In 2015, the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation initiated the Penokee Lakes project to provide an assessment of the quality of eleven inland lakes located in the Penokee Hills at the headwaters of the Bad River watershed.
This largely undeveloped suite of lakes is located in and around a site that was proposed in 2011 for an open-pit iron mine development. The Penokee Lakes project started as a way to better understand baseline conditions in the lakes prior to any mining activity. The mine project did not come to fruition, but the project has provided a wealth of data and information for lake managers and users to understand what healthy lakes should look like.
Data collected for the Penokee Lakes project are publicly available via Wisconsin’s Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS) database. Data are also being used to develop a lake management plan that will identify actions to maintain and improve the health of all eleven lakes. The Penokee Lakes Management Plan is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
The Penokee Lakes project is funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Surface Water Grants Program, with additional support from the Burke Center’s endowment funds.