waskington state lake images
  • WATERLINE - December, 2023

    Fish-focused annual conference hooks membership

    Washington State Lake Protection Associationby Matthew Colston, WALPA President

    On October 4th through 6th, WALPA members from across the state came together at the UW Tacoma Campus for the 36th annual conference, Fish and Beyond in Our Lakes. More than 80 attendees showed up for great presentations about fish and lake health.

    The conference kicked off with an afternoon workshop on aquatic invasive species led by Bob Peterson of King County’s Noxious Weed Program and Brian Turner from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thursday and Friday were full of great sessions covering everything from kokanee recovery in Lake Sammamish to stopping starry stonewort to Lake Washington’s surprising stability in the face of rapid watershed development to surveying fish consumption in smaller lakes for human health risks. A presentation of note was from Garret Homer, WALPA’s Undergraduate Scholarship winner, about his research on the effects of wake boats on the re-suspension of sediment and associated nutrients in central Idaho’s Payette Lake (see related story).

    Thursday night’s social hour was a fun event as always, reviewing posters and bidding on auction items to fund our student scholarships. The dissolved oxygen sensor generously provided by YSI was won by Snohomish County, and the multi-parameter sonde generously donated by In-Situ was won by AquaTechnex.

    The poster session featured posters on Using Microcosms to Estimate Internal Loading of Phosphorus in Spanaway Lake from Mateo Schuler, Assessment of Cyanotoxin Driven Water Quality Impairments in Freshwater Lakes of Washington State and Looking Between Clouds: Examining the Efficacy of Remote Sensing as a Tool to Monitor for Harmful Algal Blooms in King and Pierce County Lakes from Emese Hadnagy, and The Impact of Nearshore Recreational Activities on Arsenic Exposure in Contaminated Lakes: A Study of Sediment Disturbance and Water Quality from Kirsti Lipphardt. All poster presenters are students at UW-Tacoma.

    At the conclusion of the conference, we held a student and early career panel event sponsored by Herrera Environmental Consultants. I’d like to thank presenters Lyddie Austin, Corinne Klohmann, Drew Stang, Wafa Tafesh, and Diane Yeh for their willingness and their great contributions to the conversation.

    At WALPA’s annual business meeting, we reviewed the year, celebrated our scholarship winners, presented the Secchi Disk Award, thanked retiring Board members, and welcomed new ones.

    The 2023 recipients of the Dave Lamb Memorial Scholarship were Nicole Doran and Madison Schumacher. Nicole is a University of Washington master’s student who is studying the preservation effects on stable isotope signatures of sixteen native and invasive freshwater fishes from lakes in the Pacific Northwest. (See related story for more on Nicole’s work.) Madison, University of Idaho, is studying Idaho lakes to determine whether boater activity and wind patterns lead to the re-suspension of nearshore sediments, including nutrients and metals.

    The recipient of the Undergraduate WALPA scholarship was Garret Homer, University of Idaho. 

    He has been granted the $500 scholarship to help fund research on the effects of wake boats as he described in his conference presentation.

    Longtime WALPA Board member Rob Zisette was awarded the Secchi Disk Award for his years of work and mentorship in the field and honored by his colleagues and collaborators (see related article).

    We said goodbye to Jennifer Oden (Past President), Katie Ruthenburg (Secretary), and Drew Stang (Director). We welcomed Angela Strecker (President-elect), Marisa Burghdoff (Secretary), Sam Russell (Director), Tim Clark (Director), Wes Glisson (Director), and Ty Stephenson (Student Director) to the board. Angela then had the chance to highlight some of WALPA’s goals for 2024 including building support for a WALPA intern program and focusing on enhancing student experience and involvement.

    I want to personally thank all of our generous sponsors and the University of Washington Tacoma facilities staff who helped coordinate our spaces for the three days. I also want to thank all of the committee members who participated in organizing the conference. I finally want to thank the attendees and our members who continue to support our work and our efforts. Without you it wouldn’t be possible. Thank you!

    Gold sponsors of WALPA’s 36th conference were Herrera, In-Situ, AquaTechnex, and YSI/a Xylem brand. Thanks to them and to Silver sponsor EutroPhix and Bronze sponsors ESA, CD3, and the Institute for Watershed Studies at Western Washington University.