MUSCODA - The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board met in Muscoda on March 10 to conduct a regular monthly business meeting.
Bridget Rathman, a crew leader for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) State Natural Areas (SNA) program, reported to the board on activities ongoing at the 20 SNA sites in the Riverway. Rathman said a great deal of time and energy is spent battling non-native invasive species on state lands in order to preserve unique habitats.
Black locust removal, and subsequent chemical treatment occurred at various locations over the past year, with more planned in 2022.
Fire also is an important tool in habitat management and restoration. In 2021, due to COVID restrictions, there were almost no prescribed burns in the region, so the fire crew is hoping to burn many acres this year to continue restoration efforts.
Rathman also thanked the many volunteers who have assisted with habitat work at the Blue River Sand Barrens and at the Mazomanie Oak Barrens. She noted restoration work has begun at the Battle of Wisconsin Heights site in the Town of Mazomanie, Dane County, including brush removal around a mound group at the site.
The board approved extensions to management permits for SNA sites at locations near Mazomanie, Arena, Spring Green, Lone Rock and Blue River.
Mark Cupp, Executive Director, reported he had received information from DNR that the department will not conduct an appraisal on the land associated with the Wintergreen Conference Center property near Spring Green. This move effectively removes the State of Wisconsin as a potential purchaser of the property.
Cupp said the explanation he was given stated DNR does not have adequate funds for purchase of public lands, and therefore doing an appraisal would not be practical.
Cupp said he will look for alternate funding sources, but told the board the lack of DNR support for the purchase was very disappointing.
Cipra Indian Mounds
Cupp said he had been in contact with the Office of the State Archeologist regarding the Cipra Mound Group at Indian Mounds Wayside on Highway 60 in Crawford County.
Cupp said he felt there was damage to two conical mounds in conjunction with tree removal due to Emerald Ash Borer mortality of ash trees at the site. Cupp said Kyle Kozelka, Crawford County Highway Commissioner, felt adequate precautions had been taken to protect the mounds, and did not believe there was an adverse impact to the mounds from equipment used in the tree removal.
The Wisconsin Historical Society will make the determination if any mitigation is required. Cupp said he and Kozelka pledged to work together to assure the Highway Department and Riverway Board maintain solid lines of communication regarding activities in the Riverway.
Millville Boat Landing
Cupp said he also had been in contact with Grant County Highway Commissioner Jon Knautz regarding tree removal at the Millville boat landing. Cupp said the standard procedure would require an onsite meeting between the Highway Department and Riverway Board prior to trees being cut.
Knautz said the trees were removed for safety reasons due to beaver damaged and other tree health issues. He said, in the future, someone from his department will reach out to the Riverway Board prior to cutting additional trees at the county boat landing.
Cupp said he had received several complaints about a squatter along Highways 60/61, east of the Boscobel Bridge, in Crawford County. A ramshackle camp has existed on Department of Transportation (DOT) property for months, and is visible from both the river and the highway.
Cupp said DNR Conservation Warden Cody Adams reported he is working with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department on the matter, and believes the individual will leave the site voluntarily in the coming weeks as the weather becomes more favorable. If not, other actions will be taken to remove the camper from the site.
In other business
In other business, the board:
• learned that a closed session review of design changes for the proposed Lone Rock bridge may be necessary to protect confidentially. Cupp said he would review the proposed changes, and work with DOT officials to determine if a committee or board meeting would be necessary to approve the changes
• learned that three candidates had reached out to him regarding the open seat on the board, to be created in Iowa County representation, due to LWSRB Chair Jerry Dorscheid’s decision not to seek re-appointment. Cupp referred the interested parties to the Iowa County Administrator
• approved issuance of a timber harvest permit to the Agnes Tetzlaff Trust for a parcel in the Town of Millville, Grant County. The walnut tree harvest will not have an adverse impact on Riverway aesthetics.• set the next Riverway Board meeting is for April 14, at 5 p.m. in Muscoda.