More than 40 clean lake advocates were updated on the threat of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to the surface waters of Bayfield County and how this impact could affect water quality and waterfront property values. The open discussion took place at the 2017 Bayfield County Lakes Forum Annual Meeting held Saturday in Drummond. Mary Dougherty, a leading advocate for responsible regulation of CAFOs offered an overview of the issue and the county’s efforts to create effective policies that encourage responsible agricultural endeavors without sacrificing quality of life or creating a public health hazard. Following the conversation, the BCLF unanimously passed a resolution commending the Bayfield County Supervisors for their proactive approach to this issue and calling for them to create “a public health ordinance that requires large-scale swine and poultry operations to develop and implement a plan to monitor and contain influenza and other viral disease outbreaks.”
Next, John Richter, Director of the Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative (WSI) (wisconsinshoreland.org) outlined WSI’s effort to return local control of shoreland zoning regulation to the zoning departments of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Two years ago, Act 55 removed local control of waterfront development regulation, eliminating many of the rules that protect water quality important to over 10,000 lakes in the northern tiers of counties. Richter, a waterfront homeowner from Vilas County, emphasized the need for conservation organizations and lake associations to participate in WSI’s effort to minimize damage done by the changes made by the State Legislature’s recent pro-development actions. Jennifer Croonberg-Murphy from Bayfield County Planning & Zoning Department explained specifics regarding the changes in shoreland zoning regulations caused by Act 55 and other legislation, stating that Bayfield County will seek input from lake associations and others to develop new policies regarding zoning rules for waterfront development. BCLF has formed a committee to provide input to the County Board as this new language is developed.
Group discussion then turned to a bill now being considered by the legislature that would allow developers to fill non-federal wetlands without permit or oversight and another attempt to allow developers to substantially dredge public lakebeds without DNR consent or knowledge, actions highly detrimental to water quality and habitat.
Senator Janet Bewley (D-Mason) pointed out the need for citizens, local town boards, and conservation organizations to voice their opinions on both CAFOs and local control of shoreland zoning. Bewley emphasized that the legislature needs to hear that the northern counties stand together on these issues.
In other business, those attending elected two board members. A plea was made for all waterfront owners and each of the county’s lake organizations to play an active role in protecting water quality and waterfront property values by supporting the BCLF. All are invited to serve on a committee or the Board of Directors. Groups and individuals are encouraged to contribute to BCLF’s work by sending a check to Ellen Lafans, BCLF Treasurer, 20325 SW Crystal Lane, Cable, WI 54821. The Bayfield County Lakes Forum is a citizen-volunteer organization representing 22 lake organizations and over 3,000 waterfront owners. It is not supported by or part of the Bayfield County government. Visit BayfieldCountyLakes.org for more information. For more on CAFOs, see sustainruralwisconsin.org.