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August 28, 2012

BELLEVILLE, Wis. - Thirty years in the making, Lake Belle View is living up to its name and residents of this small community in southern Dane County are throwing a party to celebrate [] (exit DNR).

On Sept. 2, canoe and boat rides, fishing and a fish aquarium, historic displays, and other activities will show off the 92-acre lake and river complex and surrounding park and its history, transformed from a shallow carp-infested millpond into a spring-fed lake offering fishing, boating and wildlife-watching opportunities with more bike trails and other recreation nearby.

"The village is very, very proud of it," says Mayor Howard Ward, referring to the restoration project that physically separated the shallow millpond from the Sugar River with a berm to cut the flow of sediment and nutrients into it, and created island wetlands and other wildlife habitat.

"It's really created a great opportunity for lake recreation and economically, it's a good thing. People from Madison who want to come down and be by the water will have a nice little lake to enjoy and it will make Belleville a place people want to live because they have recreational opportunities."

The lake, restored through a partnership by local and state government, citizens groups and consultants, is just one in a wave of headlines this summer documenting the value to communities and Wisconsin of efforts to protect and restore Wisconsin lakes and waters, says DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

"Studies and stories like these document what we know intuitively: clean lakes and rivers play a huge role in our quality of life in Wisconsin and in our state and local economies," she says. "We love our lakes and rivers. Investing in their protection and restoration is a key to a healthy and prosperous Wisconsin."

Earlier this month, a University of Wisconsin-Madison study commissioned by DNR to meet a legislative requirement was completed and showed that there is a net economic benefit to Wisconsin of statewide shoreland zoning requirements, aimed at reducing polluted runoff entering lakes and rivers and protecting fish and wildlife habitat.

"A Day at the Beach: How the Cleanup of a Beach Revitalized Racine," in the current issue of Corporate Report Wisconsin details why North Beach is now garnering a spot on national and regional best beach lists, draws in 200,000 visitors a year and brings in an estimated $5 million annually and boosts local waterfront property values.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp and Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett, appearing on the TV fishing show Waters & Woods to promote fishing, reel in bass after bass on Lake Delavan, 20 years after a major restoration project killed the carp in the lake, restocked it with game fish, and enlisted local and state government and property owners and organizations to keep pollutants on the land and out of the lake, as detailed in, "Delavan Lake restoration efforts deliver," in the April 2012 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this summer highlighted the 2012 removal of Eagle and Joos Valley creeks (exit DNR) in northwestern Wisconsin from the state's impaired waters list after partners worked to install best management practices to limit soil erosion and nutrients entering the stream while stabilizing stream banks and waterways to restore fisheries habitat.

Lake Tomah's fishery is back, a few years after a state and local project to treat the lake to rid it of carp, restore water quality and habitat, and restock the lake with game fish; and local anglers are reporting good catches of eating size panfish, pike up to 20 inches and largemouth bass. A series of videos on this DNR video playlist (exit to DNR YouTube) tells the story.

"These are great stories and represent a lot of hard work by a lot of people," Stepp says. "We're proud to be a partner in these efforts and investments to benefit these communities now and in the future, and for all Wisconsinites to enjoy them."

DNR efforts on these projects run the gamut, from providing technical advice and funding, to raising and stocking fish to replenish restored waters, to developing and enforcing the regulatory permits and other measures to control pollution and protect habitat. The technical report, Wisconsin Water Quality Report to Congress 2012 [PDF], details these efforts and DNR programs.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Bode (608) 266-0502; Carroll Schaal (608) 261-6423

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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