UNITED STATES – A sprawling 16-hectare floating island on Chippewa Lake is causing major traffic congestion for boats.
Exploring the Phenomenon of Floating Island in the United States
Located in the middle of Chippewa or Chippewa Flowage, in the state of Wisconsin, are around 200 small floating islands and one large island called Forty Acre Bog, which has been around for decades. The large island does not move constantly, but each time it does, it causes headaches for locals as it blocks the only bridge connecting the two shores.
Every time this happens, boat owners on the lake have to work together to push the island to a different location, clearing the way for passage. This can only be done when there is wind. In 2022, 25 boats were mobilized to push the 16-hectare island away from the bridge.
People use boats to push the floating island. Video: YouTube/AirFox Photography
“It’s almost the same every year, we have to do this, use boats to push the floating island to another spot so it doesn’t block the way,” said a local resident. Denny Reyes shared that the first thing locals do when they arrive at the lake in the morning is to see where the island is located.
“We push it to another spot and maybe a few days later, the island will return to its original position (blocking the passage under the bridge),” said Greg Kopke, another resident.
Forty Acre Bog Island is home to many species of animals and is protected by state authorities. Therefore, despite the inconvenience it causes, no one is allowed to destroy or reduce its size.
Chippewa, with an area of nearly 62 square kilometers, is the third largest lake in Wisconsin and was created from a large swamp in 1923. The mud flats and dead moss (peat moss) float on the water’s surface, forming large patches that become perfect breeding grounds for seeds carried by the wind and wild birds.
Over the years, these floating grasslands have grown larger and become islands on the lake, with an area equivalent to a parking lot or tens of thousands of square meters. The largest island, Forty Acre Bog, is located in the west and is covered with mature trees. These trees act as sails when there is wind, helping the island move around the lake.
According to the Wisconsin state website, the ownership of the islands and land surrounding the lake is divided among the government (over 50%), indigenous tribes (30%), and private individuals (8%). The shoreline of the lake stretches over 358 km and is surrounded by lush vegetation and sparse population. This makes the lake a perfect destination for nature lovers to explore, camp by the lake or on the islands, go boating, fishing, and take long walks. The hiking trails are deemed safe as motor vehicles are not allowed.
Visitors can reach the lake through public boat docks. The lake is home to various species of fish such as pike, sturgeon, and catfish, as well as native birds and animals. It is also an ideal spot for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.
Located in Sawyer County, just 24 km away from Hayward city, Chippewa Lake is easily accessible by car. The lake is open from 6 am to 11 pm daily.