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.
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.
President Pigeon Lake Association
Subject: Pigeon Lake and County N
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.