“Long-term information on any lake is a rare thing,” Stewart said. “As far as scientific information, very few lakes have much scientific information. Even though they’re beautiful and worth writing poetry about, there is very little scientific information.
“You can sit on the shore and enjoy the sunrise or sunset, but we know very little about them.”
Madison Lake is one of 24 lakes in Minnesota that has been labeled a “sentinel lake.” It’s one of six prairie lakes on the list. The lakes are studied by the Department of Natural Resources to help predict the consequences of climate change and land use on all of the state’s lakes.
The Buschkowskys’ information also is used by Boulay to log Madison Lake’s ice-out date on the DNR’s main website.
“The big value for that is for fishing or people planning to put their docks out,” Boulay said. “It’s kind of a sign of spring. It’s a good measure of how our springs are doing.”
The job of logging the lake’s ice-out date fell into Mary Buschkowsky’s hands after McCabe died. She was his former employee at the Boat Landing, which was originally just a shack where bait was for sale and boats were for rent.
“He drove an old blue pickup truck and had a little rat terrier dog,” Mary said. “He went around the lake about three times a day all the time. Then Frank fell over dead of a heart attack while he was shoveling snow.
“I got his records and I got his old truck. I swear, when I drove that thing, it always pulled right from driving around the lake.”
She and Dennis have lived on the lake most of their lives. Her grandparents lived in the city of Madison Lake when she was a child, so she spent a lot of time at their house near the lake. The Buschkowskys moved to their property on the west side of the lake 46 years ago. They spent about a decade in a smaller, older house, which had been built around the turn of the century, before building their current home.