Bridging Troubled Waters: Maris Gilbert Member Profile

By: Mac Becco

Maris Gilbert loves water—and she always has. As a Florida native, she grew up with water in every direction. When she moved to Minnesota for art school and discovered Lake Pepin, she felt like she’d found a mini-ocean in the heart of the Midwest. She spent as much time at Lake Pepin as she could. The lake became a place she could relax, as well as a source of inspiration for her art.

But when Maris learned about the serious threats to Lake Pepin, everything changed. She felt it was unfair, even wrong, to stand by and do nothing while the lake that brought her so much joy and artistic inspiration was in peril. So, she decided to create art that would highlight threats to Lake Pepin and, hopefully, inspire others to take action.

Today she works as a therapist, environmental activist, and artist who is on a mission to inspire greater love for local waters.  

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Restoration for Sustainable Communities: Michael Anderson Member Profile

By: Mac Becco, LPLA Communications Director

Annual spring floods turn floodplain forests around Lake Pepin into a dreamscape. Right off busy Highway 61, you can plop a boat in the water and, with a few strokes of the paddle, escape into a spectacular soiree hosted by the natural world. The wind plays percussion on the trees, birds sing to attract mates, and camouflaged (thereby unidentifiable) creatures make quiet splashes into the water. The sun glistens like a disco ball and fallen trees decorate the space with wooded arches reflected in glasslike water. This ongoing eco-festival is Michael Anderson’s second home, main office, and personal sanctuary.

Michael is the purveyor of nature trips with Broken Paddle Guiding Company (BPG), an eco-tourism business he started in Wabasha, MN. Most BPG paddle trips weave through the forested flood plains just south of Lake Pepin where water is clear, vegetation is healthy, and wildlife is thriving. Periodically, however, BPG will lead trips through the backwaters of Upper Lake Pepin, which are beautiful, but less ecologically vibrant due to sediment accumulation and resuspension. The contrast between the two areas is striking, which is one reason Michael joined restoration efforts.

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A Boater's Vision for Lake Pepin: Zach Paider Member Profile

By: Mac Becco, LPLA Communications Director

Lake Pepin summers are a memory-making machine with an assembly line of beautiful vistas, diverse recreation, abundant entertainment, and small-town charm. The emotional memories it forms span generations and unites communities. Nobody understands this better than Zach Paider, General Manager of Bill's Bay Marina, who has become a passionate advocate for restoring Lake Pepin. Over the last year, Zach has been promoting a vision of restoration that supports recreational boaters, local economies, and the natural environment. In doing so, he hopes Lake Pepin can continue to cultivate beautiful memories well into the future.

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Commercial Fishing & Small-Town Charm in Bay City, WI: The Dosdall Member Profile

By: Mac Becco, LPLA Communications Director

Frank and Cathy Dosdall are your local memory keepers. They have troves of historical stories and memorabilia that illustrate the economic, social, and environmental changes Lake Pepin has experienced over the last century. Proudly hailing from Bay City, WI, they have witnessed their hometown transition from a popular Lake Pepin destination to a quiet village becoming increasingly isolated from Lake Pepin. It’s no coincidence that Bay City also happens to be the community most impacted by the devastating sedimentation in Upper Lake Pepin. Its history is prophetic for other communities around Lake Pepin and highlights why the Dosdalls are critical players in restoring Lake Pepin.

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The Voice of Citizen Science: Wendy Dart Member Profile

By: Mac Becco, LPLA Communications Director

Wendy Dart is a fierce protector of her community. Always eager to get her feet wet, she conducts citizen stream monitoring, keeps bat specimens in her freezer, writes advocacy letters to politicians, and daydreams about local Earth Day celebrations. Against traditional Midwestern norms, she isn’t afraid to join political conversations she overhears in public and her curiosity drives her to ask questions in almost equal step to her statements. She talks fast, but thinks even faster. Those that care about Lake Pepin and its communities should celebrate her presence. She’s got your back, meaning she works relentlessly, without pay, to investigate and improve public health, including water resources.

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An Educator’s Voice: Bruce Ause-Member Profile

By: Mac Becco, LPLA Communications Director

The old African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child” is often adapted to describe other societal goals. In the context of Lake Pepin, one might say it takes many united villages to save the lake. Of course, leadership is a necessary ingredient to spark action. In Red Wing, Bruce Ause has been the linchpin to community networks that have supported both kids and the environment for decades.

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 A Citizen's Voice: Judy Krohn - Member Profile

By Anne Queenan

Perhaps you already know Judy Krohn, one of our newest members. If you fell in love with Lake Pepin while enjoying her salads, breads and cuisine at the Harbor View in years past, it’s possible. Or you may have attended the Stockholm Art Fair, where she conversed with passersby at the Flyway Film Festival table, and later listened to her dulcet tones along with a chorus of female band members in “The Hot Flashes.”  You may have spotted her afterwards laughing with her husband, Gib, while enjoying a meal with fellow volunteers and artists who helped lure hundreds to the small town for this juried show. Perhaps you shared a meal with her at Pepin’s free, monthly Community Café dinner, or with Lake Pepin’s local food group. Or maybe you met Judy as you joined your civic neighbors through petitions and public meetings to advocate with her for clean water and clean air.  If so, you have been touched by her welcoming and inviting spirit, one she credits to those around her in a modest, sincere way. 

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A No-till Farmer who Keeps his Healthy Soil: Leon Morrison - Member Profile

By Anne Queenan

Leon Morrison is a member of LPLA and the 2014 Conservation Farmer of the Year recipient in Pierce County. Today, he takes great measures to see that his topsoil stays put and does not eventually end up in Lake Pepin through practicing No-Till farming.

“We need to keep the soil up here, on the hills,” he said.  The topsoil has the most organic matter. When the organic matter in the top soil is lost, says Morrison, it exposes the soil with extremely poor infiltration which erodes easily. “You don’t need topsoil in Lake Pepin.”

 “We gotta get more incentives for no-till farming,” he said. 

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An Artist's Voice:  David Meixner - Member Profile

By Anne Queenan

"I only became a photographer because I am here,” said Meixner.  As the artist describes daily life in the river’s ecosystem, one appreciates how it is teeming with fish, fauna and flora, all impacted by the shallow and turbid waters. 

There's the species who spawn in the backwaters but need deeper water to overwinter - crappies, large-mouth bass and bluegills. There's the morning's visitors: a white-tailed deer, and a snapping turtle scoping out a spot in his sanctuary to lay her eggs - and the nearby call of two pileated woodpeckers. 

“We’re going to lose it all, if we don’t address the sediment and erosion issues on this lake, ” said Meixner.

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