waskington state lake images
WATERLINE - December, 2018

Washington and Oregon lake lovers join forces in Portland for a joint OLA/WALPA conference: Pacific Northwest lakes in a changing world

by Rachael Gravon

Members and friends of the Oregon Lakes Association (OLA) and the Washington State Lake Protection Association (WALPA) converged on sunny Portland, Oregon this fall for the first joint conference between the two organizations since 2013. Nearly 200 attendees from throughout the Pacific Northwest came together to share their work, learn about limnological issues impacting the area, and of course enjoy the company of both new and long-time colleagues.  

The conference commenced with an afternoon of workshops held at Portland State University. Water Resources Modeling 101, presented by Rich Wildman, gave attendees an opportunity to learn how computer simulations and modeling are valuable tools for lake managers and scientists. Mark Sytsma, Jenifer Parsons, and Toni Pennington put on an aquatic plant workshop and provided participants numerous resources to aid in identification and management. A cyanobacteria identification workshop was presented by Robin Matthews, Wayne Charmichael, and Theo Dreher, giving folks an opportunity to practice and enhance their algae identification skills.  

This year’s eagerly anticipated plenary talk was given by Daniel Schindler from the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and focused on impacts of climate change on Pacific Northwest water quality. Concurrent presentation sessions that followed covered topics such as invasive species management, harmful algal blooms, outreach and education, toxics, and more. The poster presentation turnout for 2018 was phenomenal, with over 20 posters on display to browse and spark discussion amongst attendees and presenters.

The annual lunchtime business meeting was abridged to include only major announcements for each organization this year. WALPA President Rachael Gravon announced that an electronic voting system would be implemented for the 2019 Board election to try to reduce paper waste and increase efficiency and that the same system would be used for the membership to approve proposed changes to the WALPA By-Laws. 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).  

Past-President Jim Gawel presented the 2018 Secchi Disc Award to Frank Wilhelm in front of an adoring audience. Frank has been an elemental member of WALPA, serving numerous terms on the Board and consistently involving cohorts and students in the membership and annual conferences. Frank was also the lucky recipient of an expertly crafted Secchi hat, provided by Board Director Darren Brandt.  

The much-loved social event and auction 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 generous donated items up for auction and raffle. Monies raised from this event fund student scholarships, research, and outreach.  

WALPA extends a huge thank-you to all attendees, presenters, sponsors, and board members for contributing to yet another successful annual conference. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year as we return to Chelan, Washington!