MUSCODA - Lower Wisconsin Riverway executive director Mark Cupp announced that with the retirement of Riverway Board chairman Gerry Dorscheid, the board is seeking candidates to fill two open positions. Dorscheid was first appointed to the board in 2004, and has served for the last 18 years.
“Jerry Dorscheid will be missed greatly. He has served as Operations Committee chair, and now Riverway Board chair, and has brought a valuable perspective to the board from his experience as an engineer and as an avid outdoorsman,” Cupp said. “I have appreciated his enthusiasm for the project, and his willingness to lend a helping hand, especially with the hundreds of miles we have paddled together on the river, and the numerous bluffs we have scaled.”
The first empty seat on the board is an at-large/recreational user seat, which has been vacant for some time. The second is the seat to be vacated by Dorscheid. That seat is for a resident or elected representative from Pulaski, Avoca, Clyde, Wyoming, or Arena townships, or the village of Arena, in Iowa County. A minimum of two names will be submitted for the Governor’s review by Iowa County.
Board members are appointed by the Governor to serve three-year terms. At-large/recreational representatives must not reside in any of the six counties included in the Riverway (Dane, Iowa, Sauk, Richland, Crawford and Grant), and are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate.
This year, the terms of Gerry Dorscheid, Randy Poelma and Steve Williamson are up for appointment. Poelma has announced that he will serve again if reappointed. Poelma is one of two at-large/ recreational representatives. Williamson represents Richland County, and has not yet indicated whether he will serve again. He represents the Buena Vista, Orion, Eagle and Richwood townships in Richland County.
Other members of the board include:
• Gigi LaBudde, vice chair, Sauk County representative
• Meredith Beckman, Dane County representative
• Steve Wetter, Grant County representative
• Lara Czajikowski-Higgins, Crawford County representative
• Ritchie Brown, recreational user group representative
Years of dedication
Gerry Dorscheid joined the Riverway Board after retiring from a 33-year career with Wisconsin DNR as an engineer. In that time, Dorscheid worked on constructing infrastructure in state parks, helped with construction of the ranger station at Tower Hill State Park, an observation tower at Blue Mounds State Park, and a hibernaculum for bats at Horicon Marsh state wildlife refuge.
“I’ve always been an outdoor guy, and serving on the Riverway Board has been a great way for me to combine my personal and professional interests with a love of the outdoors and the river,” Dorscheid said. “One of the best things about serving on the board was all the opportunities I had over the years to go out on the river with Mark Cupp, other Riverway board members, and people with like interests.”
Dorscheid said that another highlight of his years on the board was helping Cupp with the Voyageur Canoe Trips. He said that he had enjoyed the experience of piloting one of the boats, and the opportunity to converse with people with interests similar to his own. The event has been cancelled for the last two years due to the pandemic, and Dorscheid said he looks forward to that event returning in coming years.
“One of the hardest things we had to deal with in my years on the board was the frac sand mining operation in the Riverway near Prairie du Chien,” Dorscheid said. “We had to navigate the legal issues associated with activity like that in the Riverway, and said that situation had been challenging for the board.”
Dorscheid observed that fortunately, there hadn’t been a lot of activity from the Pattison Sand Company’s operation in the Riverway over the years. He said that was a good thing, because the impacts of an operation like that had great potential to have effects in the Riverway, and beyond.
“I would recommend taking the opportunity to serve on the Riverway Board,” Dorscheid said. “It is a great opportunity to have a part in protecting our environment, and in preserving the visibility of what visitors to the Riverway see on the river.”
Dorscheid moved to the Arena area after retiring from the DNR. He and his wife Margaret live in the dream home that they built, and have four children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Cupp reported to the board that he’d had a number of meetings in the last month regarding acquisition of the Wintergreen Resort property in rural Spring Green by the State of Wisconsin. He said there had been lots of correspondence and information gathering.
“The Shifflet family reports that they’ve had interest in the property from the private sector, and also from The School of Architecture, founded by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1932,” Cupp reported. “I’ve asked the DNR to at least do an appraisal of the property as the first step in exploring whether it can be acquired by the state.”
Cupp reported that he had discussions with both Governor Evers as well as Jim Lemke, DNR Real Estate Section Chief.
“I feel like it is all going in the right direction,” Cupp said. “We’ll just have to see where all of this takes us.”
Board Vice Chair Gigi LaBudde asked Cupp if the Shifflet family was still willing to wait on any decisions until May, to determine whether the State of Wisconsin was really interested in acquiring the property.
“If it was clear that the State of Wisconsin, a non-governmental organization, or a public/private partnership was seriously interested, they might wait,” Cupp says. “Who knows? We’ve got some momentum, and we’ll just have to see if we can make it work.”
Nancy Frost, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Biologist, gave a report on the Long Lake Dike in the Town of Spring Green, Sauk County, located near Lone Rock.
The dike, which serves as a water control structure for Lower Bakken’s Pond, is in need of repairs. Frost provided aerial photographs showing the dike under normal conditions, and then under flood conditions. According to Frost, the dike is breached when stressed, and does not function properly.
“We’ve patched up the spillway multiple times, but water is seeping around it,” Frost said. “Now, with all the flooding we’ve seen, not just in the spring but all summer too, the dike is frequently under water.”
Frost said that recreational users of Lower Bakken’s Pond have expressed dissatisfaction with its’ condition. In particular, waterfowl hunters have complained that water levels in the pond have been too low. Frost said that this is due to the current structure’s inability to effectively contain the water.
Frost said funding for repairs is in the works, and engineers are looking at ways to address the problem. She said that implementation likely won’t occur until 2024. She said a preliminary estimate, for a project that would create an official spillway, possibly with a steel structure, is $500,000.
Frost also reported wildlife crews will be doing a marsh burn near Arena to assist with habitat restoration. The ‘cattail’ burns usually emit large plumes of smoke, which are readily visible to local residents and travelers. She said the burns have proven effective in assisting native plants to thrive amidst invasive species, and have been used by DNR at other properties such as Horicon Marsh.
The board approved issuance of a management permit to Frost for habitat work at the Lone Lake Dike. Removal of invasive woody vegetation and trees will occur to enhance wildlife access to the shoreline, and to create a better pathway for turtles to find nesting habitat.
The board also issued a permit to Danielle Roder and Clay Yapp for construction of a new house and garage in the Town of Wauzeka, in Crawford County. The property is located atop the ridge on Sprosty Hill Road. A barn already has been constructed. Cupp explained the height of the house was a key factor in achieving compliance with the Riverway performance standards. The approved permit will require a limitation on height of 24-feet, along with retention of screening vegetation and use of exterior colorization that harmonizes with the natural surroundings.
Cupp said he had issued a timber harvest permit to Joe Dremsa for a parcel in the Town of Marietta, Crawford County, and noted the harvest has been completed. He issued an extension to a timber harvest permit to the DNR for a site at the southern part of the Black Hawk Unit in the Town of Mazomanie, in Dane County.
In public input, the board heard:
• Crawford Stewardship Project (CSP) will host a virtual showing of the video ‘Kiss the Ground’ on Feb. 23, 6-8:30 p.m. To join the viewing, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81309334833?pwd=ZmszdEpuWlIvbTdtd0lGVjhRNHVsQT09, meeting ID: 813 0933 4833, passcode: 789942
• there has been no news regarding DNR’s notice of final determination about the WPDES permit for the Roth Feeder Pigs II hog CAFO in Crawford County
• that Richland Creek, and a spring located below the Roth Feeder Pigs I facility, have both been classified as ‘impaired’ by the DNR, based on water quality monitoring data submitted by CSP
• that FLOW volunteers plan to help DNR with work at the Battle Heights restoration project
• that FLOW has an exciting lineup of field trip events lined up in the Riverway in 2022, the first of which is planned for April 2, with Mark Cupp leading a tour of effigy mounds in the Riverway
• that the FLOW Safety Committee is preparing for the 2022 canoeing season, and expects an influx of new life vests for the ‘Kids Don’t Float’ kiosks, will hopefully have new signs for the kiosks, is working with Iowa County Emergency Management to get the new text alert system up and running, and is hoping that a QR code can be added to existing DNR signs at the boat landings to let river users know about the safety feature• that FLOW had awarded Science Team member John Lyons the ‘Riverway Champion’ award at their annual meeting.