319 Grant to Bring Cleaner Water to Lake Monroe

Friends of Lake Monroe is in the final stages of finalizing the paperwork. The 319 grant will give FLM the capacity to hire a watershed coordinator and develop a watershed management plan. Friends of Lake Monroe will be awarded $119,525 from the State of Indiana with matching funds coming from Monroe County Stormwater Board, City of Bloomington and Sassafras AUDUBON Society. In addition, we will receive an additional $83,000 in services from the following organizations:

League of Women Voters of Bloomington and Monroe County
Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Conservation Law Center
The Nature Conservancy
The Media School at Indiana University
The Soil and Water Conservation District of Jackson County
The Planning Department and Board of Zoning Appeals of Monroe County
The Soil and Water Conservation District of Monroe County
Salt Creek Preservation Group

Melissa Laney and Sarah Powers of the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs will be leading the field investigation, while Friends of Lake Monroe will work on developing education and outreach initiatives and management plan for the Lake Monroe watershed. FLM will be working with many other organizations and individuals to gather information about the lake, the watershed, and local stakeholder concerns. FLM will also need volunteers to help with education, graphic art, outreach, and water sampling. If you are interested in volunteering your time and skill, please reach out!

February Shoreline Cleanup: Nothing Butt the Facts

Inclement weather forced the cancellation of the regularly scheduled shoreline cleanup for February. However, FLM board member Richard Harris conducted an impromptu solo effort on February 19, concentrating his efforts on picking up cigarette butts on and around the Paynetown boat ramp.

Richard estimates that he pickup up between 250-300 cigarette butts in approximately 45 minutes.

Did you know that cigarette butts are among the most littered items on earth? It is estimated that about 4.5 trillion cigarettes are discarded worldwide each year, and they make up 30-40 percent of all items collected in annual international coastal and urban cleanups.

Cigarette butts can make their way into waterways through storm drains that dump into streams and lakes. Unfortunately, they are also deposited directly into our lake by boaters, swimmers, and other visitors.

To make matters worse, cigarette butts are very slow to fully degrade. Although they look like they’re made of cotton, 98 percent of filters are made of plastic fibers. In a recent study, researchers found that after two years, only about 38% of a typical cigarette butt had decomposed.

Not only do cigarette butts stick around for a long time, they also leach toxic chemicals such as lead and arsenic into the environment, damaging wildlife that come into contact with them. A study conducted by Clean Virginia Waterways showed that a single cigarette butt deposited in two gallons of water was lethal to water fleas, a tiny crustacean found in both fresh and salt water. These toxic chemicals can work their way up the food chain into fish and birds. In addition, wildlife can mistake cigarette butts for food and accidentally ingest them, leading to toxic effects and gastrointestinal problems.

If all that is not bad enough, just seeing trash at the lake, including cigarette butts, diminishes the experience of most visitors to the lake. What can you do?First of all, if you are a smoker, PLEASE dispose of cigarette butts responsibly, wherever you are. Second, next time you visit Lake Monroe, consider taking some time to pick up litter, including cigarette butts. Keep a trash bag handy for that purpose and include a little extra time in your visit for picking up trash.

The Friends of Lake Monroe sponsors a monthly shoreline cleanup at the Paynetown State Recreation Area. The next cleanups are scheduled for March 23 and April 27. Check the Events Calendar on our webpage (Friendsoflakemonroe.org) for more information.

We ask that volunteers register for the cleanups so we can contact you in case the event needs to be cancelled or rescheduled. We welcome your participation in our monthly cleanups, and encourage you to pick up trash whenever you visit the lake.

Thanks for being a responsible visitor to Lake Monroe.

Overview of Lake Monroe

Note: The following article was written by Brady Barksdale, our summer intern and a student in the IU School of Public Health.

Lake Monroe

History/Background Information

Lake Monroe, located in Brown and Monroe Counties, is the largest man-made body of water in all of Indiana coming in at 10,750 acres and has an average depth of 25 feet with a maximum of 54 feet deep. The lake was built in 1964 and filled with water in 1965 by the Louisville District of the Army Corps of Engineers with the original intention of being a method of flood control for the white river. Creation of this lake cost approximately $16.5 million but since its creation has prevented an estimated $38 million in flood damage. It was not until 1967 that the City of Bloomington decided to use Lake Monroe as a source of drinking water. Before Lake Monroe, the city used Lake Griffy as a source of drinking water, but with the creation of a much larger lake, the city found Lake Monroe to be a much better source of water. Currently, the Monroe Water Treatment Plant is pumping on average 15 million gallons of water per day, with amounts fluctuating as high as 23 million gallons per day in the warmer months.

Lake Monroe is divided into two basins, the upper and lower basin, which are divided by the State Highway 446 causeway. There are distinct differences in water quality from the upper to lower basin. Much of this is due to the fact that the upper basin, which is much shallower than the upper basin, is receiving upwards of 90% of the total runoff that is entering the lake. All of this runoff causes changes in the turbidity and overall water chemistry of this portion of the lake. The dissolved oxygen levels from each basin also vary. Higher dissolved oxygen levels are seen in the lower basin while lower levels of dissolved oxygen are seen in the upper basin. This has an effect on the fish in these areas given that fish need oxygen to survive. In the lower basin, the dissolved oxygen levels allow for fish to live at depths of 16 to 20 feet deep while the upper basin, with lower dissolved oxygen levels, only allows for most fish to live at depths up to 15 feet. Analysis from the Department of Natural Resources showed lake average surface dissolved oxygen levels ranging from 5.26 ppm to 7.02 ppm with the levels slowly dropping down as the depth increases.

(read the rest here)

Indiana Lakes Management Society 10th Annual Photo Contest

The Indiana Lakes Management Society is hosting their 10th Annual Photo Contest. Winning photographs will be featured in their quarterly newsletter and in their social media.

Entries are due by March 15, 2019. To enter send digital photos (300 dpi or higher) to bridget.harrison@indianalakes.org. Be sure to include your name, lake name, phone number and email, and indicate if you are an adult or a student.


Listen to this interview w IFA Executive Director Jeff Stant about the proposed logging in Hoosier National Forest

WFHB Podcast: Federal Authorities are considering logging thousands of acres of the Hoosier National Forest, including over 400 acres of clear cutting south of lake Monroe.  WFHB Correspondent Annie Aguiar speaks with Indiana Forest Alliance Director Jeff Stant on the possible effects of logging and clear cutting the state’s only national forest —in today’s Feature Report.

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Growing Support

Sherry Mitchell-Bruker spoke before The Monroe County Council, where a resolution was passed acknowledging the vital importance of Lake Monroe and the support of the council for FLM's 319 grant application.  Thanks to all for the support you have shown for our work.

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Notice of Intent Filed with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management

FLM has filed a Notice of Intent to the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management announcing our intention to apply for a section 319 grant to develop a watershed management plan. FLM board members will be working with Indiana University faculty and staff to prepare the grant application, which is due September 1. We will be asking for matching contributions from local governments, businesses, and IU.  Regional Watershed Specialist, Kathleen Hagan, spoke at the May FLM meeting about watershed planning and the Section 319 program.

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Farm Bill Removes Checks and Balances to National Forests

National Forest Legislation in 2018 HR 2 - The Farm Bill

Please call Congressional Representative Trey Hollingsworth’s Legislative Aid Alec Zender who handles agriculture matters ‭(202) 225-5315‬‭ before May 16th. Alec can also be reached by email at: alec.zender@mail.house.gov

Ask Representative Hollingsworth to OPPOSE H.R. 2 also known as the Farm Bill and include his rejection of any attempts to undermine environmental safeguards on America’s national forests in any public statements or remarks explaining his opposition to the bill.

It threatens the Hoosier National Forest (HNF) and Lake Monroe by removing safeguards built into the current HNF management plan.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Threatens the Hoosier National Forest (HNF) 

Ignoring that compromise, H.R. 2 would double the size of the just-conceded exemptions under NEPA to allow logging of up to 6,000-acres — almost 10 square miles for each single project — without review and disclosure of potential harms. The bill adds numerous new 6,000-acre exemptions. This partisan bill also goes further than the omnibus deal on the Endangered Species Act, allowing federal land management agencies to “self-consult” on whether their actions would harm threatened and endangered species even though such self-consultation has already been declared unlawful by the courts. Additionally, it attacks the landmark Roadless Rule, makes resource management and forest stewardship dependent on logging revenue, creating a perverse incentive, and jeopardizes fire-vulnerable communities by deprioritizing hazardous fuels reduction efforts.

The Hoosier National Forest is smaller (204,000 acres) and more fragmented than most other national forests.  As a result, the HNF shares approximately 1,400 miles of boundaries with surrounding property owners, making public input opportunities in management activities such as road building, timber harvests and salvage logging important to many local residents.

2. Threatens Lake Monroe

Lake Monroe is the water supply for 120,000+ people in Monroe and Brown Counties. The current management plan for the HNF allows for reasonable timber removal, but safeguards sensitive areas. The ability to log up to 6,000 acres without public input would jeopardize areas like the South Fork of Salt Creek that feed the Lake. Soil erosion not only contributes to sedimentation, but results in a buildup of organics which cause water treatment and algal growth problems.

3. Removes Bedrock Protections

The legislation is replete with provisions that undermine bedrock environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Roadless Rule). This bill consistently prioritizes the logging industry over all other forest stakeholders. It would cause irreparable harm to our federal forests, the millions of Americans who depend on them for clean drinking water, subsistence, recreation, and economic benefit, and the wildlife that call them home.

4. Contrary to What Was Agreed to in the Recent Omnibus Bill

The federal forest provisions in the Farm Bill also run contrary to the wildfire funding agreement reached only weeks ago in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus. A deal was only reached after significant environmental concessions to pro-logging hardliners, even though a comprehensive wildfire funding solution had solid bi-partisan support in both chambers going into the omnibus negotiation.

5. Creates Problems for the Farm Bill

The harmful federal forest proposals in this legislation solve no problem; they only add controversy to the Farm Bill and weaken its chances of becoming law.

Vote to Oppose Federal Forest Provisions

For all of these reasons we strongly urge Representative Hollingsworth to OPPOSE the federal forest provisions in the Farm Bill and any amendments that further undermine environmental safeguards on our federal forests.

Highlights from Our January Meeting

Cara Bergschneider explained how the Natural Resources Conservation Service funds and promotes conservation practices, Dave Simcox reported on HB1289 which would restrict Monroe County’s ability to regulate logging near Lake Monroe, Sherry anounced that The Nature Conservancy has funded a graduate student to work with IU SPEA analyzing existing data for Lake Monroe, and more!

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Watershed Leadership Academy


I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Indiana Watershed Leadership Academy (IWLA), and recommend it to anyone who is interested in expanding their knowledge of watershed science, planning, stakeholder development, communication, watershed management, and more. The five month Academy (January to June) is a combination face-to-face workshops and online distance learning . There are two weekend workshops which include presentations by watershed coordinators, storm water managers, citizen volunteers, environmental professionals, community officials, and planners. The online assignments consist of required and optional readings and a short written assignment. Written assignments are due every two weeks and require about 3-5 hours to complete. There is also a required group project which is presented at the graduation ceremony to other IWLA attendees and leaders. One of the great benefits of attending the IWLA is the networking opportunities with other Academy attendees and workshop presenters, many who are past graduates of the IWLA. Attending the Academy also provides attendees with access to many online resources, including archived webinars, videos, and a library of articles on various topics by leaders in the field of watershed management. Upon successfully completing the Academy, enrollees receive a certificate in Watershed Management from Purdue University.

The deadline for enrolling in the IWLA is November 3rd.  Limited scholarships are available for enrollees from an unfunded agency. Please see the Academy web site for more information.

Richard Harris

Richard Harris