“Protecting Our Waters: We’re All Connected!”

We tend to think of lake, streams, groundwater and wetlands as separate water resources. In reality, they are all one interconnected system – just as we are connected in treasuring, sustaining and improving them.

“Protecting Our Waters: We’re All Connected!” is the theme of the annual Northwoods Six-County Lakes and Rivers Meeting set for Friday, July 12, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Lakeside Center on the Nicolet College campus in Rhinelander. The meeting is a chance for leaders and members of water-related groups and water enthusiasts of all stripes to learn about and discuss critical issues and to network and share information. Attendees are expected from Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Iron, Lincoln and Langlade counties.

The program features a panel discussion on the connections among the rich water resources of our northern counties. Experts in various fields will discuss preservation and conservation of our waterways and respond to questions and comments from the audience. Panel members are:

  • Ben Niffenegger, executive officer of the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company, on projects related to the Wisconsin River.
  • Jim Ruwaldt, board member of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, on protection and restoring wetlands on private lands.
  • JoAnne Lund, special projects coordinator with Oneida County, on assessing the impacts of culverts on county rivers and streams.
  • Norm McKindles, president of the Spider Lake Association of Iron County, on association initiatives related to the Turtle River Chain of Lakes.
  • Johnson Bridgwater, water advocates organizer with the River Alliance of Wisconsin, on grassroots efforts and speaking up on clean-water policies.

The agenda also includes an update on water-related policies in the state legislature, given by Michael Engleson, executive director of Wisconsin Lakes; a presentation on impacts of climate change on our lakes and rivers from Noah Lottig, associate scientist at the UW Center for Limnology’s Trout Lake Research Station; and a look at PFAS contamination of surface waters given by Tom Jerow, president of Wisconsin’s Green Fire.

There will be ample time for a question-and-answer session. Eric Olson, director of Extension Lakes, will serve as master of ceremonies and moderator. The event includes exhibits from educational, nonprofit and government organizations. Refreshments will be served. Admission to the meeting is free, and no registration is required. The event is sponsored by the Oneida and Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Associations.