4.2 Ecological Integrity

Goal 2 - Ecological Integrity

Promote activities that maintain, support and enhance floral, faunal quantity and ecological integrity of upland and aquatic resources throughout the watershed.

Discussion

The Schutz Lake subwatershed has two areas identified for ecological conservation. The first is the riparian wetlands and regional park uplands adjacent to Schutz Lake. The second is the central wetlands area that is drained by a small channel that could form the backbone of a wildlife corridor. Most of area identified for future development has been disturbed by agriculture, but preservation of undisturbed areas in new developments may be possible to minimize new runoff volumes.

Connected corridors are desirable as they provide a variety of habitats both aquatic and terrestrial as well as protected areas for passage. Within these conservation areas wherever possible the District would promote the conservation or establishment of native vegetation to increase or maintain infiltration rates; decrease or maintain runoff rates and pollutant conveyance to water resources; and minimize erosion of shorelines and streambanks. Sustaining or improving water quality and ecological integrity is necessary to meet the District goals in this plan as well as to meet state and federal nondegradation and water quality requirements and to prevent the need for future TMDLs.

The Schutz Lake subwatershed includes several wetlands with exceptional or high fish or wildlife habitat value as well as wetlands with exceptional or high vegetative diversity. The Key Conservation Areas identified in this plan include those wetlands as well as associated upland areas of high ecological value such as maple-basswood forest. Conservation of those associated upland areas not only provides additional habitat type, but also helps preserve local runoff and infiltration rates.

Schutz Lake itself is a primary ecological resource. There is little information on aquatic vegetation communities in Schutz Lake. The primary strategies for improving aquatic communities are the acquisition of new data such as vegetation surveys and management plans, and improvement and maintenance of water quality.

Desired Outcomes: Functional and healthy ecological corridors and waters throughout the subwatershed.

Metrics:

  • Acres of land conserved in Key Conservation Areas
  • Acres of restored/created wetland within Key Conservation Areas
  • Acres of land conserved in Key Conservation Areas
  • Linear feet and width of riparian areas protected in Key Conservation Areas

Goal 2.1 - Schutz Lake

Maintain and improve overall ecological integrity within the subwatershed.

Actions

  1. Protect existing fish and wildlife habitat and promote the improvement of habitat and corridors by the conservation and restoration of key ecological areas (see Figure 19).
    1. Require LGUs to recognize key ecological areas in their natural resources and land use planning and to identify in their Local Water Management plans how they intend to conserve their ecological values.
    2. Provide education and training opportunities, technical and planning assistance, and financial incentives to LGUs to actively conserve key ecological areas.
    3. Restore areas of degradation within key areas.
    4. Work cooperatively with other agencies and organizations to improve upon existing conservation corridors and where practical, develop new conservation corridors that connect the wetlands within the southern Schutz Lake subwatershed with Schutz Lake and its adjacent high-value conservation areas.
  2. Identify keystone, umbrella, and indicator species to serve as indicators of ecological integrity, evaluate existing habitat within the subwatershed, and develop strategies for the conservation of that habitat.
  3. Provide regulatory incentives for the conservation of undisturbed native vegetation as sites develop.
  4. Require MCWD review of and comment on preliminary plats and vegetation surveys.

Goal 2.2 - Schutz Lake

Maintain conditions suitable for a healthy and varied fish community within Schutz Lake.

Actions

  1. Work cooperatively with the DNR in fishery management efforts, and request that fish surveys be conducted regularly.
  2. Achieve Schutz Lake water quality and clarity goals to maintain or improve habitat conditions.
  3. Manage aquatic vegetation in accordance with a vegetation management plan that takes into account fishery habitat requirements.

Goal 2.3 - Schutz Lake

Maintain a healthy aquatic vegetation community.

Actions

  1. Perform a baseline survey of aquatic vegetation in Schutz Lake and update that survey every five years.
  2. Develop and implement an aquatic vegetation management plan for Schutz Lake that evaluates options for the management of internal phosphorus loads as well as maintenance of a desirable aquatic vegetation community.
  3. Recruit and train volunteers to monitor aquatic vegetation in Schutz Lake on an ongoing basis.