Show your support for two Wisconsin rivers at the upcoming DNR Natural Resources Board meeting!

Jul 21, 2016 | Agriculture, Citizen Advocacy, Water Policy

There are two great opportunities to speak up for two great rivers at the upcoming meeting of the Department of Natural Resources’ Natural Resources Board (NRB), on August 3 in Ashland.

The NRB will take public testimony on an updated master plan for the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway (LWSR), Agenda Item 2.B.3. The plan is broad and ambitious, and many components of it deserve support, including increased access, improved infrastructure and amenities at public accesses, riverbank camping, expanded trail networks, and more. We applaud DNR’s efforts in developing the plan, and the transparent public process used in developing it.

River Alliance supports the provisions to increase access and amenities—after all, the best way to ensure the LWSR’s continued protection is by encouraging Wisconsinites to use it, thereby becoming advocates for it. However, with increased visitation and access to new areas of the LWSR comes a greater risk of spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS), and new challenges in preserving the “wilderness ethic” that that so many users of the LWSR presently enjoy and have rightly come to expect.

DNR should go further in the plan to address how both of these issues will be dealt with, particularly AIS. While educational outreach and AIS signage is a good start, it’s critical that, for instance, DNR incorporate increased monitoring for AIS and enforcement of AIS laws on the Riverway, particularly in sensitive areas where access has previously been limited.

To implement this ambitious master plan, DNR should bolster its LWSR-dedicated staff, specifically staff that focus on water quality protection. There’s a good case for hiring a full-time Aquatic Resources Coordinator to monitor the water quality impacts of nearby industrial and agricultural operations, native and invasive species, and observe overall trends in water quality, particularly as it relates to climate change impacts (which, incidentally, receive nary a mention in the plan).

The second opportunity to voice support for rivers is to advocate in support of NRB Agenda Item 2.B.7, a potential 990 acre land acquisition adjacent to the Lower Chippewa River, including 18,000 feet on the shoreline of the south riverbank. This is an ecologically important parcel on one of our significant large river systems in the state.

To submit written comment on either agenda item, or to register to give oral testimony, you must do so by 11:00 a.m. on Friday, July 29, 2016.

There are two options for in-person oral testimony, in Ashland or Madison, on Wed., Aug 3 at 8:30 a.m.

For in-person oral testimony in Ashland:

  • AmericInn
  • 3009 Lakeshore Drive E
  • Ashland, WI 54806

For remote oral testimony from Madison:

  • DNR GEF 2 Building, Room G09
  • 101 S. Webster Street
  • Madison, WI 53703

For written comments: Contact board liaison Laurie Ross ([email protected], 608-267-7420), and be sure to state your name, name of organization(s) you represent (if none, state that you are “representing self”), agenda item number and whether you support or oppose it, city of residence, phone number, and email or mailing address.