An editorial in the March 6 Tomahawk Leader:
As goes our waterways,
so too goes our way of life ...
To understand how monumental a task the newly aligned Lincoln County Lakes and Rivers Association (LCLRA) will be undertaking in defending all the county’s bodies of water, consider the entire population of the county is just over 30,000 and the total acreage of water is 15,741. At more than a half-an-acre per resident, the goal may appear daunting, but is an effort that needs to be made and supported.
The forming of united lake associations like LCLRA is nothing new to the northland’s region. Over the past decade, grassroots organizations have been forged in Oneida, Vilas, Forest and many other counties. The overall goal of these associations is to protect their local waterways, which for many are a way of life.
Such is the case with LCLRA. Over the past month, representatives from Lincoln County associations, districts and organizations have been meeting to discuss organizing the single association. With one united voice, LCLRA sends the message that we care about our lakes and rivers. It shows we understand the ramifications that will occur if our lakes and rivers aren’t protected. It shows our waterways are an important part of our lives.
Many concerns face area lakes and rivers, but one in particular, the spread of Eurasian water milfoil (EWM), has drawn the most attention. From Nokomis and Mohawksin to Lake Alice and Half Moon lakes, this exotic species has and continues to contaminate county waterways. The effect this invasive plant has on lakes and rivers is devastating. Not only does it completely overtake native vegetation, it also grows in canvas form, which can ruin fishing, swimming, boating and waterways’ recreational uses.
Consider the economical consequences that would occur if our 727 lakes and many reservoirs were left uncared for.
It’s no secret that lakefront property provides the county with millions in property tax revenue. It’s no secret that when a family loads up their vehicle to head north for vacation, the waterfront is often their destination. And, it should be no secret to those of us who are fortunate enough to call Lincoln County home, that these bodies of water play a substantial role in the vitality of our local economy.
Nearly 40 percent of Lincoln County’s tourism industry revenue is generated between the months of June and August – a total of $22,190,964 of $58,559,564 total. If our lakes are not desirable because they’re overtaken with EWM, these tourists will find a different location to vacation. And, if lakefront property values continue to devaluate because of EWM and other invasive species, the county will feel the effects through lower revenue from this property.
When the ice breaks in the coming months this growing problem will again rear its ugly head. EWM will form new canvases and may eventually find its into a lake near you. With one voice, Lincoln County Lakes and Rivers Association has made the pledge and is now prepared to take action to protect this valuable resource.