January 2021 Newsletter

Friends of Lake Monroe logo

Developing a
Watershed Management Plan:
Year One in Pictures

The first year of developing a watershed management plan focused on gathering – gathering data, gathering community input, and gathering volunteers.

We started by holding two public forums (in Bloomington and Nashville) to gather stakeholder concerns about the lake.  Over 100 people shared their thoughts.  We also began bimonthly meetings of our steering committee, a group of 20 representatives from organizations across the watershed.

Much of the winter and spring focused on conducting a watershed inventory.  This included a desktop survey (reviewing old reports and GIS data) plus a windshield survey (making field observations).

Thank you to the volunteers who accompanied me to inspect 241 stream crossings throughout the watershed looking at stream bank erosion, riparian buffer (trees or other vegetation stabilizing the stream bank), and the presence or absence of livestock.  Special thanks to my dad, Paul Sullivan, for helping out after the pandemic set in.

Due to the pandemic, we were unable to host a watershed sampling blitz in April as we had planned.

However, the IU Limnology Lab forged ahead and started their monthly water sampling in April.  They collected and analyzed water samples from Lake Monroe, four of its incoming tributaries, and the Lake Monroe tailwaters (Salt Creek).  Water samples from the lake were collected through October and water samples from the streams will continue through March 2021.

Special thanks to Sarah Powers for putting her family to work until the IU students were able to return.

Over the summer, we finalized our windshield survey and did test runs for the fall watershed sampling blitz.

We continued to offer outreach and education in a virtual format.  I worked to get approval for installing 30 road signs marking the boundaries of the watershed which will be installed in 2021.  I continued to compile historical data and draft the background section of the watershed management plan with the support of the steering committee.

We did manage a few socially distanced outings with the steering committee. In June we visited Stone Head Nature Preserve on Middle Fork Salt Creek. In August, Dan Shaver of the Nature Conservancy led us on a tour of the Hitz-Rhodehamel Nature Preserve. In October, we learned about tree planting along streams with private forest manager Gerald Long and Sycamore Land Trust Executive Director John Lawrence.

On September 18, over 70 volunteers participated in our watershed sampling blitz.  It was a beautiful day and we collected 88 samples from 125 stream sites across Monroe, Brown, and Jackson Counties.

Special thanks to Lynnette Murphy for all her great work coordinating the event!  

In October, I gave virtual presentations to five classrooms of 4th graders in Brown and Monroe Counties.  (Did you take the quiz in our last newsletter to see if you are smarter than a fourth grader?)  The rest of the year was a continuation of data compilation, report writing, and virtual presentations.

As we begin 2021, our focus shifts from gathering information to analyzing and applying it.  We are evaluating community concerns and quantifying the amount of pollutants (sediment, nutrients, etc.) entering the lake.  This will allow us to calculate how much reduction is needed to achieve water quality targets.

Then we can build our action plan – a list of best management practices that need to be put into place in order to meet our goals.

In January 2022, the watershed management plan will be complete and we will begin the next phase: implementation.

2020 in Review
Highlights from Our Calendar

January 2020

Streamgage for Watershed Monitoring


If you have ever crossed a highway bridge and seen a metal structure with an antenna, you’ve probably seen a “streamgage.” The United States Geological Survey (USGS) operates more than 9,000 streamgages nationwide, including over 250 in Indiana.

One of the more recent additions just celebrated its first birthday. USGS stream gage #03371600 was installed on South Fork Salt Creek on January 9, 2020. Friends of Lake Monroe worked with the Water Fund, Conservation Law Center, City of Bloomington Utilities, Monroe County, Hoosier National Forest, the Nature Conservancy, and USGS in a truly collaborative effort to get the gage installed.

One challenge was finding a spot far enough upstream from Lake Monroe to avoid becoming stagnant when the reservoir floods but far enough downstream to represent water quality from the watershed. The new gage is located in Kurtz, Indiana, just north of State Road 58 on Cleveland Street (aka Pike Road).

South Fork Salt Creek is one of the three main tributaries to Lake Monroe (along with North Fork and Middle Fork). Combining flow data and water quality sampling data will allow us to better understand pollutant movement into the lake. We can also use the flow data in South Fork to develop flow models for the other branches to get an idea of how much water (and pollutants) are coming through each tributary as well as in total.

From Maggie Sullivan, Watershed Coordinator

Public Meeting in Brown County

Brown County Community Meeting to hear the concerns and ideas people have about Lake Monroe.  This was the second of the two community meetings mandated under the 319 grant we received from IDEM.  This meeting was facilitated by FLM, the Brown County League of Women Voters, and Dave Simcox.

Four Volunteers Honored

FLM public meeting at the Monroe County Public Library. Four volunteers were honored for their outstanding work with Friends of Lake Monroe. A gift certificate was awarded to Dave Simcox, Howard Webb, Joe Ryan, and Bet Savich.

Jana Pereau Talks Trash About Plastic

Jana Pereau, a local Bloomington environmentalist, spoke at our public meeting about ways to reduce plastic waste in our waterways and in our everyday life.

March 2020

Future Plans Put on Hold with Covid

Plans were made to table at the Switchyard and Dunn Meadow  for Earth Day events on April 18.  These were subsequently cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

July 2020

FLM President Honored


Sherry Mitchell-Bruker, Board President and Founder of the Friends of Lake Monroe, was honored as the “ Volunteer of the Year” by Indiana Lake Management Society in July 2020. This award was established to recognize those individuals that go above and beyond in their volunteer efforts to monitor and protect their lakes.


A Membership Coordinator position was created at the July board meeting. Mary Madore will work as the coordinator.

August 2020

Hike in Hitz-Rhodehamel Nature Preserve


Members from the Lake Monroe Watershed steering committee took a hike led by Dan Shaver with the Nature Conservancy in the Hitz-Rhodehamel Nature Preserve.

Dan Shaver pointed out the differences between forested land which had been logged and treated for invasive weeds and the land which had been left untreated.

The Nature Conservancy’s goal for this treated forest is to grow more oak and hickory trees.

September 2020

FLM Strategic Planning Meeting

Directors Sherry Mitchell-Bruker, Mary Madore, Richard Harris, Cheryl Munson, Kevin Dogan, Jim Krause and presenter Michael Shermis met at Mary Madore’s house to develop a plan for the next year.

October 2020

Visit to Lake Monroe Sailing Association

FLM board members Jim Krause, Sherry Mitchell Bruker, and Mary Madore met with Walt Johnson to learn about the Clean Marina Certification received on September 30 by the Indiana Dept of Environmental Management.

FLM Board Work

Two public service announcement videos were produced by Grace Horan, one of Jim Krause’s students in the School of Media. One is about actions people can take (fertilizer, septics, trash, animal waste, buffer strip) to reduce pollution and the other is a general announcement about the lake, the activities people enjoy on the lake, and the ask for people to join us for a shoreline cleanup and membership.

Look here and here to see the two videos.

The board voted to change individual memberships to $25 instead of $20. We distributed FLM bumper stickers to 58 renewing members.

Hike on Gerry Long’s Property

Members from the watershed management steering committee took a tour of Gerry Long’s property to learn about the best management practices he has used during development of his tree farm since 1999.

Gerry has planted 70 acres of oak, walnut, pecan, ash, and poplar trees along the North Fork of Salt Creek. The tree roots help to hold the soil and reduce erosion.  In keeping with Best Management Practices (BMP’s), Gerry has used a series of mounds (water bars) on the skid trails to control erosion. The runoff hits the mound and is then diverted into leaf litter on the side of the trail, where it can be absorbed.

Gerry shared an interesting fact about salt, a natural resource found, harvested, and sold in his area years ago, hence the name Salt Creek.

November 2020

FLM Board Work

Social Media Intern posting was created and passed on to Sarah Cady, intern coordinator for the Media School at IU.

Ryder donated ad in the The Ryder publication. Here’s a link to the magazine and here’s a link to the spread that we’re featured on: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/76349/34/.

December 21, 2020

Solstice Hike

Cathy Meyer, retired Monroe County naturalist led a FLM Board Winter Solstice hike on the Hayes Trail in Hoosier National Forest with Sherry Mitchell Bruker, Jim Krause, and Mary Madore.

Cathy pointed out many things that you don’t normally observe on the trail; things such as Beech Drops, an obligate parasite which draws all its nutrition from beech tree roots, and the Cranefly orchid, whose leaves appears in the fall, photosynthesizing and providing food for the tubers, and then dies back in the spring.

We found the Partridge berry groundcover very festive with its bright green leaves and red berries.

Shoreline Cleanups

Jessica Fitzpatrick

Like many activities during these strange Covid-19 times, monthly shoreline cleanup activities in 2020 were curtailed out of a sense of caution and health concerns for participants.  The Friends of Lake Monroe conducted cleanups without volunteers for the first several months of the year, until we had a better understanding of how to manage risk of exposure. Beginning in July, the following volunteers, wearing masks when appropriate, and practicing safe distancing, participated in shoreline cleanups at the Paynetown State Recreation Area (in order of appearance):

Jessica Fitzpatrick
Bet Savich
Kory Clawson and his six-year-old daughter Izzy (Kory said it was Izzy’s idea)
Linda Lightner
Mary Reardon
Jim Hardy
Katie Lo
Riley Claus
Liam McGouldrick
Vickie Dacey
Carolyn Waldron

In total, volunteers spent about 40 hours in 2020 picking up approximately 250 pounds of trash at Paynetown. We’re looking forward to a bigger and better year in 2021. Once cleanup activities have been scheduled, they will be posted on the FLM Events Calendar. We also hope to include some “special” cleanup activities in 2021 in addition to our monthly cleanup at Paynetown. Stay tuned!

Ways To Get Involved With FLM

Become a Member!

For those interested in financially supporting FLM’s work, memberships are available at the K-5 ($5), 6-12 ($10), individual ($25), family ($45), supporting ($100), sustaining ($250), and corporate ($500) levels.

Donate!

Donations can be made on our website at www.friendsoflakemonroe.org.

Come to the Monthly Meetings!

We’ll resume monthly meetings when circumstances allow.  Most of them have been held in the Monroe Public Library (303 E. Kirkwood Ave. in Bloomington), Room 1C.

Join One of FLM’s Committees!

We are looking for volunteers to serve on these committees.

Development: (Co-chairs Mary Madore and Jim Krause) fundraising, membership, volunteer program, marketing, outreach, public relations, media, communications, events.

Governance:  (Chair Cheryl Munson) evaluation, monitoring executive director, succession planning, nominating committee, strategic plan, annual report, by-laws, some contracts.

Finance: (Chair Richard Harris) tracking money spent, some contracts.

Programs: (Chair Sherry Mitchell-Bruker) tracking legislation,  science and other programs.

Executive: Along with the executive officers (FLM’s President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer), this committee has one co-chair from each of Development, Finance, Governance and Programs Committees (if those committees are not already represented by the officers).

Clean the Lake!

Get together with friends at the lakeshore for our monthly contribution to picking up harmful plastics and other debris.

Share Your Enjoyment of the Lake!

Share a picture of Lake Monroe to show its beauty and to celebrate people enjoying and maintaining it.

Share events and news on our Facebook page: “Friends of Lake Monroe.”  Over 1,100 users have “Liked” our page!

FLM Volunteer Opportunity:
Weed Wrangle 2021

>We’re seeking 5 volunteers to join Board members Tom Gallagher and Mary Madore to pull invasive Japanese Stiltgrass on September 11, 2021 from 11 am to 2 pm in the Deam Wilderness or on the Pate Hollow Trails.

See the activity description below.

Our volunteers will receive a Friends of Lake Monroe t-shirt for their contribution.

To volunteer with us, send an email to membership@friendsoflakemonroe.org, Subject line: Weed Wrangler Volunteer Sept 11, 2021.

Are you concerned for the health of our forests?
Keep them green by helping Hoosier National Forest and Monroe County Identify and Reduce Invasive Species. (MC-IRIS.org)

We will show you how to easily identify and control invasive plants not native to our forests. No previous knowledge required, just bring your interest in learning. Our trained experts will guide you on trails to target areas for pulling plants. Joining our team will give you the opportunity to meet positive people from diverse backgrounds who share your interest in supporting our environment.
When?

Mid late April and early May to find emerging garlic mustard populations.
June to September to pull Japanese stiltgrass.
Where are the trails located?

All trails are south of Bloomington off of Hwy 446. Moderate hikes with some 30-60 minute hikes to target areas. Weed Wrangle duration 3-4 hours. The Hays Trail trailhead is located on Hays Road. Grubb Ridge Trail trailhead is located at Blackwell Horse Camp, Tower Ridge Road, Deam Wilderness. Pate Hollow trailhead is located directly behind the Paynetown State Recreation Office.
What you need to know.

All event days will require helpers to wear masks and social distance on trails and in target areas. Dress appropriate with long pants and closed toe footwear. Bring your own water bottle and snacks. Group size will be limited to 10 people. Children are welcome, and those under the age of (18) must be accompanied by an adult. Site safety awareness includes protection against ticks, and other insects.
What comes next?

Show your interest to join one, or more Weed Wrangle days as an individual, or group. Indicate your time frame of participation.  Need a week day for your group? Contact Gillian Field: gfield104@gmail.com.  Or simply sign up here now!

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