MGLP seeking applications for 2022 Lake Conservation Grant

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) is announcing its annual request for fish habitat conservation project proposals. With the passage of the America’s Conservation Act, which funds our Lake Conservation Grant through the National Fish Habitat Partnership, there are new timelines and slight modifications to our request for proposals.

Examples of past MGLP projects that have restored natural shorelines (left; photo by Mark Keiser), removed fish passage barriers (center; Joe Nohner), and assessed nutrient loading in the watershed (right; Jerry Sweeten).

We support conservation projects that work toward meeting the goals and objectives set forth in the MGLP Strategic Plan to benefit glacial lake fish habitats, which include addressing all aspects of the chemical, physical, and biological components of lakes and their watersheds. We direct funding toward a wide range of aquatic conservation projects that benefit habitat for a wide range of fish species in glacial lakes. We typically fund 3-5 projects annually between $10,000 and $75,000, but larger projects will be considered for funding up to a maximum of the approximately $300,000 expected for distribution. Past projects have been successfully implemented because the combined contributions and capabilities of many partners accomplished project goals that none of the partnering entities could accomplish on their own. If possible, projects should align with a lake management plan or the MGLP Conservation Guidelines for the lake. MGLP Conservation Guidelines for each lake can be found on the MGLP Conservation Planner.

Projects considered for funding must align with the goals and objectives of the MGLP and can range in scale from projects that affect one or more sites, lakes, or watersheds. Projects should address the processes that cause fish habitat impairments as opposed to managing or treating the symptoms of those causes. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • projects that implement or demonstrate new approaches;
  • watershed-level nutrient control projects;
  • water quality and erosion control measures;
  • native vegetation or wetland rehabilitation;
  • natural riparian or in-lake habitat restoration and protection;
  • barrier removal for improved native fish passage;
  • fish population or watershed assessments needed for project evaluation;
  • habitat assessment, prioritization and planning for future habitat projects;
  • evaluating current and future habitat conditions;
  • projects addressing climate change adaptation or mitigation through fish habitat;
  • projects training biologists and managers on inland lake fish habitat management tools and approaches; and
  • community outreach and education on the importance of and how to better conserve glacial lake fish habitat.

Importantly, with the signing of the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act in 2020, there are new requirements in the Lake Conservation Grant application. The major change to the grant is that while the partnership prefers to maximize match in general, grant funds must be matched with at least 1:1 with nonfederal funds. Nonfederal match can include cash and/or in-kind labor, materials, equipment if there are no federal ties to those funds. State agency funds can be used for the nonfederal match if labor and/or materials are not being charged to another federal grant. State agency funds that are used to match other federal grants would not be eligible as match. Once the grant funds are matched with nonfederal funds/in-kind, an unlimited amount of federal contributions to the project are allowed. Additionally, all projects must include an outreach or education component that includes the local or regional community and projects that create or improve fishing access are desirable.

In addition to conducting independent outreach and/or education, successful applicants will be expected to work with the MGLP to coordinate media and public outreach to raise the profile of MGLP-funded projects.

Applications are due by May 7, 2021, and all applicants are required to discuss the project with MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner prior to submission for preliminary feedback on project fit for the grant and areas for improvement.

Organizations eligible to apply include state and federal management agencies, non-governmental organizations, municipalities, universities, schools, private landowners, and local and tribal governments. A partial list of ineligible costs includes purchasing or leasing land, actions required by regulations, research studies (as opposed to habitat assessments), long term monitoring, and incentive payments. A full list of eligibility and requirements can be found on the request for proposals.

If you have a lake conservation project aligned with the goals and objectives of the MGLP and need financial assistance, we encourage you to submit a proposal for project funding, which includes a narrative proposal and a budget. If you have any questions, please contact Joe Nohner at 517-284-6236 or Gary Whelan, MGLP Steering Committee Chair, at whelang@michigan.gov. A link to the application for funding is included with this announcement, and you can submit your application by emailing it to MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner at nohnerj@michigan.gov

2021 MGLP Lake Conservation Webinars Announced

The MGLP is excited to announce its 2021 Lake Conservation Webinars. These free webinars address a diversity of lake and fish habitat management issues from wakeboats to watersheds, from Ogaa (Walleye) management to social marketing, and from algae research to limnology from space. Learn more about each webinar by clicking the registration link. You can see the full lineup as well as archives of past webinars at the MGLP Lake Conservation Webinars webpage.

Do you know someone that would be interested in attending? Please forward this email to make sure no one misses out! Would you like to present a future MGLP Lake Conservation Webinar? We encourage speakers from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise in the MGLP webinar series. Please email MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner to express your interest.

2021 MGLP Lake Conservation Webinar Schedule

Leaving a Lake Conservation Legacy – Cost/Benefit analyses for planning lake conservation
February 16, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Paul Radomski, Lake Ecologist, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Register here

Stearns County SWCD Shoreline/Streambank Restoration Program Process
March 2, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Greg Berg, Riparian Resources Specialist, Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District
Register here

Social/community acceptance of natural shorelines: Lessons from 20 years of promoting soft shorelines 
March 24, 9:10 A.M. Central Time, John Hartig, Visiting Scholar, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor
Part of the New Wave of Thinking virtual conference co-hosted with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. Register for the whole conference to attend webinars at their scheduled times.

Promoting lakeshore protection: An introduction to social marketing
March 24, 10:10 A.M. Central Time, Bret Shaw Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin Madison and John Haack, Emeritus University of Wisconsin Extension Natural Resource Educator
Part of the New Wave of Thinking virtual conference co-hosted with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. Register for the whole conference to attend webinars at their scheduled times.

How Waves Work
March 24, 12:00 P.M. Central Time, Brian Majka, Restoration ecologist, GEI Consultants
Part of the New Wave of Thinking virtual conference co-hosted with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. Register for the whole conference to attend webinars at their scheduled times.

Defining No-Wake Zones for Wake Surf Boats – A Data Driven Approach
March 24, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Alex Ray, Recreation Management Consultant, Payette Environmental Services, LLC
Part of the New Wave of Thinking virtual conference co-hosted with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. Register for the whole conference to attend webinars at their scheduled times.

Wave Energy and the Bioengineering Continuum
March 24, 2:00 P.M. Central Time, Jen Buchanan, Associate Director, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
Part of the New Wave of Thinking virtual conference co-hosted with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. Register for the whole conference to attend webinars at their scheduled times.

Protecting Coldwater Fish Habitat in Minnesota Lakes
April 6, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Peter Jacobson, Fisheries Research Scientist (Retired), Minnesota DNR
Register here  

The past, present, and future of the Sauk River Watershed District’s youth and adult outreach programs
April 13, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Adam Hjelm, Outreach and Education Coordinator, Sauk River Watershed District
Register here  

Development of dissolved oxygen, temperature, and nutrient thresholds to protect cold water fish species in Minnesota lakes
April 20, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Derek Bahr, Lake IBI Research Scientist, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Dr. Will Bouchard, Research Scientist Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Register here

The hidden role of iron in primary productivity in some Midwest glacial lakes
May 4, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Dr. Betsy Swanner, Associate Professor, Iowa State University, Department of Geological & Atmospheric Sciences
Register here  

Walleye habitat: considerations for successful natural reproduction and stocking
May 17, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Dr. Joshua Raabe, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Register here  

Seasonal Habitat, Temperature, and Depth of Adult and Juvenile Ogaa (Walleye) in Mille Lacs Lake
June 1, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Carl Klimah, Fisheries Manager, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Register here  

Limnology in Space
June 22, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Dr. Emily Stanley, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Register here  

Barrier Removal and Aquatic Organism Passage in Lake Systems
August 10, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Dr. Jessica Collier, Fish & Wildlife Biologist, USFWS Green Bay Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office
Register here  

The forgotten seasons: non-summer algal dynamics
September 7, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Dr. Rebecca North, Assistant Professor, University of Missouri
Register here  

Fishing for Food: Quantifying Recreational Fisheries Harvest in Wisconsin Lakes
October 5, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Holly Embke, PhD Candidate & USGS Pathways Research Fish Biologist, University of Wisconsin Madison & USGS National Climate Adaptation Science Center
Register here  

Understanding patterns of fish kill events in Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes
October 19, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Dr. Nick Phelps, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota
Register here

Structured Decision Making for Lake Habitat Restoration
November 9, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Dr. Jessica Collier, Fish & Wildlife Biologist, USFWS Green Bay Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office
Register here  

Managing Tribal Fisheries and Employees on the Reservation
December 14, 1:00 P.M. Central Time, Carl Klimah, Fisheries Manager, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Register here

National Fish Habitat Partnership is codified through signature of America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (S. 3051)

Big news for the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership! On Friday, President Trump signed S. 3051, America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE Act) into law at the White House. The ACE Act passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support and unanimous consent. Among other actions, this bill codifies the National Fish Habitat Partnership, which is the parent organization to the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership.

Photo: Lisa Borre

“The over 40,000 lakes in the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership are a treasure that we must conserve,” said Todd Tisler, Chairperson of the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership. “Healthy lakes support ecologically diverse fish populations, which in turn help support a recreational fishing industry of 7.1 million anglers valued at $8.4 billion. This legislation recognizes and supports the efforts of the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership and others in the National Fish Habitat Partnership as we seek to protect, restore, and enhance these ecosystems for current and future generations.” The ACE Act authorizes $7.2 million for fish habitat conservation projects through the National Fish Habitat Partnership. The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership anticipates distributing its portion of this funding through a competitive grant similar to its existing Lake Conservation Grant.

Upon signature into law, the National Fish Habitat Partnership is authorized at $7.2 million annually from FY21- FY25. The National Fish Habitat Board will now report to Congress, specifically the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the U.S. Senate, and the Committee on Natural Resources of the U.S. House of Representatives. The law expands the National Fish Habitat Board to 26 members, to include broad representation from a diversity of groups. Up to $400,000 in technical and scientific assistance funds are authorized to be appropriated annually for FY21 – FY25 to each of the following agencies in support of the National Fish Habitat Partnership: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.

“With President Trump’s signing of the ACE Act, we celebrate the culmination of over a decade of effort to codify the National Fish Habitat Partnership with organic legislation. The Partnership, and the thousands of people involved in local, grassroots projects, have done remarkable work protecting, enhancing, and restoring fish habitat across the country,” said Ed Schriever, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “This Congressional recognition of the program marks the beginning of an exciting chapter for the Partnership and the American people whose pleasure, passion, and livelihoods are derived from healthy habitat and vibrant fishery resources.”

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership regularly provides updates and resources on fish habitat conservation issues related to natural lakes, including its Lake Conservation Grant. If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up for newsletter updates or follow us on Twitter.

MGLP seeking applications for 2021 Lake Conservation Grant

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) is announcing its annual request for fish habitat conservation project proposals. We support conservation projects that work toward meeting the goals and objectives set forth in the MGLP Strategic Plan to benefit glacial lake fish habitats, which include addressing all aspects of the chemical, physical, and biological components of lakes and their watersheds. We direct funding toward a wide range of aquatic conservation projects that benefit habitat for a wide range of fish species in glacial lakes. We typically fund 3-5 projects annually between $10,000 and $75,000, but larger projects will be considered for funding up to a maximum of the approximately $300,000. Past projects have been successfully implemented because the combined contributions and capabilities of many partners accomplished project goals that none of the partnering entities could accomplish on their own. If possible, projects should align with a lake management plan or the MGLP Conservation Guidelines for the lake. MGLP Conservation Guidelines for each lake can be found on the MGLP Conservation Planner.

Examples of past MGLP projects that have restored natural shorelines (left; photo by Mark Keiser), removed fish passage barriers (center; Joe Nohner), and assessed nutrient loading in the watershed (right; Jerry Sweeten).

Projects considered for funding must align with the goals and objectives of the MGLP and can range in scale from projects that affect one or more sites, lakes, or watersheds. Projects should address the processes that cause fish habitat impairments as opposed to managing or treating the symptoms of those causes. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • projects that implement or demonstrate new approaches;
  • watershed-level nutrient control projects;
  • water quality and erosion control measures;
  • native vegetation or wetland rehabilitation;
  • natural riparian or in-lake habitat restoration and protection;
  • barrier removal for improved native fish passage;
  • fish population or watershed assessments needed for project evaluation;
  • habitat assessment, prioritization and planning for future habitat projects;
  • evaluating current and future habitat conditions;
  • projects addressing climate change adaptation or mitigation through fish habitat;
  • projects training biologists and managers on inland lake fish habitat management tools and approaches; and
  • community outreach and education on the importance of and how to better conserve glacial lake fish habitat.

In addition to conducting independent outreach and/or education, successful applicants will be expected to work with the MGLP to coordinate media and public outreach to raise the profile of MGLP-funded projects.

Applications are due by October 16, 2020, and all applicants are required to discuss the project with MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner prior to submission for preliminary feedback on project fit for the grant and areas for improvement.

Organizations eligible to apply include state and federal management agencies, non-governmental organizations, municipalities, universities, schools, private landowners, and local and tribal governments. A partial list of ineligible costs includes purchasing or leasing land, actions required by regulations, research studies (as opposed to habitat assessments), long term monitoring, and incentive payments. A full list of eligibility and requirements can be found on the request for proposals.

If you have a lake conservation project aligned with the goals and objectives of the MGLP and need financial assistance, we encourage you to submit a proposal for project funding, which includes a narrative proposal and a budget. If you have any questions, please contact Joe Nohner at 517-284-6236 or Todd Tisler, MGLP Steering Committee Chair, at ttisler@fs.fed.us or 907-617-2945. A link to the application for funding is included with this announcement, and you can submit your application by emailing it to MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner at nohnerj@michigan.gov.

FishAmerica Foundation Request for Proposals

In addition to the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership’s Lake Conservation Grant, the partnership is promoting a grant opportunity from the FishAmerica Foundation. FishAmerica Foundation is once again soliciting projects from grassroots, nonprofit organizations conducting projects designed to improve sport fish populations, aquatic habitat, or water quality. Projects must be conducted in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, or Washington (state).  Grants are limited to a maximum of $25,000 but smaller projects are encouraged to apply. Matching funds are desirable but not required. 

Applicants requesting a letter of support from the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership should contact coordinator Joe Nohner by August 14, 2020.

MGLP provides $245,000 in grants to conserve fish habitat in lakes

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) is awarding over $245,000 through its Lake Conservation Grant to four projects across the Upper Midwest. Together, these projects will benefit glacial lakes, fish habitats, fish populations, and fisheries for anglers for years to come. Funds from the Lake Conservation Grant are provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and will be matched by over $400,000 in contributions from partners, for a total conservation impact of over $650,000.

  • Assessing and conserving high-quality Michigan lakes for Cisco and Walleye; Barry Conservation District; $86,358 award
  • Systems-level perspectives on fish habitat: Capacity building workshops with lake associations across the Midwest; Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; $56,044 award
  • Building capacity for MGLP conservation; Michigan State University; $40,000 award
  • Working to meet NFHP Goals and Objectives through the MGLP; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; $62,743 award

The MGLP will announce the request for proposals for the next round of Lake Conservation Grants in late July. You can find more information on the Lakes Conservation Grant page of the MGLP website and receive notification through the MGLP Newsletter. Learn more about the projects that received funding this year below.

Assessing and conserving high-quality Michigan lakes for Cisco and Walleye; Barry Conservation District; $86,358 award

Habitat for cool- and cold-water fishes in glacial lakes is threatened by a changing climate and cultural eutrophication. Warming air temperatures and longer periods of stratification lead to warmer epilimnetic waters while increased nutrients from shoreline and watershed development, more common and severe rain events, and longer stratification periods lead to decreased oxygen in the hypolimnion. These factors combine to threaten cool- and cold-water fishes such as Walleye and

Cisco throughout Michigan and the MGLP region. This project will: 1) Assess habitat for cool- and cold-water fishes in at least three priority Michigan lakes using in-situ measurements; 2) Assess the sources and severity of nutrient and sediment runoff, develop a nutrient budget, and recommend specific best management practices that should be implemented to protect Green Lake; and 3) Establish two demonstration natural shoreline projects and conduct education and outreach campaigns to leverage committed and pending funding for implementing best management practices in the watersheds of Big Cedar Lake, Little Cedar Lake, Wall Lake, and other lakes in the Cedar Creek subwatershed.

Systems-level perspectives on fish habitat: Capacity building workshops with lake associations across the Midwest; Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; $56,044 award

This project will build systems-level perspectives on lake fish habitat among lake association members in the upper Midwest. Lake associations are important agents of, and advocates for, habitat conservation in glacial lakes. While effective conservation of these habitats increasingly demands an appreciation for long term change, landscape connections, and other social-ecological systems concepts, these patterns of thinking are still relatively rare among lake association members. This will be series of interactive workshops to help lake association members learn key concepts about fish habitat and develop patterns of systems-level thinking. The workshops will focus on developing skills within and relationships between lake organizations, resulting in increased resiliency, ultimately leading to positive outcomes for lakes, such as high water quality and healthy, sustainable fish populations.

Building capacity for MGLP conservation; Michigan State University; $40,000 award

In order to implement the fish habitat assessment and conservation implementation goals of the partnership, the MGLP must address basic database management needs. This grant will support Michigan State University staff in their collaboration with the MGLP to generate a new database of fish survey data across all states in the MGLP. This database will help the MGLP to better assess fish habitat threats and conditions, thereby improving efficiency and efficacy of projects funded by the MGLP.

Working to meet NFHP Goals and Objectives through the MGLP; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; $62,743 award

The MGLP works to protect, rehabilitate, and enhance sustainable fish habitats in glacial lakes of the Midwest for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. Partnership staffing is limited to the coordinator, and funding for that position is required to coordinate the MGLP’s three committees, implement tasks delegated by the committees to the coordinate, and maintain MGLP operations in support of the MGLP’s mission, goals, and objectives. This grant partially funds the MGLP part-time coordinator.

2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan released

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) is releasing its Strategic Plan for the next five years. The plan reaffirms the MGLP’s mission to “Work together to protect, rehabilitate and enhance sustainable fish habitats in glacial lakes of the Midwest for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations.” The plan makes clear that fish habitats include all of the chemical, physical, and biological aspects of the places that fishes use throughout their lives, a definition which drives the MGLP’s focus on conservation of lake ecosystems.

The Strategic Plan identifies specific, achievable objectives for the MGLP and its partners to accomplish within the next five years in science, outreach, and management. Overarching objectives include implementation of fish habitat conservation projects, conducting ecological assessments of Midwest glacial lake habitats, improving efficiency and efficacy of lake habitat conservation projects, and conduct education and outreach to encourage fish habitat conservation.

How will the MGLP accomplish the goals in the Strategic Plan? The MGLP Education and Outreach Team produces outreach products such as the Lake Conservation webinar series and the Shoreline Living booklet. The Science and Data Team develops science products such as the MGLP Conservation Planner. The MGLP Steering Committee oversees partnership activities, including grant awards through our Lake Conservation Grant program. Whether your objectives are science, habitat management, or outreach, there are likely opportunities for you to participate.

 “This Strategic Plan represents a major step forward for the MGLP as we focus on concrete actions that we can achieve with our partners in the next five years,” said MGLP Steering Committee Chair Todd Tisler. “We have teams working on many of these objectives right now; we encourage agencies and individuals that are new or perhaps haven’t participated to review the MGLP’s planned actions, identify whether any of those actions align with their own objectives, and if you are willing, please join us in our efforts to conserve inland lake habitats.” Those interesting in participating in the partnership or in more information can reach out to MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner.

MGLP announces release of Shoreline Living booklet promoting natural lake shorelines

Lakefront properties offer relaxing views and a gateway to recreation. The lakefront can be where memories of catching your first bluegill and learning to swim are made. Lake shorelines are places we hold dear, and they also provide an important connection between clean water and healthy fish and wildlife.

Resource agencies and conservation organizations have developed a host of practices for balancing property owners’ needs with what is best for the lake. These practices are imperative because there are over 89,000 miles of inland lake shorelines across the Upper Midwest that support multi-billion-dollar fishing and recreational economies. Although there are many practices that a homeowner could implement to improve shoreline conditions, in many cases no action is taken.

Major barriers for creating and protecting natural shorelines vary widely from homeowner’s unfamiliarity with natural shoreline practices to a lack of relatable natural shoreline examples.

The new Shoreline Living booklet helps remove these barriers by telling the stories of five lakeshore property owners who have all taken different approaches with their shorelines. The projects undertaken by these property owners range from relatively minor plantings and natural shoreline rehabilitation to more intensive natural landscaping and full protection. The stories of these property owners are complemented by high-quality pictures that illustrate the beauty and functionality of natural shorelines for the typical lakefront property owner. 

Shoreline Living is freely available as an online resource for conservation and educational purposes. Are you interested in using it in your work? We encourage you to download the document and share it on your own organization’s website. Furthermore, if you are interested in obtaining printed copies, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership is coordinating an initial printing of the document to save on costs by printing at a large scale. Fill out this interest form by July 1, 2020: https://tinyurl.com/ShorelineLiving or email Erin Fuller (Erin.Fuller@mi.nacdnet.net) for information. After July 1, copies will be available for sale on the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership website.

Do you have a use for the pictures? You can find all of the pictures in Shoreline Living and more on the website. The pictures are available for the public to download and use, provided that they are only used for noncommercial, personal or educational use and credit is given to Mark Bugnaski Photography.

Want to know more about the Shoreline Living project? Tune in to our MGLP Lake Conservation webinar on the project today at 1 PM CDT/2 PM EDT. You can register for the webinar at here.

All photographs courtesy of Mark Bugnaski Photography

Lake Conservation Webinar Blitz

Want to learn more about cutting edge science, outreach, and conservation on inland lakes? The Lake Conservation Webinar series is hosting a blitz of webinars in the next two months to share highlights from across the Upper Midwest. All webinars will be at 1:00 PM CDT (2:00 PM EDT), and video recordings of webinars will be posted to the Lake Conservation Webinar website about a week after each presentation for those that cannot participate in real time. To register for any of the webinars below, go to the Lakes Conservation Webinar page.

Top to bottom trophic interrogation of Michigan inland lake communities using eDNA metabarcoding

Kim Scribner, Professor, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
Thursday, April 16
Register here

Characterization of freshwater aquatic animal and plant communities across trophic levels, particularly detection of low abundance species, including threatened and endangered and aquatic invasive species (AIS), is critical for informing management decisions. Water samples from 22 inland lakes in Michigan were collected and eDNAs were extracted, and species were identified by comparing the eDNA sequence data to a Michigan vertebrate and plant reference sequence databases. Estimates of fish species total number, relative abundance, and community composition and diversity derived from eDNA metabarcoding were comparable with estimates derived from traditional gear types used in fisheries assessments. Relative species metabarcode sequence abundance was correlated to species biomass and relative abundance. eDNA metabarcoding identified more species generally than did traditional gear, particularly low abundance species including AIS. Heat maps characterized spatial heterogeneity in fish and plant species richness and distribution of AIS within lakes. Collectively, results demonstrate that eDNA metabarcoding is amenable to monitoring aquatic community diversity, species relative biomass, as well as early AIS detection.

Let’s Make Healthy Lakes & Rivers Together: Wisconsin’s Effort to Improve Habitat & Water Quality

Pamela Toshner, Lake & Watershed Protection Specialist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Jim Giffin, Volunteer Project Manager, Healthy Lakes Initiative
Thursday April 23
Register here

Since 2015 the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has invested over $900,000 in its Healthy Lakes & Rivers initiative. This surface water grant funds installation of 5 best practices with nearly 1,000 projects completed on about 100 lakes to date. Pamela Toshner will share a program overview, including technical assistance and promotional tools, and challenges with forthcoming improvements. Jim Giffin will delve into the logistics of setting up a local effort, communicating with property owners, and showcase example projects.

A forest landscape approach to lake habitat protection

Daniel Steward, Forested Landscape Planning Coordinator, Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources
Thursday April 30
Register here

Counties and SWCD’s are working to develop watershed-based comprehensive local water plans across Minnesota. In the past year two watersheds in the lake rich north-central part of the state have completed their plans and are now moving into implementation. The plans focus on long-term protection of private forest lands. The plans prioritize lakes, then target parcels with a simple GIS approach. The goal of the plans is to achieve 75% protected forest cover in the lake’s watershed. The 75% strategy is based on research conducted by Peter Jacobson and Mn. DNR Fisheries.

Burnett County Shoreline Incentives Program

Dave Ferris, County Conservationist, Burnett County (Wisconsin) Land Services-Conservation Division
Thursday May 7
Register here

This presentation will discuss the innovative Shoreline Incentive Program (SIP) in Burnett County, Wisconsin, which encourages preservation and restoration of natural shorelines. The SIP provides incentives to encourage restoring or preserving natural shorelines, and has enrolled over 750 parcels since it began in 2000. Owners of these parcels receive an annual payment in return for ensuring permanent protection of the shoreline. Incentives provided for each parcel enrolled in the SIP include an annual payment of $50, an initial enrollment payment of $250, a free site visit by a natural landscape expert, planting plans to restore a natural shoreline, payments that cover 70% of the initial cost of plants and materials, an exclusive SIP shirt or cap, and an optional sign to display at the water’s edge. This presentation will discuss the creation, implementation results, and challenges of running the SIP.

Introducing Shoreline Living: A resource to promote natural shorelines on inland lakes

Erin Fuller, Watershed Coordinator, Van Buren County (Michigan) Conservation District
Monday May 18
Register here

This presentation will highlight a new resource that inland lake supporters can use to showcase natural shorelines. Shoreline Living is a new magazine-style publication (online only at the moment, though print copies are planned for the future) containing articles highlighting five families who live on natural shorelines. Beautiful photographs of each property accompany the articles, and the families share their process in creating, maintaining, and enjoying their natural shorelines. The publication and its source photography can be used as a tool to promote natural shorelines by providing examples of everyday shoreline property owners who dipped their toes into a natural shoreline.

MGLP Celebrates its 10th birthday

Born in 2009, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) joined the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) “family” ready to take on an enormous challenge. The partnership was founded to address a common need identified by lake managers, professionals, and stakeholders: the lack of resources for conducting fish habitat conservation on inland lakes. The partnership set out to improve science, management, and communications capacity, support new and effective approaches to fish habitat degradation through its grant, and bring partners together to share and learn from their experiences. Today our almost 700 partners have helped us to accomplish some of these goals together.

Looking back over the last ten years, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds. The MGLP’s Lake Conservation Grant has funded the protection of over 8,000 acres of lakes, restored fish passage to over 75,000 acres of lakes, developed outreach materials that have contacted over 70,000 stakeholders, and restored over 5,000 ft. of lake shoreline. For example, the grant provided funding for pilot coarse woody habitat projects by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that eventually developed into the extremely popular Fish Sticks program in the state today. More recently, the MGLP funded a project to investigate whether shoreline vegetation could partially mitigate septic effluent from the large number of leaking septic systems around lakes. The MGLP has provided over $1.1 M in NFHP funding from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to 36 projects that have brought over $4.1M in matching funds and in-kind support. In addition to funding provided through the partnership, we should also mention that we provide letters of support to help partners compete for other funding.

While our on-the-ground work has been important, our science and data products are one of our most commonly requested outputs. At its inception, MGLP partners recognized the need to assess the over 70,000 inland lakes in the MGLP using consistent criteria across political boundaries to determine which strategies are appropriate for each lake and to allow partners to prioritize their work. Earlier this year, the MGLP released its Conservation Planner, which provides users with data characterizing lakes’ shorelines, watersheds, and climate vulnerability. Our Science and Data Team hosted a symposium at the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in 2018 to address knowledge gaps identified by MGLP partners, which resulted in a glacial-lake-themed issue of the peer-reviewed Lake and Reservoir Management journal with articles on topics requested by MGLP partners such as climate change adaptation (1,2), coarse woody habitat, and aquatic vegetation management.

As the partnership has grown, we’ve identified the need to support partners’ education and outreach needs as well.  The partnership’s Education and Outreach Team has received two USFWS Multistate Conservation Grants to develop marketing materials to shift social norms toward ecological stewardship of privately-owned lake shoreline properties. The team has also developed a newsletter to communicate partnership information, a webinar series to increase sharing of management and research advances, and a Twitter account.

As the MGLP approaches its second decade of existence, we are redoubling our efforts to work together to protect, rehabilitate, and enhance sustainable fish habitats in glacial lakes of the Midwest for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. We encourage you to join the partnership, or reach out to coordinator Joe Nohner to see how you can become involved. Stay tuned in 2020 as we release our revised strategic plan, announce another round of grants for lake habitat conservation, outreach, and assessment, and share more cutting-edge science and management on glacial lakes.

MGLP awards $190,500 in grants to conserve fish habitat in lakes

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) is awarding $190,500 through its Lake Conservation Grant to five projects across the Upper Midwest, benefiting glacial lakes, fish habitats, fish populations, and anglers for years to come. Grant funding is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the National Fish Habitat Partnership.

The 2019 MGLP Lake Conservation Grant recipients are:

  • Prairie Lake and Lizzie Lake fish passage; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; $30,000 award
  • Pickerel Lake shoreline restoration project; South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks; $30,000 award
  • Nutrient and sediment loads entering Lake Wawasee: A scientific approach to assess lake restoration strategies; Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation; $15,000 award
  • Building capacity for Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership conservation; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; $40,500 award
  • Working to meet National Fish Habitat Partnership goals and objectives through the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; $75,000 award

The MGLP is currently accepting applications for the next round of Lake Conservation Grants, due October 15th. Learn more about the projects that received funding this year below.


Prairie Lake and Lizzie Lake fish passage

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

$30,000 award

Water level control dams owned by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) at the outlets to Lake Lizzie and Prairie Lake, a few miles apart on the Pelican River, are barriers to upstream fish passage. The MNDNR will modify these dams into arch-rapids, so that the dams’ function of setting lake levels is maintained while allowing upstream fish movement. The projects will benefit several species, including Walleye, various sucker species, and Lake Sturgeon. The DNR has been working for several years to meet the goal of the Red River Watershed Management Plan to restore Lake Sturgeon to this watershed, and other lakes in the Pelican River system have growing populations. By creating connectivity through these lakes, Lake Sturgeon will be able to move back and forth to other habitats through their lives, including during spawning time, and may establish populations in additional lakes such as Prairie and Lizzie. Increased connectivity will help the fish community to be more resilient to disturbances, and better able to adapt to changing conditions including climate change. This project will bolster efforts to restore Lake Sturgeon, an iconic and sensitive species to the Pelican River Watershed, and may spur increased angling tourism in the future through enhanced fish populations.

The water level control structure at the outlet of Prairie Lake, MN, is one of two being removed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to allow passage of Lake Sturgeon and other fishes. Photo: Joe Nohner, Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Pickerel Lake shoreline restoration project

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks

$30,000 award

Nearly 49% of the shoreline on Pickerel Lake, SD, has been highly disturbed by residential shoreline property owners. This project will establish buffer zones on shoreline properties by removing turfgrass and replacing it with native plantings at least 30 feet wide with varieties based on the property owner’s preferences. The project will decrease sediment and nutrient inputs to the lake by intercepting runoff and reducing shoreline erosion, which will ultimately reduce frequency and intensity of algal blooms and fish kills, increase water clarity, increase aquatic vegetation growth, and increase wildlife populations.

A map of the shorelines along Pickerel Lake, SD, identifies disturbed areas for restoration and undisturbed areas for protection. Map credit: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Nutrient and sediment loads entering Lake Wawasee: A scientific approach to assess lake restoration strategies

Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation (Indiana)

$15,000 award

Lake Wawasee is the largest glacial lake in Indiana with a surface area of approximately 3,000 acres in the southernmost extent of the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership region and supports heavy recreational use. Land acquisition efforts have resulted in the protection of over 10 miles of shoreline and 51 wetland areas totaling protection of over 900 acres using over $2 million in grants for watershed studies, restoration, and erosion control projects, as well as over $5 million in land acquisition efforts of critical areas in the Lake Wawasee watershed. This project will assess the Lake Wawasee watershed to better-inform watershed and shoreland conservation to restore water quality. Specifically, the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation will install a gage station at each of the five major tributaries entering Lake Wawasee and one gage station on the outlet of the lake with automatic water samplers, data loggers, pressure transducers, and in some cases a rain gauge and air temperature logger. This approach will provide a clear picture of relative nutrient and sediment tributary contributions to the lake and lead to the improvement in water quality and ecological integrity through informed decisions.

Nutrient inputs to Lake Wawasee, IN, will be estimated for five tributaries to the lake and one outlet from the lake to develop a nutrient budget and inform future conservation efforts. Map credit: Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation.

Building capacity for Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership conservation

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

$40,500 award

The MGLP works to protect, rehabilitate, and enhance sustainable fish habitats in glacial lakes of the Midwest for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. MGLP staffing is dependent upon grants and voluntary participation to accomplish our goals. In order to implement the fish habitat assessment and conservation implementation goals of the partnership, the MGLP needs to address basic database management needs. Specifically, the MGLP will: 1) collect existing data from partners to update MGLP datasets and fill gaps in the MGLP database to support future assessments; 2) update existing GIS data layers for the MGLP; and 3) develop science-based online tools for habitat conservation including lake-specific assessment reports with conservation recommendations for over ~40,000 lakes. These actions will help the MGLP to better assess fish habitat threats and conditions, thereby improving efficiency and efficacy of projects funded by the MGLP.


Working to meet National Fish Habitat Partnership Goals and objectives through the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

$75,000 award

This project will fund the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership’s efforts to assess and conserve fish habitats in inland glacial lakes. This project funds the coordinator, who oversees conservation grants, supports and participates in committees, coordinates partner contributions, manages the budget, creates and implements a new strategic plan, develops the MGLP identity and presence, provides technical guidance, represents the MGLP at various meetings, and communicates with other partnerships.

Request for proposals: 2020 Lake Conservation Grant

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) is announcing its annual request for fish habitat conservation project proposals (APPLY HERE). We support conservation projects that work toward meeting the goals and objectives set forth in the MGLP Strategic Plan to benefit glacial lake fish habitats, which include addressing the chemical, physical, and biological components of the habitats that fishes found in glacial lakes use throughout their lives.

READ MORE

Management Spotlight: Scientific advances and adaptation strategies for Wisconsin lakes facing climate change

Climate change is expected to affect fish habitat in our lakes, but on an issue where international agreements are the gold standard, it can seem overwhelming for state-, local-, and lake-based organizations. To address the challenge, stakeholders in Wisconsin recently met to identify scientific advances and adaptation strategies that they could employ on their lakes. The group convened at the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts lake adaptation workshop in 2018, and recently released the results of their work. Their publication will be part of a Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership-organized issue in the journal Lake and Reservoir Management focusing on managing fish habitat and fisheries affected by habitat.

Continue reading “Management Spotlight: Scientific advances and adaptation strategies for Wisconsin lakes facing climate change”

Research Spotlight: Coarse Woody Habitat in Inland Lakes

Anglers know that to catch many fish species, they should target their fishing near coarse woody habitat such as fallen trees. Fish seem to congregate there, so they must be good for fish populations, right? Greg Sass and others reviewed the literature on coarse woody habitat in inland lakes and introduced a novel study that will help to provide new insights. Their publication will be part of a Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership-organized issue in the journal Lake and Reservoir Management focusing on managing fish habitat and fisheries affected by habitat.

Continue reading “Research Spotlight: Coarse Woody Habitat in Inland Lakes”

Lake Conservation Webinar Series: Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program

In the next Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) Lake Conservation Webinar, learn how Michigan is helping lake front property owners to determine if they are managing their property in a way that is healthy for their lake through the MI Shoreland Stewards Program. Julia Kirkwood with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will explain what the program is and how the online survey works. Lakefront property owners are provided with a rating of Gold, Silver, Bronze or Starter level along with recommendations for improvement.

Continue reading “Lake Conservation Webinar Series: Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program”

Announcement: MGLP Conservation Planner released

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) is excited to release its new MGLP Conservation Planner, which provides lake data to inform communication, management, and research to benefit fish habitat and lake ecosystems. Specifically, the MGLP Conservation Planner provides data on likely suitability for fishes, land cover along the shoreline and in the lake’s watershed, and conservation recommendations to supplement existing information for each lake. Its recommended uses include provision of data to inform single-lake management, establishment of a framework for conservation strategies in each lake, identification of patterns in fish habitat due to climate and land use change, and as a supplement during potential prioritization of limited resources among lakes. Learn how to use the Conservation Planner by attending this webinar live on May 15th or afterward in the archive of MGLP Lake Conservation webinars.

The MGLP Conservation Planner provides data on the ~40,000 inland lakes over 10 acres within the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership’s 8-state footprint. For fish habitat suitability data, we developed species distribution models that predict the presence or absence of a species using a suite of variables describing lake temperature, morphology, hydrology, and connectivity. These models were used to estimate whether each lake was likely to support representative warmwater (Bluegill), coolwater (Northern Pike and Walleye), and coldwater (any coldwater species including Cisco, Lake Whitefish, Lake Trout, and Burbot) fishes. These models were applied using current (2018) and future (2050) climate scenarios to assess changes in fish habitat suitability.

We delineated lake watersheds and assessed disturbances in the watershed using information from the 2006 National Land Cover Database. In general, urban and agricultural land cover increase sediment and nutrient inputs to lakes as a result of runoff, sewage, leaking septic systems, and other sources. We delineated each lake’s watershed and report watershed disturbance as the proportion of the watershed area with urban or agricultural land cover.

“We’re really excited, and are looking forward to using the tool to help build Wisconsin’s healthy waters program to protect lake water quality and fish habitat,” says Pamela Toshner, a Lake & Watershed Protection Specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

We also delineated shorelands as the area within 100m of each lake and assessed disturbances to the shoreland using information from the 2006 National Land Cover Database. We report shoreland disturbance as the proportion of the shoreland area with urban or agricultural land cover. Shorelands provide habitat for fish and wildlife species, influence the movement of nutrients and woody debris, and affect soil erosion along the lake shore. Human development within shorelands often results in decreased aquatic vegetation and large woody habitat, hardening of the shoreline, reduction in water quality, and declines in fish and wildlife populations.

The MGLP Conservation Planner also includes detailed summaries of both the shoreland and lake watershed by land cover type and protection status.

We recommend tailoring shoreland and watershed management strategies to existing land use and land cover. We distinguish between two strategies for shoreland and watershed conservation, and provide general guidance regarding the recommended distribution of effort toward protection versus rehabilitation and mitigation based on the condition of these areas summarized for each lake. This guidance is based off of a review of the literature, feedback from a focus group of stakeholders, and consensus from the MGLP Science and Data Team. The most efficient strategy is protecting land. Examples of protection include acquisition, easement, zoning, invasive species protection, and monitoring. In some cases, critical habitats or land have been degraded; rehabilitating and mitigating this degradation is often more expensive and does not provide all of the ecosystem functions that an undisturbed ecosystem would provide. Examples of rehabilitation include reforestation, creation of vegetated buffer strips, building engineered wetlands or stormwater retention ponds, bioengineered shorelands, and addition of large woody habitat. Examples of mitigation include using best practices for fish passage on road-stream crossings, erosion control measures, and minimizing sewage and runoff.

The MGLP Conservation Planner is the culmination of a ten-year effort by scientists and managers within the partnership. The Science and Data Team collected data from state, federal, and tribal partners to conduct its fish habitat analyses, and developed the Conservation Planner based on these results. The Conservation Planner was targeted at needs identified by a survey of MGLP Partners and was evaluated for iterative improvements by a dedicated focus group and over 40 committee members within the partnership. We plan to update the MGLP Conservation Planner based on user feedback and new data. Your feedback is welcome; please contact MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner with comments or questions.

The MGLP brings together resource agencies, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders to protect, rehabilitate, and enhance sustainable fish habitats on naturally formed (glacial) lakes of the Midwest. We foster collaborations on fish habitat science, education and outreach, and conservation. For more information, please follow us on Twitter or reach out to our coordinator, Joe Nohner. If you are not already on our newsletter email list, please SIGN UP NOW to learn about MGLP activities including our annual request for grant proposals coming in August.

Project spotlight: Mitigating septic discharge with riparian vegetation

Written by Mark S. Kieser

Kieser & Associates staff installed native plantings at one of the monitored “experimental” sites where there have been previous concerns with septic system drainfield discharges in 2018.

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership awarded the Eagle Lake Paw Paw Association (ELPPA) a grant in 2017 to test whether naturalized shorelines and deep-rooted shoreline vegetation can mitigate septic system contaminant and bacterial discharges to lakes. Over the past year, Kieser & Associates (K&A) has been working with the ELPPA to test seven ‘front yards’ around the lakeshore to determine how small patches of native plants grown between septic system drain fields and the water’s edge may protect water quality.

K&A is monitoring shallow groundwater at three of these sites to determine how deep-rooted plants may help prevent nutrients and bacteria from reaching the lake. They are also monitoring how these small, but potentially important, plantings may help improve fish and aquatic habitat along the lakeshore.

Test sites have been established to test groundwater both with and without native plantings. Differences in nutrient and bacteria concentrations will be used to determine whether there are real benefits with this innovative approach compared to much higher cost solutions of septic system replacement or sewering. This effort will help determine whether a simple patch of native landscaping along a residential shoreline can become an inexpensive way of mitigating this national problem of older systems contributing to water quality problems, impairing aquatic habitat and diminishing property values.

Kieser & Associates staff installed groundwater monitoring wells in the native planting zone at an experimental site in 2018.

Six groundwater monitoring wells were installed at each of the three groundwater monitoring test sites in April of 2018. These were placed upgradient, downgradient and cross-gradient of septic drain fields. Two rounds of semi-annual groundwater sampling have already been conducted. Samples were submitted for analysis of soluble reactive phosphorus, nitrate nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, total dissolved solids, chloride, and E. coli bacteria.

Nearshore macroinvertebrate sampling was conducted in May 2018 to serve as baseline conditions prior to natural shoreline installations. Samples were collected in front of each of the seven project sites, three of these also serving as groundwater monitoring sites. In July of 2018, a variety of deep-rooted native plants, co-selected with residents, were planted at four project sites, one of these with groundwater monitoring wells.

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2019 although the ELPPA may continue to support longer-term monitoring to maximize benefits of the current efforts. These data will help determine whether this technique is viable, cost-effective, and scalable approach to address septic system discharges to lakes and streams. The MGLP will share the results of this project through future newsletters.

Lake conservation webinars and reports

We want to share our partners’ efforts to address fish habitat conservation challenges. If you have a webinar, study, or report that you feel should be shared with the partnership, please send it to MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner, and we will consider including it in future communications. Here are two webinars that may be of interest.

Variable Warming in Lakes of the Upper Midwest and Implications for Sport Fish

When: April 16 at 1 pm CST/2PM EST

Register: https://www.cakex.org/community/events/variable-warming-lakes-upper-midwest-and-implications-sport-fish

Summary: Climate change is predicted to alter sport fish communities in Midwestern lakes, but managers currently have limited information on individual lakes that can be used to set local expectations or intervene with mitigation strategies. With strong participation from the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, Northeast and North Central CASC supported researchers have combined existing fish and water temperature observations to build models that estimate daily water temperatures and fish habitat metrics for thousands of lakes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and Indiana. This presentation will discuss key findings from several studies, including fishery responses to warming and variability in sensitivity to warming across lakes. It will also cover the use of data visualization to reach the general public and managers with the results.

2018 AFWA Climate Adaptation Surveys

When: May 1st at 12 pm CT

Register: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/8e27c165b60bcfe6d746f627e8486654

Summary: The results of the 2018 AFWA Climate Adaptation Surveys are in! The Surveys provide insight into state agency activities and needs for fish and wildlife management in a changing climate and helps to identify national-level priorities for advancing the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. The webinar will cover barriers to implementation, where States are accessing information, state research needs & priorities, survey trends, and major takeaways & recommendations. This is an opportunity for state and federal agency staff and other collaborative partners to get a glimpse at what states are doing to advance climate adaptation for fish and wildlife and how we can coordinate and prioritize our work as a community to be more effective.

$270,000+ in fish habitat conservation grants awarded by the MGLP

Today, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) announced over $270,000 in grants funding fish habitat science, outreach, and on-the-ground conservation. The MGLP operates an annual grant program through the National Fish Habitat Partnership, whereby it directs dedicated funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to recipients that the MGLP identifies. See the project descriptions below to learn a little more about the work we’re funding. We’ll announce our request for fiscal year 2019 proposals in August using our email list; sign up if you have not already!

Promoting Bioengineering Options for Erosion Control on Michigan Inland Lakes – Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Michigan will work in partnership with state agency staff and natural shoreline practitioners to develop two documents for practitioners summarizing bioengineering erosion control design options. The first document will provide information on bioengineering across the spectrum of wave and ice energy that a shoreline experiences, and the second document will focus specifically on high-energy shorelines. The information will also be promoted through a webinar that will be advertised to partners via the MGLP newsletter.

Lake Carlos fish passage project – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

A dam at the outflow of Lake Carlos impedes fish passage downstream, and will be removed. Photo credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

A dam at the outlet of Lake Carlos to the Long Prairie River currently blocks fish such as Walleye, Northern Pike, and multiple sucker species from entering the lake. This project will enable fish passage by installing a rock arch ramp at the site of the dam. The project will also benefit the rare Creek Heelsplitter and Black Sandshell mussels by providing access to habitat in Lake Carlos tributaries.

Assessment of oxythermal habitat of Cisco in Minnesota lakes for prioritizing habitat protection efforts – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Species such as Walleye, Lake Trout, and Cisco rely on cold, well-oxygenated water to grow and survive, yet climate and land use change threaten these habitat types. Rising annual air temperatures are resulting in warmer lakes, and nutrients from disturbed land reduce oxygen available for fishes. How these long-term patterns affect fishes is difficult to predict and changes throughout the season. This project will assess water temperature and dissolved oxygen continuously throughout the summer in six Minnesota lakes. It will help develop understanding of how precipitation and other short-term events affect fish habitat in combination with climate change and water quality threats facing lakes across the MGLP, so that habitat conservation efforts can be prioritized.

Assessment of critical thermal fish habitat in Midwest Glacial Lakes Fish Habitat Partnership lakes (Phase II) – United States Geological Service

Changing climates are expected to dramatically affect fish throughout the MGLP, and the first step in predicting the magnitude of these effects is to understand past and current water temperatures that create thermal fish habitat. This project will gather existing water temperature, oxygen, and water quality data in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa and use this information to create statistical models of these variables to predict past, current, and future thermal fish habitat throughout the MGLP. This project builds upon data being gathered in Phase I for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana.

Reconnecting Mason Creek to Duck Lake Restoration Project – Conservation Resource Alliance

A soon-to-be-removed, perched culvert blocking fish passage from Duck Lake to Mason Creek. Photo credit: Kimberly Balke, Conservation Resource Alliance

Mason Creek drains into Duck Lake, MI, but fish in the creek are not able to migrate to and from the lake due to perched culverts at a road crossing. This project will remove the culverts and replace them with a bottomless structure that allows for fish passage. Over 8 miles of habitat will be made accessible to fish in 1,930-acre Duck Lake and 5 tons of sediment will be prevented from entering Duck Lake due to the road-stream crossing.

Building capacity for Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership conservation – Michigan Department of Natural Resources

This project will support the MGLP’s mission of fish habitat assessment and conservation implementation in glacial lakes of the Midwest by addressing basic database management needs. Specifically, the MGLP will 1) collect existing data from partners to update datasets and fill gaps in the database to support future assessments and 2) update of existing GIS data layers for use by the MGLP. These actions will help the MGLP to better assess fish habitat threats and conditions through its assessment and web viewer, thereby improving efficiency and efficacy of projects funded by the MGLP.

Partners meet to build and improve MGLP lake assessment web viewer

Danielle Shannon (Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science) leads a breakout group identifying additional functions that the tool could provide to assist her in her work. Also pictured are Aaron Shultz (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission), Erick Elgin (Michigan State University Extension), and Will Cooksey (The Trust for Public Land)

Way back in 2009, the MGLP identified the need to conduct an assessment of all ~40,000 lakes in its footprint to inform fish habitat conservation. Partners recognized the need to tailor their actions to each lake and to prioritize their actions given the limited amounts of funding and resources. Almost ten years later, following multiple iterations, countless meetings, and feedback from partners, the MGLP is finalizing the assessment and building a web viewer for partners to use it in their work.

The assessment is a product of the MGLP’s Science and Data Team, who contributed their own time to bring it together. The assessment predicts the presence or absence of four species of fishes representing temperature guilds, and uses climate change and land use change information to assess threats in the shoreland surrounding the lake and in the watershed. The team took great care to ensure that these efforts were beneficial to fisheries managers, conservation organizations, and other practitioners. After repeated rounds of feedback from the MGLP Steering Committee, the team conducted a survey this March of almost 400 MGLP partners to learn about their information needs and uses for the assessment. The team developed a draft web viewer based on that feedback, and in June the team conducted a 2-day workshop in Minnesota to gather even more input on questions such as “Could you use this tool with little training or GIS experience?” and “What information could you use from such a tool to assist your fish habitat conservation efforts?” Feedback from the workshop is helping the team to tailor information to meet practitioners’ needs.

Participants in the intensive two-day workshop represented a variety of organizations. From left to right: Will Cooksey (The Trust for Public Land), Dan Steward (Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources), Aaron Shultz (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission), John Hiebert (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources), Eric Olson (University of Wisconsin Extension Lakes), Erin Tracy (Michigan State University), Erick Elgin (Michigan State University Extension), Julia Kirkwood (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality), Josh Leisen (Huron Pines), Pamela Toshner (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources), Kevin Wehrly (Michigan Department of Natural Resources), Scott Hanshue (Michigan Department of Natural Resources), Danielle Shannon (Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science), Joe Nohner (Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership Coordinator)

For example, the assessment and web viewer will help practitioners identify specific sets of conservation actions based on the unique set of threats facing each lake. Whether their backgrounds were in outreach and education, land acquisition, fisheries management, or habitat grant administration, participants were excited to start using the assessment and web viewer. This was summed up in one of the anonymous feedback forms by a participant who wrote, “I look forward to seeing the next version of the tool, and ultimately using it for project prioritization, education and outreach, etc.”

The Science and Data Team is now implementing recommendations from the workshop to improve the web viewer, which it plans to release in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Inland lake fish habitat symposium provides management insight

One of the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership’s primary objectives is to share science and management to improve and protect inland lake fish habitat across the region. Too often, boundaries between organizations become boundaries to information flow, and these boundaries hinder the ability of scientists, managers, and practitioners to accomplish their goals. An advantage of the Partnership is the opportunity to share experiences across organizations and learn from others. Through these conversations it became clear that there was a need for sharing recommendations for managing inland lake fish habitat. To address this issue, the Partnership organized a symposium at the 78th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Milwaukee, WI.

The “Managing fish habitat and fisheries affected by habitat in inland glacial lakes” symposium hosted ten speakers, each of which presented a review of current research and management on an important information gap below.

  • Joe Nohner and coauthors discussed the benefits of using landscape ecological approaches to prioritize and inform lake management, using the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnerships’ upcoming Phase II Assessment of Inland Lake Fish Habitats as an example of how such an approach could be implemented.
  • Catherine Hein reviewed literature and field-experiences on efforts to prevent and/or reverse eutrophication, offering case studies to illustrate successful methods and avoid common pitfalls.
  • Ralph Tingley and coauthors presented a framework for climate change adaptation in Midwest glacial lakes and highlighted strategies that have been implemented throughout the region.
  • Nick Phelps identified the importance of understanding the environmental factors that contribute to fish kills and created models to predict future fish kills based on water temperature, primary productivity, human disturbance, and other factors.
  • Jim Breck and coauthors presented models of bluegill growth based on landscape-scale drivers of fish habitat.
  • Josh Raabe and coauthors reviewed the Walleye literature on how inland lake habitat may influence successful natural reproduction and stocking efforts and highlight remaining critical research questions.
  • Greg Sass and coauthors presented research results from a series of coarse woody habitat additions and removals to inland lake littoral zones, highlighting issues related to production vs. attraction of fishes, the benefits of coarse woody habitat to different species, whether the effects of coarse woody habitat differ from fish cribs, and whether angler behavior and success are influenced by these habitats.
  • Paul Radomski discussed techniques for aquatic plant inventory and monitoring, management options for aquatic plant protection, non-indigenous species control, and potential research opportunities to better understand aquatic plant and fish relationships.
  • Jonathan Hansen provided a synopsis of aquatic plant management permitting in Minnesota, a program that balances the desires of lakeshore property owners and the need to conserve habitat for aquatic animals.
  • Patrick Goggin and Pamela Toshner provided an overview of the Healthy Lakes Initiative in Wisconsin, whereby lakefront property owners are provided technical and financial assistance to implement specific best management practices to improve lake health.

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership and authors associated with this symposium are currently pursuing publication options to share the information from this symposium broadly with project partners.

Crane Lake, MN project recognized by the National Fish Habitat Partnership “Waters to Watch” campaign

The National Fish Habitat Partnership has unveiled its annual list of “Waters to Watch”, a collection of rivers, streams, estuaries, lakes and watershed systems that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition. These voluntary, locally-driven projects represent some of the top conservation activities in progress implemented throughout the country by 20 regional Fish Habitat Partnerships, including the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership.

A perched Culvert at the outlet of Crane Lake, MN impedes fish passage into the lake.

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership is funding the replacement of an undersized and perched culvert at the outlet from Crane Lake with one that is more appropriately-sized, creating connectivity with waterbodies downstream. Minnesota DNR Fisheries Biologist Howard Fullhart explains that, “The undersized culvert creates high water velocities that fish can’t swim through, and when water flows are low, the culvert is perched and so fish aren’t able to pass. The new culvert will allow fish passage for walleye, northern pike, white suckers, darters, shiners, and other important fishes.” Crane Lake currently has lower populations than downstream lakes of migratory fish species such as walleye, white sucker, and weed shiner, a species of greatest conservation need in Minnesota’s State Wildlife Action Plan. The project is expected to increase fish community diversity and resiliency in Crane Lake by allowing fish to migrate into the lake.  “This is a really neat project,” says Fullhart, “in that it was started by the local citizens who were concerned about fish passage and the road potentially washing out. County engineers, the Minnesota DNR, and the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership are all providing funding and resources to the project to benefit natural resources, transportation, and surrounding property owners.”

Conservation projects, such as the Crane Lake culvert replacement, benefit the Waters to Watch by conserving freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats essential to the many fish and wildlife species that call these areas home.  These examples of conservation have been fundamental to the overall success of the National Fish Habitat Partnership since 2006.

Over time, these conservation efforts are reversing persistent declines in our nation’s aquatic habitats. Having featured over 100 partnership projects since 2007, these “Waters to Watch” are proving that science-based on-the-ground conservation efforts are truly making a difference in improving fish habitat across the United States.

“We are pleased to continue our Waters to Watch Campaign for the 11th year in 2017,” said Tom Champeau, Chair of the National Fish Habitat Board. “The “Waters to Watch” campaign is one of our best ways nationally to highlight the work of our 20 partnerships annually.”

People interested in learning more about the National Fish Habitat Partnership and partner projects happening across the U.S. can find out more information on how to get involved on our Partnerships Page;  http://www.fishhabitat.org/the-partnerships/.

If individuals are interested in contributing to the work of the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, a 501(c)3 organization names Beyond the Pond for this purpose. Donations can be made to the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership at the Beyond the Pond website.

 

Clear Lake, IN project receives funding with support from the Partnership

You may have heard that the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership funds habitat conservation through its grant, but did you know the Partnership catalyzes habitat conservation in other ways? With assistance from the Partnership, Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy in Indiana was recently granted an award from the FishAmerica Foundation supported in part by the Brunswick Public Foundation to complete its fish habitat conservation project .

A rapidly eroding shoreline on Kasota Island threatened water quality in Clear Lake, IN

Residents, anglers, and lake recreationists on Clear Lake were concerned about the water quality of their aptly named lake. Erosion on a popular boating destination, Kasota Island Nature Preserve, was causing excess sediments and nutrients to enter the lake, which threatened to decrease water clarity and water quality. The Conservancy applied for the grants through the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership and Indiana Department of Natural Resources, but was looking for additional sources of funding. The Partnership shared the FishAmerica Foundation grant opportunity with the Conservancy, and wrote a letter of support on behalf of the project. As a result, the Conservancy acquired all of the funds it will need to install a bioengineered shoreline and complete its project!

“Collaboration on large scale projects is key for organizations as small as ours,” says Bridget Harrison, Executive Director for Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy. “We appreciate all of the partners helping to make this project possible and working with the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership has been wonderful. We appreciate their letter of support and endorsement of our project. The shoreline restoration project along Kasota Island Nature Preserve will not only improve water quality but it will ensure that the island is here for future generations by minimizing the current loss of 4 inches of shoreline per year. ”

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership is happy to support projects that align with its mission to protect, rehabilitate, and enhance sustainable fish habitats in glacial lakes of the Midwest for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. The partnership has written letters of support for research projects and on-the-ground habitat projects. If you have a project that needs support or a grant that needs to be distributed broadly, consider reaching out to Joe Nohner, Partnership Coordinator, for more information.

Fish habitat conservation funding announcement

The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) is happy to announce its request for fish habitat conservation proposals for funding. The MGLP consists of state, tribal, and federal natural resource agencies as well as multiple nongovernmental organizations, all focused on the goals of protecting, rehabilitating, and enhancing sustainable fish habitats in glacial lakes of the Midwest for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations.

The MGLP anticipates approximately $180,000 in funding will be available. Most projects have received between $20,000 and $70,000, but larger awards are possible. If you have an aquatic habitat conservation project aligned with the goals and objectives of the MGLP and need financial assistance, we encourage you to submit a proposal for project funding.  An application for funding is included with this announcement, and you can submit your application by emailing it to MGLP Coordinator Joe Nohner at nohnerj@michigan.gov by October 15, 2017.

Learn more about how to apply for funding on our grant webpage.