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.
Lake Ripley Management District
The Lake Ripley Management District (LRMD) was formed in 1990 under the authority of Chapter 33 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Its purpose is to help ensure the protection and effective management of Lake Ripley. The LRMD is a local, special-purpose unit of government that serves close to 2,000 property owners around the lake. LRMD boundaries closely follow those of the Oakland Sanitary District, and incorporate slightly less than one-half of the total watershed area. It is roughly bounded by USH 18 to the north, USH 12 to the south, Simonsen St. to the west, and County Rd. A to the east.
The LRMD engages in a variety of projects that aim to protect or enhance opportunities for public use and enjoyment of the lake. A seven-member board of directors, one full-time Lake Manager, and two part-time weed-harvesting operators are responsible for administering LRMD activities. The board includes five elected members owning property within the District (serving staggered, three-year terms), as well as appointed representatives from the Town of Oakland and Jefferson County. The Lake Manager is employed by the Board to carry out the activites of the LRMD.
Operational funding may be derived from a combination of local tax dollars, grant awards, private donations, and special assessments or charges. The LRMD is authorized to levy a maximum of 2.5 mills to finance projects that mainain and improve the quality of life on and around Lake Ripley. However, to date, the actual mill rate has remained at or below 0.5 mill. Since 1993, much of our budget was funded by state grants, including around $72,000 per year to implement the Priority Lake Project (which ended on 12/06). Although the Lake District represents about 7% of the land area in Oakland Township, it accounts for nearly 70% of the township's total assessed valuation. This fact highlights the lake's regional significance not only as a popular recreational destination, but also as a magnet for development and economic opportunity.
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.
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:
1. Development of a mechanical weed-harvesting program to control Eurasian
watermilfoil and other nuisance weed growth
2. First Lake District in Wisconsin to administer a state-funded "Priority Lake
Project" for the purpose of preserving water quality and curbing runoff pollution
3. 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
4. Completion of numerous, grant-funded studies to enhance our understanding of Lake Ripley and help guide management actions
5. 12-year partnership with Cambridge High School to conduct annual "Lake
Sweep" litter cleanups, water-quality testing, rain garden installations, and
6. Renovation of the public boat landing owned by Town of Oakland
7. Recognition by the Wisconsin Association of Lakes, DNR, U.W.-Extension and
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for lake-stewardship accomplishments
8. 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)
9. Acquisition and restoration of the 167-acre Lake District Preserve located at the
inlet to Lake Ripley
10. First Lake District in Wisconsin to create a volunteer "Lake Watch" program
to assist local law-enforcement efforts by documenting boating violations
11. Establishment of a conservation easement program to protect threatened
natural areas and wetland properties
12. Development of a walleye-stocking program and annual fishery inventories in partnership with DNR
13. Dissemination of information through the quarterly Ripples newsletter, LRMD
Website, televised public meetings, and other outreach strategies
14. 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.
Interested in completing a project on your property for the purpose of controlling erosion, protecting water quality or restoring wildlife habitat? If so, contact us to see if you might be eligible for 50% cost sharing. Types of projects that may be eligible for funding include:
- shoreline erosion control and native plantings
- rain gardens and rain barrels
- wetland restorations
- farmland nutrient-management planning
- conservation farming practices
- land-protection agreements to protect wetlands and threatened natural areas
- drainage ditch stabilization or closure
- Tree-drops to enhance fishery habitat
Lake District Preserve
The Lake District Preserve is a beautiful, 167-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.