What is the Lake Ripley Management District?
The Lake Ripley Management District (LRMD) was formed in 1990 under the authority of Chapter 33 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Its purpose is to help ensure the protection and effective management of Lake Ripley. The District is a local, special-purpose unit of government that serves close to 2,000 property owners around the lake. District boundaries closely follow those of the Oakland Sanitary District, and incorporate slightly less than one-half of the total watershed area. It is roughly bounded by USH 18 to the north, USH 12 to the south, Simonsen St. to the west, and County Rd. A to the east.
The District engages in a variety of projects that aim to protect or enhance opportunities for public use and enjoyment of the lake. A seven-member board of directors, one full-time Lake Manager, one field technician, and three part-time weed-harvesting operators are responsible for administering District activities. The board includes five elected members owning property within the District (serving staggered, three-year terms), as well as appointed representatives from the Town of Oakland and Jefferson County. The Lake Manager is employed by the Board to carry out the activities of the District.
Operational funding may be derived from a combination of local tax dollars, grant awards, private donations, and special assessments or charges. The District is authorized to levy a maximum of 2.5 mills to finance projects that maintain and improve the quality of life on and around Lake Ripley. However, to date, the actual mill rate has remained at or below 0.5 mill. Since 1993, much of our budget was funded by state grants, including around $72,000 per year to implement the Priority Lake Project (which ended on 12/06). Although the Lake District represents about 7% of the land area in Oakland Township, it accounts for nearly 70% of the township's total assessed valuation. This fact highlights the lake's regional significance not only as a popular recreational destination, but also as a magnet for development and economic opportunity.
- Ole Evinrude, founder of Evinrude Outboard Motors, tested some of his first motors on Lake Ripley in 1907
- The state record largemouth bass was caught on Lake Ripley in 1940, weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces
- O.H. Perry Sr. donated 41 acres of wetlands located adjacent to the Lake Ripley inlet to the DNR around 1940
- A public sewer system was installed around most of the lake in 1984
- Lake Ripley was selected by the DNR as one of 50 Wisconsin lakes to receive long-term trends monitoring (e.g. water quality, fisheries, aquatic plants, etc.) in 1986
- Lake residents purchased Lake Ripley's first mechanical weed harvester in 1989 to combat nuisance Eurasian watermilfoil growth
- The District acquired the 166-acre Lake District Preserve starting in 1998 to protect threatened natural areas surrounding the lake's only inlet
- The District acquired an additional 41 acres of wetland from the WDNR in 2017 to further protect the lake's inlet
- The District has obtained well over $1.5 million in grants since it was formed in 1990
Since the Lake District was formed in 1990, well over $1.5 million dollars in grants have been secured to help finance lake protection and improvement projects. Some of our major achievements to date include the following:
- Development of a mechanical weed-harvesting program to control Eurasian watermilfoil and other nuisance weed growth
- First Lake District in Wisconsin to administer a state-funded "Priority Lake Project" for the purpose of preserving water quality and curbing runoff pollution
- Completion of numerous erosion-control and watershed-protection projects, including the repair of over 1 mile of eroding shoreline, and the repair of "plugging" of over 3.5 miles of eroding drainage ditches
- Completion of numerous, grant-funded studies to enhance our understanding of Lake Ripley and help guide management actions
- 12-year partnership with Cambridge High School to conduct annual "Lake Sweep" litter cleanups, water-quality testing, rain garden installations, and educational workshops
- Renovation of the public boat landing owned by Town of Oakland
- Recognition by the Wisconsin Association of Lakes, DNR, U.W.-Extension and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for lake-stewardship accomplishments
- Protection of sensitive aquatic habitat through the development of local ordinances (i.e., no-motor and slow-no-wake zones, and pier limitations in designated sensitive areas)
- Acquisition and restoration of the 167-acre Lake District Preserve located at the inlet to Lake Ripley
- First Lake District in Wisconsin to create a volunteer "Lake Watch" program to assist local law-enforcement efforts by documenting boating violations
- Establishment of a conservation easement program to protect threatened natural areas and wetland properties
- Development of a walleye-stocking program and annual fishery inventories in partnership with DNR
- Dissemination of information through the quarterly Ripples newsletter, LRMD Website, televised public meetings, and other outreach strategies
- Completion of Lake Ripley Improvement Plans (2001, 2009); Lake Ripley Aquatic Plant Inventory & Management Plan (2002); and Lake Ripley Watercraft Census & Recreational Carrying Capacity Analysis (2003) -- among other studies and management plans.