Lakes are among the US Upper Midwest's greatest treasures and most valuable natural resources. The Great Lakes define the region, and thousands of smaller lakes offer peace, joy, and recreation to millions. And yet, in large part because of the numbers of people who enjoy the local waterways, the lakes of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota face numerous challenges. Invasive species, pollution, defective septic systems, inadequate shoreland zoning laws, and climate change are present and increasingly existential threats. We are, quite possibly, loving our lakes to death.
In his engaging and conversational style, Ted Rulseh details each of these challenges and proposes achievable solutions. He draws on personal experience, interviews, academic research, and government reports to describe the state of the lakes, the stresses they are under, and avenues to successful lakeside living for a sustainable future. Ripple Effects will be a go-to source for all who love lakes and who advocate for their protection; its driving question is summed up by one of Rulseh's interviewees: "We love this lake. What can we do to keep it healthy?"
Chapter 1. A Lake, A Family
Chapter 2. Cabin Country
Chapter 3. Paradise Discovered
Chapter 4. One Water
Chapter 5. NPK
Chapter 6. Changing Lakescapes
Chapter 7. Zoning and Its Discontents
Chapter 8. Defective Septic Systems: How big a problem?
Chapter 9. In the Wake
Chapter 10. Stealth Invaders
Chapter 11. Preventing the Spread: Holes in the Safety Net
Chapter 12. Changing Climate, Changing Lakes
Chapter 13. Loons Under Stress
Chapter 14. Pressure Rising
Chapter 15. Ways Forward: Forging Connections
Epilog: Toward a Land and Water Ethic
Ted J. Rulseh writes the newspaper column The Lake Where You Live and is active in lake-advocacy organizations, including the Wisconsin Citizen Lake Monitoring Network. The editor and publisher of several books on the Great Lakes region, he is the author of A Lakeside Companion. He lives in the lake-rich region of north central Wisconsin and was elected president of the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association in 2022.
"A marvelously thorough synopsis of the many daunting issues surrounding lake management. Rulseh utilizes case studies, interviews, and a storytelling format to frame the issues, making the book an easy and pleasurable read. He also doesn't leave the reader wallowing in the problems, instead offering sage advice on the many ways we can turn our love of waters into positive actions to protect them. Highly recommended."
– John Bates, author of Wisconsin's Wild Lakes: A Guide to the Last Undeveloped Natural Lakes
"Illuminates the tight connection between what we do on the land, the health of our lakes, and the health of our economy and communities. This book will forever change how you think about lakes and the Northwoods. And it offers insights into what you can do to protect our beloved lakes, and make them more resilient in the face of environmental change in our rapidly changing world."
– Jake Vander Zanden, director of the Center for Limnology, UW–Madison
"In Ripple Effects, Rulseh describes in engaging detail the pressures we're putting on our beloved lakes and offers solutions that are within reach of everyday people. He expertly weaves personal experiences and extensive research into an invaluable lake stewardship guidebook for anyone who loves lakes."
– Jo Latimore, senior outreach specialist, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
"Wonderfully researched and richly detailed. At a time when more and more people are searching out our waters for their livelihood, for recreation and relaxation, and for building cherished memories with friends and family, Ted Rulseh's rich and readable book tells us not only how intimately connected we are to our waters but how the fate of water is our fate as well. In the end, Rulseh's story is a hopeful invitation, providing those who love lakes and are in a position to protect them the understanding and tools they need to reverse these disturbing trends."
– Jeff Forester, executive director, Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates
"Rulseh has the knack of simply describing groundwater flow, how watersheds work, and other key lake processes [...] If you use these lakes, this is a must-read [...] This well-researched book draws on personal experience, scientific reports, and research."
– Silent Sports magazine
"This is a book that covers scientific and ecological problems, but it is written in a way that makes it understandable to the average guy without a science or natural resources background [...] You will understand why something that can seem harmless to a lake dweller or a user of our lakes is indeed, not harmless. And, you will know why. This is a great read for all of us who like our northern woods and waters and would like the environment to stay healthy."
– Free Pioneer Express
"This excellent follow up to Rulseh's A Lakeside Companion covers all the major threats to our lakes, covering everything from aquatic invasive species to phosphorus-fueled algae blooms to newer threats like the complications caused by more powerful watercraft and their abnormally large wakes. Through it all he talks to numerous experts from Wisconsin and beyond."
– Wisconsin Lakes
"A clarion call and much needed warning of how we are environmentally damaging our lakes and rivers throughout the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented [...] An unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists of environmental activists, lake and river enthusiasts, and a critically important and urgent contribution to community and academic library Environmental Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies syllabus."
– Midwest Book Review