President Bob Banks called the 2014 annual meeting of Brule River Preservation,
Inc. to order Monday, May 26 th
, at 10:00 a. m. in Brule, Wisconsin.
Jane Anklam of West Wisconsin Land Trust, Mike Gardner and Brye Johnson of
Northflow, Dave Schulz of the Brule River State Forest, and Dennis Smet and Ken
Lundberg, representing the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club, joined 39 others at the
Winneboujou Club clubhouse. In addition to Bob, those who attended included Marna
Banks, Hastings Dalrymple, Mike Fadlovich, Lynn Hanson, Pegi Harkness, Judy Hatch,
Clague Hodgson, Kris Hodgson, Deborah Holbrook, Mat Holbrook, Rana Holbrook, Will
Holbrook, David Hyde, Patricia Lenz, Caroline Marshall, Sarah Marshall, Chris Mason,
Carl Meyer, Roger Mixter, Susan Ott, Andrew Parke, Bill Parke, Will Parke, Shane
Peterson, Cindy Raab, Ray Raab, Bill Rogers, Brent Rogers, Kristen Rogers, Lynne
Rogers, Nathan Rogers, Will Rogers, Michael Spencer, Seth Spencer, Mary Van Evera,
Nancy Weyerhaeuser, Ted Weyerhaeuser, and Dave Zentner.
President’s Welcome & Secretary’s Report.
After welcoming everyone and asking them to introduce themselves, Bob turned to Caroline Marshall for an overview of the 2013 annual meeting in lieu of reading the minutes. On a unanimous voice vote her summary was accepted.
Bob then turned to Michael Spencer for his Treasurer’s
Report. Michael distributed a sheet that provided statements of BRP’s financial position as of December 31, 2013 and a comparison with the previous five years (2009-2012), as well as cash flows for FY 2013 and 2012.
He noted that contributions have remained relatively steady and that equity increased from $421,880 in 2009 to $490,030 in 2012; however, expenses went up significantly in 2013 with the hiring of Northflow to manage a number of initiatives.
Over the past 10 years outlays typically ran from $5000 to $20,000 a year, he said, and they totaled $15,780.20 for 2012. But $63,237.62 was paid out in 2013. That sum included taxes of $5,981.98; office and promotional expenses of $1,545.66; strategic planning ($849.98); legal and accounting services ($860); and outsourcing to Northflow
BRP’s communications/web site activities and management of planning and watershed initiatives (for $54,000). He urged people to contribute to this uptick in activity, saying the days of wondering why one should contribute to an organization with relatively deep pockets are over. As he pointed out, contributions of $10,000 to $15,000 a year cannot sustain activities members have said they want BRP to undertake. He passed out forms to encourage those present to “write a check” – suggesting they could also go online.
BRP Organizational Development.
Bob went on to amplify Michael’s remarks.
He reported that members were unanimous in saying BRP should seize the potential it
has to “redefine and restructure itself” and “provide a voice for the river – and not just the upper river, but the entire watershed.” (This was the response Julie O’Leary of
Freshwater Future received in a series of interviews she conducted in the spring of 2013 and the membership survey BRP undertook in the fall. Her organization provided a
$4,000 grant to underwrite this planning activity).
“No huge threat looms,” Bob said, “but everyone wants to keep it that way, and nobody manages the watershed in its entirety. So we want to gather and disseminate data, and get people with authority and responsibility to talk to each other – to create and coordinate a Brule River Coalition. The idea is to get agencies ‘on the same page,’ to be working together, with the same information. This is a long-term project that will take years to develop,” he continued, “but it will be something we can pass on to the next generation.” He said that as volunteers, BRP board members had realized “we can’t do it without the help of professionals” so they had engaged Northflow. “And no one has a better grasp of watershed issues than Mike,” Bob concluded, turning to Mike Gardner.
Gardner then handed out sheets titled “Update: Latest News from the Watershed” and “Brule River Coalition” and provided an overview of their contents.
An inaugural meeting of the Brule River Roundtable, convened in late August, brought together more than two dozen representatives of county and state agencies and other organizations, he reported, together with property owners.
They identified critical issues, as well as opportunities and possible revenue streams to underwrite research - the necessary foundation for addressing such issues. (Which include climate change, sedimentation, invasive species, forest health, and the need for a watershed approach. A document detailing the full range of Roundtable
Outcomes is available on BRP’s web site at www.bruleriverpreservation.org
Since then Northflow has identified more than two dozen organizations and agencies,
Mike said, in addition to eight townships and villages that should be involved to some degree. However, an informal core group has also emerged to guide activities.
In addition to BRP officers and Northflow, the latter includes Christine Ostern,
Douglas County’s Conservationist; Susan O’Halloran, Coordinator of Training for
UW-Superior’s Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve; and Jane
Anklam of West Wisconsin Land Trust (who later reported WWLT has received grants from the Mott Foundation and the Duluth Community Foundation to work on the Coalition, offering “full-time observation of who is doing what on the river.”)
Mike said the Roundtable will be convened again in September or October.
Project RED (Riverine Early Detectors).
He called on his colleague, Brye Johnson, to describe this nascent collaboration among the DNR, the River Alliance of
Wisconsin, and the National Institute for Invasive Species Science, who together will offer free training to volunteers who are concerned about aquatic invasive species.
She said they will host a workshop later this summer, with the date to be advertised
on the BRP website. It will include both “classroom” and field activity, and enable people to identify, report, and monitor such invasives as non-native cattails.
Water temperature monitoring.
The EPA’s National Center for Environmental
Assessment suggests the lack of continuous temperature and flow data for streams like the Brule impedes its attempts to analyze long-term trends, Mike reported. “But we know something is happening,” Bob interjected, “since we are seeing pan fish enter the Brule. Everyone is concerned – not just us.” To address this lack of information BRP will install gauges at 10 sites on the upper river during the month of
June. Noting that people may be asked for permission to cross their property, Mike demonstrated the tube-like gadget that will continuously gather temperature data, which volunteers will download and transfer to a computer twice a year. Water levels will be monitored at the Ranger Station. Bill Rogers stepped forward to say that BRP has received an anonymous gift to help fund this project; it will match other contributions dollar for dollar up to $3500 to gain the necessary $7000 to begin work.
Harvesting of BRP land.
BRP’s 381.5 acres are managed under the “Forest Crop
Law” Bob reminded everyone, and this year the organization will be required to cut
(or thin) 24 acres. (He recalled that 10 years ago BRP harvested land near
Wheaton’s.) He said he and Mike are working with Rick Matlock to determine the best site and management approaches going forward. The yield will be jack pine, which takes 50 years to mature fully, and when clear cut, reseeds in open, sunny spaces so that will likely be the approach. (Dave Schulz went on to describe in detail the “anchor chaining” that promotes the seed release.) Bob assured everyone that access to the river will remain open during this activity.
Oral history project.
He reported that “we have made a good start” in gathering oral histories but video has proved expensive. BRP will thus switch to written accounts going forward. He asked that everyone continue to suggest topics and sources.
He went on to report that as West Wisconsin Land Trust is “stepping forward” to participate in many of BRP’s new activities, the Nature Conservancy is
“stepping back.” Eventually this may result in a change in how the easement program is managed. Brule Preservation is interested in having WWLT take on the program, but others may decide for themselves, should a shift actually be proposed.
Bob then introduced Dave Schulz, Superintendent of the Brule
River State Forest, who thanked Bob in saying “Brule River Preservation is a great partner for the DNR,” and offered an update on DNR activities. He noted that “it really was a record winter” in that far fewer availed themselves of DNR trails than in past years
- and this despite their offering “the best skiing conditions ever.” The cold, he said, was simply too great. Among other items he touched on:
Changes in Staff.
Kevin Feind has been promoted to Superintendent of Amnicon
Falls and Pattison State Parks, while Phil Brown, who worked at Amnicon, has taken
on Feind’s former job as Assistant for Law Enforcement at the BRSF. Dan
Keptheart, who worked as “a tech,” has been promoted to Assistant Property
Manager. Schulz said a couple of other slots remain to be filled, as well.
Trail and Road Upgrades.
To prevent erosion the DNR will begin upgrading angler trails this year. The effort will be to create one sustainable trail in hopes that people will abandon “snake trails.” Schulz said they would also be crowning and resurfacing the road to the mouth, having repaved Ranger Road last year.
After he offered a detailed description of how counties impose quarantines to prevent the influx of invasive species (by requiring inspections of materials crossing county lines), Schulz reported that Douglas County is now under such a quarantine for the emerald ash borer, which has been found in Superior, and
Bayfield County is quarantined for gypsy moths.
The Department of Agriculture will spray areas around Rush Lake, Smith Creek
Road, Lake Nebagamon (including the village itself), and Highway FF west of
Clevedon in an effort to keep the ash borer at bay. They will be using “loud, yellow crop duster planes” and fly low, Schulz said, explaining that the ash borer “looks to be as bad as everyone says,” and hence, the need for such action (“where it has come through every tree is now dead”). He went on to warn that if it takes hold it could have a significant impact on economic activity in the area (restricting the movement of building materials, in particular). The long-term solution is to introduce greater variety into forests, such as red maple and tamarack.
The DNR is continuing its practice of updating the now 15 year old
Master Plan by requesting variances. Currently the agency is asking permission to increase harvest levels. “We have a lot more land to manage than we had 15 years ago,” Schulz said, “and we need to keep the forest sustainable.” He described how his staff maintains maps of the BRSF’s 47,000 acres that show detail down to a twoacre level so as to analyze tree species and relative age. He said the maps indicate they have “fallen behind in keeping things healthy.” Currently the Master Plan mandates an annual harvest of 600 acres when the level should be 1,100.
Highway 27 Construction Delay.
Schulz then relayed news the DNR had just received from DOT regarding Highway 27. With winter limits on smaller, county roads lifted, DOT was planning to set up detours the last week of May. Rush Lake
Road would be closed. Traffic would be diverted either to S or to a combination of
A, N, and 27. Work would then begin near Rush Lake, closing access to Big Lake.
(A bald eagle nest will prevent work on the northernmost end – the road nearest the junction of 27 and B – until after August 15 th
.) Integrity Grading will establish a trailer headquarters near Jody Swanson’s house on Congdon Road, Schulz reported.
He suggested stopping by that office with questions about access (or anything else); it is crew members, he pointed out, who will have day-to-day knowledge of activities, such as when the laying of a culvert may temporarily cut off access to one’s
driveway. (A plywood board covered with permit sheets might yield information, as well; it can be found across from the Winneboujou entrance.) It was also noted that if anything appears awry with respect to runoff or undue erosion (or anything else), it is Amy Cronk, the DNR’s liaison to DOT, who should be contacted as it is she who monitors DOT compliance with mitigations DNR has imposed on construction. (She is headquartered in Spooner and can be reached at either 715-635-4229 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Brule River Sportsmen’s Club.
Bob welcomed Dennis Smet by saying he had been a member of the Brule Town Board for 20 years, serving as Chair for 12 of them.
Two years ago, Smet recalled, he had appeared at the BRP meeting to seek help in lobbying the DNR to retain the Brule Fish Hatchery, then slated for closure. Happily, a number of organizations and agencies stepped forward to help, it was put off for two years, and this past year it operated at full capacity for the first time in three years,
“planting” 300,000 rainbows. Next year it will be 400,000 browns. Smet thanked everyone for their efforts, which ultimately brought the state’s DNR secretary to Brule, where the latter noted “there’s nothing wrong with this hatchery,” saving the day.
Smet then turned to Ken Lundberg, who thanked Brule Preservation for the
$2500 it had contributed to the Sportsmen’s Club’s scholarship fund; it will grant its third
$5,000 scholarship this year. Lundberg urged people to join the BRSC, saying it meets monthly and takes education, improving habitat, and engaging families as its mission.
More than three dozen scouts and their parents participated in this spring’s annual cleanup, with older ones covering the river from Stone’s to Winneboujou, and younger ones working on hiking trails. He also reported that members have completed their cleanup of the west fork of Beaupres Springs and will start work on the east fork, noting the goal is to “improve the water flow, which in turn keeps the water cooler.”
As the meeting wound up, Bob asked for announcements.
July 4 th
Short Ships Parade. Pegi Harkness and Deborah Holbrook invited everyone to attend this annual event, saying it will launch from Weyerhaeuser’s dock at 4:30 p. m. and conclude with refreshments at the Winneboujou Club clubhouse. They asked that people bring something to share; liquid refreshment will be provided.
Early August Program on Early Area Settlers. Bob said BRP will host Tom
Gerstenberger for its now traditional late afternoon August program. Gerstenberger is an expert on early, especially Finnish, settlements in the area. An exact date and time will be posted on the BRP web site, Bob promised, and flyers distributed
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 12 noon.