The Winnebago Waterways Program engages with watershed residents in order to improve, protect and enjoy the lakes and tributaries within the Winnebago System.
Lake Management Planning for the Winnebago Lakes is a top priority under the Winnebago Waterways Program at Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance. Because of the size of the lake system, most management issues span multiple jurisdictions which can make efficient management difficult. During a public engagement campaign led by Fond du Lac County, Calumet County, Winnebago County, Waushara County, University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), algal blooms and pollution from agricultural runoff were identified as two of the top issues of concern for local stakeholders. The need for effective and cost-efficient ways to manage the lakes is what led five counties and other agencies to combine their efforts to develop a collaborative lake management plan.
The Winnebago System, located in Northeast Wisconsin, consists of Lakes Poygan, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, Winnebago, and portions of the Wolf and Upper Fox Rivers. The Lake Management Plan covers eight management areas: water quality, watershed management, habitat, recreation, aquatic invasive species, aquatic plants, shoreline management and community engagement. Two of the top issues identified by the public (algae blooms and polluted runoff) are caused by nutrient loading to the lakes. To address these concerns, Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance is writing the Lake Management Plan, with support from the county land conservation departments and WDNR. The plan is enhanced with U.S. EPA's 9 Key Elements, opening the door for future federal funding for land conservation practices. Fox-Wolf is engaging many individuals and organizations in the planning process with the intent of building momentum for plan implementation.
Funding for the project comes from an intergovernmental agreement between Fond du Lac County, Calumet County, Winnebago County ($150,000 total over three years), and WDNR (eight grants totaling $167,619). This collaborative management effort drives local progress for the Source Water Initiative’s first goal of protecting sources of drinking water from nutrient impacts.