The Annual Membership Meeting of the TFF-TL Property Owners’ Association was held on Saturday, June 22, 2013, at the Mercer Community Center. In attendance were:
Terry Daulton—President Gary Bogenschneider
Diane O’Krongly—Vice President Jan Carstens
Mike Hittle—Secretary Leann Malison
Tom Mowbray—Treasurer Hank Carstens
Kit Bogenschneider—Director Jeff Malison
Bill Ficek—Director Ray Jaroch
Bill Stewart—Director Peg Jaroch
Harold Clark Jr. Brett Eliason
Harold Clark III Jim Leever
Sally Stewart Val Leever
Marcia Hittle Sandy Gitzlaff
Grace Wanta John Wahleitner
Jack Utrie Todd Jirous
Arnold Popp Becky Jirous
Deana Byrnes Chris Paulik–WDNR
Jeff Wilson Lawrence Eslinger—WDNR
- Call to Order: President Terry Daulton called the meeting to order at 10:02 a.m.
- Determination of Quorum: The President noted and the Secretary confirmed that a quorum was present.
- Minutes of the Annual Membership Meeting of June 9, 2012 : The minutes of the last annual meeting, having been circulated to all members, were approved by a voice vote.
- Treasurer’s Report: Tom Mowbray, Treasurer, reviewed the budget, copies of which had been circulated to those present. The association remains solvent, in spite of a substantial expenditure to secure legal advice about water-level issues. The report was approved on a voice vote.
- Elections: President Daulton then presided over the elections of two officers and three directors. The board of directors nominated Mike Hittle, Secretary, and Tom Mowbray, Treasurer, for two-year terms; Jim Bohmann and Bill Ficek, directors, for two-year terms; and Jeff Malison for a one-year term, filling a seat left by Chris Ederer’s resignation from the board because business obligations prevented him from carrying out his board obligations. Jeff Malison, at the president’s request, told the meeting that he was a retired UW Madison professor with a specialty—both academic and entrepreneurial–in aquaculture. He and his wife now live on Trude Lake. There being no other nominees from the floor, President Daulton asked that the stipulation in the By-Laws calling for written ballots be suspended; and the entire slate was elected by voice vote.
- WDNR Update: Chris Paulik, Property Manager of the Turtle Flambeau Scenic Waters Area,reported on a number of issues relating to the flowage. First, the WDNR has added two new pieces of property to the TFSWA: 40 acres near Grant Lake, and 80 acres in the vicinity of Murray’s Landing. Second, she showed pictures of restoration work done on two flowage campsites with the assistance of students from the Mercer Charter School. In an effort to combat erosion, the students improved drainage, planted shrubs and forbs, and installed a fence to discourage use of the newly planted slopes. Because of their complexity, future campsite restoration projects may have to be undertaken by private contractors. Third, a new warden, Matt Meade (SP?) has just arrived at the Ranger Station. Chris expects that he will be spending a good deal of time on the flowage. She also pointed out that she is working on securing a ranger with a permanent appointment—i.e., someone who would provide additional year-around enforcement. Fourth, the construction of the (elusive?imaginary?) Trude bridge will NOT happen this year. Among other things, the late spring delayed essential first steps—particularly, getting start on WDNR water- regulation authorization. The town plans to seek bids from three contractors; and the state road aids money, essential to this project, is encumbered and will still be available in 2014. Current plans call for the project to be done by Memorial Day, 2014. Finally, the Dike 10 project will require an alteration of the flowage master plan. The formal procedure requires public hearings, at least one of which Chris hopes will be in this area. Assuming the permitting goes through as hoped for, cutting of trees will begin in January, 2014, and the dike will be constructed in the summer of that year.
- WDNR Update: Deftly disguised as a masked forest creature, Lawrence Eslinger, Fisheries Biologist, reported on a number of issues related to management of the flowage fishery. First, he reviewed the surveys of the last two years, which included last year’s bass and walleye study and a panfish survey, and this year’s spring walleye netting (with very good results as to numbers and size of fish), and surveys of Trude Lake’s musky, walleye, bass, and panfish. Musky numbers in Trude were sufficient to suggest that stocking might be discontinued. Second, Lawrence turned to status of smallmouth in the flowage. The current regulations, 15 inches and a bag of 2, were put in place at a time when bass first began to appear in greater numbers in this walleye-dominated fishery. The goal was to establish a credible smallmouth fishery in the flowage. Subsequently, both bass numbers and sizes steadily increased. Following a public “visioning session” in 2005, the management plan called for managing for fewer but bigger smallmouth. Numbers have remained fairly high—perhaps because of low harvest (not catch) rate—but the flowage has not produced as many memorably large bass as anticipated. Third, Lawrence recounted the findings of last year’s study of diets of smallmouth and walleyes. Crayfish are the preferred food of bass; fish are the preferred food of walleyes.
Neither fish forages on the other to any noticeable extent. The flowage contains adequate quantities of the preferred forage of each species, and thus they are not it competition for a single, limited food source. On balance, he thinks that smallies and walleyes can get along in the same body of water, without one species doing harm to the other. One thorny issue, however, are the data that show walleyes in 1989 ate a lot more crayfish (along with persistent anecdotal evidence that crayfish are declining in numbers) than they do now. Lawrence suggested that a study of the crayfish population be undertaken in the coming years to determine whether their numbers are actually declining. Going forward, Lawrence plans to propose new smallmouth bass regulations designed to bring numbers down and the size structure up. Because of the limited options available to him, he favors a no minimum size limit on bass, but with a 14”—18” NO fish slot, with a bag of 5. It will, however, take some time for this proposal to become a reality.
- President’s Report: After a short break, President Daulton reported on various association activities. First, the flowage business association is having a raffle, some of the proceeds of which will come to the TFF/TLPOA for use in fighting invasive species. Second, the association is working on a membership directory, which should be available in the coming year. Third, the association once again took a public stand against motor trolling at the Conservation Congress hearings. Even though the proposal for trolling failed in Iron and 15 other counties, and statewide, the WDNR has decided that one-line motor trolling will be permitted in those 16 counties. Fourth, the DNR will be holding public hearings this summer on their environmental assessment of the Rest Lake dam operational regime. Our association has taken a stand in favor of a flow regime that mimics natural cycles—higher flow in spring, lower later in the year. We will have a presence at the hearings, as an interested downstream party. Fifth, the association sent a letter to the Mercer Town Board that opposed, on environmental grounds, a proposed ATV trail that would go through the TFFSWA. The Town Board approved a different route, but it is not clear that route will work out, possibly necessitating a route though the TFFSWA. We have communicated to the WDNR our wish to be represented on any group that works on an alternative route, as well as our strong objection to any modification of the flowage master plan that would permit ATV use in the area.
- Water level Committee: Tom Mowbray observed that there had been no major activities by the committee beyond those reported in the last newsletter. Owing to frequent heavy rains, the discharge rate at the dam has at times this spring risen well into the range of thousands of cubic feet per second, in comparison to rates during the drought years that often hovered at about 300 cfs. He then went on to say that the association has made real progress this year in dealing with Xcel Energy and the WDNR on matters pertaining to flowage water levels. The hiring of Madison attorney Bill O’Connor, who has made some very helpful phone calls on our behalf, has clearly been instrumental in that progress. At the most recent meeting of representatives of the association, the WDNR, and Xcel, the latter committed to limiting the drawdown of the flowage this year to 2.75 to 3.0 feet. Beyond that, we have been promised a seat at the table with Xcel and WDNR when big changes in dam operations are in the works. He concluded that “the proof is in the pudding,” and that we will continue to closely monitor water levels—but there is reason for optimism. Jeff Wilson, from the floor, noted that poor water-level management last year had contributed to a number of loon nest failures that his study recorded.
- Water Quality Committee: Terry Daulton announced that association volunteers are once again at work sampling the waters of the flowage and Trude Lake; and she expressed thanks for the work that these individuals do. Jim Leever noted that the water did not clear up this spring as it normally does, and Secchi disk readings have been quite low. Jeff Malison suggested that this turbidity might well be associated with heavy rains and consequent run-off.
- Invasive Species Committee: President Daulton announced that Kit Bogenschneider had assumed responsibility for the associations programs to fight invasive species. Kit, for her part, noted that the late spring may well lead to late blooming of purple loosestrife plants and that the survey may run somewhat later than usual. She asked for volunteers for this effort, pointing out that it takes a lot of time and people to cover the more than 100 miles of flowage shoreline.
- Cabin Fever Party: Kit Bogenschneider announced that she had been pushed by Arnie Popp into reviving the Cabin Fever Party, and that she was pleased to do the coordinating for that event. The event has been scheduled in an NFL friendly time—the weekend between the last playoff games and the Superbowl.
- A suggestion was made from the floor that arrangements should be made for membership renewal via email at any time. Tom Mowbray responded that it was helpful for his record keeping to hear from people once a year. No action was taken on the suggestion.
- Mike Hittle reported that he had a completed draft of six of eight chapters of his flowage history. He asked members to get in touch with any memories or stories they have about the flowage. He cited a few instances of humorous mishaps with which readers can easily identify, and he pointed out that written materials, such as a Mercer Chamber pledge to render the city “mosquito-less” also have their place in a work of this sort.
- President Daulton, following an appropriate motion and second, adjourned the meeting at 11:55 a.m.
Mike Hittle, Secretary