Portage County and UW-Stevens Point researchers conducted studies of 29 lakes in Portage County from 2003-05. The study provided information about water quality, algae, rooted aquatic plants, shoreline vegetation, critical amphibian habitat, current and historic land use, and groundwater within the watersheds. Bird and fish communities were also studied for ten lakes. Data collected during the Portage County Lake Study have been used by municipalities, the University, and County Departments.
Eight of the lakes have County parks located on them. The parks provide beaches, lake access for fishing and boating, shelter houses, playgrounds, and three have overnight camping and associated facilities. Most of the other lakes have access points that are owned by towns, villages, or cities. Despite the fact that the lakes are not large Northwoods lakes, they are regularly used by Portage County residents, and some of the larger lakes and campgrounds draw tourists from further destinations. Like many lakes around Wisconsin, some of the Portage County lakes are experiencing loss of habitat due to development and land use practices, reduced water quality, and the spread of invasive species.
Currently, an effort is underway to update lake management plans for Portage County Lakes.