Franciscan Water Action: Silver Lake Restoration Projects

September 20, 2015

In the spirit of September’s International Coastal Clean Up and Alliance of the Great Lakes and Friends of Manitowoc’s River Watershed initiatives,  Franciscan Sister Marlene Schwaller reviews our Community’s involvement in our own Silver Lake’s restoration projects.

Holy Family Convent is located on Silver Lake in Manitowoc County. As the major property holder around the lake, our community has been very supportive of projects involving both Silver Lake and Silver Lake Park. We own the park property and lease it to the County. We support lake and park projects in several ways. One way is by being active members of both the Silver Lake Committee and the Silver Lake Park Restoration Committee. Sisters Margaret Nethercott, Lorita Gaffney, Mariella Erdman and Marlene Schwaller are presently members of both committees.

Franciscan Sisters Motherhouse on Silver LakeAlong with other property owners around the lake, our lake committee addresses issues in the lake, such as water clarity, chemical contents, and the control of invasive species. Eurasian milfoil, a very invasive plant, appeared in the lake a few years ago. It can spread from lake to lake if boats have not been cleaned after they were in a lake that has milfoil in it. To help prevent the spread of undesirable plant and animal life, we have placed a cleaning station near the boat landing. Every boat should be cleaned when taken out of the water, no matter what lake it was in.

Although we have not taken any direct action to remove the milfoil, it is interesting to note that there is a smaller amount of it this year. However, an herbicide is annually sprayed around the three fishing docks to clear the water for fishing.

Silver Lake Berm

At one time the adjoining stream, Silver Creek, flowed beside the lake. When Hwy. 151 was constructed, the creek was diverted into the lake. This caused problems such as carp, bullheads and other undesirable fish entering the lake.

Franciscan Action at Silver Lake BermThe first thing we did to solve this problem was to construct a berm, thus redirecting the creek so it would bypass the lake. By doing this, undesirable fish from the creek could not enter the lake. Then a fish kill was done and the lake restocked with desirable fish such as Northern pike, perch, walleye and bass. A spawning reef was placed in a section of the lake to make a safe place for fish eggs to be laid and hatched. Now we see many happy fishermen on the lake, even in winter. Canoers and kayakers are also often seen enjoying themselves.

Silver Lake Park

The Park Restoration Committee has made many changes in the park. About 15 years ago the park was mainly an untended, wooded area, with the exception of a small section which could be used for picnics and for enjoying the view. Many Sisters helped others to make these improvements.

  • Franciscan Action at Silver Lake ParkTrails were laid making it possible to walk all around the park. The major part of the trails are in the wooded areas.
  • Benches were placed in areas that provide a good view of the lake
  • Trees were planted. These trees have signage which indicates the kind of tree and in whose memory it was donated. There is a large display board which lists the major donors to the park restoration. Since no more trees are needed in the park, we are presently placing donor bricks in front of the major donor board.
  • A gazebo, donated by our religious community, was placed at the top of the hill in the park.
  • Educational signage was placed at the park entrance and along the major trail.Franciscan Action at Silver Lake Park2
  • Three fishing docks are along the shoreline, including one that is handicap accessible.
  • Picnic tables and benches, along with barbeque grills, are in the park. A pavilion is a good spot for protection from rain and sun.
  • Plans continue to place some playground equipment in the park.

New Issues to be Resolved

Both committees are presently working together to solve these environmental challenges:

  • The elevation of the berm was intended to be high enough that the creek would overflow into the lake only in the case of extremely high water. This event is expected to happen about once in 20 years. However, the berm has been overtopped twice in the last year. As a result, we know the berm settled and needs to be raised. Planning for this is in process.
  • The boat landing is poorly positioned. In order to get a boat into the lake, a vehicle must Franciscan Sisters support Silver Lake Park be backed along a curved path. Larger boats can only be launched by backing the vehicle onto the highway. This should be corrected. Due to poor engineering, the culvert under the launch obstructs the flow of water through Silver Lake Creek. This also leads to overtopping of the berm. We will probably reposition the boat landing. It would move to a spot in the park instead of along the highway. In this way the blockage will be removed. Boat launching will be easier and safer.

An engineering company is making recommendations which we will discuss and decide how we can resolve these unsatisfactory conditions. We are working to make a good lake a great one and the park an area many people can enjoy. Come and enjoy it with us.









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