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Organizations honored for lake preservation work

Awards to be presented at annual conference

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published April 24, 2007, 4:33 p.m.)

When it comes to lake preservation Walworth County is seen as a leader.

Delavan Lake Sanitary District Administrator Kevin MacKinnon and four other groups working to protect the Lauderdale Lakes Chain--the Lauderdale Lakes Management District, the Lauderdale Lakes Improvement Association, the Lauderdale Lakes Conservancy and the town of LaGrange--will receive Lake Stewardship Awards at Friday's Wisconsin Association of Lakes annual conference.

The Geneva Lake Conservancy and Walworth County Lakes Specialist Audrey Greene were also nominated for awards.

The Lake Stewardship Awards are presented annually to individuals and groups that have "made outstanding contributions of time and effort toward the preservation and protection of Wisconsin's ecosystems and the communities surrounding them," according to a Wisconsin Lakes Association awards brochure.

"I wish it would become a nexus throughout the whole state," Wisconsin Lakes Association Executive Director Peter Murray said of the work being done in Walworth County. "It's wonderful. These people are doing it for the lakes and because they care for the water. They recognize how important the lakes are in Wisconsin."

It is the organization's 20th year presenting the awards.

Kevin MacKinnon

MacKinnon earned the award for public service, a category in which Greene and former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager were nominated.

As leader of the Delavan Lake Sanitary District, MacKinnon was instrumental in overseeing one of the most successful whole-lake rehabilitation efforts in Wisconsin when, starting in the late 1980s, Delavan Lake was transformed from a soupy, 2000-acre body of water filled with rough fish to one of the best fisheries and recreational waters in the state.

He was also instrumental in the formation of the Walworth County Lakes Association and has spent many hours educating others about lake protection and restoration in and outside of Walworth County, according to the brochure.

MacKinnon has served as a director on the board of the Wisconsin Lakes Association since 2004.

"Kevin played a major role in the restoration of Delavan Lake with his job in the sanitary district," Murray said. "Many years ago it was an absolute mess and it has become a great lake again.

"His work to get people in different groups to come together was outstanding."

MacKinnon is also being recognized as one of 17 individuals as a "20-year veteran citizen lake monitor" for helping keep track of vital lake data.

Lauderdale Lakes partnership

The four groups making up the Lauderdale Lakes partnership have worked together for more than a decade to promote smart development decisions and protect sensitive environmental areas.

The partnership landed the group award, which also saw the Geneva Lake Conservancy nominated.

Twelve individuals are being recognized, Scott Mason, Nestor Dybalo, Peter Van Kampen and Pete Donahue with the lake district; Bud Vance, Floyd Pachowski and Pete Spaulding from the improvement association; Jerry Peterson with the conservancy and Rick Callaway, Jeff Schramm, Frank Taylor and Dave Heilmeier with the town of LaGrange. Donahue and Heilmeier are recognized in memoriam.

"The different groups have gotten together and (asked), 'What's important?'" Murray said. "It's the water and not their individual organizations.

"To get that many people together on a continual basis to protect the lake says an awful lot. In many lakes, one or two people take it upon themselves. But you have 12 people here who have brought this stuff together for more than 10 years. I think that's outstanding."

The partnership has set aside sensitive lands for permanent conservation, developed local ordinances to protect the lakes, implemented best management practices to prevent degradation of lake water quality and advocated for sound land use decisions where negative impacts on the lakes might have otherwise resulted, according to the brochure.

Other nominees

Lakes Specialist Audrey Greene has worked tirelessly at promoting shoreline buffers, giving shoreline landscaping workshops and presentations and promoting best landscaping practices for lakefront properties, private and public.

The Geneva Lake Conservancy has been around 25 years and has brought multiple groups together to preserve one of the jewels of Walworth County and lands around it, working constantly to maintain a 5,000-plus-acre body of water that attracts thousands of visitors to Walworth County annually.


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