North Lakeland Woods & Waters Conference Held May 3rd

The North Lakeland Woods & Waters Conference will be held at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, WI on  Friday May 3rd, 2024.

Join us for a gathering centered on partnerships and collaboration. Let’s celebrate water, explore solutions, and stay informed about the science and research related to our Northwoods and treasured lakes. Some of the areas examined include:

  • Watershed Partnerships
  • Wake Boats
  • Shoreline Restoration
  • Aquatic Invasive Species
  • Citizen Science

Registration opens at 7:30 AM followed by an optional morning bog hike on Statehouse Lake led by Licia Johnson, Naturalist and Education Director. Coffee and light breakfast included, followed by opening comments and sessions beginning at 9:00 AM. Lunch and refreshments also provided.

Last lecture session ends at 3:30 PM. Following the last session, optional workshops such as underwater remote operated vehicles or a naturalist-led botany hike will be offered.

A Woods and Water Social will be held in the Lodge from 4:30 – 6:00 PM with beer and wine by donation.

Vilas Youth Conservation Poster & Speaking Competitions

Students Communicate Local Forest Conservation with Art and Speech

Students from Vilas County schools including Arbor Vitae Woodruff Elementary, St. Germain Elementary, Montessori Learning Center, Eagle River Elementary, Christ Lutheran School, SOAR High School, and The Warehouse’s home school art class took part in the Vilas County Youth Conservation Poster & Speaking Competitions, hosted by Vilas County Land & Water.  Overall 84 students submitted material for the competitions, and an awards ceremony was held at the Olson Memorial Library on January 13, 2024.

“One of the most challenging tasks conservation professionals often encounter is communicating their science-based ideas to people who don’t enjoy science,” notes Cathy Higley, Lake Conservation Specialist for Vilas County Land & Water Conservation.  “These students come up with some delightfully creative ideas to help this communication through art and short speeches.”  This year’s theme “May the Forest Be With You, Always” prompted students to consider how to manage and conserve private and public forest lands.  It also resulted in many Star Wars themed posters!

Thanks to the local DNR Forestry team consisting of Sean Davison, Ryan Brown, Landin Brockman, and Jacob Bonack over 110 students in Vilas County were able to do hands-on forestry learning as part of their school classes or extracurricular events.

Thanks to the generous contest sponsors, first through third place winners earned prizes.  Sponsors were Vilas County Lakes & Rivers Association, Wildwood Outdoor Adventures, The Hiker Box, The Hiker Box Too, and the Northwoods Children’s Museum.  Prizes included paddling trips, annual DNR parks and forests passes, merchandise from The Hiker Box and Hiker Box Too, and passes to the Northwoods Children’s Museum.

In the K-1st grade poster division, first place went to Simon Odell of Christ Lutheran School; second place went Marek Rappa of Christ Lutheran School; and third place went to Ezra Kadlec of Christ Lutheran School.  In the 2nd-3rd grade poster division, first place went to home schooler Hazel Canada; second place went to Gavin Chasteen of St. Germain Elementary; and third place went to Conall Keenan of Montessori Learning Center.  In the 4th-6th grade poster division first place went to Brynn Schillinger of Arbor Vitae Woodruff Elementary; second place went to Rose Redman of Arbor Vitae Woodruff Elementary; and third place went to Evelyn Stepec of Arbor Vitae Woodruff Elementary. 

In addition, the public voted on their favorite posters for the Olson Library’s People’s Choice Awards.  Bryce Short, an Arbor Vitae Woodruff Elementary 6th grader won 1st place; and Brinley Zacheck, also an Arbor Vitae Woodruff Elementary 6th grader, won 2nd place. 

In the Speaking Contest, first place went to Amber Higley of SOAR High School with her speech “I Speak for the Trees…Because They Only Talk to Each Other”.  Her speech discussed the benefits of incorporating the idea of tree communication and resource sharing through underground fungus and root systems called mycorrhizal networks into our local forest management planning.

Posters that placed can also be viewed on the Vilas County website under the Land & Water Department.  All posters will be on display at the Olson Memorial Library in Eagle River through the month of January.  First place posters and speeches will advance to compete at a regional contest in February in Rhinelander, with nine other Wisconsin counties’ winners.  Posters and speeches can then advance to a state contest.  Winning posters at state can advance further to a national contest.

The Youth Conservation Poster & Speaking Contests are intended to get students thinking about local conservation of local natural resources.  These contests typically open by early October annually and are coordinated by your county’s Land & Water Conservation Department.  For more information on the Vilas County contests, contact Cathy Higley at Vilas County Land & Water Conservation at 715-479-3738 or via email at

Fishing on Conover Lakes – a WDNR Fisheries Program

The Conover Lakes Committee is sponsoring a DNR Fisheries program: “Fishing on Conover Lakes” on July 12, 2023, 5:30 pm at the Conover Recreation Center.

Please join us — it’s free and open to all (not just Conover folks).

Eric Wegleitner, Fisheries Biologist for Vilas County, will review the state of fisheries in Conover lakes, and what the agency is doing to promote the fishery in our area.

Did you know: WDNR’s Fisheries Management Program supports and promotes 161 different fish species! Find out how many are here in the Conover lakes.

Some topics may include:

  • Any current or potential problems with our fishery in the Conover area
  • Ongoing or future programs to research the health of fish in Conover lakes
  • Changes in species of fish in Conover lakes over time
  • Concerns about the fishery that we should all watch for, and how to report them.

Following the presentation, there will be ample time for Q&A, the best part of the program!


2023 VCLRA Summer Newsletter

Our latest newsletter is available online (print edition out soon). Read about:

  • Six-county workshop/annual meeting on July 14th featuring an expert panel on law-enforcement challenges affecting the health and enjoyment of our increasingly-crowded lakes and rivers;
  • Update on wake boat resolutions;
  • Free workshops on new toolbox to help protect and improve your lake
  • VCLRA scholarships awarded to two area high school seniors;
  • Spiny water fleas;
  • Permanent Shoreland Protection & Workshop on June 26th
  • Northwoods LIGHTS OUT! campaign;
  • and more!

2023 6-county lakes & rivers workshop

This year’s 6-county lakes & rivers workshop will take place on July 14, 2023, 8:30 am-12:30 pm, at Nicolet College in Rhinelander. The annual event is co-sponsored by the Oneida and Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Associations. In addition to expert briefings on timely subject areas by distinguished presenters, we will have a moderated panel to discuss the law enforcement challenges stemming from enhanced wake boats and other watercrafts, short-term vacation rentals issues, zoning violations and other areas that impact the health and enjoyment of our Northwoods lakes and rivers.

Eric Olson, director of UW-Extension Lakes, will be opening and moderating our workshop and panel. It should be a great event involving a prominent group of speakers to kick off meaningful dialogue about issues our lake communities deeply care about in the Northwoods .

As in the past, VCLRA will hold its annual meeting following the conference. The event is free and no registration is required. See draft agenda for more details. Updates may follow as the agenda is finalized.

For more information, contact Tom Ewing (VCLRA) at or Ted Rulseh (OCLRA) at, or use the contact form at

Winter 2022-23 newsletter available

Our Winter 2022-2023 newsletter is available online (members who get print copies will get these by mail in a few weeks). Read about Hazardous Wake Issues, Blue Heron Stewardship awards, AIS prevention and much more…

View newsletter

Changing climate impacts our lakes

by Dea Larsen Converse, 

A recently released report on climate impacts to water resources in Wisconsin from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) shows that warming temperatures and changing precipitation patterns are impacting Wisconsin’s wealth of water resources. The last two decades have been the warmest on record in Wisconsin and the past decade has been the wettest.

“The warming climate is having an impact on water resources in Wisconsin. We need to increase the magnitude and urgency of actions to protect and restore habitat and enhance water quality to make Wisconsin’s waters more resilient to climate change.”

– Katie Hein, WICCI Water Resources Working Group Co-Chair

Yet, there is hope. The WICCI report suggests solutions to prepare for and minimize climate impacts to water resources, like increasing water storage across the landscape, installing green infrastructure, protecting wetlands, building outside of flood zones, and installing flood warning systems. Visit the Water Resources Working Group webpage to learn more. There is hope for the future, but it is up to us.

Read more here.

Dea Larsen Converse is Communications Director for Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, a nationally recognized collaboration of scientists and stakeholders working together to help foster solutions to climate change in Wisconsin. 

Photo credit: Deer Lake Morning by Kevin Sink

2022 Six-County Lakes & Rivers Conference Presentations

Presentations from the 2022 Six-County Lakes & Rivers Conference
Friday July 15, 8:30a – 12:30p, Lakeside Center, Nicolet College, Rhinelander
The original announcement for this annual event hosted jointly by VCLRA and OCLRA is here.


Welcome/Updates: Patrick Goggin, Lakes Specialist – UW-EX Lakes

Policy Picture/Lake Carrying Capacity: Mike Engleson, Executive Director – Wisconsin Lakes

Wakeboats Impacts/Remedies 1: Chuck Becker, SafeWakes Minnesota Lakes

Wakeboats Impacts/Remedies 2: Jeff Meessmann, Last Wilderness Alliance

Tourist Rooming Houses/Access and Viewing Corridors: Bob Thome, Oneida County Supervisor

AIS: Shoreline Inspection: Joe Steinhage, Two Sisters Lakes

AIS: Full-Time CBCW: Keith Montgomery, Black Oak Lake


Managing your lake shoreline buffers for healthy waters

06/28/2022 12:30 PM – 04:30 PM CT at the North Lakeland Discovery Center

Our Northwoods lakes have a protective shield – healthy shoreline buffers! Join Mariquita Sheehan, Conservation Specialist for the Vilas County Land & Water Conservation Dept. as she surveys the Statehouse Lake shoreline to quantify the health of the buffer, identify areas that might need some modification, and make a plan to fix any problems we find. Take home skills and materials to use on your own shoreline buffers! This is a free workshop.  Registration appreciated by 6/26.

black and red typewriter on white table

Spring 2022 newsletter available

Check out our latest newsletter. Learn about our upcoming, 2022 Northwoods Six-County Lakes & Rivers Conference (which incorporates our VCLRA annual meeting) on July 15th at Nicolet College, which returns to an in-person format. Our theme is wakeboats, lake capacity and other key issues impacting lakes and rivers. This newsletter also has a wealth of information about useful tools, initiatives and resources to keep our lakes and rivers healthy. Finally, don’t forget to renew your membership, or join today!