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Board discusses Dane County clean water initiatives


June 15, 2017

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board (LWSRB) met at the Riverway’s Black Hawk Unit in the Town of Mazomanie, Dane County, on June 8 to conduct a regular monthly business meeting. Mark Cupp, executive director, noted the recent passing of former board member Lloyd “Nick” Nice and asked for a moment of silence in Nice’s honor to begin the meeting. Cupp spoke of Nice’s commitment to the riverway and the community of Boscobel and said Nick Nice was one of the finest people he has met during his long tenure with the riverway board. Other board members echoed Cupp’s comments and expressed condolences to the family.

The guest speaker for the evening was Pete Jopke, Dane County Water Resources Planner, who discussed some of the innovative projects the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department have initiated to improve water quality in area lakes and streams. Jopke highlighted efforts to remove phosphorus from the system, which contributes to algae blooms and degradation of overall water quality.

He discussed the digester at Middleton that returns 35,000 gallons of clean water to surface water or groundwater each day and removes hundreds of pounds of phosphorus. Jopke noted farmers are important partners in enhancing water quality through implementation of practices such as grassed waterways and barnyard runoff control. He added the county is experimenting with easements that provide for planting of harvestable buffers along wetlands and streams.

Another unique project involves removal of legacy phosphorus on Dorn Creek, which will be accomplished by dredging over the next few years. Jopke mentioned other urban stormwater treatments to keep pollutants out of the Madison lakes and said the battle against invasive species, including carp, is never-ending.

The board also approved the first in a series of permit applications from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in anticipation of re-opening the portion of the riverway’s Mazomanie Unit that currently is closed to public access.

Matt Seguin, DNR Property Manager, presented the board with a plan that includes vegetative management and timber harvesting as part of a larger proposal to create picnic areas, canoe accesses, and trails along the river west of Laws Drive, pursuant to the recently adopted DNR Riverway Master Plan. The area locally known as the Mazo Beach has been closed to public access for two years due to law enforcement problems at the site.

The Riverway Board approved a management permit for DNR to begin to remove woody vegetation and control invasive species using a forestry mower. Seguin said DNR expects to have the area open to public access in 2018.

In other action, the board re-elected sitting officers for another year. Fred Madison from the Town of West Point, Columbia County, will continue to serve as Chair while Jerry Dorscheid of Arena will remain Vice-Chair and Robert Cary of Blue River will be Secretary for another year. Cupp reported the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee had approved the board’s budget request for the next biennium on a 16-0 vote. He thanked Senator Howard Marklein and Senator Jon Erpenbach, who are both committee members and who represent areas within the riverway, for their assistance in moving the board’s budget request forward.

During the public comment session, Dan Deneen provided the board with background on the Friends of the Mazomanie Marsh and indicated the organization’s support for the DNR’s plan for re-opening the Mazo Beach to public access and developing the associated amenities. Ned Hodgson from the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway said FLOW will sponsor a riverway symposium on September 16 and 17. The event will be held at the Wisconsin Riverside Resort near Spring Green and will include field trips on Sunday. Information on the event is available at the FLOW website or Facebook page.

Bill Rowe, a landowner along STH 60 between Gotham and Muscoda, expressed disappointment with the lack of communication from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to landowners regarding the upcoming reconstruction of Hwy 60. He said DOT should contact landowners whose properties may be impacted by the project before making statements at a public meeting. He also suggested the board should be consistent in their concern about retention of trees on the riverside of the roadway.

The next meeting of the Riverway Board will be Thursday, July 13 in Muscoda.


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