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Education, Water Quality, Fisheries, and other Projects


In spring 2020, the Association was awarded a $21,500 DNR grant to develop a Comprehensive Lake Management Plan (CLMP) 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.   Additional background on the project can be found here. The output from the study was received in the spring of 2021, and is being reviewed by SCLA for its impact and to create a follow-up action plan.  The study reports (all four CLMP documents) can be found on the 'Lake Management' tab of this website


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.

The 2021 SLEEK program flyer will be available soon! (Please watch this space!)

“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 

LoonWatch Volunteers

The Loon Project

Since the founding of the Spider Chain of Lakes in 1945, the health of our fishery has been a top priority. In previous decades the DNR had stocked walleye fry and fingerlings (1 to 1/1/2 inches long ) on a regular basis. Survival of these small fish was poor ( estimated less than 1 % ). Recognizing that there was a major decline in Spider Lakes walleye population, in 2001 an aggressive program was started to stock extended growth walleyes into our chain. These fish are already averaging 7 to 10 inches in length. Estimated survival of these are over 80%. Since starting this program, to date ( fall of 2013 ) over 41,000 of these fish have been stocked. All fish come from a DNR health certified fish farm. Annual cost to stock 4000 of these fish is $6600. Donations from Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin ( $2000 annually ) and a private donation from one of our members ( $2500 annually ) allows this to take place. Thanks to other member donations, SCLA’s contribution is only $.52 cents per fish ( cost / fish is $1.65 ).

Back in 2008, the DNR did a shock study and found 1 northern in their survey. 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 at this time 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.

Thanks all for your support in keeping our waters and fishery healthy and pristine.

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.

Due to sustained low water levels on the lakes, the channel between Big and Little Spider was dredged in late 2007 to allow for easier passage. The project was accomplished and financed entirely by donations from association members. Barring severe drought, it should be sufficient for years to come.

SCLA is authorized by Wisconsin DNR to maintain the dam on the south shore of Little Spider.

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

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