From the President


From the President

At the outset, I feel compelled to share a few thoughts on making sure our district continues to operate in the best interests of the lake and lake environment. These are my views based on the last 13 years as President/Chair of the Horsehead Lake Board of Commissioners.

First, it is IMPERATIVE, that more Horsehead residents take an active role in annual meeting attendance! In order for our district to continue as a viable force in wise lake management, we need your good judgment, wisdom, and input when important decisions are being made.

It’s no secret that the subject of “weeds” provokes the strongest catalyst for debate, not just in our district, but throughout the area.

As individuals, we tend to view our own situation and set a course to make our lake experience better – and nobody likes to feel weeds when they swim or need to stop their boat and clean off the propeller. So, it’s natural to think limiting more of the weeds would be a good thing. But, we all have to understand that our residents have a wide variety of priorities for their lake experience. For some, fishing is their main interest and fish need weeds. For others it is water skiing, or kayaking, tubing, swimming, etc. As a district, our commissioners must take all these interests into consideration and attempt to balance them in a way that preserves the ecology of the lake. We have a lake, not a pool; that’s what the DNR and Onterra Lake Management tell us. We are allowed to cut approximately 1/3 of the south end of the lake – and it costs between $16,000-$18,000. When we cut this “natural vegetation”, we want to do it at the optimum time. We need to prevent as much weed mass from sinking and adding to the biomass that already exists and serves as fertilizer. Past history and experience has shown that our four main weed types, and Curly-leaf Pondweed isn’t one of those, mature regularly after the July 4th holiday. That’s when the seed buds are just breaking the surface. That’s when the mechanical harvester, that cuts at a 5 foot depth, can get the most weeds. Keep in mind, the weeds will continue to grow after cutting at many inches a week. Cutting too soon results in getting few weeds cut, and the real possibility that in July or August the vegetation will break the surface again. If there are insufficient weeds in late June, and we cut, we’re not getting much. Further, weed cleanup really increases after cutting – and that would be right during the holiday. If we pass on cutting, we’ve lost our slot on weed cutter’s schedule – which is reserved 10 months in advance. So, we’re risking either being without money in July or August when we’ve cut too soon, or we’ve missed our reserved time slot. Since there is typically a $900-$1,000 set-up charge, cutting more than once would be hard to justify.

For more detail, refer to the special mailing, containing two letters, mailed Friday, Sept. 2nd.

At our annual meeting, those who favor June cutting, passed a motion to study the weed issues and prepare an advisory to the commissioners on their findings by our November 17th Commissioner’s meeting. Only property owners and “electors” can be on either the Lake Study Committee or Weed Advisory Committee. Non-property owners and non-resident renters can’t be on the committees since they have no vested interest. The Weed Advisory Committee report will only be “advisory”, but may serve to acquaint more folks on the complexities of cutting our “native vegetation”, including weather variations. Every year is different. It is believed the over abundance of the grassy Flat-stemmed Pondweed, this year, resulted from the many days of rain (washing nutrients into the lake) and favorable cool weather in April/May, which was ideal for the grass and not very advantageous for the other weeds.

Changing the subject a bit, State protection of water resources has been on the decline and a bill to remove water licensing/enforcement by the DNR has been introduced. Water quality in the north woods is the foundation of tourism.

You can get more information by contacting John Richter at or Following is a list of contacts, should you be interested in expressing your views:

Senator Tom Tiffany, Phone: (608) 266-2509.

Assemblyman Rob Swearingen, Phone: (608) 266-7141.

Assemblyman Adam Jarchow, Phone: (608) 267-2365



By Dennis Batchelet

Last year, Oneida Co. Supervisor, Tom Rudolph, finished our meeting with a summary of how Oneida County and local officials have had their shoreland authority usurped by Madison legislators. It occurred in the 2015-’17 Budget Bill. Instead of raising the standards for minimum shoreland lots, it lowered them and took away local authority to protect the quality of water. Rudolph emphasized that water quality in the northwoods is our lifeblood and is the foundation for tourism.

Water, my friends, CLEAN WATER, has always been precious in Wisconsin, and never more since 2011. As your President/Chair, I feel obligated to share with you concerning developments regarding our environment.

Wisconsin means “Gathering of Waters”. But never has access to CLEAN water been in more jeopardy than it is now. Why is that?

We have always counted on the Department of Natural Resources, joined by Wisconsin Association of Lakes, and other private groups to be our watchdogs and protectors. No more – the DNR has been effectively neutralized by reorganization. The seven- member Natural Resources Board has been staffed by governor appointees – now a partisan group. Eighteen scientific positions within the DNR, have been eliminated. Countless resignations and dismissals have left the DNR very shorthanded. Cathy Stepp, former McDonalds manager and former state senator, was appointed to manage the DNR in 2011. Interestingly, no requests were made in the last two biennial budgets to increase staff. Since that time 94% of complaints against large farms and wastewater plants have been ignored. From 2014 to 2015 the number of citations against polluters has declined 78%. Our governor stated to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this year, his goal is to reduce the citations to zero.

Since 2011, 120 laws have been passed by our legislature, depriving local county, city, and town governments authority to pass ordinances to control local issues. Safeguarding our water sources and shorelines, local control, has always been taken for granted. Horsehead Lake P&R District #1 is all about protecting our lake environment. Since 2004, our state has seen an 80% increase in the number of DNR sanctioned high-capacity wells. There are currently over 100 more high-capacity well applications under consideration by DNR. Further, our Attorney- General, Brad Schimel, recently made a formal legal ruling that our DNR need NOT take into consideration how new high-capacity wells will affect surrounding wells or bodies of water – effectively negating our century-old “Trust Doctrine” – always required new wells MUST take into consideration how each would affect neighbors’ wells, lakes and streams. The Little Plover River and Long Lake in central WI are only two of the many that have virtually run dry.

Our lake depends on springs to replenish our water as we have no inlet. We must be concerned about depletion of Wisconsin’s deep-water acquifers.

C.A.F.O.(s) are part of the problem. C.A.F.O.(s) are Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and are growing in number. Farms with over 3,000 cows, pigs, etc., each require millions of gallons of water a year. They also produce millions of gallons of liquid manure that needs to be disposed of. Solid animal waste also is a problem if it is over- applied on fields. In the Central Sands region of WI, the Wysocki Farm already has 33 high-capacity wells and wants more. Thirty percent of the wells in Kewaunee County, along Lake Michigan, with substantial bedrock, are contaminated with Ecoli and/or other bacteria.

Angered by these recent statutory changes, Plum Lake officials have spearheaded a movement to reverse this troubling trend and have engaged lobbyists to prevent further degradation of our local authority. There have been successes in turning back some of the worst-proposed changes. John Richter, the Plum Lake Association president, has built a coalition of 70 lake districts, associations, individuals, and lobbyists to reverse what has taken place – measures which appear to favor business developers. The coalition is called the Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative and I am proud to say Horsehead Lake voted to join with this coalition at our Annual Meeting.

If this issue resonates with you and you would like to send our Assembly representatives and Senators an email, letter, or call their office – it would help our state. Conscious of the threat to property values, state tourism, and our economy, Richter emphasizes the dire need of everyone to be sure they vote for folks who want to protect property rights, local control, and CLEAN water. You can get more information by contacting John Richter at or Following is a list of contacts, should you be interested in expressing your views:

Senator Tom Tiffany, Phone: (608) 266-2509.

Assemblyman Rob Swearingen, Phone: (608) 266-7141.

Assemblyman Adam Jarchow, Phone: (608) 267-2365

Our district commissioners encourage your engagement with this important topic


The ice has melted and frozen back over several times this month. It might seem too early to plan a general membership meeting for June 2nd, but our lake study is moving forward this month. Tim Hoyman, an Aquatic Ecologist with Onterra Lake Management, will make a kick-off presentation on the entire lake study process on June 2nd. Take a look on the main web page (top left) and click on “Lake Study Kick-off Preview with Tim Hoyman” find out more about it. Spring seems to come slowly to the northwoods, but summer fun is just around the corner. It’s time to make plans for safe outings all summer long.


Lake activity has been reduced to watching the ice form and melt as winters’ grip increases on the Northwoods. Ice fishers are preparing their shanties, hoping the ice will thicken enough to allow safe travel on the lake. Our aerator has been operating for awhile, now, and should afford the fish some protection from oxygen loss and our lake from excessive fish kill. Our lake commissioners met on Monday, Nov. 6th and here are the highlights:  As many of you know, our Lake Study Grant Proposal was accepted by the DNR and will be funded beginning in spring, 2007 as soon as the ice goes out. Our initial obligation will be around $3,000, which includes volunteer work which is called “in kind”. So, if you want to help save us money on the project, pitch in and volunteer to help out. Among other things, we will need to make up a questionnaire and tally. Helping to implement the “Clean Boats/Clean Waters” boat inspection program also counts in our favor. You can volunteer to inspect boats and hand out literature during high-use weekends AND you’ll get a T-shirt!Obviously, we are looking forward to having a current scientific report as a basis for our lake decisions.

The beavers have been busy below the dam. They’ve built a lodge downstream and it’s so good the water has backed up all the way to the dam. Beverly Fagan observed in October, the water was only about 10″ below lake level. After making numerous calls, she contacted a man who works with the DNR. He has agreed to set traps below the dam to catch the beavers and also he will attempt to dismantle the lodge. Beverly also made the necessary contacts to have branches and built-up silt dredged from in front of our dam. The work has now been completed.

Commissioners discussed the addition of items to the agenda at the Annual Meeting. In order to avoid conflicts with the Open Meeting Law, it was decided that all agenda item requests will have to be made prior to the June budget meeting for approval. Any “last minute” items placed on the agenda, at the Annual Meeting, will be for discussion purposes only, and cannot be “action items”.

Linda Houghton-Bowen has brought the by-laws document and resident roster up to date. Everyone should now be receiving newsletters and meeting agendas. Contact Linda if you’re having trouble with mailings.    The web page continues to be a success, with just over a thousand “hits” registered. You can see the current number by just looking to the very bottom of the front page. We are happy so many people are looking to the web site for lake information. Possibly someday, we might have a web camera showing the lake in “real time”. Due to the popularity of the web site, the commissioners have decided to cut down to two newsletters a year; one after the June budget meeting, and the other after the annual meeting. In this way, we can eliminate quite a bit of copying and postage costs. As is now the case, someone who does not have internet access can get copies of minutes and other web site information. Linda Houghton-Bowen will mail it to you upon request.

The Town of Lake Tomahawk is working on a web site of their own. Gary Sowatzka reported that when it is finished, the Town would like to have their link on our web site and vice-versa.

Commissioners discussed a recent increase in vandalism occurring on the lake. During the fall, vandals smashed our collection box near the south landing on two occasions. There was a report of water in a boat gas tank. Please be on the alert and help your neighbors by watching houses and boat landings. Notify the police promptly if you see any suspicious behavior.

Tom Rudolph, Oneida Co. representative on our board, informed us that Oneida Co. has hired an Invasive Species Coordinator. Thanks to any resident who contacted the county board to urge the passage of this proposal.

The commissioners want to thank everyone for staying informed on issues facing Horsehead Lake and their willingness to support our efforts – financial and otherwise.

Dennis Batchelet