Lake levels concern CLPA members
For the second year in a row, the Chetek Lakes Protection Association used a panel of county officials to answer questions at the groups ninth annual meeting at Northwoods Brewpub and Grill at Pokcgama Sunday, Aug. 1.
This years panel consisted of Banron County Fisheries Biologist Heath Benike, Banron County Soil and Water Conservationist Dale Hanson, Banron County Zoning Administrator Dave Gifford, and Banron County Conservation Officer Russ Fell.
The major questions that arose from those attending concerned the Chctek dam and fluctuating lake levels. Conservationist Dale Hanson took over as the countys dam coordinator last year. He said there has been a lot of controversy concerning the Chetek chains lake levels in the last few years.
To alleviate the controversy, five lake level gauges have been placed on the Chetek lakes, Hanson explained. Five individuals have volunteered to check the gauges, placed at the end of their docks, two times a week. The gauges are also checked after substantial rainfall, Hanson noted.
The gauges are located on the west shore of Lake Chetek, the west shore of Pokegama Lake, the north end of Qjaski Lake, and one each on the north end and west shore of Prairie Lake.
In the past, Chetek city employees have maintained the level of the lakes with a gauge at the dam. They will continue to monitor the levels by communicating with the volunteers reading the new gauges. Hanson said the DNR has also set a range in which his staff will try to keep the lake level.
The difficulty lies in trying to please residents on each of the Chetek lakes. Hanson said its not uncommon for an Qjaski Lake resident to complain about the lake level being high, and on the same day a Ten Mile Lake resident might complain about the lake being too low.
Hanson said volunteers record their readings, weather conditions, and wave conditions at the time of the readings. The information will be used to set more permanent lake level guidelines for the future.
Hanson also fielded questions about the status of the Chetek dam. He said a dam engineer inspected the structure about six years ago and indicated that the dam doesnt have sufficient spillway capacity. He added that laws have tightened since then, and dams like Cheteks need to be able to handle a 1,000-year storm over a 10-day period.
Hanson said the darn is in excellent shape. There is some minor maintenance that needs to take place, hut for its age, Hanson said the dam was functioning well. The dam analysis should he completed by the end of August.
Hanson was asked what would happen to the lake if the study revealed the dam needed extensive repairs or construction. The conservationist mentioned repairs to the Rice Lake dam in 1982 resulted in a major drawdown of the lake. He said he didnt expect such a drawdown of the Chetek lakes if the dam needed a major overhaul.
Benike revealed some of the results of a fish census taken on Prairie and Chetek lakes last fall. He said the fish shocking showed that largemouth bass were abundant. There are also large numbers of bluegill, but the population seems to be running small in size with many in the seven- to eight-inch range. Benike added that he did expect to see a high number of larger crappies in the next couple years.
Benike was encouraged by the size of the northern pike found during the census. He credited the 26-inch size limit initiated in 1995. Were seeing a major increase in northern pike size structure, he concluded.
However, Benike said walleye reproduction last year was the lowest its been in a long time. Many lakes in the area showed the same low young-of-the-year numbers, Benike commented. Benike was not surprised, he added, because walleye only produce well once every three or four years.
Benike also explained the DNRs theories on stocking smaller walleye fry. One- to two- inch fry cost six cents apiece to raise and stock, while seven- to nine-inch fingerlings cost one dollar apiece. Only three percent of the smaller fry survive, while eight percent of the larger fingerlings survive. He said the DNR simply cant afford to stock the larger fingerlings: The DNRs fisheries production departments budget was cut by three-quarters of a million dollars last year, Benike said.
Eurasian milfoil has developed into a dangerous foe for lake associations around the state. Several of the panel members voiced their opinions about continuing to keep the invasive species out of the Chetek lakes.
Hanson said the Chetek chain would he a prime location for Eurasian milfoil to take root because of the amount of phosphorus in the lakes and the fertility of the system. The belief that milfoil doesnt grow in low-light lakes is a myth, Hanson pointed out.
CLPA treasurer Don Freeman mentioned at the beginning of the meeting that the association is considering the initiation of a boat ramp monitoring program to try to curtail the introduction of invasive species into the Chetek chain. He said the CLPA could seek volunteers from community groups to monitor the lakes 17 boat ramps.
Hanson commented on the progress of the Chetek Chain of Lakes watershed project that was approved last winter. The Barron County Soil and Water Conservation Department received a $150,000 grant for conservation projects on the shoreline and watershed of the chain. The project is designed to reduce pollution runoff from agriculture fields and shoreline areas. The CLPA donated $9,300 to the project because the SWCD had no staff available to implement the project.
Hanson explained that the project would take three to four years, and that this year was being utilized as an inventory year. The CLPAs donation has not yet been allocated.
Bylaw amendment The CLPA has amended bylaw article VI section three (elections) to read as follows: The presidents position shall he filled either by the current president or one of the current vice presidents. The requirement preceding is contingent upon one of those individuals being willing to accept the position. In the event that neither the current president nor any of the vice presidents is willing or able to accept the position of president, then the board of directors shall appoint the president until such time as there is a regularly scheduled meeting of the general membership. At the meeting of the general membership, the appointment of the president made by the board shall he subject to approval of the general membership, and also subject to further nominations by the general membership at that meeting.
Last Updated: June, 2005