- Call to Order: Jeff Malison, President 10:00 AM
- Attendance: Board: Jeff Malison, Randy Schubert, Tom Mowbray, Bill Stewart, Jim Kohl, Jean Burns, Jim Moore. Absent: Diane O’Krongly and Ed Hryciuk.
Members and guests: Leann Malison, Mike Myers, Beth Myers, Rita Salberg, Jim Salberg, Mary Kohl, Brian Gantner, Sue Gantner, R.B. Melvold, Beth Melvold, Sally Stewart, Randy Payne, Sue Payne, Arnold Popp, Todd Jirous, Becky Jirous, Cathy Jordan, Joe Aski, Harold Clark Jr., Jarold Clark III, Janet Clark, Kurt Wolff, Sarah Wolff, Maryann Brown, Marcia Hittle, Michael Hittle, Jan Carstens, Hank Carstens, Cathy Jordon, Mike Ondresky, Gail Ondresky, Brett Johnson, Ray Jaroch Terry Daulton, Jeff Wilson, and Zach Lawson.
A quorum was present.
- Members and Board members introduced themselves.
- Minutes of the June 17, 2017 Annual Meeting were presented by Bill Stewart, Secretary. A move to accept was made and seconded. The minutes were approved without correction. These minutes will be filed and posted on the website.
- Treasurer’s Report was presented by Tom Mowbray, Treasurer. As of June 21 we have $9350.37 in the general fund and $2,451.75 in the fish Habitat fund for a total balance of $11,803.12. The full report with itemized expenses will be posted on the website and filed with the minutes of this meeting. It was noted that our balance is a bit lower than a year ago and that our annual membership drive begins next month.
2. Elections: the following positions are open for election: President, Vice President, and 3 Director positions. The board presented a slate to fill these positions as follows:
President: Randy Schubert
Vice-President: Jeff Malison
Director: Diane O’Krongly
Director: Jim Kohl
Director: Jean Burns
Nominations were sought from the floor. None were offered. A move to accept the slate was made, seconded and passed. All candidates were elected to the position listed above.
3. Updates on Current and New Activities
- Search for volunteers: Membership Committee needs leadership. Brett Johnson expressed interest.
- Discussion, should we have a Facebook Page in addition to a website? The importance of keeping current was discussed. Sue Payne expressed interest. We will move forward with a trial page.
- Web Site: A request for pictures and topics of interest was made. Please send them to Randy Schubert, President, or Jean Burns.
- The question of electronic storage of records was presented. The board is actively seeking the best way to manage the slow accumulation of minutes and other documents. All thoughts should be addressed to Bill Stewart, Secretary.
- A rumor regarding the possible relocation of the Fish Manager, Zach Lawson from Mercer to Ashland was shared. Zach Lawson said he was aware of discussions but no definite plans yet.
- ATV Trail development: Tom Mowbray: The DNR has proposed an ATV trail that would pass through a part of the Turtle Flambeau Flowage- Trude Lake Scenic Waters Area that is included in the protected area of the 1995 Master Plan. The Master Plan states that no trails were under consideration and none were intended for this area in 1995 when the plan was written. This trail would rely on connection to two other trail segments in order to be completed. One of the other two segments passes through public forest land and the other would cross private property. The DNR currently has a handshake agreement with private property owner who is elderly and in declining health and is for a “land use” agreement which depends upon the assent of the current land owner. The current owner would gate his segment of the trail so it could be closed during hunting season. Should the current owner pass away an agreement with the new owner would have to be arranged.
The Master Plan does not allow for any trail development in the Scenic Waters Area. The DNR has proposed amending the Master Plan in order to permit this trail. This process has been underway since this past winter. A draft of the Amendment was published June, 2018 and a well-attended meeting was held at the Springstead Town Hall soon after. The proposed amendment is available on line https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/PropertyPlanning/Northwoods/documents/TurtleFlambeauAmendment.pdf ” The public comment period runs June 11 to July 10. Tom encouraged members to take a comment form from him after the meeting and to send comments to John Pohlman whose name is on the form. Writing letters was encouraged rather than using email forms and emails because they seem to have a better impact. The address is on the form.
The process going forward includes creating a final draft of the Amendment for the DNR Board to be presented in Hayward in September. And next year in Madison.
In 2014 our membership survey showed 80% of our membership opposed any trail development within the Scenic Water Area. As noted above, the Master Plan does not allow for the development of new trails. All businesses on Popko circle can be accessed by existing routes and trails. The DNR states that the impact of the new trail would be to divert some ATV traffic off Popko Circle and onto the Scenic Waters portion of the trail. There is no basis for this opinion.
The position of our board has been to oppose new motorized trail development in the Scenic Waters Area. We are not opposed to developing other trails. We have also opposed using the amendment process as a way to approach this issue. We have advocated for a full revision of the master Plan since all similar plans are being reviewed and up-dated on a regional basis and that our Plan is scheduled for such a review in the next year or two.
We wonder if the projected cost of developing the trail segment (approximately $100,000) would be a wise expense of public money, especially since there are many other pressing issues in the Scenic Waters area such as the much-needed presence of Conservations Officers and or a Warden.
Discussion: without the portion of the trail that would run through the Scenic Waters Area there can be no new trail.
Iron County already has more ATV trails than any other county.
There is trail sticker and gas tax revenue for trails.
Master Plans are being reviewed state wide. Ours is in the next batch.
How does this trail idea fit with other regional and state trail plans?
This type of trail should be considered in comparison to other trail types such as bicycling which has growing popularity in this area.
There are three options for changing a Master Plan: Variance, Amendment and Revision. We favor Revision because it requires the most public input.
Our Current Master Plan was developed to keep this area as a wilderness area and we are concerned that even a small change can lead to other unwanted change later on and an erosion of the goal of the plan.
- Water level Committee: Jim Moore. We have plenty of water. The Memorandum of Understanding between the DNR and Exel Energy calls for 1571.5 feet of elevation by April 20 or 7 days after ice out. Compliance was achieved May 9 less than 1 week after ice out and subsequent rain has not only kept us at high water levels but management of the Cubic feet per Second flow at the dam has been managed very actively to prevent water from becoming too high. Last year Exel was able to keep water levels in compliance throughout the summer. Tom Aartila of the DNR will be creating a “Stake Holders Meeting” for groups and businesses impacted by water levels in the Flowage. We will be a member of those meetings.
- Invasive Species: Randy Payne. Purple Loose Strife is our main target. We seem to be making progress through our surveys and work days. The volume of plants removed has declined slightly and the total areas where plants are present seem to have become smaller. Emails will go out next week regarding the surveying and the work day will be scheduled soon. There are some areas of the state where drones are used to assist with this kind of effort. But there is expense involved in that.
- Mike Hittle announced that he has finished his book about the Turtle Flambeau Flowage titled: An Accidental Jewel. He expressed his special thanks to Maryanne Brown for her assistance during the research and writing. The initial printing of 500 sold 496 very quickly and another 250 were printed. Mike will sign books after the meeting. Several who have already read the book expressed their delight in his work.
- Randy Payne: Wisconsin Lakes Association. Randy reported on his attending the April Convention of this group in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Of special interest to Randy was additional information about invasive species and ways to find underwater invasive plants, and possible future threats. These include Phragmites, Zebra Mussels and European Water Milfoil. Currently the Flowage is in good shape regarding invasives with our only known problem being purple loosestrife.
- Zach Lawson reported on the Walleye fishery in the Flowage and possible future changes to bag limits. Long term population studies on the Walleye population indicate that the per acre population has dropped significantly. However the flowage is still a sustainable walleye fishery. The current limit is 3 per day with no size limits. Current population density is 2.8 fish per acre. 23% of these fish are above 15 inches. The goal is 4-6 fish per acre. Given the rates of harvest, changes in the daily limit seem necessary. Fish Managers such as Zac are limited in what limits can be placed on a body of water to a preexisting set of regulations from which to choose. None of the existing choices are likely to restore the walleye population to the 4-6 fish per acre goal. Zach is using the population studies on the Flowage to set a new regulation in place. This will require about 2 additional years of work while it clears the required administrative hurdles and gathers support. The goal year for implementation would be 2020. The proposed limit would be 3 fish per day with a 12 inch minimum and only one fish per day over 15 inches
Is the Tribal harvesting of Walleye taken into account in the figures? Yes. And because tribal harvest limits are established using average fish populations going back 20 years, a reduction in tribal limit and harvest is expected as the next two years will see the last of the large population years removed from the averaging.
There is no full time DNR person assigned as the Manager for the Flowage. The spot has been open for 2 years. The Board should discuss this and the issue of sparse law enforcement too.
We need to keep the Fish Manager located in Mercer.
Should the large sign at the Dam, which is deteriorating, be replaced in kind or with a smaller sign? How many people read it?
Should the start time for this meeting be earlier next year? This is venue dependent.
6. Open floor discussion no additional topics were opened.
7. Adjournment. Moved seconded and approved at 12:00 noon.