City, state, and county officials took a boat ride Monday to view the area of the Mill Cut, where a stone dam washed out over the past decade.
Since the washout, a substantial amount of Wolf River current diverts into the cut off. This causes sedimentation and navigation problems on the Wolf River above Partridge Crop Lake near Guth’s Resort.
During low water periods, the area of shallow water across the river is nearly impassible for boaters.
“The problem just keeps getting worse,” said Bob Flease, Waupaca County supervisor and town of Mukwa resident.
Flease organized Monday’s trip downriver by pontoon.
Accompanying Flease was New London Mayor Gary Hanke, City Administrator Kent Hager, Parks Director Chad Hoerth, Joe Behlen from the State Department of Natural Resources, Brian Haase of the Waupaca County Land and Water Department, County Park Supervisor Roger Holman and members of the County Zoning office. Walleyes for Tomorrow Chairman Mike Arrowood, and Mike Klatt of the Wolf River Preservation Association, also attended the ride.
The group viewed the area of the washout and had an informal discussion on the water regarding what steps could be taken to remedy the problem.
Joe Behlen informed the group of the likely scenarios and agencies who would need to be involved, including the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the respective landowners.
Gaining landowner permission is the first step in moving forward towards any remedy.
He also said engineering and environmental impact studies would be required before any permits or work is considered.
Roger Holman and Mike Klatt agreed to work on contacting the respective landowners to set up a meeting, and they will make contact with local DNR Water Regulations and Zoning Specialist, Scott Kuhnke.
The last formal meeting addressing the “Stone Dam” washout was held 12 years ago at Guth’s Resort on June 20, 2002.
That meeting was planned as a result of calls and contact with then- Sen. Robert Welch’s office. He personally attended the meeting, as well as Jean Hundertmark, who represented the county in the Assembly at that time.
Dan Helf of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (now retired) facilitated the meeting.
He gave a short historical perspective of the Stone Dam and explained the DNR’s view or role in the matter.
He explained that what is occurring within the Wolf River and at the Stone Dam is a natural phenomena associated with a river system. He said this kind of activity is occurring throughout the entire Wolf River system and is not unique to the Stone Dam.
He showed aerial photos of the meandering of the river system and explained it as normal and expected activity.
The Stone Dam was originally built in the 1930s and needed to be redone in 1958.
He said it is believed that the Stone Dam was originally built to keep water in the main channel, to prevent it from getting into the big cut. At that time there were fewer regulations regarding shoreline construction activities.
Helf also explained that the Stone Dam is private property, and that neither the DNR nor the property owner was responsible for maintaining it. He also explained that public money could not be used to fund private shoreline activity.
The DNR’s involvement is in evaluating a permit application and making decisions regarding the issuance of a permit by the property owner.
At that time, Helf explained everyone needed to work together as interested parties, with the property owner to obtain a permit, and then explore funding alternatives.
He presented five alternatives to the group of about 40 attending the meeting back in 2002.
The first alternative would be for the landowner to apply for a water regulatory permit and perform the repairs on his property.
The second alternative would be for the landowner to apply for the permit and accept assistance and financial support for the project, from concerned local business interests and or non-profit groups.
The third alternative would be for the owner of the Stone Dam to donate it to a non-profit organization, which in turn could apply for a permit, use their money, and seek funding partners and apply for grants.
In the fourth alternative, the property owner could apply for a permit, and solicit non-profit organizations to use their money, apply for grants and solicit and coordinate funding partners.
The fifth alternative was to do nothing and let nature take its course.