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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

August 2006

Readers Write

Appetite For Invasive Control
Bluegill Nostalgia
Groundwater Questions
Fishing For An Answer

Appetite for Invasive Control

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My regular walking path includes parts of the Glacial Drumlin Bike Trail. Every time I walk it, I feel guilty about not doing anything about the garlic mustard growing along the trail, but it is so overgrown with this plant that it would take an army of volunteers to put a serious dent into what's growing there.

I recently tried eating some. It is rather tasty, but a little goes a long way, much like eating radishes or green onions. I can't imagine how the pioneers who originally brought garlic mustard to this country used it.

Now I stop to pick and eat the flower buds. They taste as good as the tender leaves, and I know that eating the flower buds does serious harm to garlic mustard seed production for each flower bud head that I pick!

Al Corlett

Bluegill Nostalgia

I grew up way up north in the muskegs near Oulu, Wis. [Lake Superior area near the Bayfield/Douglas County line]. A number of years ago I ended up in West Virginia, which in many ways, is still much like northern Wisconsin of 50 years ago. I just read and enjoyed the short piece about cane pole bluegill fishing by the gent from Oshkosh (June is for bluegills, June 1997). The bluegills have been going crazy here for about the last week. Like in the story, the redwing blackbirds bring back 50-year-old memories of fishing the cold clear waters of Bayfield County.

Knute Maki
Cacapon, West Virginia

Groundwater Questions

I enjoyed your groundwater articles (Groundwater: Wisconsin's buried treasure, April 2006) and the message to protect and conserve our valuable resource. In 2000, I called the DNR to report an open abandoned well with just a rock placed on top of it. DNR staff informed the landowner, but said the agency was powerless to force him to abandon it properly. It's now 2006 and the well is still open. As long as no one has the authority to make him abandon it properly, he won't.

On another issue, about three years ago a doctor in our township received permission to pump groundwater to fill a 25-acre manmade lake so his son could water ski. This lake is 25 feet at its deepest and is replenished each spring. That is a lot of water for a single recreational user. Your article said groundwater levels in Dane County have dropped 60 feet, yet a private 25-acre lake is still approved. I'm a little confused on how our groundwater is managed. Who makes the decisions to approve or deny permits? Who has the authority to sanction or penalize? Someone has to be responsible and there seem to be too many inconsistencies and too little enforcement of conflicting rules. Our groundwater is much too precious to be treated with such disrespect.

Phil Speth
Oregon, WI

Mark Putra, chief of DNR's Private Water Supply Section responded: "The Department of Natural Resources does have authority and regularly inspects old wells so that they are properly sealed up and protected before they are abandoned. Owners or their contractors must also file a report that verifies what steps were taken to seal the well. We want those old wells sealed so they do not provide a conduit to carry contamination to groundwater. We recommend this work be completed by licensed well drillers and pump installers. The key is learning where these old wells are located. As many as 200,000 unused wells statewide may still need to be properly abandoned. [We provided Mr. Speth with a contact for follow-up investigation on this case.]

On the second question, those proposing to construct ponds, enlarge ponds or connect to natural waterways must first secure DNR permits that examine water flow, usage and runoff, among other factors. Depending on the site location and zoning, proposed ponds may also need local and federal permits before projects can proceed. Before planning such projects, talk with the DNR Water Management Specialist serving the area where the pond work is contemplated.

The new Groundwater Quantity Law doesn't directly address pond construction. It provides additional protections for two other situations. Groundwater Protection Areas (GPAs) protect trout streams and waters designated as Outstanding or Exceptional Resource Waters by requiring that high capacity wells remain at least 1,200 feet away from such waters.

The other provisions allow designating Groundwater Management Areas where drawdowns could reduce the amount of groundwater available to other users. Currently only two such areas – one around Green Bay and the other in Waukesha County – have been established. At some point private lake construction like the one Mr. Speth mentions might be a concern in a GMA, but that's not the case now."

Fishing for an Answer

I would like to know more about trout lakes in Wisconsin and the quantity of trout that are stocked in them. Is there someplace on your website that has that information?

Ken Sellenheim