Lake Wissota Centennial - Five

From sailboats to kayaks, Lake Wissota is a popular destination for those wanting a relaxing time on water, in this file photo taken by Mark Gunderman in August 2017.

THE HERALD, File photo

Residents of Lake Wissota are chasing five-year funding to preserve the lake’s waters after an annual contribution is slated to end in December.

In a presentation to the Chippewa Falls City Council Tuesday evening, Dick Barrickman asked the city to help the Lake Wissota Improvement and Protection Association, or LWIPA, reach the group’s goal of raising $50,000 by December 1.

The association is raising money to replace Leinenkugel’s Brewery $50,000-per-year donation, which is in its seventh year and will end this year.

The association was formed to preserve the Little Lake Wissota Watershed. Soil erosion and runoff raised levels of phosphorus in the water, affecting swimming, fishing and boating, according to a letter draft from LWIPA to the residents of Lake Wissota.

Barrickman, a member of the LWIPA board of directors, said problems with the lake’s water have existed as long as he can remember. “What got that project started was the fact that the water quality was degrading…and the lake was declared impaired,” Barrickman said before the meeting.

Leinenkugel’s generous seven-year contribution is drawing to a close, and after Chippewa County asked the association to raise a total of $250,000 over five years – beginning with $50,000 by December 1 – LWIPA reached out to the city of Chippewa Falls for support.

The council did not discuss using city funds for the project, and Mayor Greg Hoffman did not comment on the matter.

The association has already had success in surrounding townships and with Lake Wissota area farmers, Barrickman said. Lafayette has committed $10,000 per yearAnson will contribute $2,500 per year. Each contribution will continue for five years. The group will petition for help from the Town of Eagle Point at an October 16 meeting, and the association itself will donate $2,500 per year, Barrickman said Tuesday.

“This isn’t about Lake Wissota people against farmers, or the local governments against Lake Wissota people. This is a community effort…this isn’t a project that just one group can take part in,” Barrickman said.

Barrickman expects the Lake Wissota project to receive complete funding, and said the association will have to explore alternatives if the money isn’t there. “That’s a bridge we haven’t crossed yet. We don’t know what our…options are, in that case.”

If the project can draw the needed $250,000 over a five-year period, the association will draw up a plan that will let them apply for future Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources grants, Barrickman said.

The city has not funded other park and outdoor projects, including Happy Tails Dog Park and Erickson Park improvements, with the exception of Riverfront Park in downtown Chippewa Falls.

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Sarah Seifert covers the city and community of Chippewa Falls. Contact her with tips or story ideas at 715-738-1608 or at sarah.seifert@lee.net.

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