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FOCB Comments regarding DRAFT Master Plan for Cedarburg Bog

FOCB_Comments_on_DRAFT_Master_Plan_-_2_October_2014.pdf

Purpose:  This documents the Friends of the Cedarburg Bog (FOCB) comments on the WDNR’s Draft Master Plan for the Bog.   The opinions represented herein are the consensus of the Board of Directors and may not represent each individual member's opinions.  That’s why we are encouraging members to actively comment during this phase of the planning process.  Please submit your input/concerns directly to the DNR’s planners at: 

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/MasterPlanning/NorthernKettles/documents/KMNR_CommentForm.pdf

or at

http://22.selectsurvey.net/DNR/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=n2KK8m62

 Background: The DNR has published a DRAFT version of a master planning document that covers the Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area.  The document covers a wide variety of State owned parks and property—so the attachment to this email is a consolidated version that shows the parts that are pertinent to the Cedarburg Bog.  The  draft master plan document is at the DNR’s website

A public hearing was held last week (25 September) and the recorded presentation is available here.

                        The DNR last published a Master Plan covering the Cedarburg Bog in 1982.  The DNR’s current planning process includes a review of historical and current information by the relevant DNR experts (property and program managers, and biologists, etc.), solicitation of input from interested parties (including the FOCB) and development of a master planning document that is now in public comment phase.  After this phase, the plan will be reconsidered by the DNR project team in the light of the public comments received and then submitted for Executive approval and final publishing.  After that, the plan will be used to guide DNR management of the property, which will have impacts on the use and protection of the Cedarburg Bog for years to come. 

Relevant issues:  There are several areas of potential interest to FOCB members.

  1.        Expansion of the project boundary.  The “project boundary” is the perimeter of the land that is considered in the master plan.  It includes both state- and privately-owned land.  For our purposes, a greater perimeter allows greater state incentive to acquire additional Bog land when it becomes available for sale.  This will allow greater ability to protect the “Wetland Gem” that is the Cedarburg Bog.   
    1.         Discussion: This aspect of the plan seems to be controversial only in that some may not agree with this use of public funds.  However, it is the FOCB perspective that only governmental ownership of the natural areas of the bog will allow comprehensive management in the best interests of protecting the unique character of the Bog.  We do not support eminent domain actions, but rather support the ongoing accrual of property—as it becomes available—within the natural watershed of the Bog.
    2. b.       The FOCB position: We support the proposed 710 acre expansion of the “project boundary” to include the surface water- and groundwater-sheds as a means to better protect and preserve the Bog. 

  2.        Developing a Boardwalk into Mud Lake .  The last Cedarburg Bog Master Plan described the intent to build a boardwalk that would allow safer and less destructive access into Mud Lake from Cedar-Sauk Road.  That boardwalk was never built, so that current access remains an ad hoc path of trampled vegetation, pools of mud, floating bog, boards, pallets, plywood and carpet.  For the most part, this path is used by hunters to access Mud Lake who, with State DNR permission store their boats at the perimeter of the lake for the duration (and sometimes beyond) the hunting seasons.  There seems to be an organized objection to the boardwalk proposal in the current plan.  These objections—from both abutting landowners who can boat directly onto Mud Lake from their property and from walk-in hunters—are understandable.   Safer and likely more convenient access means more Mud Lake users—both hunters and non-hunters—degrading the quality of their hunting experience.   This is not desirable from anyone’s perspective, including the FOCB’s.

The incoming president is a Mud Lake duck hunter who is viscerally aware of the issue and shares the concern about exceeding the hunter-carrying capacity of Mud Lake. However, the current access is already “man-made” with boards, pallets and plywood as improvised as path enhancements.  The ad hoc nature of these “improvements” mean they are poorly conceived, inconsistently built and decay without maintenance.  In some instances, exposed nails and the presence of submerged (i.e., hidden) boards impose unintended additional difficulties in transiting the path.  It seems hardly appropriate for the DNR to accept as a public policy position that such dangers are an appropriate “filtering” mechanism while simultaneously encouraging such use by allowing Mud Lake boat storage during the hunting season.The current policy of allowing boat storage results in a disorganized array of boats, ad hoc storage platforms and semi-permanent security measures (usually black iron pipes driven deep into the bog to which boats are chained) that degrade the boggy vegetation in that area. The pipes are difficult to remove and frequently are not, from season to season. So, it demands enforcement effort to ensure boats are removed after the season.  In years past, this effort has been inconsistent, resulting in abandonment of boats that must be subsequently removed by the DNR, sometimes with volunteer assistance.  It may be that if a boardwalk will be built, current duck hunters might consider supporting the removal of the boat storage opportunity to create a similar-but-different barrier to access that preserves their hunting quality. There is some discussion of a raised platform in the draft plan at the boardwalk’s terminus to allow viewing of Mud Lake.  Elevating an observer’s eye by five feet does little to improve the panoramic view of the Bog, and having a higher platform would mar the natural beauty that is the Bog.  

This boardwalk issue seems to be one of the most controversial aspects of the master plan that apparently pits hunting users of Mud Lake against non-hunting users of Mud Lake. The public hearing held last week was recorded, and starting at minute 29 of that presentation, the discussion focused on this boardwalk, with many legitimate concerns being raised.  (link to presentation here).  The FOCB is not trying to exacerbate such a divide with its position and indeed believes there is a rational middle ground that meets hunters’ quality hunt desires while allowing greater resource appreciation during non-hunting seasons. 

  1. a.       FOCB Position:  A lightly developed boardwalk  (in lieu of a substantial and raised boardwalk), similar to that shown below offers a balance between current user’s “wilderness experience” or hunt quality concerns with the obvious safety and environmental drawbacks of doing nothing.  It is appropriate to consider the boardwalk and boat storage issues in conjunction, since the adoption of any change in Mud Lake access will create a disruption in current users’ current practices.   It makes sense to take a comprehensive approach that considers both hunting and non-hunting current and potential users.  The FOCB is not in support of a raised viewing platform.
  1.        Creating a primitive hiking trail loop north of Watt’s Lake.  The plan calls for development of “a primitive hiking trail loop with passive educational signage in the field at north end of property off Watts Lake trail by December 2017” .  Since there is already a hiking trail north of Watt’s Lake, and such an expansion could lead to considerable user conflicts between hunter’s and non-hunter’s without providing any clear benefit to non-hunter’s, the FOCB has no strong support for the trail expansion.  
    1. a.       FOCB position: It is the FOCB’s position that a hiking trail is not necessary and brings potential user conflicts that warrant careful consideration and user input. 

Please use this opportunity to help shape solutions concerning the Cedarburg Bog.   Submit your comment through one of the following links:

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/MasterPlanning/NorthernKettles/documents/KMNR_CommentForm.pdf

or

http://22.selectsurvey.net/DNR/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=n2KK8m62

 

 

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