WCLRA Purpose Statement

Our purpose is to promote the environmental protection and responsible use of Washburn County surface waters and their attendant wetlands, shorelands and wildlife resources.  We do that by sharing ideas and information through education and active participation for the benefit of individual property owners, lake and river districts and associations, local government, the general public, future generations, and the waters themselves.

Our Organization

Sampling PlantsWashburn County Lakes & Rivers Association (WCLRA) was formed in 1999 as a not-for-profit association to protect the water resources of Washburn County.  This association now represents 26 lake and river organizations and roughly 400 individual members who value the 964 lakes and roughly 700 miles of rivers and streams in our county.  We know that the waters of Washburn County are fundamental both to the local tourism economy and to the quality of life of this area’s residents.


Everyone is invited to join us at our monthly WCLRA board meetings.  We often tackle interesting issues affecting the waters here in Washburn County and get updates from our colleagues in natural resource agencies and University-Extension.

Meetings are listed under Upcoming Events on the right side of our home page.  They generally start at 9:00 and are held in the Oscar Johnson 4-H Center at the Washburn County Fairgrounds.  However, changes in the meeting schedule are occasionally required so we ask that you contact us to confirm the date and location if you wish to attend one of our meetings.

Current Projects:

  • Support Washburn County’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) program.
  • Participate in organizing the Northwest Wisconsin Lakes Conference.
  • Regularly monitor and comment on both county and state governmental actions.
  • Support the Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) program, in cooperation with Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary and the Long Lake Preservation Association, that provides hands-on environmental educational experiences for local elementary school students.
  • Reach out to new shoreland owners, offering assistance with lake-related issues and providing free On the Waterfront newsletters for their first year.

More information about these and other projects is presented in our 2022 Annual Report

Major Accomplishments:

  • Playing a lead role in the 2009 designation of the wild stretches the Totogatic River as Wisconsin’s fifth Wild River. The Totogatic flows approximately 70 miles through portions of five counties in northwest Wisconsin. It is impounded by four dams which form Colton Flowage, Minong Flowage, Nelson Lake and Totogatic Lake.
  • Preserving 262 acres with 2.5 miles of pristine forested shoreland along the Totogatic River in cooperation with the landowners, The Conservation Fund and Wisconsin DNR Stewardship Grant. WCLRA purchased the land in 2012 and donated it in 2013 to the WDNR for continued protection of the watershed.
  • Protecting 125 acres adjacent to County Forest along Potato Creek. This parcel contains both wetlands and a small stream and was sold by WCLRA to Washburn County at a bargain price so that it will also be kept in its natural state.
  • Obtaining a WDNR grant and sponsored a county-wide “Learn About Your Lakes” program in 2011. The programs were coordinated by the UW Extension.
  • Negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) which outlines an efficient, cooperative means of resolving issues that arise between cranberry growers and concerned persons in the Washburn County area who approach WCLRA for advocacy.


Please click here to view the WCLRA bylaws in PDF format.