LMEC Watershed Stakeholders Meeting

I attended the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Council’s (LMEC) Stakeholders Meeting last Friday at The Railroad Depot in the Culver Town Park.  Here’s the purpose of the meeting as lifted from the LMEC website:

“The LMEC has been working on updating the Lake Maxinkuckee watershed management plan since completing all of the goals possible, in late 2011. It is our intent to incorporate into the 2015 update, all the water quality data, avian research material, and invasive species information collected by LMEC since January 2005 as well as the new research data that will be supplied by the United States Geological Survey in March of 2015. We will be ready to involve the citizens of Culver and the surrounding community to collect any new goals that they may view as vital in protecting the lake and its watershed on Friday, June 26th, 2015 at the Depot beginning at 5:30 p.m. We ask everyone to join us there. LMEC will provide a general overview of the past ten years, addressing both the successes and the failures in regards to the 2005 WMP goals; then open the floor to everyone so that we may collect new information for going forward another ten years. LMEC will have a facilitator on hand to lead the meeting and ensure a smooth flow of information gathering. These goals and objectives, along with an action plan, will then be shared for final comments and published in October of 2015. Copies of the updated WMP will be disseminated to the Town of Culver, the Culver Academies’ Huffington Library, the Culver/Union Township Public Library, IDEM, and IDNR. The new WMP will function as the current WMP did, as the LMEC’s working document. It will provide us with our goals and objectives going forward, thereby allowing us to continue with our work to protect this great natural resource we have in our midst, Lake Maxinkuckee.”

LMEC Watershed Stakeholder's Meeting 6-26-15

Marabeth Levitt at the podium with a slide of Lake Maxinkuckee’s watershed and tributaries in the background.

The presentation was made by Kathy Clark, LMEF Executive Director; Marabeth Levett, Fund President; and Eric March, Council Member.  All did a nice job and represented the organization well.  The meeting was well attended with approximately 30 people in the audience.  The majority of the Environmental Council was there and the Environmental Fund was represented by Marabeth and myself.

It was a good meeting, though I think it fell a little short of its intended goal – collecting new information.  After the presentation there were lots of good questions and discussion, but very little input regarding new programs.  I think this is less a repudiation the meeting’s success and more an endorsement of LMEC’s forethought and pursuit of what’s best for the Lake.  New ideas are hard to come by when the group has run down almost all of the possibilities.

While most of the questions and concerns were ones I had heard before, it was reassuring to hear various council members speak to those issues knowledgeably and with authority.  Updates were given on weed control and weed beds in Lake Maxinkuckee, Hydrilla control at Lake Manitou, Zebra Mussels cycles and the return of native freshwater mollusks, fishing status, efforts to establish eco zones and buoys set by depth rather than distance from shore to reduce turbidity.  (All of which I would suggest be added to the LMEC website under an FAQ page.)  Kudos to the group for handling things well.

The only area where I got a sense that the attendees felt LMEC was falling short was on education.  There was a strong push for educating new lake residents as well as the various transient users of the lake.  LMEC will need to reevaluate their current programs and determine if changes are warranted.  Perception is reality in these cases, so the current programs should be reviewed.  There was strong support for more things like the recent flashcard rings and possibly the expansion of that program to transient users.

If you’re not already a supporter of the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Fund and appreciate their work, there is a quick and easy link on the website where you can make a contribution here.  The Fund is in the middle of their yearly fundraising and would benefit from your help.

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