SOAR Wisconsin River Cleanup

The Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association (VCLRA) was pleased to have a dozen students and teachers from the SOAR Charter High School participate in a river cleanup last month along a stretch of the Wisconsin River near Eagle River, Wisconsin. VCLRA president Tom Ewing notes that as part of VCLRA’s commitment to preserve our natural waters for future generations, one of our joys is to see youth discover and protect our natural world.  Ann Perry, who is a teacher leader at SOAR, said that the students were happy to be involved and serve the community in a positive way. “It’s a beautiful day for this. A bit chilly, but sunny with calm water – perfect for paddling the river,” she added.

Wildwood Outdoor Adventures, which is one of the local businesses participating in VCLRA’s Northwoods Businesses for Clean Water (NBCW) initiative, sponsored the river clean-up event. NBCW is a partnership between lake experts and local businesses whose livelihood is directly tied to our lakes and rivers. Tom Ewing notes, “the NBCW mantra is clean waters – good for business, a reference to our lakes and rivers being the foundation of our Vilas economy.” NBCW businesses like Wildwood integrate lake-friendly practices into their business operations that minimize environmental impacts.

Wildwood graciously provided free of charge about a dozen canoes, kayaks, paddles and life vests used by the SOAR HS students and staff for the river cleanup. Jason and Nichole Bach are co-owners of Wildwood, one of the area’s top-rated venues, which offers paddling and tubing on area waters, nature and wildlife tours, gear, and operates a campground.

Ann Perry and Rod Sternhagen, another teacher at SOAR, accompanied the 10 students in canoes and kayaks to help keep the SOAR student crew on pace. The stretch of the Wisconsin River covered by the cleanup crew started at the County G Highway boat launch and proceeded south to the Mud Creek Landing on Watersmeet Lake off Highway 17 near the Wildwood campground. The SOAR crew covered the 4.3-mile route in about 2 ½ hours, collecting about 5 pounds of trash, plus a lot of great memories.

“I’m hoping we can make this an annual event! It’s wonderful to see area youth and a local business team up to help keep our amazing waters in great shape,” adds Tom.

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Rushed legislation on wakeboats under consideration

State-wide legislation regulating wakesurfing with simply a 200-foot minimum distance from shore criterion for wake boats is under consideration. This would be an attempt to preempt research and discussion by all stakeholders, which has been underway here in Wisconsin and in several other states. As we have reported in several articles on our website, VCLRA.org, these are very powerful boats that produce energetic waves as well as significant downward thrust. As such, wake boats can have significant impact on lake health and public safety if these considerations are not incorporated in legislation to set appropriate minimum depth of lake, minimum distance from shore and minimum lake size for wake surfing. We encourage you to contact your elected official to ensure any wake boat legislation is not rushed through without informed discussion from all stakeholders.