Saving Our Lakes & Streams—101 Practical Things You Can Do Today

Saving Our Lakes & Streams—101 Practical Things You Can Do Today

Submitted by Northwoods Author, James Brakken

Most people who spend time near the water know the problems our lakes and streams face these days. Though our population grows steadily, the number of lakes and streams remains constant. More and more people sharing the same waters can and does eventually result in impaired water quality and diminished enjoyment of our water resources.

That’s why I wrote this book, something I consider to be like a shop manual—a how-to guide for everyone who loves our lakes and streams. As the subtitle says, this 198-page softcover contains many practical tips on how to preserve and protect our waters for future generations.

The foreword is written by Dan Small of Wisconsin Public TV’s “Outdoor Wisconsin” and “Outdoors Radio.” Dan explains, “If you fish, hunt, motor, paddle, or swim in our waterways, you need this book. Whether you live in a multi-million-dollar home on Lake Geneva, have a seasonal lakeshore cottage, or simply spend an occasional weekend at a rental cabin on a lake up north, you need this book. Saving Our Lakes & Streams should be required reading for all state, county, and town officials, for those who plan a career in natural resources, and for everyone who treasures water recreation.”

The book is divided into 11 sections. Each begins with a brief overview, then offers a few tips. No one is expected to follow them all. Rather, readers can choose from the 101 tips, knowing each tip will help protect the resource. For example, here’s an excerpt from the section called “Savoring Nature” along with a few, selected tips:

Sound Advice

Many of us are attracted to our lakes and streams because of their distinctive beauty. We are intrigued by aquatic plants and animals above and below the surface. And the enchanting movement of nature reflected in shimmering waves fascinates us. But their beauty goes beyond what we see. We feel the cool water when we wade or swim. We sense the freshness of a lake breeze. In fact, all our senses enhance our experience, including our hearing. Nowhere more than by water are the marvelous sounds of nature revealed. In fact, the flat surface of a quiet lake or stream allows sound to carry farther, thus increasing the experience of these sounds.

However, human activity can easily overpower the sounds of nature. For example, the growl of a chainsaw or sounds from other power tools early in the morning or evening may intrude upon others’ enjoyment of the water. Blaring music and the incessant yapping of a barky dog can be equally disturbing.

What you can do:

  1. Always remember that sound carries better and farther over water than land.
  2. In the summer months, avoid use of chain saws, lawn mowers, or loud power tools early in the morning or late in the day.
  3. Save your fireworks for the July 4th weekend and never use them over water.
  4. Target shooting should be done far away from the lake, perhaps at the local gun club. (And never shoot at or toward the water. You’ll have no idea how far that bullet will go or where it will end up.)
  5. Turn down the volume on your stereo or TV. Even though it may be your favorite entertainment, the noise coming from inside your house may not sound very good from across the lake.

(end of excerpt out of book)

Each of the 101 tips are intended as suggestions, not demands, thus allowing the reader to pick and choose to find the best fit. Some tips are as simple as the above examples. Others include such things as starting a rain garden to reduce runoff (with a brief how-to article). Every section offers links to further information. An appendix toward the back of the book gives more information, too.

Pages 58 and 59 of Saving Our Lakes & Streams tells the reader the most common boating violations and what the likely penalty is following a warden’s citation. In most cases, we don’t learn this until we hear it from the judge.

I based this book on information I learned during my two decades of writing articles for newsletters of many local, county, and statewide lake associations.

If you love your lake or stream experience enough to want to care for our waters, then you’ll enjoy Saving Our Lakes & Streams. It contains over 75 brief articles on how to protect our water resources along with over 75 photos taken at lakes and streams in the Western Great Lakes region. This book is a must for every cabin on our precious lakes and streams, and deeply discounted when purchased in quantities of ten or more from my website.

As you might imagine, my recent book, Saving Our Lakes & Streams, is quite popular with leaders of lake associations and lake districts. In fact, many have purchased large quantities to give to their members, local government officials, and to use in fund raisers. At my website,, I discount multiple-book orders to encourage this. One lake association purchased 175 copies, both to distribute and to sell in local bait shops, resorts, and gift shops. A Rhinelander realtor buys them to give to new waterfront owners, knowing it will help protect waterfront values. Several groups give a copy to all who renew their lake association memberships.


Author, historian, and conservationist, James Brakken, lives and writes from his Bayfield County, Wisconsin home. His books are available at select Wisconsin outlets and where sales tax is pre-paid and shipping is free. Excerpts and illustrations from my eight northern Wisconsin books can be seen at my website, where I pay the buyer’s sales tax and ship free. Jim is available for community club talks through my email, or by calling Jim at 715-798-3163.