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Education, Water Quality & Projects


My Shoreline Week has been an SCLA event since 2013. We ask all SCLA members to pay attention to how your property may either promote a healthy lake or detract from it. A recent theme was “Trust the Buffer.” We asked all members to assess their waterfront to see if they met the 35 foot buffer setback requirement from the ordinary high-water mark. We distributed flyers at various locations to highlight this event. 

The best line of defense to preserve the quality of lakes is to maintain a 35 foot natural vegetative buffer to the shoreline.  And, in Wisconsin, its the law:

"To protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and natural scenic beauty and to promote preservation and restoration of native vegetation, the county ordinance shall designate land that extends from the ordinary high water mark to a minimum of 35 feet inland as a vegetative buffer zone and prohibit removal of vegetation in the vegetative buffer zone..."   

----Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 115.05 


In 1989, volunteers began a project of testing our waters as part of the state wide Citizen Lakes Monitoring Network (CLMN). Early on this involved only the use of a secchi disk to measure water clarity. Over the years, we have added temperature measurements at various depths and we ship water samples during the summer months to the state lab in Madison where they perform phosphorous and chlorophyll measurements for SCLA. Based on recommendations from our lake quality consultant, in 2014, we added dissolved oxygen level measurements at various depths as well as recording the lake water level periodically during the summer months. A summary report is generated annually by the DNR lab for each of the monitoring locations describing the overall Spider Lake water quality. These reports and detailed measurements are available to all for review at The water quality of Spider Lake remains consistently very good and these water quality measurements and monitoring help assure this will be the case for many years to come.

COMPREHENSIVE LAKE MANAGEMENT PLAN (See Lake Management webpage for details and link)

In 2023 the first ever Comprehensive Lake Management Plan (CLMP) was approved to address water quality, aquatic plant management, lake habitat, and other management and social considerations for the long-term health of the Spider Chain of Lakes.  To download a copy of the CLMP click here.


Each year around the 4th of July, SCLA offers a morning filled with fun activities to teach our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and young visitors about Spider Lake. Our morning consists of learning activities on land, as well as on a pontoon classroom. We visit islands, view eagles nests, observe fish through an underwater camera and study micro organisms with the aid of microscopes. Our educators are university professors as well as Naturalists from the Cable Natural History Museum. Spider Lake kids from ages 4-14 and our Spider Lake high school and college helpers participate from year to year, bringing home a momento from the day to remind them of their morning and the chance to meet and spend a few hours with other Spider Lake kids

“I liked it because I got to know other kids on the lake, and we all met up again every year during SLEEK.” ~Steven 

“The boat rides were fun because they told us stories and legends about the lake, about all the different kinds of fish, and we learned how to protect the lake so it will be healthy when we are the adults.” ~ Natalie

PROJECT LOONWATCH                       

Volunteers on the Spider Chain of Lakes participate in Project LoonWatch, a program of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College in Ashland.  Its aim is to protect common loons and their aquatic habitats through education, monitoring, and research. According to Project LoonWatch, there was an increase in the adult and juvenile loon populations from 2010 to 2015.  Regardless, we need be vigilant in maintaining the proper habitat for loons on our lakes.  Shoreline development, invasive species, ingestion of lead fishing tackle, water quality, and human disturbance are all things that can impact loon habitat.   

In Wisconsin, harassment of loons is punishable with a fine and jail time, so please NEVER disturb loons while they are on their nests.  Also, give loons a wide (200 foot) berth when they are on the water.  Use long lenses and binoculars to watch them from afar.  In addition to natural predators such as raccoons and eagles, the loons are at risk from anglers; ingesting lead fishing tackle is also a major problem with all water birds.   A program called “Get the lead out” encourages anglers to replace lead tackle with similar products made from tin, bismuth, steel, tungsten, or ceramic.   These items are available at your local tackle store. Be sure to dispose of old lead jigs and sinkers properly at a local hazardous waste collection facility.

Holiday weekends are especially disturbing to loons and other wildlife; the noise from fireworks and the increase in jet ski and boat traffic and wakes make it especially difficult at times for the baby loons.  By all means enjoy the lake during the summer season, but please keep in mind that we share our lakes with others-- both people and wildlife -- and that we need to be courteous to all.

The 2016 SCLA LoonWatch Annual Report is below, along with some interesting links with additional information on the behavior and nature of loons.

SCLA 2016 Loonwatch Annual Report.pdf 

LoonWatch Project at Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin


The Loon Project is a scientific investigation of population dynamics, reproductive success, and territorial behavior of common loons in the Upper Midwest. Primarily focused on Minnesota and Wisconsin, this organization has an active Blog with timely updates on research and information on loons.  For updates and to join their email list click the Publications page of the Loon Project website.  


The loon population is declining in the Upper Midwest. Understanding the causes of the downturn is essential if we wish to conserve loons in the region. Our findings from northern Wisconsin are clear; breeding success and population size there are in sharp decline. In Minnesota, we have more limited data, yet there are three indications of decline. Body condition of Minnesota adults has begun to decrease, in parallel with Wisconsin. Chick production in Minnesota is on a downwards trajectory. Perhaps most alarming, the adult survival rate in Minnesota is lower than in Wisconsin.


In 2008 a WDNR shock study found one northern pike. Reports from fisherman tell of catching them back as early as 2000. It appears that the heaviest population of these fish are currently in Little Spider. No one knows who illegally put these fish into our chain of lakes. We ask that anyone catching these fish, to please consider keeping it as part of your possession limit.

Thank you for your support in keeping our waters and fishery healthy and pristine.

Spider Chain of Lakes Association
PO Box 1082 • Hayward, WI 54843
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