July 2020 Newsletter

Friends of Lake Monroe
Public Meeting
July 15

The Friends of Lake Monroe July Meeting will be on-line and spectacular!

Don’t miss this special Friends of Lake Monroe meeting featuring photographer and nature enthusiast Louis J. Tenny.  Louis will be sharing his experiences and stunning photos of Lake Monroe and its inhabitants.

When:  Wednesday, July 15, 6-8 pm
Where:  Zoom invitation provided after RSVP.
No special software needed to attend.

July Meeting RSVP

Louis J. Tenney is a father to twin twelve-year-old girls and an editor of educational materials. Being half Irish and half US Navy brat, he spent time in Ireland, the US, and several other countries while growing up.

Louis fished and explored nature with his father and brother until he went off to college to get a BA in history at IU. Fishing rivers in Ireland, beaches in Puerto Rico, and lakes in Indiana instilled his love of the water and of nature in general.  Louis gradually switched from fishing to nature photography ten or so years ago, partially because he grew to appreciate nature more, but also because he got tired of cleaning fish.

Louis volunteers with the DNR at Monroe Lake, picking up trash, taking nature photos for the DNR Facebook page, and helping with eagle-related events.

From Sherry Mitchell-Bruker.

FLM Joins in Deploring
Racist Incident at Lake Monroe
FLM’s board member Sherry Mitchell-Bruker joined leaders of the Sierra Club and the Hoosier Environmental Council in publicly deploring the assault that took place on July 4th near Lake Monroe, which targeted Bloomington resident Vauhxx Booker specifically on account of his race.

Read the groups’ press release on the Sierra Club’s website, here.

The Bloomington Herald-Times reported the groups’ statement here.

From Sherry Mitchell-Bruker.

Water Sampling Blitz Set for September 18

Calling all Citizen Scientists! Friends of Lake Monroe and the IU Limnology Lab are looking for volunteers to collect water samples from stream sites in the Lake Monroe watershed on Friday, September 18th from 9:00 to 4:00.

The samples will be analyzed by IU and the results will help us understand what is happening in the Lake Monroe watershed. No experience needed; just enthusiasm!

Click HERE to register online. Please direct any questions or concerns to Lynnette Murphy at flmblitz@indiana.edu.

Did you know the Lake Monroe watershed is over 400 square miles in size? We have established staging locations in Bloomington, Nashville, Story, Gatesville, and Freetown. Enjoy a mini road trip while traveling in pairs to assigned sample locations. Each team will collect water samples, perform on-site stream analysis, and return to their staging location where staff and students from the IU Limnology Lab will help prepare the samples for lab analysis.

**** COVID-19 Adaptations ****

In an effort to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission, this event has been designed following CDC recommendations to minimize contact between volunteers. We want to ensure that each of our volunteers feel safe on sampling day. Adaptations include:

  • Training done virtually instead of on-site.
  • Staggered arrival times to minimize interaction with other teams.
  • PPE including facial masks and hand sanitizer provided.

Since sampling will be conducted in teams for safety reasons, we encourage volunteers to register with a household member. Solo volunteers will be assigned a partner with the understanding that the two people can work together while maintaining physical distance (including driving separately).

Join us for a fun day in the field exploring the streams that flow into Lake Monroe!!

From Maggie Sullivan.

Five Things YOU Can Do
to Protect and Improve Lake Monroe

1.    Pick up trash.  We know you know better than to litter but take a minute to pick up any stray trash you see, especially things like fishing line that can be harmful to wildlife.  Remember to bring a trash bag when you visit!

2.    Stay on the trails.  Help minimize erosion and protect the native plants that grow all around the lake.

3.    Pick up after your pet.  Bacteria and nutrients from animal poop affect water quality, and your fellow visitors would prefer to enjoy clean trails.

4.    Boat responsibly.  Observe “no wake” zones and other restrictions — they help minimize turbidity and impacts to lake vegetation.

5.    Volunteer.  Join us for our watershed sampling blitz, one of our shoreline clean up days, or another Friends of Lake Monroe event.

See you on the lake!!

From Maggie Sullivan.

Water Sampling in the Lake Monroe Watershed

 Maggie Sullivan, Watershed Coordinator

What is the best way to evaluate water quality in Lake Monroe? This year we will be approaching the question from multiple angles.

Sampling water in the lake is important but sampling water in the streams that flow into the lake gives us a better understanding of the sources of various pollutants like nutrients. Excessive nutrient loads lead to excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae.

  • Harmful algal blooms (HAB) can lead to recreational advisories as well as increasing the complexity of drinking water treatment.
  • Phosphorus is often the limiting factor for algae growth so identifying and reducing the phosphorus load can reduce or eliminate algal blooms.

There are many potential sources of phosphorus. Phosphorus is contained in many fertilizers, whether it is applied to a corn field or a golf course or a lawn. Phosphorus is also found in wastewater from our homes and in animal manure. Poorly functioning septic systems could be a source as could poorly managed livestock manure.

The other major consideration is sediment. Phosphorus often attaches to sediment and the two move downstream together, which makes it important to understand sediment movement into the lake.

In order to get a clear picture of how nutrients and other potential pollutants are moving through the watershed, we have three main sampling initiatives.

  1. The IU Limnology Lab will collect samples from Lake Monroe three times this summer. Sampling will occur at two different locations (upper basin and lower basin) and will be taken from two different depths within the lake.
  2. The IU Limnology Lab will collect samples monthly from four streams that flow into Lake Monroe – North Fork Salt Creek, Middle Fork Salt Creek, South Fork Salt Creek, and Crooked Creek – as well as the outlet of the lake. Sampling began in April 2020  and will continue through March 2021.
  3. Friends of Lake Monroe and the IU Limnology Lab will work with volunteers to collect water samples at two sampling blitz events, one this fall and one in the spring. These will give us a snapshot of water quality at 125 sampling sites in streams throughout the watershed.

All this data will be combined with data from other organizations to help us determine the sources and quantities of pollutants entering the lake.

Ready to help? Please join us on Friday September 18th to collect water samples from 125 stream sites throughout the watershed. It’s a great opportunity to get out in the field as a citizen scientist and to help be a part of the solution. See the separate article in this newsletter or visit https://friendsoflakemonroe.org/event/watershed-sampling-blitz/ for more information.

If you have questions or comments about the project, please don’t hesitate to contact me at watershed@friendsoflakemonroe.org or by phone at (812)-558-0217.

Enjoy Trails Responsibly

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that people love to get outdoors. Local parks and other natural areas have become more crowded in the past few months as people seek to escape the boredom of being trapped indoors.

Fortunately, south-central Indiana has many recreational areas, including several in the Lake Monroe watershed. The Hoosier National Forest—which includes the Charles Deam Wilderness Area, Brown County State Park, Yellowwood State Forest, other DNR properties on Lake Monroe, and land-holdings of the Sycamore Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy, have hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trials that afford people the opportunity to relax, exercise, and commune with nature.

Like all human activities, however, trail use does have an impact on the environment, and it’s important to understand how we can minimize these impacts through wise trail use.

Many of the trails mentioned above are multi-use trails available to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Some restrict use to hikers only, and biking is not allowed in the Deam Wilderness. Mountain bike and horseback riders need a permit to use public areas, but hikers do not.

Regardless of the user type (hiker, biker, horseback rider), trial use can cause soil compaction, soil erosion, vegetation loss, muddiness, and wildlife displacement. Excessive muddiness makes trails less usable and results in trail widening and vegetation loss as users seek to circumvent mud-holes and wet soils. Trail widening and the creation of parallel treads and side-trails increases the area of land disturbed by trails.  A trail system with substantial degradation, particularly soil erosion, threatens water quality in areas adjacent to streams and rivers.

Most studies on recreational trail use agree that hikers and mountain bikers have less impact on trails than horseback riders. Horses are large, heavy animals, and their hooves churn up the soil and cause greater vegetation trampling than other trail users. This results in loss of vegetation, widening of trails, more exposed soils, and the potential for greater soil loss. Manure on trails is both an ecological and social problem. Manure can contain the seeds of exotic plants, although seeds may also be introduced from horse feed, equipment, and mud stuck to horse hooves. Large amounts of manure may also pose a threat to water quality.  Trail riding associations volunteer to create and improve trails in natural areas.

The jury is still out on whether mountain bikers cause more trail damage than hikers. Some studies suggest that they do, while others suggest that impacts from mountain bikes can be similar to hikers, if (and it’s a big if), both hikers and bikers use trails responsibly. It seems clear that mountain bikers have the potential to cause more trail damage than hikers if they ride irresponsibly.  Nationwide, mountain bike organizations are among the most active volunteers in maintaining trails.

It is important to note that characteristics of the trail, such as slope, location, and soil type, can have a greater impact on trails than user type. Steep, poorly designed trails, or trails built through wet areas will have problems no matter who is using them. Unfortunately, many existing trails are poorly located for a variety of reasons, including inheritance of existing roads having poor locations, or designs that are currently unacceptable by today’s standards.

Trail Use Best Management Practices

Regardless of whether you’re on foot, a bicycle, or a horse, certain practices should be observed to protect trails.

Stay on the trail even if it is wet or muddy

  • If the trail is muddy, walk or ride through the mud rather than around it. Good hiking boots are meant to handle muddy conditions. It’s tempting to navigate around mud, but walking, biking, or riding around puddles widens the trail, destroys vegetation, and causes additional erosion. Move obstructions whenever possible to avoid having the trail widened by your footsteps and those that follow you.
  • Avoid cutting corners on switchbacks. Cut switchbacks ruin the aesthetic of a hillside, destroy vegetation, and cause erosion. The erosion becomes even worse when rainfall flows downhill, through the cuts. If someone in your group doesn’t know, set a good example and talk about why cutting across switchbacks damages trails and causes erosion. If possible, block the area with sticks or rocks to discourage others from using shortcuts.
  • Walk, bike, and ride single file to avoid widening trails.

If the trail is too wet or muddy, save the visit for another day. Some conditions are not suitable for hiking, biking, or riding. Attempting to traverse trails that are too wet or muddy will only exacerbate conditions and lead to more trail damage.

Mountain bikers: In addition to the suggestions above,

  • Control your bike when descending to avoid skidding, which gouges the trail and causes erosion
  • Cross streams slowly at a 90-degree angle to the stream
  • Ride in the middle of the trial to minimize widening.
  • Avoid side slipping, which can lead to erosion.

Horseback Riders: In addition to the suggestions above,

  • In open country where there are no trails, spread out (rather than following each other’s footsteps) to disperse impact and avoid creating a new trail.

Volunteer to maintain trails.

In our area, the Hoosier Hikers Council has regular work days to perform trial maintenance (hoosierhikerscouncil.org). This is an opportunity not only to improve trail conditions, but to learn about trail construction.

Outdoor recreation is essential to human health and the human spirit. However, it’s important to remember that our presence in the environment does have an impact, and to tread lightly when enjoying the outdoors.

Contributed by Richard Harris.  Information in this article came from a variety of sources, including publications by the U.S. Forest Service, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and outdoor recreation websites, including Tread Lightly, Leave No Trace, and the International Mountain Biking Association.

2020 Shoreline Cleanup Schedule

Limited shoreline cleanups are conducted by members of the Friends of Lake Monroe at the Paynetown State Recreation as part of the DNR’s Adopt-A-Shoreline program.

The schedule for the year is as follows:

Thursday, July 16, 6pm
Thursday, August 20, 6 pm
Thursday, September 24, 6 pm
Sunday, October 18, 2 pm
Sunday November 15, 2 pm

Interested volunteers can sign up for cleanups on the Events calendar of the Friends of Lake Monroe website at www.friendsoflakemonroe.org.

Volunteer to Assist FLM Treasurer for Financial Reporting

Are You Good with Numbers?

FLM is looking for assistance from someone with finance or accounting experience who would be interested in working with our treasurer, Richard Harris, to see that our organization produces quality financial reports, appropriate for an Indiana non-profit organization.

The volunteer will also help report on implementation of the U.S. Government grant that FLM has received through IDEM for creating a Lake Monroe Watershed Plan.

Willing to help?  Contact Richard Harris at harrisra52@gmail.com.

Ways To Get Involved With FLM

Become a Member!

For those interested in financially supporting our work, memberships are available at the individual ($20), family ($50), supporting ($100), and sustaining ($250) levels.


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

Participate in the Monthly Meetings!

Our public meetings have usually been held in Bloomington at Monroe Public Library, 303 E. Kirkwood Ave.  In the interests of social distancing, the March 2020 meeting has been cancelled, but once we are able to resume — either in person or on-line — we will announce the meeting and hope to see you!

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:  (Co-chairs Cheryl Munson and Kevin Dogan) 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.

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 400 users have “Liked” our page!

Upcoming Events

Check FLM’s website for future opportunities, including monthly shoreline cleanup get-togethers.

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