Randy Stowe, lakemanager@gmail.com

1. The MPOA dredging contractor continues to work in West Bay. At the present rate of production, the MPOA dredging contractor has estimated that the entire dredging project should be completed by late Fall of 2018, barring an early winter. It is anticipated that the final dredging activities will occur along the un-dredged southeast shore of West Bay, likely in mid-to-late October, 2018. This should allow time for those landowners to remove their piers to allow unobstructed dredging access.

2. Due to the movements in the dredging pipeline as dredging goes on, all remaining lake user’s should avoid West Bay, and adjacent areas of the main lake. Sunrise Ridge landowners wishing to access the lake should get the attention of the dredge crew, who will make any necessary movements to allow passage.

3. As of September 25th, 2018, approximately 92% of the 529,378 cubic yards of sediment under contract to be dredged from Wonder Lake has been completed.

4. On Saturday, October 20th, the Nippersink Watershed Association will conduct another workday, clearing invasive brush from a portion of the Merchant Creek stream corridor. This volunteer work is being done in advance of an upcoming IEPA Section 319 funded stream stabilization project to help minimize the significant amounts of sediment that this parcel has delivered to Wonder Lake over the past decades. Meet at 8 am on the north side of Wooded Shores Drive at Pleasant Drive. As always, volunteers are welcome.

5. I recently received an inquiry about a snake recently observed near the lake, and concerns that it was dangerous / venomous. It was determined that it was likely a Northern Water Snake, a harmless and beneficial species, like all other McHenry County snakes. Generally speaking, if you leave a snake alone, it will do the same for you. The Illinois Natural History Survey maintains a database of all animal species known to occur in Illinois. Below is a link of all snake species having ever been documented in McHenry County, and links to pictures.


Simply stated, there are NO venomous snakes found in McHenry County, including Copperheads, Cottonmouths (aka Water Moccasins) or Rattlesnakes, as confirmed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Venomous snakes tend to be restricted to specific habitats. Copperheads occur in the southern one-third of Illinois, south of Route 16 and in the lower Illinois River valley. They prefer upland forests or river bluffs with limestone or sandstone outcroppings. Cottonmouths live in swamps and wet bottomlands in southern Illinois, south of Route 13. Timber rattlesnakes may be found in the southern one-fourth of the state (south of Interstate 64), in the lower Illinois River valley, in the Mississippi River valley and in a few other locations. These snakes prefer heavy timber with rock outcrops and bluffs. Massasaugas live in scattered locations within the counties of Madison, Clinton, Piatt, Knox, Warren, Will, Cook and Lake. Their habitats are prairie wetlands and river floodplains. https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/education/Pages/WildAboutSnakes.aspx

6. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune discussed how the warming of Lake Michigan will have an impact on game fish. It also included a discussion on how inlands lakes will also be impacted by warmer water temperatures. While Wonder Lake doesn’t contain “cold water” species, it does point out some of the conditions that can affect all aquatic species. That portion of the article is excerpted below:

Lake Michigan is warming. A new report says that could mean trouble for game fish.

More dire inland

The situation may be even more dire for cold water species inland, however. In addition to warmer waters, more frequent heavy precipitation could increase agricultural runoff and induce more algal blooms. When that algae dies near the lake bottom, it becomes food for bacteria, which deplete oxygen levels in deep, cold waters. This places cold water fish in a vise between warm surface water they can’t tolerate and deeper cool water with little oxygen. Perhaps no other species underscores the severity of the issue than the cisco, a cold water whitefish that was once found in about 50 lakes in Indiana, but now remains in only six, Hook said.

Researchers say more algae blooms are likely for both ecosystems, although inland lakes are most at risk. There, cold water fish have to occupy a shrinking area as water warms near the surface and oxygen levels drop near the lake bottom.

“They can’t really migrate much but up and down in the water column,” Hook said. “I would expect to see more die-offs in those types of systems. A lot of aquatic species don’t have the flexibility to migrate into new systems like terrestrial organisms do.”

The lack of oxygen typically persists until fall, when warm water cools and can mix with deeper water. With springlike temperatures arriving earlier and summer temperatures lingering into fall, the Purdue report warns that warming climate could prolong the period when there is less oxygen in the deeper water.


7. As discussed in the Tribune article, another potential impact of climate change is the prediction of more intense rainfall events. In 2018, Wonder Lake has been closed 3 times due to high water levels, compared to 1 time in 2017, 1 time in 2015, and 2 times in 2013. If this prediction is correct, lakefront landowners may need to plan for more frequent future high water levels, which can cause damage to piers, as well as increase erosion of poorly protected shoreline areas. This may include considering shoreline stabilization, or raising the height of their piers to avoid them being submerged in high water events. Lake closures typically are enacted when the lake water level rises one foot (and beyond) above normal water level, so it is recognized that pier levels be set at an elevation higher than that one-foot rise.