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FLOW Board discusses input on Western Coulees Master Plan
To Wisconsin DNR
Jones Slough
JONES SLOUGH, east of Spring Green, is now often algae-choked and oxygen-deficient. According to FLOW Science Committee member Dave Marshall, when he sampled it in the early 2000s, it was absolutely pristine. Marshall said that farmers told him that Jones Slough was a favorite swimming hole for decades before the change in agricultural practices and subsequent loss of open water due to floating duckweeds and filamentous algae. He observed that, as a result, the lake now received almost no public use.

DRIFTLESS - At their board meeting at the Spring Green Public Library on Thursday, Nov. 18, the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) board discussed input to the DNR about the Western Coulees and Ridges Master Plan, a 2023 Science Symposium, and Riverway Champion awards.

Science Committee and Board member Susan Graham brought DNR’s call for public input into the Master Plan process to the attention of the board. She asked if FLOW wanted to formally submit comments as a group. The board agreed to resubmit the comments they submitted in 2016.

Public input

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public comment on the future management of department properties in the Western Coulees and Ridges Region.

A regional master plan, guided by Chapter NR 44 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, establishes the levels and types of resource management and public use permitted on department-managed properties. Under the regional master planning process, department staff will develop a plan for department properties located within the region.

The Western Coulees and Ridges Region includes all or portions of the following 22 counties: Barron, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Richland, Saint Croix, Sauk, Trempealeau and Vernon. DNR properties in the region include fishery areas, natural areas, parks, wildlife areas and various other types of properties. This regional plan includes Governor Dodge State Park, Wyalusing State Park, Elroy-Sparta State Trail, Van Loon Wildlife Area and Black Earth Creek Fishery Area.

DNR-managed properties in this region will have new management plans developed as part of this planning process. Existing plans for properties in the region that are already compliant with Chapter NR 44 will be referenced during the planning process. The DNR will evaluate whether any updates need to be made to these existing plans and include any necessary updates as part of the overall regional plan.

Members of the public are invited to learn more about the Western Coulees and Ridges Region, engage in the DNR’s planning process and share their thoughts on the future use and management of DNR properties in the region by visiting the DNR’s Western Coulees and Ridges Regional Master Plan webpage at

A recorded version of the presentation given in Richland Center on November 17 will be posted on the DNR’s Western Coulees and Ridges Regional Master Plan webpage.

The public is encouraged to submit comments and questions through the DNR’s online input form, a downloadable hard-copy input form or by U.S. mail, email or phone. Submit comments by Dec. 23, 2022 to: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, c/o Yoyi Steele LF/6, 101 S. Webster Street, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707, or 608-590-6027.

2016 input

FLOW board member Dave Marshall reminded the group that they had submitted comments into development of the previous Master Plan in 2016. Marshall shared a copy of that input with the group. The introduction to the input reads as follows:

“Please receive the following comments from the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) Board pertaining to the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway draft master plan. The board is submitting comments after review of the draft master plan and attending two of the DNR’s open house events on the plan.

“When the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway was originally created in 1989, integration between resource management and environmental protection was limited. The first master plan reflected a strong bias toward property management that focused mostly on forestry and wildlife management.

“The new draft master plan has not advanced significantly beyond this narrow focus. We argue that the Lower Wisconsin River is the centerpiece for the State Riverway and there should be more emphasis on water quality and environmental protection in the master plan.

“We feel that the draft master plan does not go far enough toward environmental protection and integration of important Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ water programs.

”In 2012, after a series of meetings between DNR Southern District staff and Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway board members, an agreement was reached to increase involvement of water resources and fisheries staff in the management and goal setting for the Riverway.

“This has occurred to some extent but much more is needed given the recent studies documenting environmental degradation of oxbow lakes that provide critical habitats for rare and endangered fish species and nursery habitat for many riverine fish.

These are issues related to the Clean Water Act. Without implementation of the Clean Water Act, river rejuvenation never would have occurred by the early 1980’s along with the favorable water quality that enhanced the Lower Wisconsin River as a regional destination for outdoor wilderness recreation in southern Wisconsin.

“With respect to outdoor recreation, we are concerned that the department did not conduct thorough and rigorous review of new recreational use proposals and facilities development and did not include sufficient public participation, including but not limited to:  • additional equestrian trails and an equestrian camping facility,

• improvements at the Black Hawk Ridge and Mazomanie Recreation Management Areas

• Riverway sites including scenic overlooks and vistas

• a new shooting range.

“We expect that any developmental proposal outlined in the draft master plan undergoes serious scrutiny and finds a balance between purpose, need and adverse environmental impacts.”

The full text of FLOW’s 2016 comments can be found at the FLOW website, at:

A link to DNR’s webpage for the Master Planning process can be found here:

In other business

In other business, the FLOW board:

• heard that FLOW had been featured in the Wisconsin State Journal, on the front page above the fold, with the story ‘Carp invasion: Study highlights climate threat to key Wisconsin rivers.’ The story is available to read online at

• heard that Zumm had purchased a storage structure for FLO the Paddlefish, and that the life vests are all stored for the winter in the trailer FLOW purchased for that purpose

• heard that Dave Krueger and Timm Zumm will meet to complete the report to the DNR about life vests in 2022 and place the 2023 order

• voted for the 2023 Riverway Champion and Youth Riverway Champion – names to be announced at the FLOW Annual Meeting in January of 2023

• heard that FLOW had received two contributions for a total of $160 since the last treasurer’s report, had $360 in expenses, and would receive a check in the amount of $500 from the company that made a film about the Riverway last summer

• heard that board member Susan Graham is thinking of stepping down from the board, and that all board members should notify the nominations and recruitment committee about their intent to serve in 2023, and any ideas they have for new board members

• heard that FLOW had participated in the Avoca parade with assistance from youth member Skyla Sutcliffe, the Spring Green Homecoming Parade, and would sponsor an after school hike on the Spring Green Preserve on Monday, Nov. 21

• heard that the ‘Kids Don’t Float’ kiosk at the Boscobel boat landing had been temporarily dismantled and stored during the City’s upgrade process, but would be replaced in the spring

• heard that Jean Unmuth and Patrick Michaels had applied for a DNR grant to hold a Science Symposium in 2023, and empowered Unmuth to pursue the River Arts Center in Sauk Prairie as the venue.