President Jerry Zehner opened the meeting by introducing the officers and directors. He thanked the areas town treasurers for inserting the annual report in the tax report envelopes each year. Those treasurers include the following: Pat Brewer, Prairie Lake; Jona Hanson, Chetek; Kathy Hofstede, City of Chetek; Arlene Hoveland, Dovre; and Arlene Wetzel, Stanley.
Treasurer Don Freeman reviewed the years financial statement and membership total. The current 2002 balance is $28,805.31, up from $25,021.95 at this time last year. Dues amounted to $3,950, and donations of $4,417 were amassed. There are presently 263 members in the organization, 52 of which are resorts and businesses.
Dale Hanson, of the Barron County Soil and Water Conservation Department, informed the audience that the county will apply later this year for state funding for a watershed project on the Chetek Chain. The maximum funding available for the project would be $150,000. Hanson said his department would like to form a partnership with the Chetek Lakes Protection Association and the City of Chetek to help accomplish some of the goals of the project if it is approved by the state.
The Chain was originally selected by the state for a watershed program in July 1996. The project would have stretched over 10 years, and possibly could have resulted in close to $10 million in funding. according to Hanson. But a month after the offer, the state repealed their selection. Over the course of the next year, Wisconsins state watershed program was dismantled and rebuilt to focus on smaller areas instead of large watersheds. This unfortunately meant less money would be available for such projects.
In 2000, each county was required to lay out a long range plan depicting its watershed expectations for the upcoming five to ten years. The new watershed programs are called Targeted Runoff Management Projects. Hanson commented that his department is very close to finalizing its long range plans for the Chetek Chain.
Hanson explained that the Chain of Lakes is essentially a large flooded area of wetland, which is why the lakes are so shallow. He stated that people shouldnt expect a dramatic transformation of the lake system if the watershed project is approved.
Its always been a fertile lake, acknowledged Hanson. referring to its abundant plant life and green color. Theres never going to be a watershed project that can turn the Chetek Chain into anything its not.
However, one main goal of the project would be to reduce the amount of phosphorus in the lake, mentioned Hanson.
The conservationist pointed out that the main sources for phosphorus in the lakes stem from the watershed of Prairie Lake itself, including Rice Creek on the north end of the lake, and Pokegama and Ten Mile Creeks.
Hanson also detailed the process of internal recycling of phosphorus in Ojaski Lake. He said the recycling is more prevalent in Ojaski than the entire chain combined.
The sediment in the bottom of the lake is just loaded with phosphorus, he mention. Each year phosphorus emerges from the sediment and drifts into the water column, contributing to the algae bloom and weed growth in the lake. Then the phosphorus is washed downstream into Pokegama Lake.
Hanson touched on the newest federal farm bill passed about two months ago. He said more money and emphasis was placed on conservation than any other farm bill in history. Hanson and two federal officers located in his department work diligently with conservation issues. They will soon institute an effort called the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to go along with a new Conservation Reserve Program sign-up. According to Hanson, Barron County is eligible for $600,000 for the CREP.
Following Hansons presentation, Mike McGinnis of the Chetek Waste Water Treatment Plant described how waste water reaches the treatment plant and how it is shredded and ground to an acceptable state for treatment.
He next explained the function of the classifiers, rotation biological contractors and the introduction of various chemicals, such as chlorine and sodium bisulfate, which kills bad bacteria and also improves the quality of the waste water prior to discharge into the river.
McGinnis noted that the facility must meet daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and yearly tests to continue to discharge water into the river. The tests, biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids question how much bacteria microorganisms or solids are in the water demanding oxygen to survive. The plant must be below 30 milligrams per liter and McGinnis noted that Cheteks plant has been allowing only 10 milligrams per liter, well below the limits.
The waste water treatment plant uses physical properties and biological processes to treat the water. Depending on the time of year, the treatment process takes between two-and-a-half to four-and-a-half hours, stated McGinnis.
Among the new plant improvements for 2002 is the comminutor (the machine that grinds and shreds waste), which will be replaced by a fine screen filter that will collect unwanted material in the water and auger to a dumpster. The plant will upgrade to an ultraviolet system that will replace the use of chlorine gas. The 35-year-old standby generator is not sufficient to run the plant in the event of a power outage, so it is scheduled for replacement.
For the 2002 season 96 fish cribs were constructed and placed by the Wisconsin Conservation Corps. Forty-eight cribs were placed in Lake Chetek near Northland Resort, while an additional 48 were put in Pokegama Lake near Meadows Island.
The DNR is responsible for issuing permits for crib placement, therefore we work very closely with that agency. We submit an application together with a map of the activity area. The main requirements for crib placement are that they be located in at least 12 feet of water and be soundly constructed. The DNR has always been very supportive of our program.
Since 1989 the CLPA has been instrumental in building and placing 589 cribs in the Chetek Chain of Lakes. Wooden pallets are donated by Excel Energy and Image Plastics and cement blocks by County Concrete.
The CLPA has now made it possible for truly interested lake supporters to adopt their own fish crib. Each crib will be numbered and the donor will receive a certificate of appreciation bearing the donors name, along with the date and location of placement. You may have your own crib for just $10. Contact Don Freeman at (715) 924-3658 or Jerry Zehner at (715) 924-4493.
Our newest project for 2002 is the replacement of the information boards at our 16 boat landings. The CLPA purchased a special grade of plywood and the Wisconsin Conservation Corps again provided the labor. Lamperts lumber donated $104 worth of raw materials to this project.
CLPA first vice president Gary Fredrickson presented an overview of the lakes and fisheries on the Chain. He began by relaying some fish growth statistics, emphasizing the substantial length of time it takes most fish to reach the legal size limit.
Fredrickson said the Department of Natural Resources completed an in-depth study in 2001 on the status of the Chetek Chain of Lakes. The 46-page report, organized by fish biologist Rick Cornelius, outlined five different factors that would continue to improve the quality of the fishery.
First, the lakes should continue to be stocked every other year with walleye fingerlings. Fredrickson noted that over the past 10 years the CLPA has stocked 528,000 walleye fingerlings. But less than one percent of those fish survive, he pointed out, so it takes time, patience and reasonable fishing practices to maintain a healthy population.
Secondly, current regulations on the lakes should be maintained, the report suggested. Fredrickson said that the Chetek Chain was one of the first lakes in the state to enforce a 26-inch limit on northern pike, and that move is paying dividends.
Weve got a trophy northern lake in the making, he affirmed.
Next, the aeration system in Prairie Lake should be continued to prevent fish kills and freeze-outs due to a lack of oxygen.
Fourth, the CLPAs fish crib project should continue, as it supports a healthy fish habitat and shelter.
Lastly, walleye and northern pike spawning areas need to be protected. Fredrickson explained that walleye prefer to spawn in rocky areas, such as the area north of Burnharns Island on Prairie Lake. Northern pike prefer to spawn in shallow, muddy and weedy waters.
Over 16 years of administering the Fish-O-Rama contest, 7,000 fish have been tagged, according to Fredrickson. The contest has proven helpful to the DNR as well, showing officials fish migration patterns.
CLPA second vice president Bob August and treasurer Don Freeman tagged 485 panfish this year, stated Fredrickson, and 160 of those fish have been caught during Fish-O-Rama. Fredrickson thanked everyone who brought in fish to be tagged for the contest.
Also during Fredricksons presentation, he provided tribal spearing statistics from the current year. The walleye safe harvest for Prairie Lake was set at 334. The tribal declaration was 257 and to date no fish had been speared, he commented.
Fredrickson mentioned that lake monitors patrol each of the lakes in the Chain, providing the DNR data so officials can determine the trophic state index (TSI) of each body of water. The Chetek lakes are currently registered in the 50-73 point range, he pointed out, which classifies the Chain as hypereutrophic.
When we get up to the point of 73, were awfully close to the danger point, Fredrickson warned. After you get over 80, your lake is almost mud. This is the reason why it is so important to support any type of high-priority watershed project that would improve the lake system, he added.
Lakeshore owners need to understand the importance of keeping water near their land free of chemicals, said Fredrickson.
Youve got to remember, weve got 125,000 acres feeding this little 3,000 acre pond of lakes we have, he cautioned. Why in the world would anyone want to fertilize their lawn when the lake water is so fertile?
Six permits were acquired from the DNR to use chemicals to treat aquatic plants in the past year, according to Fredrickson. It is illegal to treat aquatic life without a permit. Four separate permits were allowed on Prairie Lake, including Wildwood Bay near the Cartwright boat landing, Wilkinsons Slough, and Frankenberg Slough. Permits were also granted for Pokegama Lake near Morning Sun Resort and Ten Mile Lake near Ten Mile Creek.
Fredrickson concluded by announcing his resignation as first vice president of the CLPA to allow him and his wife more time to travel. He said he felt he couldnt devote enough time to the organizations cause if he was traveling.
Chetek Mayor John Banks explained the efforts of Wisconsin Conservation Corps to contribute to the quality of the lakes in the community. The Chetek crew has been instrumental in building fish cribs, posting signage around the lakes and cleaning up tree limbs and branches near the bridges around the city.
CLPA director Chris Carlson conducted the election of the president and the new first vice president at the end of the meeting. The re-election of Jerry Zehner was approved, and director Greg Jennings was promoted first vice president.
the adjournment of the meeting, lunch was served by the Pokegama inn staff.
Last Updated: June, 2005