A variety of different projects and programs are carried out by the Lake Ripley Management District. They include everything from weed harvesting and water quality investigations, to pollution control and the restoration of fish and wildlife habitat. Many of these efforts are funded through grants and carried out with the support of dedicated volunteers.
To learn more about these and other projects, check out the Lake Ripley Management Plan and other reports by clicking on the "Links & Downloads" button found on the left side of your screen. These reports contain a wealth of information on existing resource conditions, problems and emerging threats, ongoing management programs, results of public opinion surveys, and long-term strategy recommendations. Copies of these and other reports are also available for review at the Cambridge Community Library and Lake District office.
Weed Harvester Program
The District currently owns and operates a 2015 Aquarius Systems’ Model HM-420 mechanical harvester with a 7.0-foot cutting width, 5.5-foot cutting depth, 10.8-19.8” draft, and a 450 cubic feet capacity (10,000 lbs.).
The harvester is constructed upon a low-draft barge controlled by side-mounted paddle wheels, and is equipped with one horizontal and two vertical cutter bars that can be hydraulically positioned. Hydraulic conveyors built into the harvester hoist cut plant debris onto the deck of the barge. When full, the plant material is transported back to shore and off-loaded into a dump truck using a shore-conveyor system.
Ancillary equipment includes an Aquarius SC-23 28.5-foot shore conveyor, a 1992 International dump truck, and a 2015 42-foot Aquarius Systems’ TR-23 harvester trailer with a mounted electric winch. A Lowrance HDS12 Gen 3 GPS system was purchased new in 2018, allowing precise cutting in specific areas. The primary objective of the weed harvesting program is to remove invasive species and to create navigational lanes for lake users.
At the beginning of each season, all equipment is inspected and serviced. At the close of each season, all equipment is cleaned, inspected, lubricated and winterized for storage purposes.
Lake District Preserve
The Lake District Preserve is a beautiful, 207-acre, public conservancy located adjacent to the Oakland Conservation Club on County Highway A. These lands at the inlet to Lake Ripley were acquired by the District in 1997 and 2008. A combination of state and federal grants and private donations were used to purchase the property.
It has since been restored back to its original wetlands and native prairie, and functions to protect the quality of water flowing into Lake Ripley. An interpretive trail offers hikers and nature enthusiasts the opportunity to explore the diverse flora and fauna that inhabit the Preserve. Cranes, herons, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, wood ducks, frogs and eastern bluebirds are now among the variety of wildlife visitors may encounter when exploring the Preserve.
Did you know that prairie plants can reach 10 feet tall, and have roots that penetrate as far as 12 feet below the soil surface? The illustration below shows the rooting depth of common lawn grass (far left) compared to the rooting depth of native prairie plants.
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.
Lake Ripley Priority Lake Project
From 1993-2006, Lake Ripley participated as a "Priority Lake Project" through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Non-point Source Water Pollution Abatement Program. This designation was awarded upon recognition that (1) Lake Ripley was a valuable recreational and economic amenity, (2) the resource was significantly threatened by polluted runoff, and (3) there was a high potential for overall water quality improvements once appropriate pollution-control measures were implemented. As such, the DNR provided the LRMD with technical and financial assistance for the purpose of protecting and improving water quality through the reduction of non-point source pollution.
The Project was administered jointly by the DNR and Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection at the state level, and implemented by the LRMD at the local level. Annual project grants of nearly $72,000 were used to retain staff, cover office expenses, disseminate educational materials, and provide cost-share assistance for the installation of eligible Best Management Practices (i.e., riparian buffer strips, shoreline/wetland restorations, conservation easements, farmland erosion controls, etc.). The Lake Ripley Priority Lake Project lost its state funding in 2006, but the work continues and is financed by local tax dollars. Primary objectives included:
- Reduce phosphorus and sediment inputs by 30% and 50%, respectively.
- Minimize the effects of eutrophication (excessive nutrient enrichment that causes nuisance algae/weed growth, poor water clarity, and other problems).
- Prevent further wetland loss & increase wetland acreage in the watershed.
- Preserve undeveloped shorelands as water quality buffers and wildlife refuges.
- Protect designated sensitive areas that are ecologically significant.
- Promote native aquatic plant communities.
- Protect the fishery and wildlife diversity within the lake and watershed.
- Protect the quality of groundwater resources