Take The Pledge – Become A Lake Steward

It’s not someone else’s responsibility to preserve the health of our beloved Tomahawk Lake – it’s yours, and it’s mine.  So, to keep the water in Tomahawk Lake clean for generations to come, all we ask is that our fellow Tomahawk Lake property owners join us in taking “The Lake Steward Pledge”.

To take The Pledge, click on each of the 5 easy-to-follow action steps in the below illustration, simple review and implement and tell us when you have completed.  We’ll feature your name in our TLA newsletter and on our website.  You’ll also receive a digital copy of Shoreline Magazine, along with a copy of Wisconsin shoreland survey, both of which will help you understand and execute additional healthy lake habits and shoreline practices.

By taking The Pledge, you’re committing to take small steps on your property that make a big difference on our lake!

HOW TO CARE FROM HOME with 5 Easy Steps

Traditional lake landscaping practices – seawalls, removal of aquatic plants, large expanses of lawn, and blazing down all the trees lining the shore – is harming many Midwestern lakes. While the ordered beauty of a flawless yard has its appeal, it’s crucial to remember that lakes are living systems. They need clean water and a leafy shoreline edge with aquatic plants and trees to foster a well-functioning eco-system. Tomahawk Lake is no different, and if we all do our part, it will remain pristine for years to come.

Our 5 action steps focus largely on preventing or minimizing what is called ‘water run off’ from entering the lake. This is vital because whatever we do on land, ends up in our water. I will state this again given its importance, whatever we do on land, ends up in our water. Ideally, we want to capture any water runoff (like rainwater or snow melt) before it reaches the lake. If we aren’t able to capture this water, we should ensure that it’s free of chemicals, fertilizer and things like rock salt (used in the winter months). It probably comes as no surprise that the living things in our lake don’t do well on a poison induced or high salt diet!

Please click on the steps below to learn more about each of them:

TLA Lake Steward cabin, pier, shoreline
1. Capture water runoff

1. CAPTURE WATER RUNOFF BEFORE IT REACHES THE LAKE

Ideally, property owners capture water runoff before it reaches the lake. This is known as diversion, rock infiltration and rain garden practices. Diversion, rock infiltration and rain garden practices move water to areas where it can soak into the ground vs reaching, and ultimately polluting, the lake. The types of diversion practices you choose depend on your property. It’s estimated that during a one-inch rain storm, an average sized roof can collect 600 gallons of water. As such, another method to capture water runoff is by placing a rain barrel at the end of your rain gutters, as featured below. As an added bonus, the water captured can be used for watering lawns and gardens, thus conserving water overall.

In the months ahead, on the TLA website, we’ll identify additional diversion and infiltration practices for Tomahawk Lake property owners. Please note that multiple diversion and infiltration practices may be necessary at your home. In taking The Pledge, we ask that you commit to at least two diversion and infiltration practices to capture water runoff on your property.

Download Technical Guides: Rain Garden and Rock Filtration

2. Maintain septic system

2. MAINTAIN YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM

Septic seepage can also run into the lake under the ground. This waste acts like fertilizer, so it too will cause an increase in weeds and algae. Have your septic system inspected every three years by a professional, and this year, if you don’t recall the last time someone paid you a visit, please schedule an inspection.

Download PDF on Septic System Tips

3. Minimize chemical and fertilizer use

3. MINIMIZE CHEMICAL AND FERTIZLER USE

While it’s probably obvious that chemicals, like ant poison applied to an ant hill in your yard, are toxic for our lake, it’s important to note that things like fertilizer and grass clippings can cause just as much damage.  Action step three is to minimize chemicals and fertilizer used on your yard, which means more time for you to relax on the dock – a win win! If you must add fertilizer to your yard, make sure the middle number on the front of the bag (representing phosphorus or Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) is ZERO.  Even this no-phosphorus formulation should be used cautiously as excess Nitrogen, when washed into the lake, can cause excessive aquatic plant growth and decrease water quality.   Insecticides and pesticides kill pollinators and ultimately birds, so cease using these too.

Click to learn Fertilizing Tips for Shoreline Property and Maintaining Waterfront Turf to Preserve Water Quality.

4. Establish a 'no mow' area or plant a native garden

4. ESTABLISH A ‘NO MOW’ AREA OR PLANT A NATIVE GARDEN

The easiest and least expensive way to filter water runoff is to leave your shoreline natural and/or establish what is called a ‘no mow’ area between your land and the water.  As such, do not mow to the edge of where your property meets the lake but leave an area that is natural.  The Wisconsin DNR recommends leaving a minimum 10’ foot buffer between your lawn and lake, but if the minimum 10’ is not possible, try to start with several feet of no mow area.   Or, if you like color, plant a garden full of beautiful native wildflowers. This section of land helps to act as a natural buffer, catching and filtering water runoff that wasn’t captured upland near your house. We’ll update the TLA website with a listing of native wildflowers and a guide to help you plant.

Given how easy it is to implement this filtration practice, we are asking all Tomahawk Lake property owners to leave at least a section of their shoreline natural, either with a several foot no mow area or native garden.

Watch what Sebastian the Goose has to say and why he encourages having a natural shoreline.

Other resources:

Note: per action step #1 above, establishing a no mow area or planting a native garden counts as one of the two diversion and infiltration practices we are asking Tomahawk Lake property owners to implement.

 

5. Leave native aquatic plants and fallen wood in the lake

5. ALLOW NATIVE AQUATIC PLANTS AND FALLEN WOOD TO REMAIN IN THE LAKE

Action step five is another simple, no cost, effective way to better the health of our lake:  allow native aquatic plants and fallen wood/trees to remain in the lake. Tree roots and the natural grasses/flowers preserve the shoreline by holding it in place, ultimately slowing down or preventing erosion. Leaving trees along your shoreline also provides the added benefit of privacy.  Lastly, aquatic plants and wood, like fallen trees or branches, should remain in the lake. Below the water, this wood acts as feeding, breeding, and nesting areas for all sorts of critters – from fish to song birds.  Above the water, ducks, geese, turtles and other creatures use the wood to sun themselves.

Meet Larry the All-American Bullfrog and watch what he has to say.

Lake Habitat Video: Life in the Shallows

Ideally, property owners capture water runoff before it reaches the lake. This is known as diversion, rock infiltration and rain garden practices. Diversion, rock infiltration and rain garden practices move water to areas where it can soak into the ground vs reaching, and ultimately polluting, the lake. The types of diversion practices you choose depend on your property. It’s estimated that during a one-inch rain storm, an average sized roof can collect 600 gallons of water. As such, another method to capture water runoff is by placing a rain barrel at the end of your rain gutters, as featured below. As an added bonus, the water captured can be used for watering lawns and gardens, thus conserving water overall.

In the months ahead, on the TLA website, we’ll identify additional diversion and infiltration practices for Tomahawk Lake property owners. Please note that multiple diversion and infiltration practices may be necessary at your home. In taking The Pledge, we ask that you commit to at least two diversion and infiltration practices to capture water runoff on your property.

Download Technical Guides: Rain Garden and Rock Filtration

Septic seepage can also run into the lake under the ground. This waste acts like fertilizer, so it too will cause an increase in weeds and algae. Have your septic system inspected every three years by a professional, and this year, if you don’t recall the last time someone paid you a visit, please schedule an inspection.

Download PDF on Septic System Tips

While it’s probably obvious that chemicals, like ant poison applied to an ant hill in your yard, are toxic for our lake, it’s important to note that things like fertilizer and grass clippings can cause just as much damage.  Action step three is to minimize chemicals and fertilizer used on your yard, which means more time for you to relax on the dock – a win win! If you must add fertilizer to your yard, make sure the middle number on the front of the bag (representing phosphorus or Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) is ZERO.  Even this no-phosphorus formulation should be used cautiously as excess Nitrogen, when washed into the lake, can cause excessive aquatic plant growth and decrease water quality.   Insecticides and pesticides kill pollinators and ultimately birds, so cease using these too.

Click to learn Fertilizing Tips for Shoreline Property and Maintaining Waterfront Turf to Preserve Water Quality.

The easiest and least expensive way to filter water runoff is to leave your shoreline natural and/or establish what is called a ‘no mow’ area between your land and the water.  As such, do not mow to the edge of where your property meets the lake but leave an area that is natural.  The Wisconsin DNR recommends leaving a minimum 10’ foot buffer between your lawn and lake, but if the minimum 10’ is not possible, try to start with several feet of no mow area.   Or, if you like color, plant a garden full of beautiful native wildflowers. This section of land helps to act as a natural buffer, catching and filtering water runoff that wasn’t captured upland near your house. We’ll update the TLA website with a listing of native wildflowers and a guide to help you plant.

Given how easy it is to implement this filtration practice, we are asking all Tomahawk Lake property owners to leave at least a section of their shoreline natural, either with a several foot no mow area or native garden.

Watch what Sebastian the Goose has to say and why he encourages having a natural shoreline.

Other resources:

Note: per action step #1 above, establishing a no mow area or planting a native garden counts as one of the two diversion and infiltration practices we are asking Tomahawk Lake property owners to implement.

 

Action step five is another simple, no cost, effective way to better the health of our lake:  allow native aquatic plants and fallen wood/trees to remain in the lake. Tree roots and the natural grasses/flowers preserve the shoreline by holding it in place, ultimately slowing down or preventing erosion. Leaving trees along your shoreline also provides the added benefit of privacy.  Lastly, aquatic plants and wood, like fallen trees or branches, should remain in the lake. Below the water, this wood acts as feeding, breeding, and nesting areas for all sorts of critters – from fish to song birds.  Above the water, ducks, geese, turtles and other creatures use the wood to sun themselves.

Meet Larry the All-American Bullfrog and watch what he has to say.

Lake Habitat Video: Life in the Shallows