Saturday June 17, 2017, Pines Restaurant, Hwy 51 at Vaughn St., Mercer, Wisconsin
1 Call to Order. President Jeff Malison called the meeting order at 10:00 AM. Board Members and members present introduce themselves.
Board Members in attendance were: Jeff Malison, Tom Mowbray, Bill Stewart, Mike Hittle, Jim Kohl, Diane O’Krongly and Randy Schubert. Absent: Jim Moore and Bill Ficek
Members Attending: Ray Jaroch, Peg Jaroch, Perry Reas, Betty Reas, Sally Stewart, Deana Byrnes, Maryanne Brown, Mike Myers, Beth Myers, Brian Gantner, Sue Gantner, Jean Burns, Marty Burns, Ed Hryciuk, Mark Olson, Maura Olson, Marcia Hittle, Harold Clark Sr., Harold Clark Jr. Harold Clark III, Jim Bohmann, Hank and Jan Carstens, Dean Garny, Deb Garny, Gail Ondresky, Mike Ondresky, and Leann Malison
Guests: Dean Steines, Excel Energy and Zach Lawson Wisconsin DNR
A quorum was present.
Minutes of the 2016 Annual Meeting were handed out. Secretary, Bill Stewart, asked for comment or correction. None were made. A motion to approve the minutes as written was made, seconded, and passed unanimously.
Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Tom Mowbray handed out the treasurer’s report. Our total between checking and savings accounts and CD’s is $10,512.45 as of June 8, 2017. The full report including all expenses is attached. A motion to accept the report as written was made, seconded and passed unanimously.
2 Presentation: Mr. Dean Steines of Excel Energy reported on the dike projects that will be underway on the Flowage in the next several years. As part of the Federal licensing process for the TFFTL dam, an assessment was made of the dikes that help impound high water in several locations. Part of this assessment determines the possible high water mark in a “1000 year flood.” (Probable Maximum Flood…PMF) This high water mark is higher than the mark previously determined by the Wisconsin DNR. By FERC Standards, our dam is a “High Hazard dam” meaning that should the dam or the dikes fail, there would be considerable damage downstream because of the volume of water released. (This is not an evaluation of the structure of the dam.) Consequently the height of dike 10 and dike 11 must be raised to contain this PMF.
Dike 10 will be built on the site of the road that runs along the current Dike, The road will be placed on top of the dike to reduce impact to surrounding private, and public properties and wetlands. The construction is likely in 2018 after Labor Day and will cause temporary closings of Sportsman’s Landing.
Dike 11 is between Lake Bastine and Minnow Lake. This will have definite impact on some private property and will require easements. Construction is most likely in 2019 but could be later.
The improvement of the dikes will allow containment of water that could measure 5 feet above the current full pool mark. Dam operations will be normal during the construction to the dikes. Dikes will be open to walkers when finished. There will be no vehicular or ATV traffic allowed on the dikes other than maintenance vehicles, except on public roadways that are built on the dikes.
There was a question about whether our dam is operated remotely. Our dam requires a daily visit from an attendant who makes changes in the spillway flow as directed on site.
Dean Steines presentation was warmly received and Jeff Malison expressed our appreciation.
3 ELECTIONS: the following board positions were open to elections. As required by the by-laws the board presented a slate of nominees for these positions. Nominations for each position were sought from the members. No additional candidates were nominated for any of the positions. The positions were filled as follows by the unanimous votes of the members attending:
Secretary: Bill Stewart for 2 years
Treasurer: Tom Mowbray 2 years
Vice President: Randy Schubert for 1 year completing Ficeks’s term
Director: Jean Burns for 1 year completing Randy Schubert’s term
Director: Jim Moore
Director: Ed Hryciuk
4 Presentation: Zach Lawson Iron County Fish Manager WDNR.
Zach Lawson presented the results of the 2016 Comprehensive Fish Survey that was completed on the Flowage last year. The methodology included netting, shocking and creel counts and involved 10 crews. The last such survey was 2009.
The results of the survey seemed to reflect changes in the fish community and changes in harvest pressures.
Small Mouth Bass: the bag limit includes a protected slot for fish 14-18 inches. 23,434 were caught. 832 were harvested. Most were smaller than 14 inches. There were approximately 19 fish per mile of shoreline.
Pan Fish (Blue Gills, Pumpkin Seeds, Perch and Crappies) Blue Gills 6-8 inches are plentiful. Pumpkin seeds are plentiful. Crappie 7-12 inches are plentiful. Densities seem low but seem to be building.
Muskie. Every one of the 172 fish that was caught in the survey was tagged. The survey estimates 1359 individuals in the Flowage, about .1 per acre. Density is low but sizes between 40 and 50 inches seem plentiful. Muskie are “stay at home fish.” However 4 tagged fish were discovered to have moved more than 1 mile since the fish was last recorded. Natural reproduction is happening. Stocking will likely be reduced and eventually end since natural reproduction is now occurring.
Walleye: Over 20,000 fish were handled but big ones are rare. 12-14 inch fish are predominant. There are approximately 2.8 fish per acre and 36,486 adults. Approximately 29,497 were caught and 13820 were harvested.
The population is healthy but density is low compared to previous surveys which show the following:
1975 7.9 fish per acre
A question asked if survey technique might result in over estimating the population. The answer is it is possible, but the same technique has been used in previous surveys so results should be consistent with regard to methodology. It was noted that only 1 in 10 fish in the survey was female.
Member concern for the impact of spearing on the harvest in general was expressed. Zach commented that the density and size of fish in the survey do not meet management objectives. The decline includes harvest pressures but also is impacted by several drought years when spawning was not as successful. The hatch from 2015 seems to be good.
Creel surveys show anglers increasing the harvest of pan fish and yellow perch and reducing bass and walleye. We do have strong natural walleye reproduction. Work is being done to try to improve spawning beds and create other habitat improvements that will bring more walleye young of the year to adulthood. There will be a “stake holders” meeting with Xcel, DNR, Iron County and other organizations in October. This meeting will cover various topics including water levels, invasive species and fish management. Hopefully this meeting will become an annual event. There may be a need down the road to revisit the current regulation of Walleye which is 3 per day no size limit. However, any change to these regulations takes about 3 years.
Jeff Malison inserted our Fish Committee report noting that our Fish Committee is looking forward to attending the stake holders meeting. This meeting is likely to be held in October or November.
It was also noted that our Association is powerless with regard to influencing tribal harvesting. Tribal harvesting is limited to 50% of the safe harvest level which is estimated each year. (35% of adult walleyes can be “safely harvested” and have population self-sustain. This 35% number includes both hook-and- line and tribal harvest. This year, based on creel counts, 4998 walleye were taken from the Flowage during the tribal spearing season.
Jeff Malison Thanked Zach Lawson for his presentation. The complete results of the fish survey are posted on our website.
5 Updates on Current and New Activities
Invasive Species: Diane O’Krongly talked about and presented pictures of Purple Loose Strife and asked for additional volunteers to work areas of the Flowage in July to find and remove plants when they are found. There is a Google Maps program that will be up on our website showing where that plant has been found in the past. The Spiny Water Flea is in some nearby lakes. We are also on the look out for Curley Pond Weed and Eurasian Milfoil. There is concern also about Rusty Crayfish which are in the Manitowish Chain and could easily come down river to us.
President’s Report: Jeff Malison reported that the membership signs are now available for posting. The signs and hardware are free. But we are asking for a $15.00 donation to cover costs. Donations can be made at the time of membership renewal. Board Members have taken extra signs and hardware with them to make them available to members who were not attending the meeting. The purpose of the signs is to increase community awareness of our organization and perhaps recruit additional members. Jean Burns has agreed to become the new editor of the Driftwood newsletter.
Website: Jeff Malison reports the website is running well, Randy Schubert is working to add links to other organizations, Members were asked for comments and also contributions which should channel through Jeff Malison.
E-Blasts: We will be experimenting with e-blast news to members. There will be an opt out choice when this begins. E-blasts will tend to be short and alert members to detailed information on the website.
Water Level: Tom Mowbray reporting for Jim Moore who was absent. (See written report attached) As of today the Flowage is 3 inches below full pool. We have had plenty of rain and outflow at the dam is 13,000cf/s. There have been no significant problems meeting the full pool requirements expressed in the MOU with Excel during the last few years.
Water Quality: Mike Myers reported that the monitoring season has begun. We lost funding for 4 of our sites. Our Flowage Association has stepped up to cover the cost of those 4 sites for this year. However some additional source of funding will be needed going forward. This may involve grant writing. Mike noted that Iron County wants more frequent Secchi disc readings than the monthly readings provided as part of water testing. This could result in a call for volunteers just for this one function. There are general parameters which describe what water quality in a flowage should be and our waters are within those parameters. However there are areas of concern at the Turtle River and Murray’s Landing where increased phosphorus is being noted and at Townline where there is more chlorophyll.
Floor was opened for member discussion and issues.
None were brought forward. Adjournments was moved, seconded and passed unanimously at 11:35 AM