Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Post by Trish



Minutes of the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Bayfield County Lakes Forum
Drummond Community Center

Board Members Present:  Jim Brakken, Beth Kolling, Trish Bantle, Ellen Lafans, John Lang
Meeting chaired by President Jim Brakken.
Meeting called to order at 10:00 a.m.
Waived reading of the 2017 Annual Meeting minutes.
Jim Brakken raised the issue of the alleged finding of Zebra Mussels on Lake Owen.  It was pointed out that there was no confirmation of this alleged finding by way of samples, pictures, or professional examination.  Further discussion occurred later in the meeting and will be noted below.
Treasurer’s Report given by Ellen Lafans.  There is a current balance of $1,412.79 remaining in the account.  See Treasurer’s written report.  Highlights:  $1,068.60 total contributions from October 2017 to present.  Withdrawals of $521.00. 
It was suggested in discussion as to use of some of the available monies to contribute to other organizations such as the WI Shoreland Initiative, Wisconsin Lakes, Inc., Rivers Alliance.
Motion made and seconded to accept treasurer’s report.  Passed.
Jim Brakken raised the issue of the “Slow No Wake” rule improvement.  It was noted that in the case of lakes of 50 acres in size, with public boat landings, the presently existing 100’ from the shoreline (Ordinary High Water Mark) Slow No Wake rule created a possible boating hazard, as the Slow No Wake designate area diminished the size of the available water surface upon which high-speed boating activities such as water skiing, PWC usage, and wake-boarding could take place.  Couple the elimination of the “Spotter” rule passed by the state legislature, and you have the makings of a serious safety hazard.  Jim Brakken suggested that a group from BCLF be created to study this issue and possibly appear before the state legislature to present a proposal to get law makers to address this issue.  As to possible proposal details, there was no decision.  However, much discussion ensued as to what might be available by way of safety recommendations, such as reducing the “Slow No Wake” area on these lakes.  It was suggested that doing this would effectively eliminate the protection of the shoreline by increasing the wave generated impact.  It was also mentioned that increasing the size of the “Slow No Wake” area, without a concomitant prohibition of high-speed recreational activities, would just increase the danger.
Discussion related to the “Slow No Wake” issue raised other concerns such as the Town of Barnes eliminating the hours during the day during which water skiing, wake boarding, and PWC usage could occur.  It was pointed out that the Town Board noted that there was really no way of enforcing this ordinance.  The DNR’s authority to enforce such ordinances was removed by the legislature.  The Sheriff’s Department does not have the personnel to dedicate to enforcement.  Tom Johnson, from the Lake Owen Association indicated that they were looking into the possibility of hiring a Reserve Deputy to assist in “Boater Safety Rules/Ordinances” enforcement.

Flooding & Erosion Workgroup Discussion by Ellen Lafans.  Ellen presented the present status of the Flood & Erosion Hazard Working Group findings and proposal presented to the Zoning Committee.  First, it was noted that some very knowledgeable individuals were members of this working group, including many professionals whose careers focused on water quality and land use.  When the proposal was presented to the Zoning Committee, there was no discussion other than a small group of citizens opposing the recommendations of the working group’s proposal.  The Zoning Committed did not ask any question of the working group regarding the alleged issues raised by the opposing parties, even though there was an indication that some members of the Zoning Committee had been very supportive of the efforts of the Flood & Erosion Work Group.  The Zoning Committee following the opposition’s presentation then voted to table the proposal (supposedly for later discussion).  However, it appears that this was a move to bury the proposal and not present it to the full County Board.
It was pointed out during the discussion that the Zoning Manager position is not an elected office, but a hired position, suggesting that the person in that position was above political/citizens’ influence.
It was also pointed out that the Land & Conservation Committee is separate from the Zoning Committee and might be an avenue to resurrect the Flooding & Erosion proposal.
Ellen pointed out that this road block is not the final word and that the work group is looking for citizen’s, lake associations’ and other conservation groups’ support to push the Zoning Committee to allow discussion and presentation to the full County Board of the findings and solutions presented in the work group’s report.

ACTION ITEM:  Election of Officers (2-3 Director Positions):  Floor nominations were open for candidates to fill the soon to be vacant Director Positions.  Pamela Behnke and Mary Hayes were nominated (read “volunteered”) and were elected to those posts.  Their election was guaranteed and unanimously passed, much to the relief of the attendees.

Lake Owen Association Report:  Tom Johnson, President of the Lake Owen Association, discussed the many initiatives the Association is pursuing.  
(1) Comprehensive Lake Management Plan:  He pointed out the association has hired the services of Ms. Cheryl Clemens who is a professional lake manager.  A grant of $182,000 from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been secured, with an additional $143,000 raised (for a total of $325,000) to fund this position and facilitate the development of the Comprehensive Lake Management Plan.  Some of the proposal items include the development of Decontamination Stations on boat landings or close thereby and coming up with a plan to require usage by boaters.  At present, use of such stations would be voluntary, with no ability to enforce usage, which would diminish such stations’ effectiveness in stopping AIS transport.
Other elements of the Comprehensive Lake Management Plan would include conservation of Critical Habitat, Shoreland Restoration, and Water Quality Analysis.
(2)  Tom Johnson then raised the issue of the disturbing release of unsupported findings of the existence of Zebra Mussels on Lake Owen.  He noted the email of apology sent by Ellen Lafans on behalf of BCLF, but also raised the issue of contacting all recipients of the original email raising the unsubstantiated findings.  The board of BCLF noted the need to follow up on this effort to clear up the fact that the finding of Zebra Mussels was false and that there is no evidence supporting a conclusion that Zebra Mussels exist on Lake Owen.

Pigeon Lake Flooding Catastrophe:  Trish Bantle presented the catastrophe of the flooding following the Father’s Day Storm that drop 18 inches of rain around Pigeon Lake.  This raised the lake level 4.5 feet in a very short period.  This is still causing serious issues of property damage, septic system breaches, water quality, damage to surrounding roads, and washing away frontage and beaches.  Most importantly, many of the homes there have been flooded and are now uninhabitable.  On Pigeon Lake RD, an area 35’ wide by 10’ deep was washed out.  Because there is no natural drainage from the lake, the water had no place to go other than to breach the OHM and damage the surrounding area.  This problem was exacerbated by the damming effect of County Highway N.  A very serious water quality and health issue has developed and is still developing surrounding the flooding breaching septic systems and allow sewage to spill into the lake.  This could result in the lake becoming a septic holding tank itself and there is no present way to alleviate this present and continuing hazard.  There was some discussion of creating dikes protecting property surrounding the lake, but such work would be prohibitively expensive for most property owners.  As for solutions as to using culverts to allow lake waters to be siphoned off to the surrounding area, that requires further study.  Trish indicated that there has been contact with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the DNR.  The question of where to find resources to buy the property of owners who have experienced serious damage that prohibits their use of the property, but no answers were presented.

AIS – Andrew Teal:  Andrew verified the findings that Lake Owen has no evidence of Zebra Mussel infestation and that efforts need to be made to recall the false rumor.  Tom Johnson requested that all such communications surrounding this and any other issue involving Lake Owen first go through his vetting.
Andrew then discussed the status of the Lake Namakagon EWM situation.  He indicated that because of the efforts of citizens to pull the existing weeds, the infestation appears to be under control.
Andrew then discussed the fact that it appears that the EWM in Lake Namakagon is a hybrid between EWM and Native Northern Milfoil.  The difference between non-hybrid native milfoil and the hybrid is that the hybrid has a red-gray stem and leaves and the native version is a bright green.  About a dozen lakes in Bayfield County have EWM.
Andrew also discussed the efforts surrounding employing portable decontamination systems.  Cheryl Clemens, as did Tom Johnson, indicated that the units that they have researched cost approximately $20,000.  Consequently, at present, the AIS transport issue still depends on volunteers monitoring boat landings and educating the public.
Further discussion related to getting ordinances passed by counties to mandate use of available decontamination stations.  Burnett and Washburn counties are looking into this requirement.  It was mentioned that these facilities did not need to be placed on boat landings but need to be located within a reasonable distance of the lake so that usage by boaters would not be unreasonably burdensome.
Andrew also noted that there are efforts to coordinate AIS transport prohibition laws between Wisconsin and surrounding states to make them consistent with one another.
Andrew also thanked the membership for their efforts supporting the Bayfield County Lake Conservation Specialist Position proposal.  The position has been half funded and the County Board needs to clear the way for creation of the position by providing the additional monies.

Wisconsin Lakes Association Update:  A representative of the Wisconsin Lakes Association was present to update the BCLF membership regarding WLA’s initiatives and efforts.  Since the legislature is not in session, not much is occurring regarding lake and river conservation issues.  He advised present lake association personnel present that WLA provides a Lake Kit to create websites for lake associations.  He also noted that there is a WLA conference in Stevens Point, WI on April 10-12, 2019 at the Holiday Inn.  He encouraged everyone to attend.

Adjournment:  Meeting adjourned 11:45 a.m.

Minutes prepared by John A. Lang, Secretary BCLF

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The following is correspondence with the Bayfield County Highway Commissioner Mr. Johanik. It is published here with his response first, followed by letters sent to him by Trish Bantle and Mary Hayes. The letter from Mr. Johanik , in my opinion, shows a complete and total disregard for the people who have property on Pigeon Lake.

Good Morning Mrs Bantle, thank you for your comments about the situation on and around County N and Pigion Lake area.The home owners due have a bad situation with the lake level down there. We also have a bad situation with our road that we have to correct before winter sets in. Our plan to rip rap both the slopes and raise the road 2 feet and install a culvert under County N , this will allow us to have two good dry lanes for winter without disturbing the lake level. I realize this does not help the property owners with their issues but the road is our priority. I have been in contact with the Wisconsin DNR and the Corp of Engineers, and both are in agreement with our plan.

-----Original Message-----

Subject: FW: Pigeon Lake and County N

Good Afternoon Mr. Johanik,

My name is Trish Bantle and I am the President of the Pigeon Lake Association.
I would like to echo the thoughts and ideas presented by board member Mary Hayes in her letter to you, below.

The riparian landowners on Pigeon Lake have been dealing with inaccessibility and damage to property and homes, from the Father's Day storm of 2018, since it occurred over 3 months ago.

We realize that there is no way for humans to control the water level in the Pigeon Lake watershed area. What folks can control though, are the way the roads surrounding Pigeon Lake are built and repaired. It is imperative that the solution used to repair County Road N road does not compound and/or exacerbate an already terrible situation.

A bridge near the boat landing where County Road N is experiencing the flooding, is a reasonable, safe, and long term solution. This bridge would allow the water to flow naturally to surrounding wetlands, while still maintaining an east-west travel corridor from highway 63 to highway 27. A bridge would not dam the water in the lake, thus also helping to alleviate the high water that is causing so many Pigeon Lake land owners significant damage and distress.

Please feel free to call me.
I did call your office today, but was not able to speak with anyone, or leave a message.

I would be grateful for any information you can share with me regarding the plans for County Road N.
Your attention to, and help in this matter is very much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Trish Bantle
President Pigeon Lake Association


Subject: Pigeon Lake and County N

Mr. Johanik,

I’m a member of the Pigeon Lake Association board. I’m writing to inquire on the plans for addressing rising lake water levels over County N. We obviously have a safety issue with the west bound lane now completely covered with lake water. While it’s water now, it will be ice in a few months which will not only pose a risk to motorists and truckers but will inevitably damage the road severely. That is the short term concern.

The longer term concern is what the county plans to do. It is our opinion that raising the road bed is not an option as it will create a greater “damming” affect on the lake which will flood out additional residences on the lake and create greater property losses. We already have a half dozen either uninhabitable or nearly so residences on the lake. Others are constantly pumping their basements.

Rising lake levels would also affect US Forest Service gravel pit access. The west end of Pigeon Lake road is already impassable. While the USFS can currently still reach their gravel pit from the east, an increase in lake levels will flood additional low elevation sections of the road east of their pit and completely cut it off. The damming affect from potentially raising the road bed would also create the potential for the lake to rise to the level of the new road bed thus making the expenditure worthless.

We’d like to suggest that the long term solution is to build a short height bridge or some other means to allow the water to flow to natural wetlands. This could mitigate the damming affect and insure the county’s expenditure is safe.

Mr. Johanik, we realize you’re quite busy given all the wide spread flooding across the county this year. That said, County N is one of only 3 east-west roads between highway 63 and 27 between Ashland and Hayward. It’s health and safety are important to the region economically. It also has a potential catastrophic impact on the homeowners on Pigeon Lake. We are anxious to hear what you and your team are considering and would appreciate any time you could spare to share that with us.

Regards,

Mary Hayes

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

PLA update

September 18, 2018
Trish Bantle, President
Pigeon Lake Association
Dear Ms. Bantle:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) would like to thank the Pigeon Lake Association
(Association) for your time on Friday August 24th to discuss the ongoing water table issue in the Pigeon Lake
area. On Friday, August 31st, 2018, I personally viewed the surface water levels as I drove around the perimeter
of the lake. It is apparent there are significant water table challenges facing the Pigeon Lake watershed, as
evidence by the high levels observed on both sides of the roads in certain locations, flooded wooded areas and
the water encroaching on riparian private property. The WDNR recognizes this may cause significant hardships
on the riparian owners without an obvious solution.
As stated in the August 24th conference call, the WDNR stands ready as the regulatory agency to review any
proposed permits while considering surface water chemistry, aquatic plant and animal life, exceptional
resources, water control structures and other factors that may relate to a water diversion, if that is the chosen
approach.
Seepage lakes such as Pigeon Lake frequently experience level fluctuations, sometimes extreme in nature, such
as what is currently occurring in the Pigeon Lake area. Natural precipitation or dissipation is the most feasible
remedy to these variances in local water table levels. Elevated water tables are a reality for many watershed
areas statewide given the extreme rainfall amounts. The WDNR simply cannot commit its limited resources to
the numerous private property issues across the state.
As agreed upon during the August 24th conference call, the WDNR has provided information about the Shell Lake
Diversion, the contact information for UW/WI lakes program, high capacity well information, water use
reporting information and the WDNR’s surface water data viewer. The WDNR will continue to work closely with
our National Forest Service Partners and give prompt attention to future proposals presented by the
Association.
Sincerely,
James Yach
Secretary’s Director – Northern Wisconsin
cc: Representative Beth Meyers
Senator Janet Bewley
Paul Strong, CNNF Forest Supervisor, USFS – Rhinelander
Tom Aartila, Water Resources Basin Supervisor, DNR – Park Falls
Keith Patrick, Wetlands and Waterways Basin Supervisor, DNR - Rhinelander
Scott Walker, Governor
Daniel L. Meyer, Secretary
Telephone 608-266-2621
Toll Free 1-888-936-7463
TTY Access via relay - 711

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September 18, 2018
Trish Bantle, President
Pigeon Lake Association
Dear Ms. Bantle:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) would like to thank the Pigeon Lake Association
(Association) for your time on Friday August 24th to discuss the ongoing water table issue in the Pigeon Lake
area. On Friday, August 31st, 2018, I personally viewed the surface water levels as I drove around the perimeter
of the lake. It is apparent there are significant water table challenges facing the Pigeon Lake watershed, as
evidence by the high levels observed on both sides of the roads in certain locations, flooded wooded areas and
the water encroaching on riparian private property. The WDNR recognizes this may cause significant hardships
on the riparian owners without an obvious solution.
As stated in the August 24th conference call, the WDNR stands ready as the regulatory agency to review any
proposed permits while considering surface water chemistry, aquatic plant and animal life, exceptional
resources, water control structures and other factors that may relate to a water diversion, if that is the chosen
approach.
Seepage lakes such as Pigeon Lake frequently experience level fluctuations, sometimes extreme in nature, such
as what is currently occurring in the Pigeon Lake area. Natural precipitation or dissipation is the most feasible
remedy to these variances in local water table levels. Elevated water tables are a reality for many watershed
areas statewide given the extreme rainfall amounts. The WDNR simply cannot commit its limited resources to
the numerous private property issues across the state.
As agreed upon during the August 24th conference call, the WDNR has provided information about the Shell Lake
Diversion, the contact information for UW/WI lakes program, high capacity well information, water use
reporting information and the WDNR’s surface water data viewer. The WDNR will continue to work closely with
our National Forest Service Partners and give prompt attention to future proposals presented by the
Association.
Sincerely,
James Yach
Secretary’s Director – Northern Wisconsin
cc: Representative Beth Meyers
Senator Janet Bewley
Paul Strong, CNNF Forest Supervisor, USFS – Rhinelander
Tom Aartila, Water Resources Basin Supervisor, DNR – Park Falls
Keith Patrick, Wetlands and Waterways Basin Supervisor, DNR - Rhinelander
Scott Walker, Governor
Daniel L. Meyer, Secretary
Telephone 608-266-2621
Toll Free 1-888-936-7463
TTY Access via relay - 711

Update of Pigeon Lake flood.

United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Supervisor's Office
500 Hanson Lake Road
Rhinelander, WI 54501
715-362-1300 TDD: 711 (National Relay System) Fax: 715-369-8859

Date: September 17, 2018
Trish Bantle President, Pigeon Lake Association
Dear Ms. Bantle:
I want to follow up on the telephone conversation on Friday, August 24, regarding the ongoing issues for home and cabin owners on Pigeon Lake resulting from the 2018 Father’s Day rain event and subsequent precipitation over the summer. While there are no formal monitoring stations established by the federal government or state government, there is no doubt that Pigeon Lake has reached levels not seen in many years. The effects on private landowners and their buildings and other improvements (septic systems, wells, driveways, trees, etc.) is regrettable.
While the USDA Forest Service (USFS) owns riparian land and some improvements (boat launch site) around the lake, the high water levels are not affecting these resources similarly to what is occurring on private lands. The USFS owns land around many natural lakes within the boundaries of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and accepts the natural fluctuations and their consequences to adjacent forests. The one USFS improvement associated with Pigeon Lake that is affected by the high water levels and which has caused us concern is the road known as West Pigeon Lake Road or FR 394. This road, like many on the National Forest, is cooperatively managed by the USFS and the town in which they are located, in this case the Town of Drummond.
Immediately following the June rain event, FR394 was overtopped by rising water and the two low areas on the north side of the road (see enclosed map) were inundated and rose to essentially the same level as the lake. Soon afterwards, The Town and the USFS worked together to raise the road bed to allow commercial trucks to haul stone from the Eureka gravel pit on the north side of Pigeon Lake to fix road issues from the flood elsewhere in the Delta/Drummond area. The construction materials used rock versus gravel base to lift the road so that water could flow more easily through it if the lake levels remained high. This is occurring as seepage through the road and two low lying areas to the north on the National Forest are receiving this water. The water levels on the north side of the road have recently dropped to a foot or so lower than the levels on the lake and the seepage continues.
We have considered the idea introduced on the August 24 call to consider hastening the flow of water from the lake to those lower lying areas. My engineering supervisor has worked with the Town of Drummond and has spoken with Mr. Lance Ritchie from your Association regarding drainage across FR394. We have discovered a crushed culvert just east of the gravel pit and will be replacing it with our Heavy Equipment Operator crew later this month. I am also willing to invest additional USFS resources to install a culvert further west of the gravel pit on FR394 which would further inundate National Forest lands in the associated low area. Because the “overflow areas” on the north side of the road are not large (approximately 8 and 14 acres), already hold water, and like
Trish Bantle 2
the lake are subject to groundwater movement, we do not expect a significant drop in water levels on the lake from the installation of the culverts. That said, they should help a little.
Our professional hydrologists and soil scientists have also used high resolution imagery, information we already had access to regarding groundwater movement, and their professional judgement to evaluate the situation you are encountering. In summary, Pigeon Lake is a “seepage lake” with no inlets or outlets. Water comes into the lake from precipitation and groundwater movement. The roughly 250 acre lake gets groundwater input from an approximately 5,000 acre area and the lake essentially reflects the water table in this 5,000 acre area. The lake itself sits at one of the lowest elevations within this area (see accompanying high resolution map images) further exacerbating the effects of any increases in water in the overall system. At very high lake levels, a few areas on the west end of the lake also take on water from both lake overflow and groundwater movement (the two areas I referenced above). However, the lay of the land around most of the lake limits where water can go when lake levels are high. I am providing you with several images produced from LIDAR (a surveying technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser light from a low flying aircraft) data which has been collected by Bayfield County over the past decade. My staff have further interpreted and displayed the data to highlight the fine scale topographical situation for Pigeon Lake and the immediate surrounding area.
Based in part on discussions which occurred at the July 31 meeting your Lake Association organized and at which some of my staff were present, as well as discussions at other times, my understanding is that the Association wants to lower the lake level as soon as possible to reduce the effects on the private lands and their improvements. Several proposals along this line were discussed on the August 24 telephone call which included Lake Association members, me and some of my staff, and staff from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). On that call, we and the WDNR provided you preliminary feedback to your ideas based on our mutual discussion of them.
The USFS and WDNR are in agreement that to lower the lake level sufficiently to reduce effects on private lands, there would have to be removal of large amounts of water not just from the lake, but from the groundwater area as well, because water removed from the lake would be replaced at least in part by groundwater moving laterally from adjacent lands. To effect a lake level change, removed water would have to be transported outside the 5000 acre area because water deposited in the same area would eventually move back toward the lake. It is important to note here that we do not have a complete understanding of how groundwater moves in this system. We have the benefit of some reasonably recent groundwater studies in the area which inform our professionals, but any conclusions are based on professional judgment given best available information.
As the USFS and WDNR explained on the August 24 call, your proposal to move water out of the lake and deposit it into a stream and wetland area within the National Forest south of Pigeon Lake has numerous logistical, financial, regulatory, and timing complications. The USFS is not a regulatory agency regarding water, but would have to determine if a required Special Use Permit to allow for such an action would be issued for the Lake Association to use National Forest lands by having pipes and associated equipment (pumps, etc.) to transport water. Additionally, if National Forest lands were to be affected by the deposition of removed water, there would have to be analysis and public involvement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This process would take considerable time (months). Cost Recovery regulations associated with the analysis and the permitting, if we decided to proceed, would also apply. As I stated on the August
Trish Bantle 3
24 call, solutions not involving National Forest lands would be less complicated. Additionally, I would not begin evaluation of a permit proposal or required environmental analysis unless a proposal had a high probability of success, could be financed, and had specifics about timing and duration. I cannot speak on behalf of the WDNR, but they explained other complications from a regulatory standpoint based on state statutes and their legal authority over state waters.
On the August 24 call, I said I would make contact with other entities who have far more expertise and their own network of contacts regarding situations like this. James Yach from the WDNR and I spoke with Mr. Pat Goggin from the University of Wisconsin – Extension who works with lake associations as part of the Wisconsin Lake Partnership. I believe he has been in touch with you and hopefully has information and further contacts who might be able to assist your Association in options you have.
My engineering, hydrology, and soils staff have spent considerable time in the last few months assessing this situation including a number of field visits. At this point in time, the USFS does not intend to take additional actions at Pigeon Lake other than completing culvert work on FR394.
If and when there is a feasible and fundable proposal by the Lake Association to pump groundwater and/or lake water and National Forest lands are part of such proposal, we will give it due consideration quickly, and will also inform the Lake Association about reasonable time lines, costs, etc. associated with required permitting, environmental analysis, etc. As a reminder, there is a plant - Fassett’s Locoweed - found at Pigeon Lake which is on the federal endangered species list with a status of “threatened.” Any action associated with human caused water fluctuation and involving the USFS would require formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Depending on the nature of a proposal, other state, federal, or local government agencies may have authorities which would need their involvement as well. The Wisconsin Lake Partnership would be a good source of this kind of information.
Again, I am empathetic to the situation you and other property owners on the lake are enduring with the excessively high water. I hope the work of my staff to interpret information about the hydrology and topography of the area is useful and that culvert replacement and new installation on FR394 to allow some water to flow more quickly to natural overflow basins is helpful.
If you have any questions, please contact me at 715-362-1323 or by email at pstrong@fs.fed.us.
Sincerely,
/s/Paul I. V. Strong PAUL I. V. STRONG Forest Supervisor
Enclosures (3)
cc: Jamie Davidson, Brad Turberville

Monday, September 17, 2018


United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Supervisor's Office
500 Hanson Lake Road
Rhinelander, WI 54501

Date: September 17, 2018
Trish Bantle President, Pigeon Lake Association
Dear Ms. Bantle:
I want to follow up on the telephone conversation on Friday, August 24, regarding the ongoing issues for home and cabin owners on Pigeon Lake resulting from the 2018 Father’s Day rain event and subsequent precipitation over the summer. While there are no formal monitoring stations established by the federal government or state government, there is no doubt that Pigeon Lake has reached levels not seen in many years. The effects on private landowners and their buildings and other improvements (septic systems, wells, driveways, trees, etc.) is regrettable.
While the USDA Forest Service (USFS) owns riparian land and some improvements (boat launch site) around the lake, the high water levels are not affecting these resources similarly to what is occurring on private lands. The USFS owns land around many natural lakes within the boundaries of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and accepts the natural fluctuations and their consequences to adjacent forests. The one USFS improvement associated with Pigeon Lake that is affected by the high water levels and which has caused us concern is the road known as West Pigeon Lake Road or FR 394. This road, like many on the National Forest, is cooperatively managed by the USFS and the town in which they are located, in this case the Town of Drummond.
Immediately following the June rain event, FR394 was overtopped by rising water and the two low areas on the north side of the road (see enclosed map) were inundated and rose to essentially the same level as the lake. Soon afterwards, The Town and the USFS worked together to raise the road bed to allow commercial trucks to haul stone from the Eureka gravel pit on the north side of Pigeon Lake to fix road issues from the flood elsewhere in the Delta/Drummond area. The construction materials used rock versus gravel base to lift the road so that water could flow more easily through it if the lake levels remained high. This is occurring as seepage through the road and two low lying areas to the north on the National Forest are receiving this water. The water levels on the north side of the road have recently dropped to a foot or so lower than the levels on the lake and the seepage continues.
We have considered the idea introduced on the August 24 call to consider hastening the flow of water from the lake to those lower lying areas. My engineering supervisor has worked with the Town of Drummond and has spoken with Mr. Lance Ritchie from your Association regarding drainage across FR394. We have discovered a crushed culvert just east of the gravel pit and will be replacing it with our Heavy Equipment Operator crew later this month. I am also willing to invest additional USFS resources to install a culvert further west of the gravel pit on FR394 which would further inundate National Forest lands in the associated low area. Because the “overflow areas” on the north side of the road are not large (approximately 8 and 14 acres), already hold water, and like
Trish Bantle 2
the lake are subject to groundwater movement, we do not expect a significant drop in water levels on the lake from the installation of the culverts. That said, they should help a little.
Our professional hydrologists and soil scientists have also used high resolution imagery, information we already had access to regarding groundwater movement, and their professional judgement to evaluate the situation you are encountering. In summary, Pigeon Lake is a “seepage lake” with no inlets or outlets. Water comes into the lake from precipitation and groundwater movement. The roughly 250 acre lake gets groundwater input from an approximately 5,000 acre area and the lake essentially reflects the water table in this 5,000 acre area. The lake itself sits at one of the lowest elevations within this area (see accompanying high resolution map images) further exacerbating the effects of any increases in water in the overall system. At very high lake levels, a few areas on the west end of the lake also take on water from both lake overflow and groundwater movement (the two areas I referenced above). However, the lay of the land around most of the lake limits where water can go when lake levels are high. I am providing you with several images produced from LIDAR (a surveying technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser light from a low flying aircraft) data which has been collected by Bayfield County over the past decade. My staff have further interpreted and displayed the data to highlight the fine scale topographical situation for Pigeon Lake and the immediate surrounding area.
Based in part on discussions which occurred at the July 31 meeting your Lake Association organized and at which some of my staff were present, as well as discussions at other times, my understanding is that the Association wants to lower the lake level as soon as possible to reduce the effects on the private lands and their improvements. Several proposals along this line were discussed on the August 24 telephone call which included Lake Association members, me and some of my staff, and staff from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). On that call, we and the WDNR provided you preliminary feedback to your ideas based on our mutual discussion of them.
The USFS and WDNR are in agreement that to lower the lake level sufficiently to reduce effects on private lands, there would have to be removal of large amounts of water not just from the lake, but from the groundwater area as well, because water removed from the lake would be replaced at least in part by groundwater moving laterally from adjacent lands. To effect a lake level change, removed water would have to be transported outside the 5000 acre area because water deposited in the same area would eventually move back toward the lake. It is important to note here that we do not have a complete understanding of how groundwater moves in this system. We have the benefit of some reasonably recent groundwater studies in the area which inform our professionals, but any conclusions are based on professional judgment given best available information.
As the USFS and WDNR explained on the August 24 call, your proposal to move water out of the lake and deposit it into a stream and wetland area within the National Forest south of Pigeon Lake has numerous logistical, financial, regulatory, and timing complications. The USFS is not a regulatory agency regarding water, but would have to determine if a required Special Use Permit to allow for such an action would be issued for the Lake Association to use National Forest lands by having pipes and associated equipment (pumps, etc.) to transport water. Additionally, if National Forest lands were to be affected by the deposition of removed water, there would have to be analysis and public involvement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This process would take considerable time (months). Cost Recovery regulations associated with the analysis and the permitting, if we decided to proceed, would also apply. As I stated on the August
Trish Bantle 3
24 call, solutions not involving National Forest lands would be less complicated. Additionally, I would not begin evaluation of a permit proposal or required environmental analysis unless a proposal had a high probability of success, could be financed, and had specifics about timing and duration. I cannot speak on behalf of the WDNR, but they explained other complications from a regulatory standpoint based on state statutes and their legal authority over state waters.
On the August 24 call, I said I would make contact with other entities who have far more expertise and their own network of contacts regarding situations like this. James Yach from the WDNR and I spoke with Mr. Pat Goggin from the University of Wisconsin – Extension who works with lake associations as part of the Wisconsin Lake Partnership. I believe he has been in touch with you and hopefully has information and further contacts who might be able to assist your Association in options you have.
My engineering, hydrology, and soils staff have spent considerable time in the last few months assessing this situation including a number of field visits. At this point in time, the USFS does not intend to take additional actions at Pigeon Lake other than completing culvert work on FR394.
If and when there is a feasible and fundable proposal by the Lake Association to pump groundwater and/or lake water and National Forest lands are part of such proposal, we will give it due consideration quickly, and will also inform the Lake Association about reasonable time lines, costs, etc. associated with required permitting, environmental analysis, etc. As a reminder, there is a plant - Fassett’s Locoweed - found at Pigeon Lake which is on the federal endangered species list with a status of “threatened.” Any action associated with human caused water fluctuation and involving the USFS would require formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Depending on the nature of a proposal, other state, federal, or local government agencies may have authorities which would need their involvement as well. The Wisconsin Lake Partnership would be a good source of this kind of information.
Again, I am empathetic to the situation you and other property owners on the lake are enduring with the excessively high water. I hope the work of my staff to interpret information about the hydrology and topography of the area is useful and that culvert replacement and new installation on FR394 to allow some water to flow more quickly to natural overflow basins is helpful.
If you have any questions, please contact me at 715-362-1323 or by email at pstrong@fs.fed.us.
Sincerely,
/s/Paul I. V. Strong PAUL I. V. STRONG Forest Supervisor
Enclosures (3)
cc: Jamie Davidson, Brad Turberville

Friday, September 14, 2018


Jan Victorson of Bayfield County Emergency Services shared the following information with me:

Two points of contact:
1.           Red Cross - for disaster or emergency assistance
              1.800-236-8680 Option #9.
                             This is the 24/7 disaster number for the Western Wisconsin Chapter.
2.           Salvation Army - Tom Bremer. Service Field Representative
               tom_bremer@usc.salvationarmy.org
                             (715) 554-0177
Tom from Salvation Army was able to provide some assistance to a primary home owner earlier this week.
The Red Cross stated they do have disaster mental health volunteers who could be available for emotional support.
 Jan said she would also try to be a conduit of accurate information for us regarding roads and other pertinent information.

Jan Victorson, Director
Bayfield County Emergency Management
117 E Sixth Street – PO Box 423
Washburn WI 54891
715.373.6113
Make a Plan. Get a Kit. Be Informed.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Drummond Town Board Meeting

Thank you Les Watters for attending the meeting and sharing the information.
Karen and I attended the 11 September 2018 Drummond Town Board Meeting and have the following information:
Claude Riglemon – municipal assessor.  Riglemon Appraisal Service, 21716 Aspen Avenue, Warrens, WI 54666.  608-378-3003.
CLAUDER@CENTURYTEL.NET.  WWW.RIGLEMONAPPRAISAL.COM.
PIGEON LAKE LAND OWNERS WHO ARE EXPERIENCING WATER PROBLEMS AND WISH TO DISCUSS TAX LEVEES FOR 2019 SHOULD ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING:
Name – fire number – extent of damage – has the damage been repaired – will the damage be repaired.  All discussion must be entered into before 15 October 2018 as that is the termination date for assessment business transacted for the 2019 season.
 Les Watters

Thank you Les Watters for sharing this information.
Karen and I attended the 11 September 2018 Drummond Town Board Meeting and have the following information:
Claude Riglemon – municipal assessor.  Riglemon Appraisal Service, 21716 Aspen Avenue, Warrens, WI 54666.  608-378-3003.
PIGEON LAKE LAND OWNERS WHO ARE EXPERIENCING WATER PROBLEMS AND WISH TO DISCUSS TAX LEVEES FOR 2019 SHOULD ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING:
Name – fire number – extent of damage – has the damage been repaired – will the damage be repaired.  All discussion must be entered into before 15 October 2018 as that is the termination date for assessment business transacted for the 2019 season.  Les Watters

Monday, September 10, 2018


Greetings! The Board of Bayfield County Lakes Forum (BCLF) cordially invites you to our Annual Meeting on Saturday, Oct 13th, 10 am at the Drummond Community Center. Sign in starting at 9:30 am for coffee, donuts, and discussion with friends! 

Agenda is forthcoming but please feel free to share ideas about what you might like to discuss - as this is your forum!  Some possible discussion ideas: aquatic invasive species update, zoning: flooding and erosion, Pigeon Lake - once too low but now too high, wake boats. You name it because there is so much to discuss! 

Please share with your lakes and water friends! 
Hope to see you there! 
Bayfield County Lakes Forum Board
Jim Brakken - Cable Lake
Ellen Lafans - Crystal Lake/Cable
Trish Bantle -  Pigeon Lake
Beth Kolling - Iron Lake
John Lang - Crystal Lake/ Cable

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Pigeon Lake Association Meeting   Saturday, September 1, 2018
Attendance - 26 PL owners, 3 family members and 2 guests.

Moment of Silence: In remembrance of Frank Samp, a steward of our lake and community, who passed away April 20, 2018.

2018 minutes: Approved. 
Open Secretary Position: Mary Hayes nominated & unanimously elected. 

Treasurer’s Report:  $1,645.97 current balance. Full report on file.
Tax Update: Susan Ritchie
2018 assessments stand.  2019 will be reassessed.  Property owners can email photos and description of property damage for tax reduction consideration to: clauder@centurytel.net.

2019 PLA Annual Meeting & Picnic:  Hayes Family will host on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, August 31, 2019. Time to be set. 

Membership: 2018-19 and sign up for Facebook and Blog encouraged.

Loon Watch: Gary Harms and Trish Bantle are monitors. Loon pair was in residence but no live births were sited.

1000 Year Rain: June 16-17, 2018 18 inch rain storm

Great effort by Trish Bantle, Lance and Susan Ritchie and Doug Hayes was expended following the June rainstorm including meetings, phone calls and endless emails.  7 known lake properties suffered serious damage.  All properties experienced shoreline damage including loss of trees.  Since storm Doug Hayes drafted 3 proposals to reduce lake water levels without success.  Pigeon Lake is officially part of St. Croix River Watershed.  We are the low spot in a 1 square mile area.  Surrounding area continues to be saturated and at water table levels.  

Township Meeting:  June18, 2018 resulted in temporary Slow/No Wake Ordinance on Pigeon Lake effective immediately, posted at boat landing and enforceable by law.  Jeff Kistner, Recreation Officer, will respond to complaints (715) 373-6300. Consensus at PLA Annual Meeting was that Ordinance must be continued until lake levels drop. 

Public Meeting: Drummond Civic Center July 31 2018 with 30 people in attendance. Outcome: “draft a proposal” which Doug Hayes did.

Phone Conference:  August 24, 2018 with DNR, Lance Ritchie, Forest Service and Town of Drummond. Agreement on ownership of Pigeon Lake Road & maintenance of road was under discussion with no consensus. Outcome: names and contact info for more folks to call and get involved from UWSP and UW EXT.
Engineer came to look at PL Road, but do not know what they recommend.

Information Shared:  US Army Corp of Engineers completed study and proposes a plan to riprap N shoreline by boat landing. 
Town of Drummond received 0 FEMA dollars. 

Follow Up:  Trish Bantle will prepare a list of organizations, government agencies and elected officials for PLA Association members and friends to contact and lobby regarding lake level issues. She will make a list of recommended talking points to touch on in communications.

WI Lake Association:  Motion made and seconded to rejoin; membership expired August 2018.

DNR AIS Grant:  written & approved for aquatic plant survey was completed 8/31/18.  No invasive plants were found. Native species were found to depth of 31 ft. but fewer plants existed.  Recent Secchi disc reading shows water clarity to be currently at 10.5 feet.   This is a 5 foot improvement over July reading, so the sediment is settling down.

Smart weed now abounds -  two types (land and water) both in lake.  This is not an invasive species. Can pull plants 30ft wide area around docks contiguous, only manual removal and no mechanical raking ... root depth of 16 ft.  Positives of plant: reducing wake and erosion impact to shoreline and providing good structural habitat for fish.

2018 Citizen Lake Monitoring: 3 summer month water samples & secchi disc readings were done by Trish Bantle and Gary Harms to establish a
base line. Lake temperature, phosphorous and chlorophyll sampled and information sent in to State. Report available after November.

Zoning: New high water set back is based on current water levels.

PL Field Station:  Doug Hayes shared that Station has been marketed for 2 years without success.  Camp land is owned by Bureau of Public Lands and buildings by UW River Falls. It appears that UWRF has given up and even dropped insurance.  Because of restrictions on land use, only options moving forward would be a sale for educational use. 

Next PLA Steps: Mary Hayes proposed that PLA Board meet asap, set an agenda, contact WI Lake Association & specifically address compromised septic systems. 

Respectfully submitted by Sandy MacLaughlin, PLA Secretary


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Picnic update:
Please plan to bring your own beverages to the picnic on Saturday,
Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Pigeon Lake Picnic

PICNIC REMINDER!!!!!

PIGEON LAKE ASSOCIATION PICNIC*

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2018
"a social gathering"

Hosted by: Hayes Family 10465 Whispering Pine

3:00 PM for conversation (1000 year rain perhaps?) & short meeting.  Potluck and a bonfire will follow.
Meat, beverages, plates and utensils will be provided.
             Please bring side dish, salad or dessert and a chair.

Come rain or shine. Family and guests are very welcome.  
*2018 PLA Membership Form attached
PICNIC REMINDER!!!!



PIGEON LAKE ASSOCIATION PICNIC*

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2018
"a social gathering"

Hosted by: Hayes Family 10465 Whispering Pine

3:00 PM for conversation (1000 year rain perhaps?) & short meeting.  Potluck and a bonfire will follow.
Meat, beverages, plates and utensils will be provided.
             Please bring side dish, salad or dessert and a chair.

Come rain or shine. Family and guests are very welcome. 
  *2018 PLA Membership form attached  

PIGEON LAKE ASSOCIATION PICNIC*

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2018
"a social gathering"

Hosted by: Hayes Family 10465 Whispering Pine

3:00 PM for conversation (1000 year rain perhaps?) & short meeting.  Potluck and a bonfire will follow.
Meat, beverages, plates and utensils will be provided.
             Please bring side dish, salad or dessert and a chair.

Come rain or shine. Family and guests are very welcome.  
*2018 PLA Membership Form attached

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Federal Funding.

Good Morning Ms. Bantle -

My coworker Jon let me know that you were interested in learning more
about federal funding to see if there were any grants available to help
with the pumping of excess water from a lake.  Below and attached are
some resources I hope you find helpful.  Please feel free to reach out
should you have additional questions!

As you may know, federal assistance is available in a variety of forms
and includes federal grants, loans, and certain types of contracts.
Senator Baldwin and her staff work with and oversee federal agencies on
a wide variety of topics, including federal funding assistance for
non-profit organizations, institutes of higher education, and local
governments.  Although some resources are accessible to individuals and
businesses, federal funding is most commonly available to eligible
public or non-profit entities that serve a public purpose. I have
attached two Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports titled
_Resources for Grantseekers_ and _How to Develop a Grant Proposal_ to
this email, which contain helpful information about federal grant
eligibility and various sources of funding.

All federal grant opportunities are posted on the website www.grants.gov
[1]. This website also includes a search function and guidelines for
interested applicants on how to apply for federal funding. You can
access a Grants.gov user guide for additional guidance on how to
register your organization and navigate this website here [2].

In addition to Grants.gov, the Foundation Center [3], a non-governmental
organization established in 1956, remains a leading source of
information about private philanthropy worldwide. Seven Wisconsin
libraries belong to the Foundation Center's Funding Information Network,
a nation-wide network of nearly 500 collections that provide information
about foundation and corporate giving. Each of the seven Funding
Information Network locations throughout Wisconsin [4] provide _free
on-site access_ to an online database of foundation grants, as well as
print materials. In addition, a recording of the Foundation Center's
_Introduction to Proposal Writing_ webinar is available online here [5].
This video goes over the basics of proposal writing and includes tips
and best practices.

I am also including some information for the U.S. Department of
Agriculture - Rural Development's Programs & Services [6].

More information and links to additional resources that may be of
interest to you are available on the Senator's website,
https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/help/grants [7].