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FLOW Board discusses plans for Science Symposium
Lower Wisconsin River
FLOW Science Team and Zumm
FLOW SCIENCE TEAM members John Lyons, left, and Dave Marshall, middle, are seen on a sandbar in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway in the summer of 2021. Seen with them is FLOW president Timm Zumm, right.

LOWER WISCONSIN RIVER - The Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) held their monthly meeting at Grandma Mary’s Café in Arena on Thursday, August 11. The meeting was chaired by recently retired Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board chairman Gerry Dorscheid.

Five board members, one member, and two members of the public were present to hear a discussion of plans for a 2023 ‘Riverway Science Symposium.’ The discussion was led by FLOW Science Committee members Jean Unmuth and Susan Graham.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has not been held for the last three years.

Unmuth told the board that the deadline to apply for a Wisconsin DNR (WDNR) grant to fund the symposium is coming up soon. Unmuth asked for board input on the grant application, and passage of a board resolution supporting the grant application.

“On our last Symposium grant application, we put $400 total in the proposed budget for presenter’s fees, travel expenses and transportation,” Unmuth reported. 

After discussion, the group agreed with a suggestion from Susan Graham that this amount should be tentatively increased by 25 percent. 

“Having been an evaluator of grant applications like this in my years at WDNR, I suggest that before submitting the application, you should reach out to the grant evaluator to discuss this and other aspects of the grant application,” Graham said.


The group also discussed potential venues for the event. Potential venues included White Oak Savanna, The Vintage, and the Wintergreen Resort. Unmuth reported she had already obtained information about The Vintage, and agreed to investigate the White Oak Savanna option. FLOW board president Timm Zumm said he would reach out to the Shifflet family that owns the Wintergreen Resort to see if that venue would be a possibility.

“Is it a priority to have a virtual option for the event,” board member Sherry Holly asked. “I think in light of the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic, this would give participants an additional option to participate, and also create more flexibility for potential presenters.”

Unmuth and Graham agreed that this was good advice, and will add availability of a good internet connection to their venue evaluation process.

“In the past, I have been able to work with the folks at UW-Stevens Point Extension to utilize their virtual meeting capabilities and expertise to provide a virtual option for events,” Graham said. “I think this is worth exploring.”

Graham agreed to reach out to the UW-Stevens Point Extension folks to see what might be possible.

Last, Unmuth told the board that she would need them to pass a board resolution affirming the board’s support for the grant application. They agreed that the resolution, once crafted, could be passed by the board prior to the next board meeting. Unmuth agreed to draft the resolution, and acting treasurer Jenny Lanzdorf agreed to put the final, approved resolution on FLOW letterhead.

Starhead Top Minnows

Board member and Science Committee member Dave Marshall reported that journalist Susan Lampert Smith had recently written an article about FLOW’s efforts to establish populations of the endangered Starhead Top Minnow in areas above the Prairie du Sac Dam. He said that her article had also featured the Science Committee’s work to evaluate the borrow pit lake, and their ‘Naming Contest.’ 

“I think that as a result of that article we will start to see more entries in the lake naming contest,” Marshall said.

Marshall proposed that selection of the winning name would be done via an online voting process, open to all FLOW members. The board approved his recommendation.

Marshall also told the board that after a winter where there had been very low levels of water in the pond on his property used to raise populations of endangered fish species, such as the Starhead Top Minnow, he had recently observed breeding populations of the fish that had somehow survived the winter.

“I was very surprised to see those fish in the pond,” Marshall told the board. “Once I saw that, I realized I would have to submit a  new endangered species collection permit application, and add more Starhead Top Minnows to the pond in order to ensure genetic diversity.”

Marshall said that the pond now contains both Starhead Top Minnows and Banded Killifish. He seemed elated to report that there were now breeding populations of Starhead Top Minnows in Lake Wisconsin, above the Prairie du Sac Dam, in the borrow pit, and in his pond.

Riverway Safety

Timm Zumm reported that there continue to be many incidents of near drownings on the river. He said that in almost all cases, persons involved in the incidents were not wearing lifevests.

“I just keep hammering away at our basic message that wearing a life vest saves lives,” Zumm said. “I tell people that going out on the Wisconsin River is not like a water park ride at the  Wisconsin Dells.”

Zumm reported that FLOW ‘Kids Don’t Float’ volunteer Dave Krueger had taken a family vacation in August, and that he and another volunteer had filled in on the 130+ mile round trip route each week to re-stock the kiosks with life vests. He said that over the summer, two new kiosks had been added in Avoca and Wauzeka, and that the good news is that FLOW is not responsible for maintaining those kiosks. He said that there are still several new ‘Kids Don’t Float’ metal signs, provided by WDNR, that need to be installed on kiosks.

In other business

In other business, the board:

• heard that Zumm has continued to support a film crew that is making a short documentary about the Lower Wisconsin River

• agreed that the documentary could be shown as a teaser before a showing of the ‘Rhythm of the River’ movie, and agreed to pursue showings in the future in Spring Green and Richland Center

• was encouraged to attend the September 8 meeting of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board at the Spring Green Public Library, beginning at 5 p.m., where a public input session on the new ‘Lower Wisconsin Riverway Cultural & Heritage Map’ would be held

• heard from Gerry Dorscheid that a meeting of the Arena Historians had been held the week before at the Café, where the old school houses in Arena Township had been discussed, and a birthday celebration held

• heard from acting Treasurer Jenny Lanzdorf that the FLOW account holds $12,527.87, of which $1,769 belongs to the Sauk County Conservation Net-work, and $10,758.12 to FLOW

• heard Lanzdorf say that since her last report, transactions from the FLOW account were mostly for gas, and that these expenses are being offset by donations

• heard that the Dark Skies group would hold a ‘Full Harvest Moon’ viewing event at Peck’s Landing on September 10

• scheduled their next meeting for Thursday, September 15, with a place to be determined.