Lake Ripley

Physical and Hydrological Descriptors

Lake surface area: 423.3 acres (main body); 1.7 acres (Vasby’s ditch); 2.5 acres (dredged inlet channel)
Watershed area : 4,688 acres (7.3 square miles)
Watershed-to-lake area ratio: 11:1
Shoreline length: 4.1 miles (main body); 0.57 mile (Vasby’s ditch); 0.95 (dredged inlet)
Max. lake depth: 44 ft.
Mean (average) depth: 18 ft.
Water residence time: 2.85 years (amount of time water resides in the lake before it is flushed out and replaced with new water)
Inlet stream length: 4.25 miles (2.5 miles in 1907, prior to drainage ditching)
Ice-cover period: 102 days (2014-2019 average)


The Big Picture


The Major Threats...

  • Polluted runoff from lands that drain to the lake
  • Cumulative impacts of shoreland development and poor land-use practices
  • Recreational pressures and conflicts
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
  • Draining and filling of wetlands
  • Removal of native shoreline vegetation
  • Introduction and proliferation of non-native, invasive species

The Consequences...

  • Degraded water quality
  • More frequent algae blooms
  • Excessive weed growth
  • Increased recreational conflicts
  • Reduced plant, fish and wildlife diversity
  • Loss of tranquility and natural scenic beauty
  • Increased costs for lake management
  • Diminished property values

The Solutions...

  • Promote responsible growth and low-impact land uses
  • Protect and restore wetlands that attenuate floods, trap pollutants and offer valuable habitat
  • Naturalize shorelines by planting "buffers" that consist of native plants, shrubs and trees
  • Control soil erosion and eliminate sources of polluted runoff
  • Limit hard surfaces like concrete patios, driveways and asphalt parking lots
  • Respect other lake users and wildlife
  • Follow posted rules and regulations
  • Understand the impacts of your actions
  • Support ongoing lake-improvement efforts
  • Educate your friends and neighbors as to what they can do to protect Lake Ripley

Make Your Property "Lake Friendly"

The Lake Ripley Management District strongly encourages lakefront property owners to adopt sound landscaping practices along their shorelines. Too often, people are unaware of how the cumulative impacts of their actions can degrade the larger ecosystem. Clear-cutting native vegetation to establish large expanses of turf grass or sand beaches right up to the water's edge is one such example.

The "suburbanization" of lakes can create a host of problems. Sea walls, boat ramps, sand beaches, and manicured lawns to the water's edge have all been shown to be detrimental to water quality and fish/wildlife habitat. For example, the typical lawn is a non-native monoculture offering little habitat value or protection against shoreline erosion (due to the shallow root structure of lawn grasses). A lawn also requires a lot of maintenance in the form of pesticide and fertilizer applications, regular mowing, and the need to water during dry weather conditions. During large rain storms, the short and flexible grass blades over compacted soils do little to prevent stormwater runoff from flushing pollutants into the lake. Once in the lake, fertilizers and other pollutants harm aquatic life and can contribute to excessive weed and algae growth. Finally, a mowed lawn up to the water's edge is inviting to congregating geese. Large groups of waterfowl can damage property, pollute the lake, and have been linked to outbreaks of Swimmers Itch.

To combat these problems, lakefront property owners are advised to maintain or establish a native "buffer strip" between the lake and a lawn. Buffer strips should be as wide as possible, and planted with deep-rooting sedges, grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees that are native to the area. Paths can then be added to access piers and boat hoists. These types of shoreline-restoration efforts are often eligible for up to 50% cost sharing. They are usually found to be quite affordable for most landowners, and can greatly improve the natural scenic beauty of the shore.

20 Things Everyone Can Do...

  1. Plant a native tree, shrub or perennial garden on your property
  2. Minimize soil disturbances and the clearcutting of vegetation to prevent erosion
  3. If you must fertilize, use phosphorus-free products away from the lake
  4. Direct roof downspouts to a rain garden where water can infiltrate into the soil
  5. Burn leaves where ashes can't wash into the lake
  6. Be aware of the issues that affect the lake
  7. Recognize that every action has a positive or negative consequence
  8. Learn to share the lake by respecting other users
  9. Comply with all local rules and regulations
  10. Practice "catch-and-release" when fishing for large, spawning-size gamefish
  11. Attend a Lake District meeting and support ongoing management efforts
  12. Pick up litter when you see it
  13. Keep soil, leaves, grass clippings, pet waste and chemicals out of the lake
  14. Report illegal activities to law-enforcement authorities
  15. Use conservation farming practices
  16. Slow down when boating in shallow-water areas
  17. Help stop the introduction and spread of non-native species
  18. Conserve water during your normal daily activities
  19. Encourage local government officials to adopt sound land-use policies
  20. Teach others to respect the land and our precious water resources