UNITED STATES – A floating island spanning over 16 hectares on Chippewa Lake is constantly on the move, blocking the path of boats.
Located in the middle of Chippewa Lake, also known as Chippewa Flowage, in the state of Wisconsin, there are about 200 small floating islands and one large island called Forty Acre Bog, which has been around for decades. The large island doesn’t move continuously, but each time it does, it becomes a headache for the locals as it obstructs boat traffic when it “docks” right in front of the only bridge connecting the two shores.
Whenever this happens, boat owners on the lake often have to work together to tow the floating island to a different location to clear the passage. The condition for this task to be carried out is the presence of wind. In 2022, 25 boats were mobilized to push the 16-hectare island further away from the bridge.
People use boats to push the floating island. Video: YouTube/AirFox Photography
“Almost every year, we have to do this, use boats to move the floating island to another location to unblock the passage,” a local resident said. Denny Reyes noted that the first thing locals usually do when they arrive at the lake in the morning is to check where the island is situated.
“We pull it to another spot, and maybe a few days later, the island returns to its original position (blocking the path under the bridge),” said another resident, Greg Kopke.
Forty Acre Bog Island is a habitat for many wildlife species and is protected by state authorities. Therefore, despite causing trouble, no one is allowed to damage or reduce its size.
Chippewa, covering nearly 62 square kilometers and being the third-largest lake in Wisconsin, is an artificial lake formed from a large swamp in 1923. Mudflats and layers of dead moss (peat moss) float to the surface, creating large patches, becoming places for seeds carried by the wind and wild birds to develop perfectly.
Over the years, these floating grasslands have grown larger and become islands on the lake, with areas equal to a parking lot or tens of thousands of square meters. The largest island, Forty Acre Bog, is located to the west and has many mature trees. The trees act as sails when there is wind, helping the island move around the lake.
According to the website of the state of Wisconsin, ownership of the islands and land around the lake is divided among the state (over 50%), indigenous tribes (30%), and private individuals (8%). The lake’s shoreline stretches for over 358 kilometers, with abundant vegetation and sparse population. Therefore, the lake is an ideal destination for nature lovers to explore, camp by the lake and on the islands, go boating on the lake, fish, and hike. Hiking trails are considered safe as motor vehicles are not allowed.
Travelers can reach the lake from the public boat dock. The lake is home to various fish species such as walleye, muskie, sturgeon, and native birds and animals. The lake is also an ideal place for bird watching and observing wildlife.
Chippewa Lake is located in Sawyer County, 24 kilometers from the city of Hayward. Travelers can easily access it by car. The lake is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.