Unlucky Lake: Elk Creek Lake is Filling With Sediment, But Neighbors Are Taking Action

residents around rural lake are raising funds to clean it up

Tom Giffey |

A view of Elk Creek Lake between Eau Claire and Menomonie. (Submitted photo)

Elk Creek Lake – a 57-acre man-made body of water that straddles the Eau Claire County-Dunn County line – has a public dock, a boat landing, and a small beach. Located between Elk Mound and Eau Claire, the scenic lake is enjoyed by neighbors, boaters, paddlers, and nature-watchers alike. Unfortunately, severe erosion, much of it from a steep ravine, has brought unwanted sediment and nutrients into the lake, threatening the lake’s ecology as well as its recreational use.

The problem is particularly bad after heavy snow melts, when runoff has caused washouts (including washing away the lake’s beach), covered the parking lot in muck, and carried large amounts of sediment into the lake itself, said Janet Christianson, secretary of the Elk Creek Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District.

In addition to the environmental damage – the lake is fed by a popular trout stream and is home to many shoreline birds, as well as mammals and  – the sediment problem is costly: Every few years, Christianson said, new sand has to be brought in to rebuild the beach, and sediment much be reclaimed from the shallow lake.

Now, the Elk Creek Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District is raising money for a project to address this erosion. Late this year, work is expected to begin to create a rock-lined waterway into the lake and to create a sediment basin to keep runoff out of the lake.

The lake district already has received a $50,000 Surface Water Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which will cover just over half of the project’s cost. Funds are also expected from the towns of Union and Springbrook as well as Dunn and Eau Claire counties. In addition, the lake district is doing its own fundraising: Earlier this fall, a neighborhood fundraiser was held that included a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, and chicken bingo.

However, the lake district still needs to raise an additional $10,000, Christianson said. Several styles of specially designed T-shirts are for sale, and the lake district is also accepting donations. Each cash donation of $20 will be entered into a drawing for a football autographed by the 2020 Green Bay Packers. (The drawing will be Nov. 26.) If successful, the project will mean cleaner, more accessible water for all those on the lake – humans and animals alike.

Donations can be mailed to Elk Creek Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District, P.O. Box 1963, Eau Claire, WI 54703. T-shirts can be purchased at Tangled Up in Hue in Eau Claire or at shop.tangledupinhue.com.