New Year’s Challenges and Opportunities for the Friends




Happy New Year!  As Friends of Lake Wingra transitioned from 2016 to 2017, we looked ahead to the coming year, and saw immense opportunity, often balanced by immense challenges.  Opportunities and their associated challenges lead to change, and we embrace a year of coming change with optimism.

Some changes will be obvious, such as our new newsletter format.  For many years, our newsletters were organized and published by Pat Brown.  Pat has decided to retire, and we thankful for the help of Heather Hasenstein.  Heather is an experienced graphic designer, who we recently worked with on a grant funded by the Dane County Environmental Council to develop a new logo, and a new brochure.  We believe that the new logo embodies the character of the Lake and our mission to protect and enhance it.  Be on the lookout for our brochures around the watershed later this spring.

Other changes to the Friends of Lake Wingra may not be as obvious to the community.  After supporting us for nearly 20 years, Edgewood College has determined that it is no longer in their best interest to function as the Fiscal Sponsor for the Friends.  We are extremely grateful for all that Edgewood has done for us and for the Lake.  We plan to transition away from Edgewood and become an independent 501c(3) organization later this year.  This is a huge challenge for us as a small volunteer organization, but the opportunity to serve our watershed community more efficiently and effectively will be well worth the effort.

The Lake Wingra Watershed Management Plan has been approved by City Council!  We are especially thankful to Alder Eskrich for her support and leadership in moving the plan to completion, and to Phil Gaebler of the City of Madison Engineering Department, who also helped move the plan though the approval process.  Phil also hosted the initial “Catalyst Team” meeting to discuss implementing infiltration components of the plan in December.  Countless hours have been dedicated to developing the plan, and now countless more will be necessary to step up to the challenge of implementing the plan over the coming years and decades.

Salt continues to be an extremely large challenge for Lake Wingra.  Friends of Lake Wingra sees many opportunities to reduce chloride levels in the Lake, and is continuing our Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District grant from last year to work with a private snow removal contractor to demonstrate the benefits of using brine as an anti-icing solution before snowfalls.  Preliminary results show large potential reductions in salt use overall, stay tuned for more later this spring.

We appreciate the leadership of some neighborhood residents in reducing their salt usage on sidewalks- thanks!  However, a substantially larger percentage of the chloride runoff entering the lake can be attributed to commercial and institutional land areas such as parking lots and sidewalks adjacent to businesses.  Please continue to discuss appropriate winter salt use with those you interact with in our community and thank businesses who use less.

Throughout this coming year of opportunity and challenge, the support of our Friends is more important than ever.  We need your help.  Please consider assisting us in whatever way you can, whether that be financially; or through attending one of our events, joining our Board of Directors, sharing our newsletter with a friend, chatting with a neighbor about appropriate salt use, or simply smiling at others who are out enjoying our special lake and watershed with you!

-Ben Yahr