Wisconsin Lakes Workshops

Wisconsin Association of Lakes Workshop - Waukesha County Technical College [Feb. 13, 2010]  

Changing Lakes, Changing Policy
• Tim Desmond, a Horsehead Lake District resident, attended this convention and gathered information that may be pertinent to our goal of improving Horsehead Lake and enlightening our membership about issues of interest.

Session 1: Implementing New Invasive Species Laws, by Bob Wakeman, DNR Statewide Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator

1. Wisconsin sells the second-most number of fishing licenses in the U.S., behind Florida.
2. Water quality monitor’s data is used to map extent of species in lakes.

Session 2: Leaving a Land Legacy: Legal Tools for Succession Planning of Family Land, by Bill O’Connor, foremost lake legal expert in WI.

1. An owner can transfer title to a vacation home to children or others, either completely or with conditions attached. Transfer can be by gift, if gift taxes are not a concern, or if the children’s resources allow it, by sale. Another alternative is a transfer on death deed, which will transfer the property at death without probate proceedings. The property may be divided and the parts transferred to different people. You can transfer title to your children (or others) but reserve a “life estate”. Under a life estate, a property retains the right to use and manage the property up to the moment of death. A transfer can be made to children (or others) as individuals or through a trust or other entity or subject to a “cottage-in-common agreement”.

2. A vacation home trust. Under this option, the owners transfer title to the property to a trust. Typically the trust is revocable. This means that the owners can change their mind if they need to sell the property during their lifetimes. While the trust is in effect, the owners typically hold the powers of trustee. Upon the owner’s deaths, the trust continues and children or others succeed the former owners as trustees. Provisions addressing governance, powers, eventual disposition of the property and other matters are addressed in the document creating the trust.

3. A cottage-in-common agreement. (see an attorney for details)

4. A cottage club or company. (see an attorney for details)

Session 3: Aquatic Invasive Species Smart Prevention Training, by Marit Sallstreom and Mona Papes, DNR Statewide Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator/s.

1. Lawrence Eslinger (715) 365-2750 is the AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) Coordinator for Oneida Co.

Wisconsin Association of Lakes (WAL) Contribution to Better Wisconsin Lakes
Mission Statement: The Wisconsin Association of Lakes is a nonprofit group of citizens, organizations, and businesses working for clean, safe, healthy lakes for everyone. To accomplish our mission we:
• Assist lake groups and lake users in their efforts to carry out our mission
• Help local leaders manage and restore lakes and their watersheds
• Provide a unified voice for public policy that will protect and preserve lakes
• Advance public knowledge of lakes, their watersheds, and ecosystems

We work so future Wisconsinites will continue to have the right to boat, fish, swim, and enjoy the natural scenic beauty of our special lakes. Our goal is to: 
1) develop a network of informed lake citizens with the know-how and motivation to become highly active in statewide lake 
2) develop a strong base of lake organizations active in local and county government decisionmaking,
3) help communities build a set of common goals, and create local partnerships to implement lake protection programs.

Horsehead Lake District #1 is a member of WAL and has been for some time.

Assorted handouts:
Recreational Carrying Capacity Concepts
1. Carrying capacity can be thought of as a threshold that, if exceeded, would lead to an undesirable set of conditions or problems (for a lake). Issues to consider are: a) whatis overcrowding? (this must be determined through surveys of lake owners) b) public safety concerns, c) ecological or water quality impacts, d) economic and property value impacts.

2. Useable lake area is the amount of lake surface that can support a mix of boating activities and is calculated by subtracting a shoreline buffer zone of predetermined width from the total acreage of the lake. This zone is usually off-limits to high-speed boating due to shallow water, piers, swim rafts, and other hazards.

3. Boat carrying capacity is the number of boats that can reasonably operate on the lake at the same time.

4. Typical example: 300 acre lake – 50 acres (no-wake areas + buoyed swim zones + shallow water depths). 22 total boats (peak-use average). Optimum boating density = 9-25 acres/boat. 13 boat trailers at launch average.

5. Boat uses: Suggested densities/boat
Limited power (10 HP or less), sailing 5-10 acres
Waterskiing 12 acres
Motor boating 9 acres
Canoeing, kayaking, sailing 8 acres
Fishing 10 acres
All uses combined 10 acres

Designing Your Natural Landscape
1. Determine the size of the area you want to landscape
2. Determine what colors or species you want most
3. Remember costs other than plants
4. What shoreland/wetland plantings do:
   a. Reduce pollutants entering lakes and rivers
   b. Provide much needed habitat for wildlife
   c. Provide screening from the lake
   d. Provide erosion control of sensitive shoreland areas
5. Curb pollutants at their source – fertilizers, household toxins, eroding soils, malfunctioning septic systems.
6. Minimize runoff that picks up pollutants and carries them to lakes and rivers
7. Minimize hard surfaces that make it easier for pollutants to reach lakes.
8. Choose zero-phosphorus fertilizer. In WI, phosphorus is now illegal in fertilizer.
9. Properly dispose of household hazardous wastes. “If you wouldn’t drink it; don’t dump it”
10. Minimize your use of toxic products in and around your home.
11. Fence your construction area to minimize seepage into lake.
12. Divert surface water away from your drain field.
13. Avoid driving or parking on your septic drain to avoid compacting the soil.
14. When a replacement septic system is needed, consider aerobic digesters or re-circulating sand filters.
15. Avoid putting grease, oils, coffee grounds, cigarettes, facial tissues, paper towels, sanitary napkins, tampons or disposable diapers down toilet or any drain.
16. Avoid using a garbage disposal – compost it.
17. Conserve water use – use low-flow toilets, faucets, showerheads to reduce the water the system must filter and absorb.
18. Scientists at UW-Stevens Point have determined that both phosphorus and nitrates migrate underground over 150 feet from a lake or river. If they reach the lake underground, they cause aquatic plant growth and algae blooms.
19. Dense growth over a septic field is evidence of a possibly malfunctioning system.
20. Plant trees and shrubs, especially in buffer zones near lakes and rivers.
21. Install a rain barrel to catch water for plants.
22. Avoid building lawns close to waters’ edge.

 Wisconsin Association of Lakes Convention - Green Bay  [April 20-22, 2006] 

Following is a list of the workshops Dennis Batchelet attended at the convention:
1)    Recreational Use Carrying Capacity and Your Lake
2)     Navigating Wisconsin Water Law: How Recent Changes in Chapter 30 Permitting Affect Lakefront Property Owners
3)    Slide/narrative entitled, "Wisconsin Fishing - It's GREAT and We're Going to Keep It That Way!
by Mike Staggs, Wisconsin DNR Bureau Director for Fisheries Management and Habitat.
4)    Slide/narrative entitled, "The Opportunities of a Borderless World", by Dr. Richard Heinzl, founder, Doctors Without Borders-Canada.

1) Recreational Use Carrying Capacity and Your Lake

Cloverleaf Lakes Protective Association, in Shawano County, set out to determine how much their lake should be used according to the interests of their members. The association's design team constructed a questionnaire which can be found at: www.lakeripley.org

Not surprising, the results of the survey showed the item of most interest to their members was, "view, peace, & tranquility [53%]. Jet skis, according to the survey, bother people the most. The eternal question is: "what is the biological carrying capacity of the lake vs. social capacity". Before boating can be restricted, the biological factors of the lake must be identified. In other words, a so-called "biological report card" must be created to determine what needs the lake has to maintain or improve its' quality.

Wisconsin's records show that between 1962 and 2002, the number of boat registrations in the state rose from 230,000 to 610,00; nearly a three-fold increase. That translates into lakes that are much more busy in traffic than years ago. In fact, Wisconsin ranks 7th in the nation for the number of boat licenses issued. That figure does NOT include out-of-state boats on our waters. During the above time-span, the average horsepower increased from 40.3 HP to 80.6 HP; a significant jump.

The design team began by drawing a circle around the lake, approximately 200' from shore. That area is reserved for near-shore activities. They also removed areas with water depths of 5' or less. With the remaining water area, they made the following determinations:

Average water space needed            - 10 acres/boat
Boating activities    (skiing, etc.)  - 20 acres/boat
Fast-moving activities                - 30 acres/boat

Eventually, they determined the "carrying capacity" to be the number of watercraft that can operate without causing:  1) lack of safety, 2)  user dissatisfaction, 3) shore damage.

Cloverleaf Lakes District established a 200' NO WAKE zone from shore extending the entire circumference of the lake.

Interested in more info?   Check out the website listed above.

2)     Navigating Wisconsin Water Law: How Recent Changes in Chapter 30 Permitting Affect

Lakefront Property Owner
The objectives of the session were: 1) Gain an improved understanding of the new Ch. 30 state law permit process, 2) Become familiar with the concepts in applying for a shoreline protection permit, 3) Become familiar with how individuals can get involved with lake protection through the Ch. 30 permit process.
Website: www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/water/fhp/waterway/
will be helpful in gaining a more complete understanding of the issues mentioned above.

The following are protected public rights: 1) fishing, 2) hunting, 3) fish & wildlife habitat, 4) commercial navigation, 5) natural scenic beauty, 6) water quality & quantity.

Act 118, passed in February of 2004 modified the process of applying for and receiving citizen permits to change their property. The law was intended to provide more certainty and a more streamlined process; it also requires more responsibility on the part of the individual landowner. The DNR, in this law, must act more quickly in evaluating permits but the process is much more streamlined, offering more situations that landowners may act. Essentially, the landowner is exempt from the permit process in many situations, but...if the landowner changes their property, thinking a permit is not needed, and it violates the law, then the landowner is responsible for correcting it plus damages. The DNR website is set up to clearly define what's allowed and what's not, so there should be few problems. In so doing, the process is much more streamlined than it once was. Though changes were made to over ten administrative codes, environmental protection should be as strong as before. In the past, a DNR specialist would have to visit a landowners' property to evaluate each permit application. That should not be necessary very often anymore.

The biggest change in the law allows exemptions from needing a permit. The law specifies "Designated Waters" that are always protected (ASNARI Area of Special Natural Resource Interest; PRF Public Rights Feature; PNW Priority Navigable Waterway). The DNR web page allows individuals to search by county to see if their property fits into any of  the above categories.

It should be noted that individuals can file an "Exemption Determination Request" to find out if their neighbors have permits to do waterfront landscaping and other property-changing activities.

If a person determines (through the DNR web page that a proposed activity does not require a permit, they do not need to notify the DNR. Many activities are no longer regulated. The following are no longer regulated: 1) riprap repair, 2) riprap replacement, 3) biological shore stabilization, 4) piers, 5) seasonal boat hoists/shelters, 6) fish & wildlife habitat structures, 7) pilings, 8) manual dredging. But, exemptions are NOT available in Areas of Special Natural Resource Interest (ASNRI). Some are not available in public rights features.

So, after considering all of that, the landowner may proceed to do the work or submit to the DNR an EDR, Exemption Determination Request. This form can be obtained online at the web site above. General permits are available for most activities in most areas. It was noted that if a landowner wants to draw water from the lake for a garden, for example, a permit is needed. If issued, a permit is valid for 3 years. A permit application, once submitted must be returned to the landowner within 30 calendar days, start to finish, even if it's returned for more information. If a landowner gets no response within the 30 day timeframe, they may go ahead with the project.

While "General Permits" are easier to obtain, "Individual Permits" require more paperwork, as they are more complex. They are for more complex activities that do not meet the exemptions in the "General Permits". If an "Individual Permit" is issued, the landowner is asked to publish it in the local newspaper so others can know about it. Lake District officials can request the DNR to notify them if an "Individual Permit" is issued in their jurisdiction so they may offer their comments before it is granted. Lake districts may also appeal the granting of an "Individual Permit" through a hearing. Lake district officials need to notify the DNR about any natural lake features that need protection so they are on file with state authorities.

Following explanation of the new law, a practical exercise was done for a shoreline stabilization project. The type of treatment allowed under the law is based on "wave energy". Simply put, a landowner must obtain a map via the DNR website for their lake (a simple process). Then, the landowner must measure the longest span of lake from their property to calculate the energy along their shoreline in a storm. The DNR is working on maps that would show every landowners' property and the greatest distance to the opposite shore. In the meantime, it was suggested, that lake districts could do the calculations for their constituents. While at first the calculations seem complicated, they are not that difficult to make. Using that Erosion Intensity Score worksheet, the landowner can see what can be done to reduce erosion. Of course, the landowner must determine whether or not the area to be worked on is in a protected zone (ASNRI).

If a landowner suspects someone on the lake is violating the law in changing their shoreline, a TIP hotline is available to report violations - 800-TIP WDNR. If a law-enforcement official is called, the tip remains anonymous. If the case might go to court, the DNR won't press charges unless the tipster is willing to reveal their identity; it's your choice.

On Sat., Feb. 18, 2006, Dennis Batchelet attended the Wisconsin Assoc. of Lakes Regional Convention held in Pewaukee, WI. While many topics were presented, the ones of most concern were several related to making the most of DNR grants and comprehensive projects undertaken to improve lakes.

    The sessions attended were entitled:
"Keys to Success with Major Lake Restoration & Management Projects"

"Wrapping Our Heads Around Major Lake Restoration & Management Projects"

"DNR Shoreline Erosion Control Permits"

"Aquatic Plant Management"

The first session, "Keys to Success with Major Lake Restoration & Management Projects", focused on the Big Cedar Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District and how pollution from farm animals was reduced to improve the quality of lake water.

Big Cedar Lake is located in SE Wisconsin near West Bend and is a 432 acre lake with depths running to 145'.

The District identified several nearby farms and made a plan to purchase them both with their own funds and DNR grants. In order to expand their own funding, they created the "Cedar Lake Conservation Foundation". Donors were located to create a sizeable fund for the foundation. With all funding, the District was able to purchase 270 acres of farmland, in several parcels, around the lake. When land became available, the District would contact the owners, who were usually willing to cooperate with conservation efforts because they are fond of the lake, too. The farm owners' main concern was favorable tax consequences and gaining a fair value from their property. Once each parcel was bought, the District deeded it to the conservation foundation for the purchase price or lower. The foundation,  in return, would deed it back to the District under a "Warrantee Deed" with conservation restrictions. In this way, the land was protected against future District officials selling off the land. Over a period of time, the water quality of the lake improved markedly due to eradication of animal waste runoff reaching the lake.

One way the District improved water quality was to installing "contour strips" and  four "Storm Water Basins" creating an 80% reduction in sediments and pollutants entering the lake. The basins capture the runoff and filters it, thus preventing it from pouring into the lake. A breakdown of financing is as follows:
        $500,000 District taxes
        $800,000 DNR
        $270,000 Cedar Lakes Foundation
Also featured in the first session was a description of the Big Muskego Lake improvement plan. A shallow lake with a max. depth of 6' and an average depth of 3', residents have accepted the fact that Big Muskego will never be crystal clear. The lake is 2,286 acres, so it spans a wide area. A few years ago, the nutrient levels in the lake were so high, with weeds and algae so overgrown, that small animals could actually run on top! Since that time lake homeowners have concentrated their efforts on improving the quality of the water by manipulating the factors that produce overgrowth.

The local association started by creating a standards-driven long range plan which included a drawdown to 1' depth so the numerous carp population could be reduced. They instituted strict fishing regulations. The lake was stocked with predator fish, like Northern Pike, so the smaller fish would not over graze on Zooplankton. Zooplankton eat algae and tie-up significant portions algae.

Paul Dearlove spoke in general terms about a plan developed for Lake Ripley, also in SE Wisconsin. He offered few specifics but he did include some noteworthy quotations:

"If you don't have time to do it right, you must have time to do it over"  (Chinese proverb)

"The application of technology to a good long-range plan can magnify the efficiency of the outcome. The application of technology to a bad long-range plan can magnify the inefficiency of the outcome"  (Bill Gates)

The second session, "Wrapping Our Heads Around Major Lake Restoration & Management Projects", had a question and answer format. Following is a list of comments made by panelists who represented the DNR and various lake association leaders involved in successful lake projects:

1)  What works on one lake, even one next door, may not work on your lake.
2)  Emotion, economics, and science are involved in all lake issues.
3)  Every lake is a complex ecological community with hundreds of species.
4)  A comprehensive approach is needed for success in improvement of a lake.
5)  If weed overgrowth is your lakes' problem, you must identify the sites of nutrient loading - whether it's IN the lake or coming from adjacent land and/or water.
6)  A "watershed inventory (budget)" identifies sources of the problem.
7)  Not just any lake association can receive DNR grant money for the purchase of land. Unless a "lake association" has specific language written into its' bylaws, only Lake Districts may receive DNR grants for the purchase of land.
8)  It is illegal to carry weeds into a Wisconsin lake; tickets can be issued.
9)  Commonly-held myths:
    a)  harvesting weeds is bad for fishing
    b)  harvesters can go anywhere
    c)  weed harvesting is THE solution to extreme weeds
    d)  all lake weeds are bad

The third session, entitled, "DNR Shoreline Erosion Control Permits", focused on the process of obtaining permits and general information about what you can do to improve your shoreline. It concentrated on preventive measures but also included remediation techniques.

Generally speaking, there are six steps in repairing or preventing erosion of your shoreline:
1)  Using DNR forms, calculate the "wave energy" along your shoreline
2)  Choose an appropriate Shoreline Erosion Control method for your shoreline's energy
3)  Determine if your waterway has a special designation that might affect the exemption or permit requirements
4)  Determine if your project is exempt
5)  Determine if  your project qualifies for a "General Permit"
6)  Apply for the General Permit

For complete instructions and explanations:                          http://dnr.wi.gov/org/water/fhp/waterway/erosioncontrol.shtml

The last session attended, "Aquatic Plant Management" offered only a few worthwhile comments:
1)  Every lake is unique and a very delicate balance exists between all the living creatures in the lake, including the sediment held in the lake bottom.
2)  Changing one thing in the system affects all the others.
3)  In managing a lake, a very scientific long-range plan is needed and it will evolve at every step of the remediation process.
4)  A drought can help a lake recover clarity and improve its' overall health because lots of sediment isn't pouring into it during AND after rainstorms.
5)  Sometimes boating regulations are needed to help a lake stabilize. Fast motorboats stir up the bottom sediment and cause further growth of unwanted weeds.
6)  Encouraging numbers of predator fish can help to stabilize a lake because fewer smaller fish won't be grazing on the Zooplankton.
7) Occasionally, lakes can be stabilized by creating a "sediment barrier" to help seal off large deposits of decomposing matter on the bottom.