Big Chetac and Birch Lakes Association
First public meeting of the Big Chetac and
Birch Lakes Stakeholders Committee to be held on May 20, 2017.
Place: Birchwood School Commons
Address: 300 S. Wilson Street Birchwood, WI
See the Agenda here:
March 31, 2017
We learned at our stakeholders meeting yesterday that we have been awarded the $45,000 lake planning grant discussed in the March 10th notice below. This is great news and will enable us to collect needed data on Birch Lake as well as additional information on Lake Chetac.
In addition we could not be more pleased to share that the DNR will be conducting a full Creel Survey on Lake Chetac this season and one on Birch in either 2018 or 2019. Creel surveys are designed to have a creel survey clerk on a lake, working random shifts, forty hours each week throughout the fishing season. Each month these shifts cover a sample of all the daylight hours. A computer program is then used to accurately calculate estimates of all angler activity.
The DNR survey clerk will be in a boat clearly identifying them as a creel survey clerk. Creel surveys result in a report which will provide information about:
1. Overall fishing pressure
2. Fishing effort directed at each species
3. Catch and harvest rates
4. Numbers of fish caught and harvested.
So, be sure to look for the survey clerk on the lake this summer.
March 10, 2017
News from the Big Chetac and Birch Lakes Association – BCABLA
Mark L. Robinson, President
As the weather tries to decide if it’s still winter or time to transition to spring, we anxiously await the chance to get back out on the lakes and enjoy the recreation and relaxation they provide. In 2016, several significant events and changes have taken place that affect BCABLA members, the local lakes, and interactions between the lake association, local governments and the WDNR. One of the most important happenings is the effort to create a new lake management plan for the Big Chetac chain. In this newsletter, I’ll describe how we have now actively engaged the public in lake management planning and hope that engagement will help improve the public perception of the management planning process.
It is helpful to provide some background to our efforts to build a new lake management plan for Big Chetac, Birch and Little Birch lakes (the “chain”). In 2012-2013, the BCABLA was granted three WDNR grants to support implementation of the 2010 Aquatic Plant/Comprehensive Management Plan completed by SEH based on earlier data collected during a lake management planning project awarded to BCABLA in 2007. These grants supported efforts to control an aquatic invasive species (AIS) – curly leaf pondweed, or CLP – that was identified as negatively impacting boat navigation, phosphorous loading, and water clarity on the chain. It was hoped that through control efforts, a portion of the negative impact of CLP might be reduced. Herbicide application began in the north end of Big Chetac in 2013. And although modified herbicide applications were continued in 2014-2015 with the support of BCABLA and WDNR, there was opposition to this approach to CLP management that manifested itself in resolutions opposing the use of herbicides by the Town of Birchwood (2013) and Village of Birchwood and the Township of Edgewater 2013, 2014 and 2015. In response, the BCABLA consulted with the WDNR and extended an olive branch to the local municipalities by suspending herbicide treatment on Big Chetac in 2016. Instead, we have been working to find common ground in the form of a revision to the 2010 lake management plan that will have more broad-based support. Work has begun by using some remaining grant funds (with WDNR approval) to hire a consultant, gather background, form a committee, and develop a draft plan to present for public input and final adoption.
In late spring 2016, David Blumer of Lake Education and Planning Services (LEAPS, Spooner, WI) was contacted by BCABLA and offered the opportunity to take on this project. His proposal, accepted by the lake association and supported by WDNR, consisted of two parts. The first was gathering public input through one-on-one interviews with representatives of the Town and Village of Birchwood, Township of Edgewater, and resort owners on the lakes. The second was forming a Stakeholder Committee to provide input to a revised lake management plan and guiding it through the approval process.
With this planning in place, Blumer proceeded to develop interview questions, conduct interviews, and thoughtfully analyze the results. Most prospective interviewees were cooperative and helpful. A wide-ranging set of comments and suggestions was obtained. Interview questions covered topics such as lake use, fisheries and wildlife, aquatic plants and management practices, water quality and management, information and monitoring, stakeholder involvement, and future management. Responses were frank and often insightful. In addition, he gathered opinions on the preferred level of participation by interviewees to produce an effective result. Options ranged from simply informing the public to involvement in decision making or even empowering individuals to have a final vote on a proposal. Dave has concluded his interviews and summarized them in a report that will be presented in a future public forum.
A key component of advancing toward a new lake management plan was the formation of a Stakeholders committee to guide current and future management planning and implementation. Formed in early December, the Stakeholders Committee has begun to meet to discuss and debate the components of a new lake management plan. The committee consists of members of BCABLA on both Birch and Big Chetac lakes (Bill Miller and Mark Robinson – past and current BCABLA presidents, and Steven Longacre), two resort owners (one each on Birch and Chetac lakes: Julie Thomas-Tielitz and Jim Del Medico), representatives of the Towns of Birchwood and Edgewater (Romaine Quinn and Pete Baribeau or Scott Spaeth) and the Village of Birchwood (Virginia Hurckman), a member of the Red Cedar River Watershed Partnership and President of the Red Cedar Lakes Association (Gerry Johnson), WDNR’s Alex Smith, with Dave Blumer of LEAPS acting as facilitator. Meetings have been held approximately monthly beginning December, 2016. A key goal of these meetings is to identify components of a draft lake management plan for presentation to the public for input and eventual adoption by the committee. Suggestions are always welcomed by contacting members of the committee or Dave Blumer at LEAPS. These members represent various public constituencies and are responsible for sharing and discussing the details of these meetings with their constituents for input which they then bring back to the committee.
Past lake management efforts have been primarily focused on Big Chetac as the management of CLP was implemented in fulfillment of the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Established Infestation Control grant. To extend data gathering and management practices more widely, including emphasizing fishery quality, and to bring more emphasis to Birch and Little Birch lakes, the BCABLA contracted with LEAPS to submit a 2017 Lake Management Planning Grant application to the WDNR that consists of the following efforts:
Lake and Tributary Water Quality Testing – collecting total phosphorous and chlorophyll a monthly at inlet and outlet of Birch lake (April – October)
Whole-lake Aquatic Plant Point-intercept Survey (Cold and Warm) – point-intercept survey on Birch and Little Birch lakes.
Shoreland Evaluation – Site, Pictures, Woody Debris, Report – Survey all lakes using WDNR Shoreland Evaluation Protocol.
Fishing Success Survey (resorts) – Track fishing results and angler comments from resorts around the lakes (May – October). Ice fishing not included but could be added.
Stakeholders Committee Support – Support for Stakeholders Committee and Consultant participation.
Project Administration – General record keeping and administration.
The total product budget was estimated at just over $45,000 with a requested state share of $25,000. Final scoring and decisions are being made and will be announced this winter/spring by the WDNR.
The BCABLA has been actively working to improve the water quality and fishery on Big Chetac, Birch and Little Birch lakes. We invite you to become engaged with the lake association in our efforts by volunteering to help or contributing financially to support its goals. More information can be obtained by visiting: bcabla.com, via e-mail: email@example.com, or our Facebook page.
October 14, 15 and 16th, 2016
Walleyes were stocked again this this year with an other 24,000 extended growth walleye being placed in the lake. This is great news and the fishing reports for Walleye continue to astound all.
June 16 2016
The Lake Association sponsored our second annual Kid's Fishing Day today. We had a great turn-out with 14 kids (all catching fish) and want to thank Chris Schiefelbein for organizing the event this year. We also want to thank the Birchwood Lions Club, Jerry Wilder, Sandy Schiefelbein, Scott Schiefelbein, Scott & Pat Bartlett, Rich Manning, Pete Bratsos, Ken Olson, Ralph Kleven and Paul Parkos. They each played a significant role in making this years event a success.
June 11 2016
Annual Meeting: We held our annual association meeting on Saturday, June 11 at the 9:00 am at the Birchwood Village Hall. Mark Robinson was elected as our new President & Mike Klink was reelected as our Treasurer/Secretary. We need to find a replacement for Mike, because as previously reported he is planning a move to Eau Claire once his house sells. Both Bill Miller and Bob Reynolds were reelected to the Board of Directors. We will also need a replacement for Bill once his house sells. Pete Bratsos has agreed to take over the water quality monitoring in Chetac. We still need to find someone to start doing this same monitoring in Birch. We also had several people agree to do invasive species monitoring for us as well.
May 7, 2016
Spring 2016 Newsletter Issued
Our spring newsletter was emailed to everyone on our email distribution list today.
If you are not on that distribution list and would like to be, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find a link to the newsletter on this page of our website as well.
In this edition of the newsletter you will find information in regard to the revision of our lake management plan,a copy of the DNR technical review team's recommendations, a discussion of mechanical harvesting as an option to replace the use of herbicides to control CLP, a discussion about ALUM and our plans for 2016.
We need more active participation in the Association. Our members have been very generous over the years with their contributions of dollars. Those contributions (and grant monies from the state) have enabled us to make tremendous progress toward improving the water quality of the lake. However, we need members to be generous with their time as well.
You will see in this newsletter we need volunteers from Birch Lake to start doing water testing in Birch, and Invasive Species Monitoring in Birch as well. If we do move from herbicides to mechanical harvesting, then we will start being able to manage the CLP in Birch as well. We would like to have Birch lake residents represented on our Board.
Please email email@example.com if you are interested in lending a hand.
February 28, 2016
Town of Edgewater's – 2016 Lake Chetac Survey
The Township of Edgewater recently mailed out a survey regarding Lake Chetac.
The Lake Association is pleased that the town board has decided to participate in matters concerning the poor water quality of Lake Chetac. We would like to encourage everyone who received this survey to complete it. It is important they hear from all of us.
The survey itself is short and will not take much time to complete. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the Township had the survey prepared by professionals. The survey questions are biased, so the results will be skewed toward the negative. We were not consulted, and according to our contacts at the DNR, neither were they. If they had simply reached out, we could have suggested some easy fixes to avoid these issues.
In addition to biased questions, the town directs survey respondents to their website to learn more. Unfortunately, they have on their website the non-binding town resolutions opposing herbicide treatment. These resolutions not only contain erroneous information, but further bias the survey responses as a whole. As taxpayers in the township, we salute the town board for their attempt to participate. However, we would have preferred they use our funds more wisely by hiring a professional to develop and administer this survey.
January 14, 2015
We just received the DNR's Technical Team's recommendations on our management plan. We are pleased with their recommendations and will make the revisions they suggest and then forward it back to the DNR for approval.
They want us to focus on improving the water clarity through an alum treatment in the north end of the lake before we manage CLP further down the lake. We need to continue to manage the CLP in the north end of the lake as we raise the money to do an alum treatment.
They continue to support the use of herbicides to control CLP. In fact, they agree with our decision not to pursue mechanical harvesting stating that herbicides are more effective and efficient than harvesters at controlling CLP. However, when we do start to control the CLP further down the lake they do not want us to pursue individual property permits. They want us to consolidate all such requests into a permit the association would pull. To be effective, treatment areas need to be at least 5 acres in size, so we will need adjacent properties to pull together so that a large enough area is treated.
Finally, they have come to a decision not to support the use of aerators in lakes.
All of the above was contemplated in our Fall Newsletter. We will make these adjustments to our revised plan and move it forward. We have already submitted our permit request to maintain the north end treatment area in 2016 given the level of turions still remaining there. Their recommendation letter can be found in the link on this page.
2015 News Stories
December 30, 2015
Bill Miller, President of the Lakes Association gave a presentation on the history of the work the association has been doing, results of aquatic plant management to date, plans for 2016, and covered topics, questions posed and alternatives provided by those requesting the meeting.
In attendance beyond the meeting requesters, were our lakes biologist from the DNR, the Sawyer County AIS Coordinator, several board members from the Red Cedar Lakes Association including their President and the Chair of their AIS committee, three board members of our Lakes Association, and some additional people from the community, plus a reporter from the Sawyer County Record.
The link on this page will bring you to the agenda and presentation given by Bill. While, you don't get to hear what he said, nor the discussion that followed at the end, it provides an excellent overview of what was discussed.
The Lakes Association would like to thank all who attended the meeting with special thanks to Gerry Johnson and Larry Johnson of the Red Cedar Lakes Association and Julie Telitz from the Fred Thomas Resort for explaining the importance of what we are doing from their individual perspectives.
December 22, 2015
For 2016 we are planning to apply for a herbicide permit to treat the same area we treated at the north end of the lake for the last three years. We need to maintain the area so that we are ready to do an alum treatment once the DNR gives their approval and we have the funds raised. We have not yet received the results of the DNR's Technical Review Committee of our proposed revision of our management plan. So for 2016, we are planning to concentrate on maintenance and fund raising.
As in prior years we published a notice in the paper of our intent to apply for a permit. If we receive 5 or more requests for a public informational meeting about the proposed treatment, we have to have one. We did, and we are having an informational meeting on Wednesday, December 30th at 10:00am at the Birchwood School Commons.
The purpose of the meeting is informational about the proposed treatment. It will cover some history, results of our work so far, the proposed treatment and a series of items identified by the requesting parties relating to the proposed treatment they would like addressed.
We would love to have you attend if you are in town. If we don't see you at the meeting have a great holiday.
December 21, 2015
The mailing of the fall newsletter has been delayed due to some printing issues. However, a pdf of the newsletter is available on this page to the left. We hope you enjoy it.
October 31, 2015
Over the last few months we have had two public meetings to provide the public opportunity to give input into the revision of our Lake Management Plan. In addition, we have had articles in the April, June, July, August and September Birchwood News.
These articles have provided detail about the results of the work we have been doing to improve water quality on our lake, discussed the results of our Lake Chetac Property Owner Survey, discussed how the results of the property owner survey would be used to help determine the activities we would incorporate into the lake management plan, and what activities should be expected to be incorporated into that plan.
The September Article also asked the public to email or mail us any questions, concerns or opinions they had in regard to the management plan. None were received.
The DNR has provided us with input into the creation of a draft of our revised management plan. At our request, the technical review committee of the DNR has agreed to review both the ALUM study prepared a couple of years ago and the latest draft of our revised plan. We are very pleased that they have agreed to do that. They meet on November 4th to do that review. It is our intent to incorporate their recommendations into a final version of the management plan once received.
The technical review committee is the group whose recommendations we followed over the last few years to implement the first plan.
A copy of the draft the DNR committee will be reviewing can be found to the left on this page. In addition, you can also find copies of the articles published in the Birchwood news reverenced above. We will post their recommendations once received.
September 2, 2015
The Lake Association is mourning the loss one of our founders today, Sandy Raby. She died today at Luther Hospital in Eau Claire, at the age of 54.
A Celebration of her Life will be held at her home at 2651 N. East Shore Drive, Birchwood, WI on Saturday, September 5, 2015 from 1 - 5 PM.
I am saddened on so many levels by this news. Sandy was a friend who improved the lives of all who knew her. It is only through her tireless dedication to this organization that we exist today.
The world is a little smaller, a little less wonderful, a little less special without her. She accomplished so much in the short time she was with us. You have to wonder just how much more she could have accomplished if she had not been taken from us so soon.
August 30, 2015
Our next meeting is a public meeting Wednesday, Spetember 9th at 6 p.m. at the Birchwood Village Hall dedicated to the revision of our lake management plan. Moved to Edgewater Town Hall due to Village Hall scheduling conflict.
August 4, 2015
Our next meeting is a public meeting this Saturday, August 8th at 9:00am in the Birchwood Village Hall dedicated to the revision of our lake management plan.
June 26, 2015
We had our annual meeting on June 13th. Minutes are posted on the website. Arthur Kordus was elected to the board, Terry Olson re-elected to VP and Bill Miller re-elected for a 1 year term as President.
We have had two days of transplanting native plants into the north end of the lake. See the Facebook page for a full report. The Facebook page is the place to see the most recent news & updates.
June 10, 2015
The 2015 Annual Meeting is this Saturday at 9:00am, June 13th at the Birchwood Village Hall. The agenda is posted to the Meeting Schedule Page.
May 21, 2015
The Property Owner Survey Results are in and the Spring News Letter is being mailed this week. The survey results are excellent. We will be using the results to to update our management plan. A huge thank you to all those who took the time to complete this survey. We had a 62.5% response rate which is fantastic. The findings are therefore considered statistically representative of the whole. A link to the survey results and the newsletter can be found on the bottom left of the Home Page.
May 9, 2015
Held our second Association Meeting of the season today. Minutes are posted under Meeting Schedule link, top of middle column this page. Our next meeting is our Annual Meeting to be held on Saturday June 13th, at 9:00am Birchwood Village Hall. Watch for updates on this page and our Facebook page.
May 4, 2015
I am pleased to report that Midwest Aqua Care completed our third year of treatment of Curly Leaf Pondweed at the north end of Big Chetac Monday afternoon. We had a beautiful day on the lake and the treatment occurred with perfect weather conditions (6 mph wind and surface water temp of 58 degrees). The DNR was onsite to approve and oversee the treatment as they have been each of the last three years.
Our pretreatment plant work was completed the weekend before last. The results of that work indicated that our prior two years of treatment had enabled us to reduce the treatment area this year. Instead of treating the same ninety acres, we reduced it to fifty five acres this year. The shape of the treatment area was roughly the same as last year, it just did not extend as far out into the lake. The average water depth of this area was therefore less, and as a result it only required about half the amount of herbicide as last year.
We fully expect that this treatment will be effective in treating the CLP in that area. However, we do not expect as much of a benefit to the CLP outside the treatment area that we have gotten from drift in the past. We should still see benefit outside the treatment area as the herbicide dilutes and drifts into the rest of the north end of the lake, it just will not be as great.
Like in the past two years, we will be taking water samples throughout the next week. This will allow us to see how the herbicide dilutes. In addition, we will have a post plant study done as in prior years later this summer.
April 2, 2015
Ice is out as of today on Big Chetac. How great is that. If that were not enough to celebrate, here is the latest news:
1. The 2015 Permit to Treat the same 90 Acres in the North End of Big Chetac has been issued by the DNR.
2. On March 26, 2015 the DNR issued a press release to a number of local news outlets about the great progress we are making on our lake.
3. On March 26, 2015 the DNR launched a web page dedicated to our efforts on Big Chetac.
4. On March 26, 2015 the DNR also sent a letter to board members and clerks of the Edgewater Township, Village of Birchwood and Town of Birchwood telling them about the great progress we have made. They prepared a fact sheet about the 2014 Treatment and delivered that to the local governing bodies as well.
What a great start to our 20th Year!. With the early ice out and quick warming, we should expect a banner crop of all types of plants...both Invasive like CLP and Native alike. So get ready to clear your props.
You will find Links to the above mentioned reports and website on this page for your convenience. They are also available on the reports page.
November 25, 2014
The Fall Newsletter is done and being printed. The link to the newsletter is below. It contains a great recap of 2014 and our plans for 2015 and beyond. A pdf of the Fall Newsletter can be found on the home page of the website.
DNR 2014 Fishery Report
The BCABLA is pleased to share with you the 2014 Wisconsin Fishery Report for Big Chetac, prepared by Max Wolter, the fish biologist for the lake.
The DNR has done an exceptional job overseeing all the work the Lake Association has been doing to improve the water quality of the lake. In that regard, the DNR has conducted extensive studies of our fishery to answer the following three questions:
Question 1: Are fish avoiding the herbicide treatment area?
Question 2. Are the bluegill in Lake Chetac in worse condition, or skinnier, because of the herbicide treatment?
Question 3. Has herbicide treatment hurt reproduction of panfish?
As you will read in the pdf below, our fishery has not be impacted in any way by the herbicide treatments. The answer to all three of the above questions is "NO"! The report can be found on the home page of the website.
Next Board Meeting
Our next board meeting will be held, Saturday August 9th, at the Birchwood Village Hall at 9:00am. We hope you can attend. The agenda is posted on the meetings schedule page.
Latest Walleye Stocking News
Per Max Wolter, our Fish Biologist from the DNR "Well, it’s finally official. Chetac is on the list for stocking this year (2014) at a rate of 10 per acre (23,996 total)".
This is tremendous news, every other year the DNR will be stocking Big Chetac at that rate with the extended growth Walleyes. As a reminder, we only had 9,600 put in each of the last two years.
In addition, in off years, the monies previously raised for stocking can be used to do just that. New monies can now be raised as well to help with this effort.
We look forward to seeing you on the lake.
June 4th, 2014
WI DNR produced a utube video on Clean Boats Clean Waters and AIS
The Video can be found at: http://youtu.be/jkyHjIGPdyw .
Annual Meeting Saturday June 14th
At the meeting we will provide an update on all of our 2014 activities, setting our date for manual harvesting of CLP and hopefully filling a couple of open board seats.
We hope you can attend. Spring certainly took its time getting here this year. We hope you are all have been able to get out and enjoy the lake. Memorial Day weekend was one of the busiest we have seen in recent years. The weather was fantastic.
We look forward to seeing you on the lake.
May 15, 2014 The Mystery of Filleting Freshwater Game Fish
For those of you who may struggle (like me) when they try to fillet Northern, Walleye, Bass and even Bluegill, I have found a book/guide that might be worth reading.
RKarl outdoor writer and enthusiast of 'Onthelake.net' has published a great and easy to follow book on the subject. It provides detailed explanation with pictures on how to fillet your catch without butchering it.
He also provides links to many wonderful recipes for turning that catch into a mouth watering meal.
If you are interested in the guide, you can find it at: www.createspace.com/4482482.
If you decide to get it, you can get 25% off your purchase price by entering discount code rfnh6hlj at checkout.
Enjoy!May 9, 2014
Our first Monday night board/public meeting will be held on May 12th at the Birchwood Village Hall at 6:00pm
This year, we have split our meetings between Saturday mornings and Monday evenings so all that may like to attend will have a better chance of doing so.
Our May meeting agenda can be found on the Meeting schedule page. We will provide an update on our plans for 2014 and all the activities we will be working on this year.
We are in need of many volunteers again this year and have the need for committee chairs and board members.
We hope you might consider attending the meeting and better yet volunteering your time in some capacity.
If you are unable to attend, we will post the minutes to the meeting to the meeting schedule page as well later next week.May 6, 2014
At the regular monthly meeting of the Village of Birchwood, Trustee Zillmer put forth a resolution for the board to consider passing. This item was evidently brought up at the April meeting and tabled so that it could be revised and shortened. We only learned of the April meeting and proposal after the fact. The resolution proposed at the May meeting was, once again, full of inaccuracies. President Gillette questioned every line of the proposed resolution for accuracy and wanted proof of the same. After questioning the document in great detail and not getting verification of its contents, he proposed tabling a vote on the resolution until such time that proof could be provided and that all reference to the 2013 resolution was removed. In a vote of 3 to 2, President Gillette's motion was passed and the resolution tabled. The two board members voting no(not wanting to table it, but to pursue its passage) were Trustee Linda Zillmer and Trustee John Nelson.
Bill Miller was at the meeting and interjected where appropriate. He pointed out that the 2013 resolution was full of errors and misstatements. He stated he would be more than willing to go through each and every line item with the board. He also spoke to several of the additional items added in the 2014 resolution providing proof that they were flat out in error. That is in addition to previous notifications made to the Village of Birchwood Board regarding the 2013 resolution and documentation received by them from both the BCABLA and the DNR. The 2014 resolution directly contradicted evidence that they already have in their possession.
As with last year, if a resolution is passed, it is non binding in nature. Meaning it only expresses the Village Boards opinion as to their opposition to managing the CLP on the lake. However, its content should be accurate and not contain potentially harmful and damaging statements about the BCABLA. We are unsure why it is important for them to do anything other than pass a simple resolution stating they are opposed to CLP management. It is now a matter of public record that the 2013 and the proposed 2014 resolutions are full of inaccurate and potentially harmful statements. We will post an update on this proposed resolution should it move forward.
May 3, 2014 : Fishing Opener
What a difference an Ice-out Makes. We had an real fishing opener this year! While there was still some ice at the north end of Big Chetac, most of the ice was off the rest of the lake. The day was a little cool and breezy, but other than that it was nice to see it arrive and boats once again grace our waters. Sunday however turned out to be the far nicer day of opening weekend.
Our Clean-Boats-Clean-Waters program for 2014 kicked off successfully opening day at the DNR landing off of Ol'Hayes Road. While there were still floating ice crystals at the ramp early in the morning, boaters put in there just the same. By mid day that ice was gone and a good number of boaters were using the launch. Everyone encountered were in great spirits and happy to talk about what they do to ensure they do not move invasive species from lake to lake.
April 16, 2014
The Alum Study results(summary and full report) were emailed to our membership, the Township of Edgewater, Village of Birchwood, Town of Birchwood and Sawyer County for review and input. We are using 2014 to try and determine whether we should pursue an Alum treatment for Big Chetac. It would appear that the DNR's placement of Big Chetac on the proposed impaired waters listing in 2014 is quite timely. The lake is being placed on the list due to the extreme level of phosphorous in the lake. An Alum treatment has the ability to greatly reduce the level of phosphorous in the lake and substantially improve the water quality. While the study is very encouraging, an alum treatment is quite costly. A decision needs to be made as to whether we should pursue the funding for this treatment.
April 12, 2014
We held our first board/public meeting of the year at 9:00 am at the Birchwood Village Hall. We had a pretty good turnout given how early in the season it was. The agenda and minutes from the meeting can be found on the meeting schedule page of this website. The Association is in full organization mode for the work we intend to take on for 2014: Most of which can be read about in the Association's Fall Newsletter which will be mailed out in early May.
January 24, 2014
Max Wolter of the WI DNR will host the 2nd Annual Sawyer County Lakes Forum to be held on WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 19th from 7:00-9:00 PM at the HAYWARD HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM
This years "Walleyes For Northwest WI" (WFNWW) fishery has been postponed till March 1st on Lac Courte Oreilles, just south of Hayward. Registration starts at 7am at the launch on HWY K. The WFNWW website is: http://wfnw.net/
We encourage you to attend both events if you can.
November 22, 2013
We have mailed out the 2013 Fall Newsletter to not only our members, but all property owners along the shores of Big Chetac and Birch Lakes.
The Fall Newsletter includes:
A PDF of the Fall Newsletter is available here:BCABLA Fall 2013 Newsletter
October 16, 2013
Alex Smith sent a letter to the governmental officials of the Village of Birchwood, Edgewater Township and Town of Birchwood summarizing the recent meetings they had either facilitated or presented at, as well as clarifying their role and that of the BCABLA. In addition, they provided a great FAQ document answering many of the questions posed about the Lake Management Plan and related activities the BCABLA is pursuing. It is a great document and it has been posted on our Lake Management Plan and Related Reports Page.
September 30, 2013
The Village of Birchwood in conjunction with Edgewater Township and the Town of Birchwood held a public meeting. Dan Zerr, from UW Extension, presented on Watersheds, lake succession, water and nutrient cycles in context to Red Cedar River and Lake Chetac. Alex Smith from the DNR presented on DNR lake grants, Aquatic Plant Management programs and the results of our 2013 spring herbicide treatment. Max Wolter, from the DNR (our lakes Fish Biologist), was also present and answered a number of questions pertaining to fisheries. Bill Miller, BCABLA President, presented an overview and timeline of the BCABLA Lake Management Plan and a discussion of the 2013 activities performed by the BCABLA. Linda Zillmer, a lake stakeholder (not in her capacity as a Trustee for the Village of Birchwood), presented her concerns regarding the public notice and input of the Lake Management Plan and the herbicide treatment. Overall this was an extremely positive meeting.
September 16, 2013
The DNR facilitated a meeting at their offices in Spooner between representatives of the Village of Birchwood, Town of Birchwood, Edgewater Township and the BCABLA. Senior officials from the DNR were in attendance. The BCABLA presented an overview of the water quality issues and concerns surrounding the lakes, the studies conducted, the lake management plan and all their activities over the last number of years. It provided the local governmental bodies to ask and have answered any concerns they might have.
September 14th, 2013
We are pleased to share the 2013 results of the Curly Leaf Pondweed (CLP) treatment at the North end of Big Chetac. The final reports are in and they are much better than we expected. We got more bang for our buck. It appears that the Aquathol effectively stopped the CLP from producing any turions from the North end of the lake down to the sand bar.
This is tremendous news. While the Aquathol did not kill all the CLP north of the sandbar, the findings show that it was impacted enough to prevent it from producing turions, which end up growing into new plants in later years. See Summary and Full reports on the Lake Management Plan and Reports Page.
We held a public meeting Birchwood School Commons Room. We presented an overview and timeline of our Lake Management Plan. The DNR presented the results of the treatment. The public was invited to learn about all of our activities. We had a great turn out.
September 10, 2013
The next Association Meeting will be Saturday, September 14th in the Birchwood Schools Common Room at 9:00am. We will be co-presenting with the DNR the results of our 2013 CLP treatment.
We have invited the Township of Edgewater, Village of Birchwood and Town of Birchwood board member to attend. It like the rest of our meetings is open to the public. This meeting will be dedicated to the work we have been doing in 2013.
The final results of post testing of the CLP treatment is in and they are all positive. We look forward to sharing the good news with you.
August 6, 2013
The next meeting of the Lake Association will be held on September 14th at 9:00am in the Birchwood Schools' Common Room.Historically we have had a picnic in August representing our August meeting.
Last year we decided not to hold the annual picnic in 2013 due to lack of member interest. If interest increases in the future we will hold it again. As a result, the board has decided to not hold a meeting in August this year. Since we are still waiting on final results from our CLP treatment and the ALUM study, there is nothing new to report.
As we have previously stated the preliminary reports on the CLP treatment have been extremely positive. We hope to see you all at the meeting in September.
July 16, 2013
We held fourth Lake Association Meeting of the year on Saturday, July 13th at 9:00am in the Birchwood Village Hall. The agenda and the minutes from that meeting can be found under the 2013 Meeting Schedule Link (Center Top of this page).
We had excellent attendance again at this meeting. It was nice to see and meet some new members as well as seeing the regular attendees as well.
The SCLF would like someone from our Association to join their board of directors. We are seeking volunteers for this important position. We are very supportive of all the work that SCLF does to protect the water quality in Sawyer County Lakes. July 9, 2013
The next Lake Association Meeting is Saturday, July 13th at the Birchwood Village Hall. We hope you can join us.
We will be discussing our progress on the multiple projects we are managing this summer, as well as our participation in the upcoming Bluegill Festival and Parade.
We had a great CLP hand pulling event at the DNR landing on Ol' Hayes Road a little over a week ago. It was great. Our members have also been out monitoring for invasive species and working the boat landings as part of the Clean Boats Clean Waters Program.
The summer is off to an excellent start!
June 20, 2013
The Lakes Association will have its first large CLP Hand Weeding event at the DNR Launch off of Ol' Hayes Road on Saturday, June 29th at 9:00am.
We had originally planned to hold this event at the sandbar. The CLP at the sandbar is minimal. Therefore, we have moved it to the landing area. We have been formally invited to weed in front of the properties just south of the launch. Please bring some old tennis shoes to wear while you are in the water.
We will have a trailer at the launch to put the weeds we pull in. We will also be speaking with boaters about invasive species.
June 8, 2013
The Association held its Annual Meeting, which, like the previous two, the public was formally invited to learn more about the Grant related activities on Big Chetac and Birch Lakes.
Larry Johnson attended from Red Cedar and gave a wonderful report on their similar activities.
We also held our annual election of officers and directors at this meeting. We are pleased to report that Bill Miller is our new President; Terry Olson, VP; Bob Reynolds, Director; Mark Robinson, Director; and, Bill Duffack, Director. Of course Sandy Raby is still our Secretary/Treasurer and Ron Adamski remains a valued board member.
Kristy Maki the Sawyer County Invasive Species Coordinator gave 15 members training on how to identify, monitor and report invasive species. Big Chetac, the Channel and Birch will all be monitored regularly to see if any new invasive species have entered the lakes. If they have, we will be temporarily be placing a buoy at the site to mark it until Kristy can get to the site to verify. We will take picture and samples and mail them off to her as well. Early detection is the key. However, there are some invasive species that nothing can be done should we get it (like Zebra Mussels). However, we still want to know if anything new gets into our lakes.
June 5, 2013
The Association will be holding its next meeting on Saturday June 8th at 9:00 am at the Birchwood Village Hall. Please come and join us. The agenda is posted under meeting schedule information. We will be discussing the 2013 CLP treatment. In addition, Larry Johnson of the Red Cedar Lakes Association will discuss how their treatment of CLP went this year as well. Kristy Maki Sawyer County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator will be conducting training for our AIS Monitoring, Identification and Reporting Program, starting at 10:00 am
June 7, 2013
We received an email from the Village of Birchwood this morning. They have amended their previous resolution removing the reference to Walleye's for Tomorrow.
May 28th, 2013
The Board of the Lake Association is pleased to announce that on May 28th we completed our first years treatment of CLP. The DNR was onsite and gave final approval to treat. The Association wants to thank all of you for your hard work and efforts over the years that have brought us to this moment in the Associations' history. We also want to thank all of you who actively encouraged the association to move forward over the last few weeks.
We treated approximately 91 acres at the north end of the lake. We had originally planned to treat almost 98 acres there, but the pretesting we did a few weeks ago determined exactly where we needed to treat. Therefore, we were able to reduce the size of the treatment area at the north end. We did not treat the Public Launch area off of Ol' Hayes Road this year due to concerns to the proximity of the bay to the wild rice plants growing in the nearby bullpen area. We clearly do not want to negatively impact the rice. The DNR will be looking at this over the summer and then make a final decision prior to us treating again next year. The pre testing of this site also showed a reduced area in that bay that we would need to treat. It is more likely than not that we will be able to treat this second area starting next year.
As you know there are many more activities associated with the management of our lake. This is just one of many things that we are working on. Our next meeting is at 9:00am in the Birchwood Village Hall on Saturday, June 8th. We would very much like you to come. We will be discussing the treatment as well as the other activities we are working on. Many of you have volunteered your time to help with the work we are doing. We will be reaching out to you to help manage the different activities that we are doing.
An agenda will be sent out next week.
May 28th, 2013
We learned that a private citizen had formally requested that the DNR suspend the Associations Permit to treat CLP. The DNR denied that request.
We have cut and pasted the details of that request and denial below. It provides good information supporting everything the Association is doing in regard to maintaining and enhancing the lake.
We received your request and have evaluated the information carefully. Based on our review, we have decided not to suspend permit #NO-2013-58-667 under NR 107.05(2). Therefore the planned treatment for curly leaf pondweed by the Big Chetac Chain Lake Association will be able to proceed. Our staff provided responses to the issues you raised. They are provided in blue text in the body of the email. In addition, the attachments to this email are also provided to illustrate some of our answers. I understand your sincere concerns and I hope we have been able to provide thorough answers.
Below is the email with DNR responses bolded, when we cut and pasted onto the web page the blue highlighting went away, so we have manually bolded the DNR's responses in the email below(all unbolded wording is from the person requesting the permit suspension):
May 28, 2013
Cathy Stepp, Secretary DNRSecretary@Wisconsin.gov
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
101 S. Webster Street
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921
PETITION TO THE WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES FOR SUSPENSION OF PERMIT #NO-2013-58-667 UNDER NR107.05 (2) AND A REQUEST FOR A HEARING UNDER S. 227.42 WIS. STATS
As a riparian owner on a bay with curly leaf pondweed on Lake Chetac, Sawyer County, I respectfully request the DNR suspend Aquatic Plant Management permit #NO-2013-58-667 for chemical treatment on Big Chetac Lake in Sawyer County and require a hearing on the Big Chetac and Birch Lake Association permit and aquatic plant management plans.
As a village trustee for the Village of Birchwood, I voted for Village Resolution 156-13 in opposition to chemical treatments and in support of Town of Edgewater efforts to take legal action to prevent chemical treatments. The only resolution I have seen is from the Town of Birchwood.
As provided for in NR107.05 (2)
If a request for a public hearing is received after the permit is issued but prior to the actual treatment allowed by the permit, the department is not required to, but may, suspend the permit because of the request for public hearing.
As provided for in s 227.42 Wis Stats,
(1) In addition to any other right
provided by law, any person filing a written request with an
agency for hearing shall have the right to a hearing which shall be
treated as a contested case if:
(a) A substantial interest of the person is injured in fact or
threatened with injury by agency action or inaction;
(b) There is no evidence of legislative intent that the interest
is not to be protected;
(c) The injury to the person requesting a hearing is different in
kind or degree from injury to the general public caused by the
agency action or inaction; and
(d) There is a dispute of material fact.
As a fourth generation shoreland owner on Lake Chetac, I am very familiar with the history of the lake, and the lake association and am actively involved in water quality efforts in the Red Cedar watershed as a citizen and a trustee for the Village of Birchwood, Washburn County. The Village of Birchwood includes shorelands on portions of Big Birch and all of Little Birch Lakes, downstream of Lake Chetac. Red Cedar and Hemlock Lakes conducted a CLP herbicide treatment this morning without any controversy. Mark supervised this treatment.
I am familiar with the Short Elliott Hendrickson studies done with grant funds and was present at lake association presentations by Bernie Lenz and Dave Blumer of SEH and Jim Kreitlow of the WDNR and the Town of Edgewater presentation by Jim Kreitlow. I know that there are prevention options that are not being promoted. The prevention options are being promoted and are included in grants. Grant number AEPP-368-13 was awarded in the Fall of 2012 to the Big Chetac Chain Lake Association for 3 years of watercraft inspections. The Town of Edgewater donated $1000 per year towards this grant. The Big Chetac Chain Association was awarded an AIS control grant this spring, that number is ACEI-133-13. As a part of this control grant, volunteers will be trained to conduct AIS monitoring following Citizen Lake Monitoring Network protocols and will conduct 300 hours of AIS monitoring. I know that there are other management options available. Other management options for CLP are harvesting with a mechanical harvester or manual hand pulling/raking. The AIS control grant does include 300 hours per year of manual removal/raking, so they are pursuing additional management actions. Mechanical harvesting gets very expensive and would require purchasing a harvester or renting a harvester. Renting a harvester is very difficult this time of year since other lake groups are also harvesting CLP. Also, harvesters are very difficult to clean and thus could be a vector for other AIS. The other issue with mechanically harvesting CLP is that the harvester only removes the top part of the plant, which improves navigation, but the plant can still form turions at all the nodes below the harvested area. The chemical treatment will kill the entire plant before it can form the turions. Manual removal/raking will also remove the entire plant before the plants can form turions. I also understand that this lake will not be clear and there is no silver bullet that will provide a one time solution to the weed and algae problems in this lake. There are no silver bullets for aquatic plants and algae. The lake association is taking a multipronged approach. They are proposing to chemically treat CLP and manually remove it in other areas. CLP dies early in the summer and as it decays, releases phosphorus back into the lake. Treating the CLP early can reduce this phosphorus load to the lake in early-mid summer. Another activity included in grant ACEI-133-13 is planting native aquatic plants in the north bay following the treatment. The plan is for the native plants to take root and outcompete the CLP. The lake association is also exploring the costs and feasibility of dealing with the internal phosphorus loading to the lake as a way to reduce algae blooms.
I understand that all management options are very costly. As a local official, I hear frequently about the demands and constraints on our local tax base. The DNR AIS Control grant program is put in place to assist local groups and governments because we recognize the costs associated with lake management. I also hear from many people that they are opposed to chemical treatments.
As a property owner on a bay with curly leaf pondweed, I believe prevention and other management options are preferable to chemical treatments and will campaign against it should proposed treatment areas expand in the future. Prevention cannot improve the CLP situation. The CLP is already established in the lake. The Lake Association is committed to prevent other AIS from becoming established in Big Chetac and Birch Lakes via the activities in their grants.
With regard to the lake association, I have documentation going back several years demonstrating that this is an exclusive group that has not been open to working with all segments of lakeshore owners and lake users. Jim Kreitlow presented at the Town of Edgewater in April 2011 and answered questions pertaining to aquatic plant management (questions are attached). Two lake association officers, also serving on the Town of Edgewater Plan Commission, recommended striking storm water management from the Edgewater Comprehensive Plan.
Despite opposition to chemical treatments by members of the public and local units of government, after discussion and consideration at town meetings, the association continued to pursue chemical treatment over other options. The two options determined to be the most feasible and effective are chemical treatments and manual removal/raking out the CLP. The other options that were explored during the planning process (drawdowns, mechanical harvesting, and bio-control) were determined to be not feasible or cost prohibitive at this time.
As I have been monitoring the bcabla.com and Twitter sites for the last week or so, I find there are no links to the SEH reports for people to inform themselves and no specific notice of the proposed chemical treatment applications. There are two websites. The old website has the links to the Plan Summary, and a link to the results of the SEH study found on the SEH website. Here is the link: http://www.bigchetacandbirchlakeassociation.org/about/ DNR also has copies of the reports and plans and all are public record.
Last week, SEH took the reports off of their websites as they have had no further work with BCABLA since 2009/2010. They kindly reposted the information upon request, but advised that they are under no obligation to keep this posted. The lake association did not even have SEH present the Comprehensive Lake Management Plan to their members, let alone share it with the public.
As I visited boat landings on Memorial Day, there were no postings at landings. They will be required to post the landings if/once the treatment occurs.
There is a dispute of material fact. Grant documents suggest that the Town of Edgewater is in favor of chemical treatments because town funds were set aside to provide for boat landing monitoring. In fact, the Town of Edgewater does not support chemical treatments as management options for Lake Chetac. The boards for the Town of Edgewater, Town of Birchwood and the Village of Birchwood have all gone on record to register opposition to chemical treatment. Here is a quote from the grant application (attached): “7g. Description of existing and proposed partnerships – The Big Chetac Lake Association is working closely with the Township of Edgewater and the Village of Birchwood in regard to protecting and enhancing Big Chetac Lake. The township of Edgewater has committed $8,000 toward this project. There only caveat is to not have their funds used for the direct purchase of chemicals. So, it will be used for pre and post testing as well as funding for the clean boats clean water program. While we are also seeking some economic commitment from the Village of Birchwood, that has not yet been agreed to at the time of this grant request.”
There is another disputed fact that there is vast support for chemical treatment. The general public has not had a say in this. Only lake association members have been allowed to weigh in on this. I have heard from lake association members who say they were not even aware that chemical treatments were being planned. During the plan development process, a survey was developed and mailed by the Lake Association’s consultant SEH and the results of that survey are attached. The survey was mailed to 380 lake users and 182 were filled out and returned. As seen in the results of the survey, a majority of the people surveyed felt that some form of aquatic plant management was necessary and that the DNR and Lake Association were the top two entities responsible for implementing the management. That is happening, DNR has given a grant to the Lake Association to implement their Plan. The lake association also mailed out their newsletter this spring (also attached) announcing the plans for spring treatments and also announcing their meetings, which are open to the public. The permit was announced in the Sawyer County Record per requirements of NR 107. That announcement is attached. Dave Blumer, the consultant hired by the Association, presented the water quality results on June 13th, 2009 and presented the Management Alternatives on October 24th, 2009, both presentation occurred at the Birchwood Village Hall. The Lake Association has put together a timeline of how they proceeded through the planning process and permitting process. It is also attached.
Please suspend Aquatic Plant Management Permit #NO 2013-58-667 and allow a hearing before further action is taken.
I have very much appreciated the information provided about the permitting process by the DNR staff on copy. They have been professional and courteous in this difficult situation.
Some Lake Association Comments about the above:
The bolded responses above reference the SEH Survey the Association Sponsored during the work we did trying to determine the cause of the lakes poor water quality issues and how to address them. The survey results can be found on our Reports Page.
The above responses from the DNR also references a document that Jim Kreitlow of the DNR provided to the Township of Edgewater in April of 2011 when we attended a town meeting to discuss the safety and efficacy of chemical treatment as an option to manage CLP. A link to that document on the township of Edgewaters website is: http://www.townofedgewater.com/docs/answers%20to%20questions.pdf or
May 21st through May 28th, 2013
No Injunction was filed to stop the treatment of CLP. We received no legal notices. We do not know if the Township or Village filed for an injunction and were denied, or if they were simply advised by their respective counsel that they did not have cause to obtain one. Please direct inquiries regarding this matter to their respective board members.
May 21st, 2013
The Village of Birchwood sent BCABLA a resolution via email notifying us of their intent to work with Edgewater Township to stop the treatment of CLP with Chemicals in Big Chetac. BCABLA has sent a copy of email/resolution to all BCABLA members with email addresses on file. For a copy, please email BCABLA@hotmail.com.
May 14th, 2013
The Board of Edgewater Township voted to pursue an injunction to stop chemical treatment on Big Chetac.
We have yet to be contacted by them. Here is the agenda from their meeting:
TOWN OF EDGEWATER
Notice of Regular Monthly Meeting
Tuesday May 14, 2013 @ 4:15 PM
Edgewater Town Hall, 1470N Wooddale Road
(copied from their website: http://www.townofedgewater.com/Default.asp)
Call to order
Pledge of Allegiance
Roll call of officers
Approval of the April Monthly Meeting Minutes
Action and/or Discussion Items
Additional Dumpster for the Waste Transfer Center
Bids for Chip Sealing
Picnic Tables For Edgewater Park
Tom Sirinek Conditional Use Application for the Gravel Pit
Jim Kissinger Driveway Permit
Action to File an injunction against the chemical treatment for CLP on Lake Chetac
Public Comments will be limited to issues that happen between the time the agenda is posted
and the start of the monthly meeting. If you have an item that you would like to have on
the agenda, please contact any of the board members or the town clerk.
May 14 and May 21st:
Discussion of Edgewater Township and Village of Birchwood pursuit of an injunction to prevent the Chemical Treatment of CLP in Big Chetac
Upon hearing that the Township of Edgewater planned to seek and injunction, BCABLA immediately notified the DNR. The township has not contacted us directly, nor have they posted minutes to their meeting to their website(yet). So other than from a report from one of our board members being at the township meeting, we have had no notice from them regarding their current concerns or plans.
We received a call today(5/21) from the contractor we hired to treat the CLP stating he had received a call from Pete Baribeau the Edgewater town Chair today stating that Edgewater was pursuing an injunction to stop the chemical treatment in Big Chetac. We notified the DNR of that too.
In addition, upon receiving notice from the Village of Birchwood (today, May 21, 2013), we forwarded the email received from Birchwood and the attachment to the DNR. We are awaiting comment from the DNR. At this moment in time we have a valid permit issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources(the same as Red Cedar Lakes Association and the Rice Lake- Lake District). Representatives of the DNR will be present if and or when the contractor treats the CLP in Big Chetac.
We hope to hear back from the DNR as to their position in this matter tomorrow, May 22nd. After which the board of the Association will meet to discuss how we want to proceed. Our attorney is being contacted for an opinion in this matter as well. Almost all the feedback we have received in regard to the grants and our intent to treat CLP with Chemicals as recommended by the DNR has been positive. Up until the above actions, we had little negative commentary on this matter. In fact the DNR's position has been that the use of this chemical to treat CLP is safe and effective.
It is our opinion that the DNR is clearly in the best position to determine what will and what won't work and what is safe or not.
We would greatly appreciate your input. Tell us how you would like us to proceed. Email us at BCABLA@hotmail.com.
You should also feel free to reach out to the Edgewater at http://www.townofedgewater.com/contact.asp and, Birchwood Village Boards at http://birchwoodvillagewi.com/page2.html.
May 11, 2013
The May Lake Association meeting was attended by 22 members. It was a great turnout. We had a discussion regarding grant status and all our summer activities. Full meeting minutes can be found on this site.
May 8, 2013
The Ice finally went out on the lakes today. Some years it seems that the ice just goes out overnight. This year it seemed more like a battle between the two seasons and winter really not wanting to give up its grasp.
May 4, 2014:
Fishing Opener was a bust this year for almost everyone on Big Chetac and Birch lakes. On Big Chetac Ken Olson and crew found enough open water at the Bullpen to put a pontoon boat in and fish. Little Birch was entirely open and a few soles also ventured out there as well.
April 26, 2013:
The Lake Association issued their fall 2013 Newsletter. A copy of the complete newsletter was mailed to all Birch Lake and Big Chetac Lake Residents, in addition to local businesses and civic organizations.
Check back here for more news as the year progresses!