University of Wisconsin Eau Claire


West shore of Half Moon Lake, Eau Claire, WI


Work in Progress
Location Sawmills
Half Moon Lake Canal
Dells Dam Improvement Project
Bathymetric Map
GPR Winter
GPR Summer

Local Perspectives

Contact Information



We're happy you stopped in for a visit!

This website provides public online access to several aspects of the faculty-student study of Half Moon Lake by the UWEC Geography Department.

Almost Paradise:

Half Moon Lake is located close to the heart of the city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Shaped like a horseshoe, it was once known as Horseshoe Lake. In the heyday of Eau Claire's lumber industry Half Moon Lake was used as a holding pond to supply several lumber mills along the Chippewa River.

Despite its urban setting, Half Moon Lake has surprisingly wild shorelines along its western arm. There are towering cliffs, rock ledges and overhangs, numerous shallows of reeds and cattails as well as hundreds of trees naturally leaning or fallen from precarious shoreline perches.


West arm of Half Moon Lake near Carson Park


In the midsection of the western arm there is almost no evidence by sight or sound of the presence of a surrounding city and with very little imagination it can seem as wild as a remote lake. This June, 2005, we saw scores of turtles sunning themselves on fallen logs, a blue heron hunting fish, colorful dragon flies of numerous species, a multitude of nesting birds inhabiting the reeds and shallows and a variety of flowering aquatic plants.

West side of the West Arm of Half Moon Lake

All this beauty and bounty of nature above the waterline conceals serious problems with the water itself.

Half Moon Lake is presently suffering from eutrophic conditions. Its current weed-infested state is due to excessive mineral and organic nutrients which promote a proliferation of plant life which, in turn, reduces dissolved oxygen content and can lead to loss of desirable species of fish as well as loss of more desirable aquatic plant life. Current eutrophic conditions may be related to Half Moon Lake's history of use as a holding, processing and/or sawdust disposal pond for the lumber industry.

Unpleasant result of eutrophic conditions

Apparently, many logs were debarked in the lake resulting in at least one 'bark bar' where, a hundred years later, one still finds a bottom composed entirely of discarded tree bark rather than soil or gravel. Contemporary sources of excessive nutrients may also exist. It is hoped that this study will contribute to understanding how best to remedy the eutrophic conditions of Half Moon Lake.


Focus of Our Study:

Certain remedy options need to be proportional to the volume of water in the lake. Detailed bathymetric maps based on over 3000 sample depths will help determine the exact volume of the lake and provide, for the first time, the basis for a topographic map of the lake bottom. Ground penetrating radar studies, currently underway, will attempt to determine the depth of lake bed materials and reveal objects, such as logs, that might be buried in the lake bed. Adjunct to the field research, a study of the history of the lake is in progress. A research paper already written by Craig Sternberg is being included in this website and will, no doubt, be expanded. For a more formal introduction to this study, see the Abstract page.

-N.T. (Last revised June 29, 2005)

(All photographs on this page provided by Professor Douglas Faulkner)

(Title bar and bottom photographs edited by Neil Trombly)

A website report by Craig Sternberg and Neil Trombly based on the faculty-student UWEC study of Half Moon Lake under the direction of Professor Douglas Faulkner and Professor Harry Jol.