal amount of time. Try to get all underground utilities installed simultaneously.
  • Retain existing trees, shrubs, and grass cover where possible.
  • Leave a grass filter strip that all runoff water will pass through.
  • Limit the amount of bare or exposed soil when grading or shaping an area, and re-vegetate the disturbed area immediately.
  • Avoid tracking mud out into the street where the sediment will enter storm sewers and ultimately end up in surface waters.
  • Use straw bales to settle sediment out of runoff water.
  • If steep slopes are disturbed, consider sodding to revegetate, or cover with filter fabric or netting.
  • Use diversions, terraces and sediment basins to control runoff and erosion on steeply sloping land.
  • Used raised stairways to negotiate steep slopes.  A dirt path down a steep slope can turn into a major gully with one heavy rain.
  • Maintain emergent aquatic plants and shoreline vegetation to break waves and protect the shoreline

Plan Implementation Strategy

An implementation strategy is provided for each goal in the following section. The objectives are the detailed and measurable steps toward reaching the goal. Activities are used to reach the objectives.  Although some of the activities apply to more than one goal, they are listed only once for ease of reading.

Goal:  Guide environmentally and economically sound development around city lakes.

Objectives

Stabilize lake levels.

Minimize the impacts of development around the lakes.

Activities

  • Pursue alternatives for lake level stabilization.
  • Develop a land use plan.

 

Use aerial photography and topographic mapping for land use planning and lake level management.

Address development concerns in the watershed both within and outside the shoreland zone.

Identify areas that drain to the lakes.

Identify critical areas within the watershed that should be protected from future development to retain runoff water.

Protect critical wetlands and intermittent drainages

Objectives

Set trophic status or secchi disk objectives for each lake.

Activities

  • Consider revisions to city ordinances based upon Washburn County’s lakes classification system.
  • Provide training to city officials responsible for lakes-related ordinances and management
  • Continue to monitor water clarity. 
  • Provide educational programs for lake residents and users.

Goal:  Protect and enhance natural scenic beauty.

Objectives

Protect critical open space areas.

Protect and restore shoreland vegetation.

Screen structures from the lakes.

Activities

  • Strengthen buffer requirements in the City of Shell Lake’s zoning ordinance.
  • Provide education regarding dock limits in state law and the desirability of screening of structures and increased setbacks from water.

Goal:  Protect and restore aquatic and shoreland habitat for fish and wildlife species.

Objectives

Prevent the introduction and limit the spread of exotic species such as purple loosestrife and Eurasian water milfoil.

Protect and restore shoreland vegetation.

Protect aquatic vegetation in South Bay natural habitat area of Shell Lake.  Identify and protect important areas of aquatic vegetation in other lakes.

Activities

  • Adopt local ordinances to place buoys and establish a “slow/no wake” zone around the South Bay area.
  • Encourage the Department of Natural Resources to establish aquatic plant sensitive areas on city lakes
  • Monitor for exotic species infestations
  • Strengthen shoreline buffer requirements in Shell Lake’s shoreland zoning ordinance.

Goal:  Maintain or improve water-related recreational experiences while minimizing impacts to lake ecosystems.

Objectives

Promote safe, harmonious use of city lakes.

Improve existing Class C access points on Shell Lake.

Develop public access on Little Ripley.

Reduce fuel spills from self-fueling.

Activities

  • Evaluate existing lake access points on Shell Lake to determine if improvements are warranted, and recommend changes.
  • Evaluate public marina with fuel facilities near the city campground.
  • Evaluate opportunities for public access points on Little Ripley.
  • Educate residents regarding existing state boating laws.