On September 13th, 2017 the Winnebago Lakes Council (WLC) held its last full membership meeting at the J.P. Coughlin Center in Oshkosh. Earlier this summer, the WLC Board proposed that the organization dissolve citing the Board’s lack of capacity and overlapping organizational goals between the WLC and Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance (FWWA). The Board assembled a special meeting to allow the broader membership to vote on the dissolution recommendation. During this final meeting, members in attendance voted unanimously to dissolve the WLC.
Over the past several years, FWWA partnered with the WLC on multiple projects, developing a strong relationship with the WLC during that time. Because of this relationship and similarities in goals for the Winnebago Lakes, the WLC chose to donate all of their remaining assets to our Winnebago Waterways Program. Although the region is losing an organization that has been in the forefront of promoting the health of the Winnebago Lakes over the past decade, the WLC’s legacy and mission will live on through the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance. We are grateful for their contribution and plan to put their generous donations to good use by:
- Completing the Winnebago Waterways HUB;
- Providing small matching grants to support efforts of other area organizations working to improve and protect the Winnebago Lakes;
- Expanding our community outreach program;
- Creating an archive for WLC documents;
- Developing a tribute page for the WLC to include the history of the organization and the great work they accomplished;
- Setting aside a significant portion of the funds to help ensure long-term success of the Winnebago Waterways Program.
In addition to the items listed above, all current WLC memberships were transferred to FWWA. We welcome our new members and look forward to continuing the great work of the WLC with their support. Members will receive our monthly e-newsletter (The Source), a monthly update from the Winnebago Waterways Program, and a membership newsletter twice per year. Members will also have the opportunity to renew their membership through Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance.
We are very appreciative of the Winnebago Lakes Council and their members for making the lakes a priority since 2006 and we look forward to carrying on their mission. If you have any questions, please contact Korin Doering, Winnebago Waterways Program Coordinator, at (920) 851-0948 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Winnebago Waterways Program
CLICK HERE to become a Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance member
How did the Winnebago Lakes Council get started?
The concept for a lakes council for the Winnebago Pool Lakes arose in April 2003 during a 3-day workshop sponsored by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation with a grant from the Great Lakes Protection Fund. Participants from more than 40 local groups recommended the following priority actions to protect and improve these lakes:
• Form a lake/system council, association, or district
• Buffer our shorelines and adjacent lands
• Consider ecological impacts in water level management decisions
• Include water quality management tools in local comprehensive plans
• Educate about the quality and importance of the lake environment
• Monitor the environmental quality of our lakes and shorelines
• Fund environmental quality projects
• Sustain communication among groups
A Steering Committee was formed to take on the first recommendation and form an organization that could accomplish the other recommended goals. The members of this committee represented local conservation groups, municipal planners, University of Wisconsin Extension, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Oshkosh Area Community Fund, and the League of Women Voters. Funding to initiate the Winnebago Lakes Council came from the DNR and the Lake Poygan Sportsmen’s Club.
Incorporation papers and an interim board were established in December 2004. The following individuals served on the interim board during 2005 or 2006: Bob Beckstrom, LuAnn Bird, Paul Fowler, Greg Keil, Michael Lizotte, Jack Quigley, Nile Roeder, Dan Rudebeck, Jan Scalpone, Dani Stolley, and Bob Wojcik. Their efforts were supported by numerous advisors, contracted staff, and volunteers, including Robin McLennan, Mark Sesing, Catherine Neiswender, Chad Cook, Leslie Taylor, Mike Patterson, Linda Grishaber, Zaiga Maasen, Jeanne Shiras, Art Techlow, Kendall Kamke, Dick Sachs, Eric Fowle, Tim Badtke, Scott Engel, Carolyn Blassingame, Kathy Propp, and Tiffany Nytes.
The interim board accomplished several key milestones. A kick-off breakfast forum was held in Oshkosh in June 2005, signing up 30 founding members. The first quarterly newsletter was mailed out in January 2006 with an initial run of 10,000 copies, distributed with help from “On the Water” magazine. The River Alliance of Wisconsin provided leadership development training in January 2006, which helped develop goals for membership and projects. The Council established seasonal events for members with a winter Winnebago Lakes Gathering, a summer Recognition Picnic, and a fall Annual Meeting. In 2006, the WLC obtained federal 501(c)(3) tax exemption status as a non-profit organization. The first Board of Directors was elected in October 2006 at the Annual Meeting.
The above history of the WLC was taken directly from the WLC website.