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Board gets interesting report from Science Team
Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway
New Avoca Kiosk with FLOW volunteers
YOUNG MEADOW, daugh-ter of Avoca resident Jen-nifer McBride, was sport-ing one of the life vests from the new ‘Kids Don’t Float’ kiosks installed recently in the Avoca Village Park. Avoca Village Board trustee Dawn Dahms (left), and FLOW volunteers Timm Zumm (center) and John Jensen (right) were there to mark the event. Zumm and Jensen had installed the new kiosk the weekend before.

LOWER WISCONSIN RIVER - The Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) got a very interesting report from members of their Science Team at the May 19 meeting held at Grandma Mary’s Café in Arena.

The team received three grants to fund their work in 2022 – two from Prairie du Sac Dam Aquatic Resources Enhancement Fund, and another from Dane County. 

From the Prairie du Sac Dam Aquatic Resources Enhancement Fund, the group was funded for a projects to repopulate the Lake Chubsucker above the Prairie du Sac dam, where populations have declined, and to survey populations of the Banded Killifish in Lake Wisconsin. From Dane County, the group was funded to conduct a water quality study of a manmade lake created from a borrow pit on Highway 78. 

Lake Chub Sucker

Dave Marshall reported that 47 mostly juvenile Lake Chub Suckers had been collected from Jones Slough and placed in his pond so far. 

“The Lake Chub Sucker maturity takes longer than the Starhead Topminnow, and individuals currently in the pond may not spawn this year,” Marshall told the group. “When I first encountered Jones Slough in 2002-2003, it was pristine, but now it becomes so choked with algal growth by mid-summer that ‘you can almost walk on it,’ and oxygen levels become totally depleted, making it a terrible habitat for fish.” 

Banded Killifish

Marshall reported that he, along with Science Team members Jean Unmuth and John Lyons, had worked with members of the Lake Wisconsin Alliance to conduct Banded Killifish surveys. 

“Our work is prompted by the fact that populations seem to be increasing in Lake Wisconsin, while declining elsewhere, and our work is to try to discover why, and propose a management plan for the species,” Marshall explained. 

He reported that on August 27, Science Team members will provide a report to the Lake Wisconsin Alliance at their annual meeting.

Highway 78 lake

Marshall reported that the Science Committee had secured a $600 donation from Dane County to sample water in a 20-acre lake that had been constructed by Wisconsin DOT as a sand borrow pit for a Highway 78 construction project in 1991. 

“Jean Unmuth, Sue Graham, Tim Larson, and I are working on the project, which will involve three months of water quality sampling, a fish survey, and an aquatic plant survey,” Marshall said. “We think that the man-made lake is ideal habitat for fish, likely because it is fed with unpolluted water from Blackhawk Ridge.” 

He said that last summer, the group had stocked the lake with Starhead Topminnows, and plans to follow up and check on their progress. He said that the lake is unnamed, and doesn’t show up in the WDNR database of lakes. 

“The Science Team is considering holding a naming contest for the lake, and then submitting the winning name to WDNR’s Geographic Names Council, which meets every October,” Marshall reported.

Science symposium

In the past, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, FLOW had sponsored a yearly ‘State of the Riverway’ symposium. At their May 19 meeting, the board voted unanimously to support Science Team member Jean Unmuth in pursuing a ‘Riverway Planning Grant,’ to plan for a symposium in 2023.

“Susan Graham has stepped forward to be part of the planning group, and I’ve been in contact with WDNR biologist Kim Krueger about the grant application which is due by September 2,” Unmuth explained. 

After discussion about different options for venues for the symposium, Dave Marshall suggested that the application be for one year versus two, and that the group plan to use the funds to secure a venue with good accoutstics. 

Discussion suggested holding the event as an indoor/outdoor event, with more hands-on components, tours, and discussion forums. Possible venues discussed include Wintergreen Resort, and the White Oak Savanna between Spring Green and Dodgeville.

President’s Report

FLOW president Timm Zumm reported ‘non-stop’ activity since the group’s April meeting. “Everyone is doing something,” Zumm said. 

He reported that he and John Jensen had been at the Avoca Boat Landing just prior to the meeting, along with Mark Cupp and Dawn Dahms of the Muscoda-Avoca-Blue River Lions Club, for a photo at the new ‘Kids Don’t Float’ life vest kiosk. 

“John Jensen and I installed the kiosk the on Saturday, May 14, with generous donations of time, money and materials,” Zumm said. “The Muscoda Lions donated $500, Avoca resident Dawn Dahms made a generous donation, and Tri-County Building Supply donated the use of a post hole digger, and gave the group a great deal on building supplies.”

 Zumm reported that he had taken Flo the Paddlefish and Bowie the River Dog to the Cross Plains Trout Days event, and lots of children had interacted with them. He said he had also intended to participate in the Muscoda Morel Mushroom Fest parade, but an emergency on the river with an injured pelican had caused him to alter his plans. 

“I got a phone call from a paddler on the river who was following an injured pelican just before I was supposed to leave for Muscoda,” Zumm said. “I went back home, dropped off Flo, picked up the boat, and worked with WDNR wildlife biologist Ben Gruber to capture the pelican.” 

Zumm reported that the fate of the bird is unknown because wildlife rehabilitation clinics are not accepting wild birds right now due to avian influenza. 

In other business

In other business, the board:

• heard that the four new car magnet sets have been received and deployed

• agreed to remove the Twitter account from the business cards, add the new phone number, and Zumm is researching different printing options and pricing, and will report back at the next meeting 

• tabled discussion of securing important documents, either in a physical or virtual ‘safety deposit box.’

• heard from reporter Gillian Pomplun that she had attended a meeting in Lancaster on Monday where the final ‘Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology’ study (SWIGG) report had been unveiled, documenting risks for groundwater/well water quality in Southwest Wisconsin. She said that the report summary and full report can be downloaded from the Iowa County Extension website

• Pomplun also reported that WDNR had approved the WPDES water quality permit for the Roth Feeder Pigs II CAFO in Marietta Township (Crawford County). She said that the Notice of Final Determination can be downloaded from the DNR website, and her story about it can be found on

• discussed holding a future meeting at Allyson Scoien’s or at the nearby park, so that they could take samples from the monitoring wells located on her property.