Protecting Lake Beulah

By Jennifer Bradley

Lake Beulah’s history is as deep and rich as Wisconsin’s. In the 1830s a dam was formed (now County Hwy. J) and so formed the 834 acres of spring-fed lake that sits between East Troy and Mukwonago. The Lake Beulah Protective and Improvement Association (LBPIA) traces its roots to 1894, and today it’s still active in its mission: preserving the natural resources of Lake Beulah and maintaining an inviting environment for all who use the lake.

ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION

This member-based organization is run by an elected board and was originally an effort of lake residents in the 1800s to help clear the lake of tree stumps. Headed by President Ray Fisher, the LBPIA board consists of volunteers that take on projects ranging from water quality testing to website maintenance and local government advocacy to managing the lake’s chairpersons, known as the chair network. Fisher says the LBPIA has no legal authority, but is a vital sounding board for the government agencies that oversee the lake.

Joan Huening oversees marketing and explains that the area chair network is in addition to the LBPIA’s nine-person board, splitting Lake Beulah’s three major lake areas into 20 sections. Each section has a chairperson, which Huening says is a “friendly, approachable face, a neighbor you may know. If something comes up that’s very localized or someone has a question, residents can contact that area chairperson first.”

Lake Beulah has many seasonal residents, such as Huening herself, and she explains that the area chair network serves residents by keeping them informed and providing a contact person with the lake association. “People aren’t always around to see every

thing, so area chairs are helpful in that way and they give the residents a touchpoint that is local and friendly in their immediate area.”

Huening says the LBPIA’s mission of preserving the lake’s natural resources is vital to its future, as she strongly believes everyone should be able to enjoy Lake Beulah. “The stand-up paddle boarders should be able to enjoy their sport the same way as those that own speed boats and jet skis,” she explains. “We have to make sure the fish have a viable habitat, and that fisherman enjoy their sport while making sure they don’t overfish the lake. We must respect the health of Lake Beulah and that’s what this organization is about. It’s about the health of the lake and preserving the quality and beauty for everyone to be able to use it in the way they want.”

WHY THEY LOVE THE LAKE

Fisher says Lake Beulah has very clear water and uniquely, a lot of undeveloped shoreline. There are bogs and woods scattered around the lakeshore. He explains the homeowners have exquisite landscaping, making lake property “easy on the eyes,” and the abundance of open land makes the lakeshore look less developed than it actually is. “On Long Lake, the longer part of Lake Beulah, 60-foot bluffs surround it with mature oaks; the houses sit pretty high which adds to the visual impact of the lake.”

The attractive shoreline and homes are enhanced by the lake’s exceptional water quality, according to Huening. “Property values really depend on the health of the lake, the sustainability of its cleanliness, its beauty, and so it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure it’s preserved not only for us but future generations,” she explains.

Keith Beren is the board member in charge of water quality, and both Fisher and Huening say his work is fundamental to the association’s mission. Beren takes water quality readings in coordination with the DNR and is a part of the volunteer program across Wisconsin that tests the water in over 8,000 of the state’s lakes.

A healthy lake with clean water is integral to the LBPIA’s sister organization, the Lake Beulah Yacht Club which was chartered in 1893. According to Fisher, members of that group have been instrumental and vital to the work of the Lake Beulah Management District.

He also adds a little-known fact to lake outsiders: Lake Beulah Yacht Club members have been nationally recognized in sailboat racing, winning prestigious awards. The Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Award was presented to Stephanie

Roble and Annie Haeger in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Haeger is also a 2016 U.S. Olympian. Both women honed their skills at the Lake Beulah Sailing School as well as through sailing competitions, based at the Yacht Club. The sailing school, open to the public, offers lessons at various levels from novice to experienced sailors.

Another reason to keep the lake’s water pristine is to maintain its popularity as a fishing hotspot in southeastern Wisconsin. The LBPIA’s Fish and Wildlife Chairman, Tom VanDenbogart is in charge of monitoring the fishery. According to Fisher, the association has sponsored two stockings of 9-inch walleye over the years and this past fall, completed its third year of stocking smallmouth fingerlings. DNR authorization is required for such fish stocking programs, and the agency has also stocked the lake with fish, designating Lake Beulah as a Sentinel Lake ensuring long-term monitoring for changes. “Beulah is becoming a very good walleye lake, but it’s best known for bass,” Fisher notes. “It’s a very nice fishery. It’s a great lake and people love it.”

COMMUNICATING SAFETY

The community surrounding Lake Beulah is a large and diverse population, including residents and non-residents, so rules and safety must come first. That’s why the Town of East Troy has an officer and patrol boat out on the weekends and holidays.

To help communicate wake rules and emergency numbers, the LPBIA developed door hangers, says Huening. These have been popular and she hopes something that people use for reference. It has a map of the lake and other regulations such as speed restrictions, rules for skiing, wakeboarding, tubing and personal water craft. “It’s a resource on how to use the lake and how members and others can be respectful of the lake and neighbors,” she explains.

CONNECTING AS A COMMUNITY

Huening says that even as seasonal tenants, she and her family have a strong connection to Lake Beulah and the community. She enjoys her work with the association and says that protecting a lake from invasive species, gas spills and overfishing takes a dedicated group. “I want to be able to give back and feel like I’m contributing to the lake.”

“We have a more-than-100-year history

of involvement of people around the lake, between our association and the Yacht Club,” says Fisher. “People are simply involved. They always have been. There’s a tradition of caring.”

Due to efforts of these stewards, the lake’s natural resources and habitat have been protected. Fisher says bald eagles are occasionally seen around the lake and more ospreys are appearing as well.

In addition, the diverse water activities, stunning variety of architectural styles for homes and all the people that live and vacation on Lake Beulah make it a special place. “Families on the lake go back 100 years and in fact the grandfather of one of our members was involved in removing the stumps from the lake a long time ago. People love the lake. They are enthused about it and want to make sure it stays a treasure.”

For more information on the Lake Beulah Protective and Improvement Association, visit lakebeulah.org.

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