waskington state lake images
WATERLINE - December, 2017

WALPA celebrates three decades of annual gatherings in Spokane

WALPA conference attendees headed to the east side of Washington in October to gather for the organization’s 30th annual conference on the shores of the Spokane River. The conference theme – “Lakes: A Valuable Public Resource” – provided an appropriate frame for numerous talks involving lake management, research, protection, recreation, and more. More than 70 attendees from Washington, Idaho, Oregon and beyond enjoyed listening to presentations, participating in workshops, browsing posters and photographs, and of course meeting other lake enthusiasts.

The conference kicked off with an afternoon of technical workshops. The first workshop focused on invasive plants and animals in lakes. It included a lecture illustrated by a display of specimens as well as other resource materials, and concluded with an informative Q & A session. The later workshop took participants to Lake Arthur on the Gonzaga University campus for a lake sampling session. Special thanks to Jim Gawel of the University of Washington – Tacoma for providing the boats that made this workshop possible. After the workshops, participants shared beverages and appetizers at the Globe Bar and Grill in downtown Spokane, which donated a portion of the evening’s proceeds to WALPA.

Laura Laumatia from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe Lake Management Department started off the conference’s second day with an engaging plenary discussion about the Coeur d’Alene Lake Management Plan. Presentations that followed covered more local limnological topics, as well as discussions on volunteer monitoring, toxic algae, invasive species control, and more. The conference’s Spokane location allowed numerous Idaho lake managers and enthusiasts to attend and present their work.

At the annual lunchtime business meeting, Past-President Jim Gawel briefed conference attendees on WALPA Board activities over the past year, while newly-minted President Rachael Gravon gave a glimpse into what the Board hopes to accomplish in the near future. Many thanks were expressed to exiting Board members Marisa Burghdoff, Randy Hadland, and Andrew Child, all of whom have provided many hours and invaluable contributions to WALPA over their years of participation. Warm welcomes were given to new and returning board members Sally Abella and Avery Shinneman. Board Director Anthony Gabriel recognized this year’s scholarship winners: Michael Lawlor (Dave Lamb Memorial Scholarship), Tim Taylor (Nancy Weller Scholarship), and Anna Shampain (WALPA Undergraduate Scholarship).

The 2017 Secchi Disc Award was affectionately presented to Harry Gibbons, one of WALPA’s founding members. Harry’s long career in lake and reservoir restoration and management (not to mention all of his stream and river restoration work) has been devoted to bettering the science of lake management and advocating for lake protection in Washington and across the country. Harry was unanimously voted the recipient of this annual award recognizing exceptional service to lakes.

Winners of the student poster and presentation contest ($50 award each) were Kenneth Burkart and Tim Taylor for oral presentations, and Michael Lawlor, John Leffrido, and Anna Shampain for poster presentations.

The much-loved social and auction event on Thursday evening provided conference-goers a chance to unwind, enjoy tasty food and beverages, and engage in a bit of friendly competition over the many items generously donated to the auction and raffle. Monies raised from this event fund student scholarships, research, and outreach.

The WALPA Board extends a huge thank-you to all attendees, presenters, sponsors, and Board members for their contributions to yet another successful annual conference. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year in Portland for a joint conference with the Oregon Lakes Association (OLA)!