Dane County Office of Lakes & Watersheds
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2012 Dane County Waters Champion Awards

Take a Stake in the Lakes Volunteers Honored as 2012 Dane County Waters Champions

Dane County Lakes & Watershed Commission Chair Melissa Malott led the Commission’s annual Dane County Waters Champion award ceremony on Saturday, June 16, 2012 recognizing 25 years of Take a Stake in the Lakes volunteers as Dane County Waters Champions. The celebration encompassed the 25th anniversary of Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission’s Take a Stake in the Lakes Days, which was started in 1988 by the Commission.

Over time, the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission’s annual Take a Stake in the Lakes event has grown from two days to a two-week series of countywide special events aimed at protecting, improving and raising awareness of the county’s lakes and streams. Thousands of volunteers have cleaned up innumerable tons of garbage from Dane County’s waterways, marked storm drains with “dump no waste; drains to lake” messages, and many more actions over the years.

Our annual Dane County Waters Champion awards in 2012 marked a unique milestone: 25 years of volunteerism to protect and improve our precious lakes. The Dane County Lakes & Watershed Commission helped launch the Take a Stake in the Lakes efforts 25 years ago. We are honored and in awe of the dedication of the Take a Stake in the Lakes volunteers.

Twenty-five years of volunteers committed to helping improve and protect the lakes is inspirational. Together we can—and are—accomplishing amazing work. Year after year, hundreds of volunteers step up to rake stinky weeds, collect dirty garbage, mark storms and so much more. In 2012, employees from Lands’ End and Thermo Fisher joined in the ranks of veteran Take a Stake volunteers, working for the lakes instead of their bosses.

Take a Stake in the Lakes volunteers provide a solid foundation—along with decades of study and action to understand and improve the Yahara lakes—to continue working together with our many partners. This is a perfect example of how the Commission and the Office of Lakes & Watersheds relies on so many others: agencies, educational institutions, businesses, groups, individuals and the youth in our community to Take a Stake in the Lakes.

Much of what we’ve accomplished county-wide, and especially in the Yahara chain of lakes, has been made possible by 25 years of Commissioners, coordinators and, of course, volunteers.

Take a Stake in the Lakes started out as garbage pick ups on a couple of Saturdays in June. In 1995, Yahara Lakes Week events began during the 6 days between the clean ups. The events list has grown from one week to more than two, and is now known as Take a Stake in the Lakes Days. Over the past 25 years, over 230 groups have volunteered to Take a Stake in the Lakes. From a couple hundred or so in the early years, Take a Stake in the Lakes has grown to nearly 1,000 people volunteering annually to improve and protect the lakes and streams in Dane County. As more people volunteer, more projects beyond picking up garbage have been completed as part of Take a Stake in the Lakes Days. Many businesses and organizations have donated cash and gifts throughout the years. Madison Fishing Expo has donated bags as well as cash throughout the years. Lake Waubesa Conservation Association, Yahara Lakes Association and many other groups have provided cash. Top Promotions has been giving a discount on the great shirts all you volunteers are wearing for years, not to mention fabulous service. This year, Clean Lakes Alliance has committed $10,000 that they received from Lands’ End, Thermo Fisher, American Family and Alliant Energy, to help expand the annual event.

Although a tremendous amount of work has been completed over the past 25 years, we have an incredible amount of work to do. There is a renewed interest in partnering to help and improve the lakes from many entities. We, citizens of Dane County, accomplish amazing things when we get together. Time and again, people here step up for challenges—they’ve been stepping up for the lakes for over 25 years! We all need to continue to come together to clean our lakes.

The Dane County Lakes & Watershed Commission encourages, values and relies on citizen input, action and advocacy to help do what is in the best interests of the County’s waterways. Take a Stake in the Lakes Volunteers, this year’s Dane County Waters Champions, and the projects they work on, represent remarkable accomplishments and the best of community actions that make a significant, positive impact on the health our waters. On behalf of Dane County, we thank you—25 years of volunteers—and salute you for your generous and superb contributions to promote lake and stream quality. All of our work together championing our watersheds has yielded some significant results in the Yahara watershed. Take a Stake in the Lakes volunteers work for our lakes not just in June, but year round.

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Yahara Waterways Trail Guide The Yahara Waterways Water Trail Guide is a great resource for exploring our area waters.