What YOU Need to Know About Zebra Mussels

image015In November of 2016, zebra mussels (9 adults, all less than a year old) were discovered on one of our finest and most popular lakes – Big McKenzie Lake. It’s a significant discovery, because it’s the first inland zebra mussel population verified in Northwestern Wisconsin. It can and will affect other waterways over the course of the coming years. Historic data of populations that were found elsewhere show that a downstream spread to other lakes and rivers is highly possible.

Zebra mussels are finger-nail sized bottom dwellers and are an invasive species from Europe and Asia that can affect our native species and negatively disrupt the current ecosystem and water quality of a lake. They resemble small clams with a yellowish or brownish D-shaped shell with alternating dark and light-colored stripes. Most are under an inch and they grow in clusters, attached to piers, rocks and other hard surfaces.


At this time, there is no known effective control method for the spread of zebra mussels. Every lake is different, as to the maximum number of animals the lake’s nutrients will support and some lakes have a higher dissolved calcium level than others, which makes them a more susceptible environment to support a zebra mussel population.

A team of state and local staff, along with university experts have joined together to work on a response to the outbreak. The best that can be done at this time is two-fold: awareness and removal.

Awareness is being built through online platforms like Facebook and online newspapers with media releases. Digital road signs, brochures and signage at the landings are being used as well. Creating a higher public awareness is the first step. Creating a personal willingness for people to help prevent the spread is the next. Sadly, there is no law requiring boaters to decontaminate their boats when they leave a lake.


Boat cleaning stations at the landings with power washing units have been successful when there are volunteers present to assist and remind boaters. But more volunteers are needed.

The Big McKenzie Lake Association is working diligently with the DNR to monitor, test and suppress this problem. Snorkel and dive teams will be used to manually remove zebra mussels and the awareness and education efforts will continue.

If we want to preserve the beauty and pleasures of our special lakes region, it will be incumbent on all boaters, no matter what lake they interact with, to inspect their boat and equipment, remove any attached aquatic plants or animals, drain all water from the boat and motor, dispose any unwanted bait in the trash and to buy bait locally. It’s the least we can do! – Wanda Boldon

New Listings for Spring Buyers

The Spring buying season is underway and we’re just beginning to bring in some great new listings. Now is the time to look, if you want to be enjoying yourself when the weather turns. Just to remind you of how that looks, here are a couple new listings you can warm up to!

3649 Bay Drive $285,000

3649 Bay Drive $285,000

“Go jump in the lake!” This 4 bedroom (plus office!), 3 bath home has 3 acres of land and overlooks Loon/Cadotte Lakes. Dog lovers and kid protectors – this one has a fenced yard!

Quick and easy access to boating and fishing in the summer, trails and ice fishing in the winter.

Quick and easy access to boating and fishing in the summer, trails and ice fishing in the winter.

Attractive, low maintenance landscaping and a fire pit waiting for your coals.

Attractive, low maintenance landscaping and a fire pit waiting for your coals.

“Garcon!” This 4 bedroom, 3 bath home on 2 acres of lush woods and landscaped paradise has venues all over the place to share with others or to savor on your own. Table service, not included!

4521 Wilderness Way $214,900

4521 Wilderness Way $214,900

Grill-side dining, just steps from the screen house.

Grill-side dining, just steps from the screen house.

Overlooking the wood chip paths and pine forest.

Overlooking the wood chip paths and pine forest.

Let us know when you’d like to take a look and we’ll make arrangements to give you a personal tour! – Wanda Boldon

Winter Project: Fish Habitat

Burlingame Lake landing

Temperatures have plummeted. The cleansing process that we call “Winter” has just begun. Our lakes are frozen over and for many, this is a time to embrace the opportunity to enjoy winter sports like snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross country skiing. But if you find yourself already longing for the new life that comes with Spring, consider this a good time to lay the groundwork for that process. It will help the time pass (although, careful what you wish for!) and can give you a productive project that you can feel good about.

We all know that keeping the shoreline in its natural state is the best thing for the life cycle and protection of many of our creatures in the Northwoods. But after a few years of exceptionally high water levels, many property owners are scratching their heads about what to do with the dead or dying trees that now pepper their shoreline.


We’ve heard from several owners who have a similar plan: drop the trees on solid, safe ice and easily (ha, ha) remove the branches and logs. That sounds efficient and effective. But rewind the tape here for a minute. What if you dropped a tree or two and just left them? Yes, just left them where they lie! Sure, you might get the “stink eye” from your neighbors at first. But when fishing season rounds the bend, you’ll be collecting pats on the back for creating habitat for fish, turtles, ducks and songbirds – and it’s practically free!

For a more official education on the process, you can refer to this link from the DNR. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/outreach/treesshoreline.pdf

And if you have no dead or dying trees, but still want to do your part, there’s an app for that – well, actually a link. Check out this information from the DNR about how you can create Fish Sticks in your lake. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/outreach/fishsticks.html

Happy New Year! – Wanda Boldon

Christmas at the Forts: The Silent Auction


Every year, an army of volunteers collects at Forts Folle Avoine to help create a magical environment for their holiday celebration event, “Christmas at the Forts”. It’s a wonderful place to share some Christmas cheer with a child!

The work that goes on behind the scenes for this event isn’t just for children during the holidays. The volunteers who give their time, energy and resources to make it all happen, work for weeks in advance to prepare for the Silent Auction. It’s their biggest fund raiser of the year, which goes on throughout the duration of the event, and ultimately helps children all year around.


CENTURY 21 agent, Cathy Schmidt is among the volunteers and described the scene from a “before and after” perspective. They begin with a mountain of donated items from businesses and individuals, along with a small pool of money to create dozens and dozens of gift baskets and gift items – ready for giving at Christmas time, that are bid on and sold at the Silent Auction. The random items they receive as donations run the gamut from bottles of alcohol to branded sportswear to gift cards for local businesses. It’s the job of the volunteers to sift through the bounty and create themed baskets of goodies and gift packages that will catch the eyes of those who come to the event.


The Silent Auction room is arranged by theme so you can keep your focus as you bid on items. Got kids on your list? No problem. Need one last thing for a gentleman on your list? Check. Looking for a few good reads for yourself? Got it! They also have an area that is exclusively gift cards (over 90 were donated this year), if that’s what you’re after. But be sure to look closely at all the arranged items for display throughout the auction room. There are gift cards tucked into some of those as well!


The money raised at the Silent Auction allows the Forts to keep its gate open to visitors throughout their season. Among those who visit each year are 3-4,000 school children as a supplement to their classroom learning – some from as far away as St. Paul. Part of the classroom curriculum requirements for 4th graders includes State History. What better way for the kids to learn about History than to witness and experience things in person, right here on the Yellow River at the Forts?


If the old saying is true, that Christmas is for kids, one way to do something special for children this Christmas is to help make the Silent Auction a bountiful success! – Wanda Boldon


The Moods of November

The month of November is a fickle friend in the Northwoods. We’re not even 2 weeks in, and we’ve had to adjust our attitude many times over. If you feel you need some practice in adaptability and acceptance, let November be your teacher. – Wanda Boldon







Barndance & Company: What’s Inside?


You’ve driven by this place just North of Siren – over and over, wondering what’s inside, right? Me too!


Barndance & Company is a shop where you can find handcrafted barn wood furniture and beautiful repurposed items for sale. Now settle down. I know what you’re thinking, but hold on! There’s no bad smell or creep-you-out factor inside. It’s just lovely, tasteful, unique one-of-a-kind home décor items, furnishings and gifts. According to the owner and artist in residence, Sarah Kelby, most everything has been “touched”. Indeed! She has been gifted with a magic touch and has a keen eye for how to transform things that might otherwise find their way to a landfill.


Sarah’s shop also features other local artisans to round out the bevy of special items including pottery, hand knit wear and fabric textiles.


I asked permission to see where all the magic happens and was able to take a peek into the workshop. It’s in the back of the building and is just brimming with reclaimed barn wood, oak and unique items that are in the queue to be transformed into a new treasure.


When the Lions Club starts to erect the Christmas light display in Crooked Lake Park, you’re reminded that the holiday season is right around the corner. Go easy on yourself and check off the nicest people on your gift giving list by finding them something special at Barndance & Company. Then sit back and wait for the hugs in return! – Wanda Boldon


Forest Bathing: A Primer

Shinrin-yoku – a practice that originated in Japan in the 1980′s is a therapy to help alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. The term is loosely translated to “Forest Bathing” in English.


Forest Bathing is not hiking. It’s about spending time in nature – deliberately slowing down and becoming immersed in the natural surrounds by using your senses of smell, touch, sight and taste. In a way, it’s akin to guided meditation, in that you focus on things like the crunch of leaves underfoot, the sound of two birds calling, the smell of pine needles. Some people even talk to the trees, silently asking them questions. I think I’d stop short of tree licking though…


The trees actually release compounds (phytoncides) that have been proven beneficial in fighting stress hormones and dropping anxiety levels. After 15 minutes, heart rate and blood pressure go down. After days of exposure, creativity and cognitive ability increase. Cool!


An entire industry is blossoming around Forest Bathing. People are assembling Forest Bathing clubs and paying for certified assistance in the experience. In fact programs to become certified as a Forest Bathing guide are at capacity as soon as they’re announced.


For those of us who are daily benefactors of the Northwoods, none of this is a news flash. We’re livin’ clean every day! If you want to dip your toes into this Forest Bathing thing, we have everything you need right here. You just need to choose your suds! – Wanda Boldon

Inspections – Setting Your Expectations


i110An Offer to Purchase is more than a Buyer offering to purchase a property for a particular price. It’s a whole package of intentions, permissions and promises. Depending on the situation and the property being pursued, Buyers should weigh carefully how their package will be received by a Seller, if they truly are earnest in wanting to own the property. Because from the Seller’s side of the fence, they tuck themselves in bed at night and dream of getting an offer with few or no hurdles to clear – “cash, no contingencies”!

Hurdles (contingencies) can include financing, inspections and a myriad of other things. Getting a bank loan is pretty straight forward and understandable to most Sellers. They don’t generally think twice about how that happens. But inspections are one of those things that can instill a dribble of fear in a Seller. Ask a group of ten people about their experience with a home inspection and you’ll likely get at least a few horror stories.


Some Buyers don’t feel the need to inspect. They either feel well informed because they have a personal skill set that allows them to “self-inspect”, they feel the property was priced appropriately for its condition and will take it “as is” or they want the Seller to look favorably on their offer and accept it without blinking. For everyone else – they just want to know that there isn’t something horrible lurking below the surface of what they’re about to buy.

But inspections don’t have to be spooky if everyone understands what to expect from the process. Those expectations should be set by the agents involved in the sale as well as the inspector who is hired to do the work. Agents should review the language in the Offer with the Buyer and Seller so that everyone is clear about the mission. Buyers should attend their inspections because it’s a great opportunity to learn about the “care and feeding” of their new treasure and a good inspector will teach and share as the process goes along.


Anything can be negotiated in an Offer, but in our area, it’s customary for Buyers to pay for their inspections. The most common types we see here are home, well (with a safe water test) and septic inspections. What we’re looking for are significant defects. The biggest concerns are the things that bear the biggest price tag to fix like heat, roof, well and septic. It’s not a witch hunt to see how many puny things we can find wrong!

If everyone understands the purpose from the get-go, and you get the right inspector, inspections can be a fun and informative process! And hey, let’s face it – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen your reflection in a septic tank!  – Wanda Boldon


Special Details Add Value

We meet special, funny, grateful, loving, giving, creative, industrious People every day in our work. The People are what drive us to work long hours and go the extra mile. When you like and appreciate the People, you do a lot to help them. It feels great to make them happy!

After the People, come the Properties. The Properties we encounter here are varied and unique. Each Property seems to have a soul, with something special about it. But there’s an argument to be made that Mother Nature is what “makes” most of the Properties in our market. The natural features and creatures associated with any given property are the things that bring buyers from far and wide.

Where Mother Nature leaves off, the People step in. They create homes and cabins to suit the location and their needs. When we come across a structure where thoughtful choices were made in the construction and stylish finishes top it off, we giggle, clap and jump up and down. (Well, I do.) These special details are what adds extra value to a property. We have a couple of great examples on the market right now.

This chalet style home on Johnson Lake is a treasure, by all counts. The log features throughout the home tie the interiors together seamlessly and creatively. In addition, the fieldstone featured in the landscaping along with the fieldstone fireplaces in the home marry the inside beautifully to the out.




Switch gears to this traditionally styled home overlooking Birch Island Lake, where choices were made to add to its elegance like a stately covered porch, dormers in the roof line and a sweeping entrance to welcome you home.



We’ve found that sellers who make the choice to add special details like these are rewarded when it comes time to sell. We think the buyers feel rewarded too! – Wanda Boldon

Fall ATV Riding Season Begins Tomorrow


The state funded ATV trails close tomorrow, September 16th. If you’ve enjoyed the trails all Summer, don’t panic! The Burnett County Forest Woods Trails & County Forest Roads are still open for ATV/UTV use. You can ride on any wooded trail, snowmobile trail and ATV trail that is located on County Forest Lands, as long as it is not bermed, gated or signed as closed and is at least eight feet wide. (A good rule of thumb is that if you can drive a truck down the trail, then you take your ATV/UTV down it.)

The leaves are starting to change here. So it should be a beautiful weekend to get out and ride. Have fun! – Wanda Boldon