Thursday, April 10, 2014

Globally important research on frogs, lake challenges on tap for lakes conference

Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Conference set for April 24-26 in Stevens Point

STEVENS POINT - A world-renowned frog scientist and Wisconsin researchers who just completed an unprecedented 30-year study of how atmospheric pollution and environmental changes affect lakes will be among the top presenters at the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention April 24-26 in Stevens Point.

"The Wisconsin Lakes Conference is a great opportunity to learn from, and be inspired by top experts in their fields, as well as to share successes and get new ideas from the lake organization members and others who do so much of the hands-on work to protect and restore Wisconsin lakes," says Carroll Schaal, who leads the Department of Natural Resource lakes and rivers section.

Mary Knipper, president of Wisconsin Lakes, says that the conference them, Back to the Point, reflects that the gathering returns to Stevens Point, where the event had its beginnings. "More importantly, it signals the continuity and confirmation of our original focus and goals. Lakes protection has its roots in advocacy, collaborations and partnerships which continue to guide us today and into the future."

Attendees at the annual gathering of Wisconsin lake district commissioners, lake association members, professional lake managers, lake scientists and consultants also get the chance to learn the latest news and science concerning aquatic invasive species, lake levels, phosphorus and other challenges to lakes, says Schaal. In all, the convention offers 25 different workshops or tours, 50 concurrent sessions, a poster session, and presentation of the Lake Stewardship Awards.

Eric Olson, who directs the UW-Extension Lakes program in Stevens Point, expects up to 600 attendees over the course of the three days, and notes that Wisconsin prides itself on having one of the best attended and most diverse annual lakes conference. "This gathering of lake lovers has information and ideas for everyone, from cabin owners to lake managers to university researchers. We aim to bring lake stakeholders together for a shared experience that can't be found anywhere else."

On April 25, a panel of lake scientists discuss the evolution of lake challenges over the past three decades, highlighting the long-term experiments carried out at Little Rock Lake in Vilas County and the management implications of lake research in Wisconsin. Carl Watras, a DNR research scientist; Susan Knight, a UW botanist and aquatic invasive species specialist; and Tim Kratz, director of the UW Trout Lake Station, will participate in the discussion, which is moderated by Glen Moberg from Wisconsin Public Radio.

On April 26, Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California - Berkeley, will give the morning keynote address. He directs a path-breaking research and teaching program focusing on environmental contaminants' effects on frogs and ways people can help conserve amphibians. Also on tap that day: Tours of UW-Stevens Point's Schmeeckle Reserve, a workshop on community sustainability led by Torbjorn Laht, a Swedish leader in the "eco-municipality" movement, and a hands-on workshop where attendees can build their own lake monitoring gear.

A new workshop offering on April 24 explores the environmental and social connections between Wisconsin and Nicaragua, a nation rich in lake resources but challenged by poverty and looming ecological changes. Migratory birds that spend their summers in Wisconsin spend their winters in Nicaragua, making protecting habitat there and lakes there of special importance to Wisconsin, Olson says.

The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention is set for the Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center, 1001 Amber Ave. in Stevens Point. It is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Extension Lakes, a part of the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Lakes and DNR.

Pre-registration is required. Pricing options depend on days and sessions attended, with sessions offered a la carte.

Registration information and a full schedule of events and descriptions are available on the UW-Extension website: www (exit DNR).

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