Tag Archives: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Dredge Debate

5 Aug

The Blue Lake Preservation Association met Saturday, August 1st for its annual member-wide caucus. With lake levels so pronouncedly low this year, a talking point at the meeting was possibilities for dredging part(s) of the lake to allow easier navigable access between Blue Lake’s small basin and large basin. The dredging process is expected to cost at least $15,000, depending, among other things, on the amount of material removed from the lake. In order to dredge Blue Lake, a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must be obtained and a dumping ground for the out-hauled matter must be secured.

Pro-dredging arguments include the right of residents on the small basin, including dues-paying member of the BLPA, to pursue happiness by continuing to have navigable access to the large basin. Anti-dredging arguments include wariness to tamper with nature’s will.

Battleship through Channel

Battleship Attempts to Navigate Blue Lake Waters

Blue Lake Free Press views the following as obstacles to state-sponsored dredging:

  • Lack of support for permit. With the current atmosphere thick with anti-dredging sentiment, pro-dredgers will face a difficult time convincing the DNR of the necessity for modifying Blue Lake. (However, residents near shallow area(s) may make a compelling argument for professional dredging if amateurs destroy shorelines by scooping out sediment by their own accord.)
  • Cost. With a price tag starting at $15,000, BLFP is dubious that the BLPA will comprehensively agree to dedicate a majority of their funds to executing such an uncertain project.  (See Futility.) (However, a wealthy benefactor could step in and individually finance the project.)
  • Potential for ecological damage, including reduction in water quality and the addition of foreign material to the lake. Promoting a greater flow of water between the small basin and the large basin may mean that the nutrient-rich slurry prevalent in the small basin will infiltrate the large basin, creating increased algae blooms in big Blue Lake. Algae blooms are bad news for Blue Lake’s famously clear water. (However, a reduction in water clarity due to algae may mean better fishing.) Also, in order to most effectively prevent sediment from filling in the (theoretically) dredged area, a sturdy cement layer may need to be poured on top of the lake bed – further subjecting Blue Lake to unnatural elements.
  • Futility of of project. As Dr. Expert explains, “Nature doesn’t like holes.” If there’s a hole, the natural world will try to fill it in. This means that, eventually, sediment carried by water will naturally creep back into the dredged area, rendering the proposed modifications useless. In fact, in a few thousand (or more) years, Blue Lake will fill entirely with dirt; in which case, we’ll leave our canoes behind and all go on a big swamp hike.
  • Other catastrophic possibilities. As proffered by a Blue Lake resident, the dredging machine could uncork a large crevasse, draining the entirety of the lake’s waters into the ground, leaving nothing except a few lost sailboat centerboards by which to remember Blue Lake. (However, the dredging machine could also strike oil and / or gold and then we could charter the waters in our own personal yachts… though we’d probably have to create a system of locks between the small basin and the large basin for access.)

Correspondingly, Blue Lake Free Press sees dredging Blue Lake as not an optimal use of resources but should disclose that we are headquartered on the large basin where we do, indeed, have a lot of fun.


Sutton Road Preliminary Survey Approved

3 Jun

On June 2nd, 2009, the Minocqua Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Preliminary Survey #11-09 filed on behalf of Gerald Kozey regarding the ongoing development of Sutton Road and its rezoned lots (SW 1/4 of the NE 1/4 and the SE 1/4 of the SW 1/4 and the NW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 and the NE 1/4 of the SW 1/4 Section 17, T39N, R6E, Town of Minocqua.) The preliminary survey was also unanimously recommended by the Minocqua Planning Commission in a previous session.

While the survey concerns the initial part of “Phase One” encompassing the first four rezoned lots, deeds to the land have not been acquired as the project is still awaiting approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources who instructed that storm water management plans include storing storm water in ditches.  According to surveyor Jim Rein, the cost of complying with the DNR’s mandate to store storm water in wide ditches would exceed the entire cost of developing the road. He further expressed a strategy to proceed with constructing the first segment of the road which will straighten out curves and move the existing tract away from wetlands because approval from the DNR is not needed for disturbances less than one acre.

When asked by Supervisor John Thompson about the DNR’s propensity for ultimate cooperation, Jim Rein affirmed that the DNR will “play ball.”

NR 115 – The Document

28 May

An untitled document was recently released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources which appears to be the “draft” of the contentious and elusive updated NR 115 (Shoreland Protection Rules).  Below are its contents:

Intent of Each Section

Purpose– has not changed since the adoption of the original code.  It is the protection of habitat, water quality, and natural scenic beauty per ss 281.

Applicability– has not changed.  The desire is to have shoreland zoning apply everywhere it has in since the inception of the program in 1968.  The recognized problem is when there are multiple annexations under multiple codes having different processes and standards.  There has not been a solution proposed that meets both administrative and environmental standards.  The current system, while imperfect is functioning and understood by those implementing it so without a specific change to meet the goals it should be left alone.

Definitions– Additions to clarify some problematic areas from the past and additions to accommodate the impervious surface/mitigation concept have been inserted.

Existing development pattern
Impervious surface
Building envelope
Access & Viewing corridor
Routine maintenance

Shoreland Zoning Districts (115.05(1)) has not been changed.

Shoreland Wetland Zoning (115.05(2)) has no changes in the standards or procedures for re-zoning of wetlands.  New language to reflect that all counties have adopted at least the first wetland map and now subsequent re-mapping is occurring to increase accuracy therefore counties must adopt more recent and more accurate maps.  No additional county workload and reduced adoption procedures/costs compared to current procedures/costs.

Shoreland Zoning (115.05(3)) has been re-named to statewide minimum zoning standards for shorelands since that is what this has always been.

  • Minimum Lot Sizes There are no significant changes to this area.  It is still the 10,000/20,000 size with 65/100 feet of frontage.  We did add the substandard lot section to get current practices into law and provide much needed consistency across the state.
  • Minimum Setbacks  No change from the minimum 75 feet from the OHWM.  All boathouses that are allowed under county preference must be located in the access and viewing corridor.  Included exception for SS 59.692 structures interpreting this to be an aggregate 200 square-feet.
  • Shoreland Vegetation and Buffers proposed limiting owners with more than to no more than 200 feet of viewing and access (restricts owners with more than 660 feet of frontage).  Changed language for dead/dying/diseased removal still allowing the removal but requiring replacement in the same area.  The model will contain language suggesting a plan be required in the permit so this becomes enforceable however the State minimum does not require a specific plan rather the same system of permitting that already exists in all counties.
  • Impervious Surfaces Was simplified to simply require a statewide minimum of 15%-30% requires mitigation and more than 30% requires relief.  It is the intent of this section and reflected in the non-conforming language that all properties, as the date of this rule, will get what they have for impervious surfaces however the burden of proof is on the project proponent to show the surfaces existed prior to the rule.  In all cases where the impervious surfaces exceed 15% mitigation shall be required when alterations are proposed.  The specific mitigation will be contained in the model and local ordinances however in all cases if a landowner wishes to restore the first 35-feet it will meet the state minimum.
  • Height Requirements are proposed in the first 75-feet from the OHWM because we are now proposing to allow wreck and re-build within the same footprints which will allow the extension of non-conforming structures however with mitigation and protection of the height the impacts are anticipated to be less than the current systems  We do not propose requiring these restrictions beyond the critical first 75 feet even though the vast majority of counties already regulate this.
  • Non-conforming uses are proposed to eliminate the 50% rule and allow unlimited maintenance/repair with potential expansion away from the water through a permit.  Under no circumstances, except with relief, may a county allow wreck and re-build within 35 feet of the OHWM.  Beyond that we will encourage counties to use the impervious surface regulation along with mitigation measures.  Inside of 35 feet we will write a suggested special exception for certain waterbodies where this is appropriate in our model.  Newly created non-conforming structures (impervious surface) are proposed to be regulated using mitigation measures, no additional impervious surfaces, and appropriate mitigation measures.

Land Division Review (115.05(4)) we proposed to add a provision which requires notification of proposed divisions in the shoreland zone to assure all public access requirements are met.

Establishment of Sanitary regulations (115.05(5)) We propose no changes however we need to assure that the references are still the right numbers.

Adoption of Administration and Enforcement (115.05(6)) Allows two years for adoption of new ordinance for each county.  DNR will issue a certificate of compliance with a presumptive approval after 30 days.

Department Duties No significant changes

Mitigation-is a new section.  The intent is to replace the environmental losses that have occurred, or are proposed to occur in proportion to the overall project size.  For ease of use, protection/restoration of the 35 foot buffer will satisfy for the majority of projects.


See the documents for yourself:

(click on page for full version)

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources NR 115 (1)

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources NR 115 (page 1)

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources NR 115 (page 2)

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources NR 115 (page 2)