Community Keeps Whitefish Chain Healthy

A late-fall sunset over Cross Lake on the Whitefish Chain. Photo by Kate Perkins

The lakes of the Whitefish Chain are the pride and joy of the area community, providing us with scenery, fishing, boating, wildlife habitat and so much more. That's why the community also works hard to keep the Whitefish Chain healthy and happy. Healthy water means great recreation, great fishing, great wildlife viewing and the same enjoyment for generations to come.

The Whitefish Area Property Owners' Association (WAPOA) is one of the groups at the forefront of this effort. They test water quality regularly and post the results on their website, and they promote efforts to stop invasive species.

One of the main issues we must combat when it comes to water quality is phosphorus. Phosphorus is frequently used in lawn fertilizer. When it rains, the fertilizer can be washed off the grass and directly into the lake, where it encourages the growth of algae. Algae leads to lower visibility and less oxygen in the lakes, and it promotes rough fish. According to documents on the WAPOA website, one pound of phosphorus can create 500 pounds of wet algae.

Buffer zones along the shorelines of the lakes can help prevent phosphorus from entering the lake. If the rain runoff filters through the soil first, the phosphorus is absorbed into the ground rather than entering the lake. Not having grass all the way to the shoreline helps with this effort.

WAPOA, along with the county and other local agencies, has helped implement several shoreline restoration projects. The boat landing on Big Trout Lake is an example of this. The renovations in 2017 put in a drain field that prevents runoff from directly entering the lake.

Private homes and resorts around the lake have also made efforts to improve their shorelines by not mowing all the way to the shore of the lake, allowing vegetation to grow. Many businesses and residents have also planted native plants that improve and enhance the buffer.

Efforts have also been made by local agencies and volunteers alike out at Big Island between Upper and Lower Whitefish. The shoreline of that island has been reinforced to help prevent runoff and erosion.

The community's desire to care for the lakes is also why you'll notice inspection stations at the boat landings during the boating season. DNR staff will check your boat for aquatic invasive species, which can do major damage to the lakes.

With all of these efforts, the local community is keeping the Whitefish Chain healthy for generations to come- so that they may also enjoy the fishing, the wildlife, the beauty and the fun of the area.

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