November 2020 Newsletter
In this edition:
Clean Marina Designation for Lake Monroe Sailing Association
Are You Smarter Than a Fourth Grader?
Membership Drive: Support FLM’s Education and Outreach Coordinators
Bumper Stickers Sent to Members!
Conservation: Best Management Practices
Reminder: FLM On-Line Public Meetings Canceled!
Ways to Get Involved with FLM
Lake Monroe Sailing Association Earns IDEM
Clean Marina Designation
Of the handful of marinas operating on Lake Monroe, the Lake Monroe Sailing Association is the cleanest. In fact, it’s the cleanest inland marina in all of Indiana. Friends of Lake Monroe congratulates the Lake Monroe Sailing Association for earning a Clean Marina designation from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The LMSA is the sixth Indiana facility to be recognized by IDEM as a clean marina, and the first on an inland lake.
IDEM issued a press release in September stating, “The Indiana Clean Marina Program protects our state’s inland and coastal waterways by reducing the potential environmental impacts associated with marinas and recreational boating. […] By participating in this voluntary program, marinas, boatyards, yacht clubs, and recreational boaters are recognized for their environmental stewardship.”
After a press ceremony on October 1st where IDEM awarded the sailing association with a plaque, Walt Johnson, the LMSA’s general manager hosted a briefing and a tour for Friends of Lake Monroe. He outlined their work and the numerous improvements the organization had to carry out in order to earn the Indiana Clean Marina certification. These efforts included:
- Creating a designated work area distanced from the lake, with tarps and sanding equipment for members to use.
- Installing pet waste and fishing line collection stations.
- Developing a spill plan, purchasing equipment, and training.
- Providing oil spill pads to boaters and installing spill kits near the slips.
- Applying for a grant to update pump-out equipment.
- Modernizing restrooms.
- Installing an oil and antifreeze recycling station.
- Starting an aluminum can recycling program.
- Adding clean marina standards to the association’s rules and regulations.
- Posting signs to encourage member participation.
Friends of Lake Monroe would like to extend our deepest appreciation to Walt Johnson for spearheading the process and also to the LMSA for their sustaining membership donation. You can find out more about the LMSA at their website, LakeMonroeSailing.com.
Are you smarter than a fourth grader?
Maggie Sullivan, Watershed Coordinator
Over the last two weeks I have had the privilege of presenting a lesson about the Lake Monroe watershed to fourth graders at four local schools. (Thank you to Brown County Soil & Water Conservation District for letting me be a part of 4th Grade Field Day!)
We talked about how a watershed is an area that drains to a particular lake, stream, or other body of water. I showed them maps of the Lake Monroe watershed and talked about how we can study different aspects like land use.
Then we did the really fun part where I brought out a watershed model (thank you to Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District for the loan). First I added different sources of nonpoint source pollution in the form of food coloring (oil), cocoa powder (sediment), chocolate sprinkles (animal waste), coconut flakes (trash), and green sprinkles (fertilizer). Then I used a spray bottle to make it “rain” so we could watch the pollution flow downhill into the lake.
Below is the quiz I gave students after the presentation. How much do you know about the Lake Monroe watershed?
- True or False – I live in a watershed.
- Multiple Choice – Most of Brown County is within which watershed?
a. Lake Monroe
b. Bean Blossom Creek
c. Indian Creek
d. White Creek
- True or False – Downtown Bloomington drains into Lake Monroe.
- Multiple Choice – Most of the land within the Lake Monroe Watershed has what land use?
a. Cropland (e.g. corn and soybeans)
c. Pasture (e.g. for cows or horses)
- True or False – Over 100,000 people get their drinking water from Lake Monroe.
- Multiple Choice – Nonpoint source pollution includes which of the following?
b. Sediment (soil)
c. Animal waste
d. All of the above
- True or False – Downtown Nashville drains into Lake Monroe.
- Multiple Choice – I can protect Lake Monroe by doing which of the following?
a. Pick up trash
b. Clean up after my dog
c. Cover bare soil
d. All of the above
- True. We all live in a watershed, meaning water that lands on our property flows to a particular lake, stream, or other body of water.
- Lake Monroe Watershed. Most of Brown County (about 75%) lies within the Lake Monroe watershed.
- False. Contrary to popular opinion, most of Bloomington (including downtown) is outside the Lake Monroe watershed. Most of the city drains south into Salt Creek downstream from the lake while a portion of the north side drains northwest into Bean Blossom Creek.
- Forest. Over 82% of the land in the Lake Monroe watershed is forested.
- True. Over 100,000 people get their drinking water from Lake Monroe.
- All of the above. Trash, sediment, and animal waste are all examples of nonpoint source pollution. Other examples include motor oil, soap from washing cars outdoors, leakage from faulty septic systems, excess fertilizer, and road salt. Generally speaking, nonpoint source pollution is pollution that is left on the ground and washes into lakes and streams. Unlike a factory wastewater pipe (for example), the pollution does not come from one particular place; it comes from many locations around the watershed.
- True. Downtown Nashville drains into Lake Monroe via North Fork Salt Creek.
- All of the above. Picking up trash, cleaning up after dogs, and covering bare soil are all good ways to protect Lake Monroe. Grown ups can add the following to their list: pump your septic tank at least once every three years, leave an unmowed strip of vegetation next to streams, only put water down storm drains, use fertilizer sparingly, and dispose of used oil properly.
There is of course a lot more to say about watersheds and the Lake Monroe watershed in particular. We will continue our education efforts with both children and adults as we develop a watershed management plan. While I especially love working with kids and hearing their unfiltered passion and enthusiasm for the environment, I also enjoy working with adults and hearing their stories of why Lake Monroe is important to them.
Ultimately our goal is to inspire people of all ages to join us in protecting and improving Lake Monroe for ourselves and for future generations.
Support Education and Outreach Coordinators
We need to hire an Education and Outreach Coordinator!
To connect with stakeholders and engage them to advocate for the health of the lake. The more we know, the more we care. Improving and sustaining water quality in Lake Monroe depends on voluntary actions of government and landowners. Actions like planting cover crops, forest protection and erosion control are necessary. Educating and listening are key to motivating lawmakers, landowners and lake users to take steps to protect the lake.
FLM is counting on your donations to support this effort. Through your membership, we can raise the money to hire an Education and Outreach Coordinator to connect with stakeholders to share resources and information about septic systems, pesticide use, best management practices to reduce erosion, proper trash disposal, and fencing off livestock from nearby streams, to name a few.
Disseminating accurate and helpful information to mutually benefit all will help to protect our lake. Let’s get the word out. Help us fund an Education and Outreach Coordinator by donating or becoming a member today!
Bumper Stickers Sent to Members!
Members receive a member bumper sticker for their boat or automobile, our newsletter, and opportunities to volunteer.
By now, everyone who has become a member or renewed their membership should have received a thank you letter and a member bumper sticker in the mail. When you see one of these stickers on a car or boat, you know that they too support our efforts to keep Lake Monroe swimmable, fishable, and drinkable.
If you haven’t received this, and you think you are a member, let’s get this straightened out. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and in the subject line “Membership Query”.
Best Management Practices
Briefing by Board Member Richard Harris
Best Management Practices are generically defined as a set of methods or techniques found to be the most effective means of achieving an objective while making the optimum use of resources. The term Best Management Practices (BMPs) is often used in the context of environmental protection. A quick internet search of BMPs finds that the majority of search results has to do with protecting water resources, and specifically, nonpoint source pollution and watershed protection.
The development and use of BMPs as conservation measures has evolved over the past several decades as it became apparent that our country’s lakes and streams were suffering from human activities. The passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 initially focused on “point sources” of pollution that were emitted from a pipe or similar concentrated source. Point sources are easier to identify and regulate than nonpoint sources, and those measures have gone a long way toward cleaning up our nation’s waters. However, regulating point sources of pollution did nothing to address the wide-spread and more difficult to control nonpoint sources of pollution.
The Friends of Lake Monroe, along with several community partners, is currently in the midst of conducting a study of Lake Monroe through a Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Plan Grant, named after Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. An important part of the grant is to characterize the lake and its watershed to identify land-use concerns within the watershed that could have an impact on water quality and quantity. This assessment will explore the feasibility of BMPs and potential funding sources for long-term water protection.
Conservation BMPs are generally categorized by land-use types, such as urban, agricultural, and forestry BMPs. In the context of watershed management, BMPs are generally implemented to prevent surface water runoff and associated pollutants, both natural and man-made, from reaching a lake or stream. BMPs can range from simple and inexpensive practices that can be applied by homeowners, to expensive and highly engineered systems for industrial facilities.
Land use in the Lake Monroe watershed is approximately 82% forest, including parts of the Hoosier National Forest, Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State Forests, and Brown County State Park; 8% agricultural, mostly in Jackson County; 6% water (lakes and streams, including Lake Monroe); and 2% urban, the town of Nashville being the most concentrated urban area. Only the extreme eastern edge of the city of Bloomington lies within the Lake Monroe watershed.
BMPs may be implemented on private (often agricultural or forested) land, or on urban or rural public property.
Private landowners may utilize BMPs on a voluntary, self-funded basis, but they are often used in conjunction with, and partially funded through a government program on a cost-sharing basis. This process typically requires that certain guidelines be followed to qualify for funding. The local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) offices are the likely point of contact for these services.
Municipalities and other public entities may be required by regulations to manage stormwater through programs such as the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program. Similarly, state and federal forests typically require that BMPs be followed during and after timber management activities.
The list of BMPs below by land-use type is not exhaustive, but are practices commonly used to address nonpoint sources of pollution, and represent examples of BMPs that may be considered to help protect and enhance the water quality of Lake Monroe.
Logging and forest management activities can disturb the soil and result in the potential erosion into streams and lakes. Forestry BMPs strive to minimize surface runoff.
Proper Road Maintenance—Poorly designed logging roads and skid trails can be a significant source of erosion, and many forestry BMPs are related to good road construction practices.
- When possible use existing roads to avoid new potential sources of erosion.
- Design roads to use natural contours where possible, and keep road gradient as low as possible.
- Use silt fences when necessary to minimize sediment transport.
- Minimize the number of steam and wetland crossings.
- Install water bars or diversion trenches where necessary. A water bar is a combination “mound-trench” built into a road or skid trail to intercept and divert flowing water, thereby reducing surface erosion.
- Avoid using roads during wet conditions when possible.
Avoid Steep Slopes—Steep slopes are more susceptible to soil erosion. Logging should be avoided on steep slopes when possible.
Buffer Strips—Maintain buffer strips along lakes and streams to act as a filter for runoff.
Revegetation—Disturbed areas should be replanted as soon as possible after disturbance to restabilize the soil. Native plants should be used to avoid introducing invasive species.
Cover Crops are planted on farm fields to cover the soil to prevent water and wind erosion, rather than leaving the soil bare between primary growing seasons. Cover crops can also be used to suppress weeds, manage soil erosion, help build and improve soil fertility and quality, control diseases and pests, and promote biodiversity. The use of cover crops has increased in popularity in recent decades, and is often eligible for cost sharing through local SWCD and NRCS offices.
Conservation Tillage is a group of practices that reduce erosion by protecting the soil surface and allowing water to infiltrate instead of running off. This can include no-till, ridge-till, and mulch-till methods. In general, these methods disturb the soil less than conventional planting methods, and leave residue on the surface to reduce erosion and increase infiltration.
Conservation Strips or Buffers are small areas or strips of land left in permanent vegetation adjacent to streams or lakes. Strategically placed buffer strips in the agricultural landscape can effectively mitigate the movement of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides from farm fields.
Heavy Use Pads—Livestock in high traffic areas such as feed lots can deteriorate the soil and result in high concentrations of urine and manure, particularly during wet periods. These areas are susceptible to erosion, and can be a threat to surface water if in close proximity to waterways. Heavy Use Pads can be constructed in high livestock traffic areas to stabilize the surface, and redirect runoff to areas of dense vegetation where it can be filtered prior to further migration. Heavy Use Pads can be constructed of concrete, or gravel and a geotextile.
Livestock Fencing can be used to prevent livestock from entering streams, which can lead to water quality problems due to animal waste and streambank degradation. This practice may require an alternative water supply to replace the loss of stream access.
Urban BMPs typically involve managing stormwater to minimize runoff from impervious surfaces. Urban nonpoint sources of pollution commonly include sediment from construction sites, metals and other contaminants washed from streets or parking lots, fertilizers or pesticides washed from lawns, and pathogens from pet waste. Practices include:
Retention Ponds or Basins may go by many names (for example, retention ponds, infiltration trenches, or constructed wetlands), but are all designed to capture and hold stormwater during precipitation events until it can infiltrate into the ground and avoid runoff into a downstream water body. Retention ponds are often required by municipalities to be incorporated into residential or commercial developments.
Grassed Swales are vegetated channels designed to convey stormwater runoff at a slow, controlled rate where the vegetation acts to filter the water. Grassed swales may be used in conjunction with other BMPs, such as retention ponds. They are generally constructed with a wide, flat bottom to reduce flow velocities and promote settling.
Vegetated Filter Strips act to intercept and filter surface runoff and allow it to infiltrate into the ground. Unlike Grassed Swales, they are not designed to convey water and are not suitable for high volumes of water.
Permeable pavement systems are durable, load-bearing pavement surfaces with underlying stone beds, which store rainwater before it infiltrates into the underlying soil. These systems may be constructed from porous concrete or asphalt, or as a grid of pavers with spaces between to allow for infiltration.
Silt Fences are temporary fences (or in some cases bales of straw) often used on construction sites to prevent soil erosion during the construction phase and before an area can be revegetated.
Rain Barrels or Rain Gardens are often used by homeowners, schools, or other individual property owners to manage water on a small scale. They are relatively inexpensive, simple to install and maintain, and have the added benefit of reducing water demand from public water systems, and save property owners money on water bills.
Streambank and Shoreline Erosion
Although not tied to a specific land-use type, streambank and shoreline erosion can be significant sources of sedimentation into lakes and streams.
Riprap Riprap is soccer to basketball-sized stone used to control erosion on steep slopes, and is one of the more commonly used stream bank and shoreline stabilization techniques.
Soil or Vegetation Bioengineering
Soil bioengineering is a method of using vegetation to stabilize a streambank or shoreline with or without structural controls.
Sources of information for this article include websites of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. EPA, and the National Association of State Foresters.
The Friends of Lake Monroe has adopted the Paynetown State Recreation Area and conducts a monthly cleanup through the DNR’s Adopt-A-Shoreline program.
The last group cleanup for 2020 will occur on Sunday, November 15 at 2:00 pm. Meet at the Recreation Area’s campground store. Tell gate attendant you are participating in the cleanup for free admission.
Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up on FLM’s website (www.friendsoflakemonroe.org) using the Events tab. Regular monthly cleanups will resume in March, 2021. Check our website for updates.
Besides participating in FLM’s monthly organized shoreline cleanups, everyone is encouraged to pick up trash whenever they visit the lake or hike in the watershed. Combining a hike or boating trip with picking up trash can enhance your outdoor experience and leave you with a sense of satisfaction knowing that you have done something to help clean up the lake.
In fact, the next time you pick up trash at the lake, send your pictures to Richard Harris, and we’ll post them on Facebook!
To Zoom or not to Zoom….
FLM On-line Public Meetings Canceled
I have heard from many people that they are “zoomed out”, a new kind of burnout from too many on-line meetings. Others say they enjoy Zoom meetings. This month our board decided to cancel public meetings until further notice. This decision was made partly because of the need to reduce our on-line meetings and partly because of low attendance rates. So for now, no public meetings. Our board will continue to meet monthly and we would like to find outdoor activities to better connect with our members. So please let us know if you would like to organize an informal hike, paddle or some other outdoor activity. If you miss our meetings or are hoping to get better connected with us, please let me know. You can contact me at email@example.com.
From Sherry Mitchell-Bruker.
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!
Check FLM’s Events Page for future opportunities, including monthly shoreline cleanup get-togethers.