June 2017 – Letter to Board

August 2016 – DNR Letter

2017 Invader Crusader Award


The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council has awarded Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes along with the Barnes AIS Committee the 2017 Invader Crusader Award
This award is for outstanding volunteer efforts in the battle against invasive species. The award is given to a small number of people or organizations based upon their commitment to stopping the spread of invasive species through education, on-the-ground management and control, or research.
The Friends of the Eau Clarie Lakes Area  received this award because of the efforts of many of our members who volunteer at landings for Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW), and act as shoreline or water quality monitors. In addition our members and organization have provided funding for paid CBCW inspectors and for AIS clean-up efforts in the Eau Claire Lakes Area.
Our members and everyone in our organization is to be congratulated on this award.
Submitted by Fred Haueter

Pristine Waters –Now and into the Future

The Purpose of the Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes Area organization is to:
  “Protect, preserve & improve the environmental & esthetic quality of the Eau Claire Lakes Area Watershed including the lakes, rivers, shorelands, wetlands, forests, & attendant wildlife resources”.
One of the ways that we work toward that purpose is our longtime support both financially and the many hours of volunteer work done by so many of you the members of our organization.
Lee Wiesner has sent the following note to update all of us on the current activity that is occurring:
          Town of Barnes Aquatic Invasive Species Committee Update
The Town of Barnes Aquatic Invasive Species Committee had another very busy and productive year in 2016.  The committee coordinated and monitored the Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW) program at 5 boat landings on 5 separate lakes in 2016.  The paid and volunteer CBCW monitors logged in 2,112 hours, checked 3,729 boats for aquatic plants and animals and educated 9,128 boaters.  A grant application for the CBCW program was submitted by the committee for 2017 and was approved in full.  Tomahawk Lake was added to the 2017 CBCW grant.
The Shoreline Monitoring program coordinated by the AIS committee currently has 62 volunteers monitoring 27 lakes in the Barnes area for introductions of new invasive species. This group of volunteers logged in hundreds of hours in 2016.
Numerous volunteers invested over 450 hours of work to complete construction of the Barnes Aquatic Invasive Species Sucker (BAISS) boat. The BAISS boat will be used by the Town of Barnes to efficiently harvest invasive species from the town’s lakes, minimizing the chance of spreading the aquatic plants which can occur with improper handling. Few communities in the state of Wisconsin own this type of harvester; it will provide our residents with a resource to remove invasive species before they become widespread.
A very competitive Established Population Control Grant application for Tomahawk and Sand Bar Lakes was completed by the AIS committee during this past winter.  In April the Town of Barnes received the good news that the grant was awarded to the town in the amount of $62,785 which will help pay for the project cost of $92,331.  The town’s share will be $29,545 which will be funded primarily by donations and volunteer work-in-kind.  The goal of the committee is to treat both lakes this spring with a chemical to kill the Eurasian Water-milfoil and control any recurring with the BAISS boat in subsequent years.  This grant would not have been awarded to the Town of Barnes without the ten year history of the TOB AIS committee’s coordination of volunteers who performed lake surveys and monitored boat landings and shorelines. The efforts of committee members and citizens were critical in grant application ranking. Thank you to everyone who contributed and continues to contribute to the very important mission of maintaining our exceptional water clarity and keeping our lakes free of invasive species.
Grant extensions for George, Middle Eau Claire and Upper Eau Claire Lakes will be applied for this May.  All of the TOB grants require vigilant monitoring by the committee and detailed paperwork from the town clerk to ensure we accurately document our expenses and volunteer hours. As a result the town’s share of expenses is minimal or nothing. 
Plans for the 2017 season include CBCW monitoring on Upper Eau Claire, Middle Eau Claire, Lower Eau Claire, Robinson, Island and Tomahawk Lakes, the chemical treatment of EWMF this spring on Tomahawk and Sand Bar Lakes, use of the BAISS boat in June to harvest Curly-leaf Pondweed on Upper and Middle Eau Claire Lakes and shoreline monitoring for invasive species on area lakes.  We need more volunteers to help out on the BAISS boat, either as boat operators or divers.
Contact Sally Pease for questions about volunteering as a CBCW boat landing volunteer, (H) 715-795-2936, (C) 715-559-0614.  Lee Wiesner can be contacted for questions about volunteering as a shoreline monitor or on the BAISS boat, (H) 715-795-3156, (C) 715-922-0582.  If you not have the time to volunteer, please consider making a monetary, tax deductible donation to assist in the costs of fighting aquatic invasive species.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering for the CBCW boat landing monitoring contact Sally Pease at 715-795-2936 or 715-559-0614
Lee Wiesner, Town of Barnes AIS Committee Chair
We are appreciative of all this work and the support by each of you in working toward our purpose. Our waters are pristine, but not by accident but by the constant vigilance, support and efforts of so many.

Summer Storm by Ted Eastlund

The Deluge of July 11 Caused Widespread Damage to the Eau Claire Lakes Area

By Ted Eastlund

On the night of July 11, a severe rain storm struck the Eau Claire Lakes Area saturating woodlands, farms, lake properties and communities from Hayward to the Ashland area and Lake Superior overnight.

The next day we awakened to damage from 10 to 13 inches of rain that washed out roads, raised lake levels so high that docks and pontoon boats floated away, shorelines suffered and a man died near Cable. Contributing to the rainfall severity were rains that occurred some days before the torrential rainfall saturating the soils.

Rains this severe have not been experienced in a long time. Ron Kofal, a life-long resident of Gordon living near Lower Eau Claire Lake, has never seen the Eau Claire River this high. Highway 27 to Hayward from Barnes was closed due to water covering low areas and Highway 77 was closed between Hayward and Minong.

Bob Lang, Town of Barnes Road Foremen reported that the day after the deluge, several roads had washouts or water running over the road; including Denver Road, Tars Pond Road, Pease Road, James Road, Lower Lake Road, Pease Resort Road, and North Beaver Trail in Potawatomi.

There was a dramatic washout of part of Denver Road a mile or so south of Lower Eau Claire Lake and Cranberry Lake. The Ounce River, pronounced “oonz”,  runs close to the road a short distance from Cranberry Lake Road. Commonly after rains in the spring the Ounce spills over its bank and floods the woods draining through a culvert under the road  to the north side of the road into another woods and wetland downhill. What happened after the torrential rain of July 11 created more than that; a potentially lethal hazard.

Denver Road

Washout of Denver Road by an overflowing Ounce River creating a five feet deep rushing flood over the road. Photo by T. Eastlund

Lang reported that by the evening after the heavy rain, the water rushing over Denver Road had dropped “a couple of feet” but was still two feet deep.

I visited the Denver Road site a few days later and saw that trees and bushes on the side of the road had dried brown mud extending five feet high above road level, indicating that the water that had been rushing over the road days earlier was five feet deep where the Ounce River bends south very close to the road.  The accumulated logs and brush bent against woodland trees evidenced a very powerful, high velocity of flow. The five foot gush of water obviously surpassed the “too small” culvert’s capacity and flooded over the road, causing a crater on the south edge of the asphalt road, undermining it so that approximately 20% of the road’s width was missing asphalt for a stretch of maybe 20 to 40 feet.

Where the Ounce River is closest to the road and bends southward away from the road, there is a small un-named tributary entering via its own small culvert under Denver Road where some people trap mink. It is usually a barely trickling wooded channel. Post-deluge markings show it was a raging stream, several feet deep that undermined a tree that became up-rooted and fell across Denver road.

Trees on Denver Road

Trees cleared from Denver Road. Photo by T. Eastlund

Luckily no vehicles tried to pass through Denver Road when water was rushing over the road following the deluge. The site is a good example of how a flash flood can suddenly appear and potentially drown people who accidently or purposely drive into the water. It is also a lesson that culverts should be overbuilt and oversized to handle major rainfalls like this one.

Even more dramatic was the washout of a section of State Highway 63 just north of Grandview and Drummond. Luckily no car traveled on the site during the rain as it collapsed underfoot or ran over the edge of the precipice.

Washout north of Grandview


U.S. 63 at Matts Drive in the town of Grand View in Bayfield County was closed after the roadway washed out in both directions. Credit: Photo courtesy of Ready Wisconsin

The three dams of the three Eau Claire Lakes held back the water well.

Mooney Dam impounds water to form Lower Eau Claire Lake and rose at least 7 inches immediately after the heavy rain. According to Mark Schroeder, Douglas County Parks & Recreation Supervisor, on the day before the deluge of Jul 11, the lake level at the dam was at 1045.5 feet above sea level. The target, a DNR order, is for 1045.44 ft so it was an inch or so above target.
Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department staff measure lake levels at the dam daily and on July 12, the morning after the deluge, the level was 1046.1 ft (7.2 inches above target). A stop log was removed to let more water flow through the dam. That night it was likely higher than 7.2 inches since it takes a while to rise at the dam after a rain on our multi-lake lake chain.

The lake level was lowered an inch or so daily after that by removing stop logs one at a time, purposefully at a cautious, slow rate to prevent dangerous and damaging rises of the river downstream where levels were at record high already.

Schroeder stated that we were lucky that the heavy rain occurred this year instead of last year when Mooney Dam was being repaired. During repair work only half of the dam carried water while the other was blocked by a coffer dam to permit work replacing the lateral concrete abutment. Core sampling had shown that the lateral abutment contained crumbling concrete. Theoretically that could have weakened the dam sufficiently to result in major leaking or failure if the deluge had occurred last summer.
Surface drainage at the county park at Mooney Dam caused a deep gully where runoff flowed over the bluff into Eau Claire River.

Erosin at Mooney

A 6 to 8 feet deep erosion at Mooney Dam County Park at Lower Eau Claire Lake

due to rain surface runoff. Photo by T. Eastlund.

Many cabin dwellers reported various types of damage due to the high lake levels. At Upper Eau Claire Lake, Bob Cochrane estimated that the lake level rose approximately 8 to 10 inches and seemed to drop an inch a day on subsequent days. Bob Cochrane and Jim Bakken noted wood docks displaced and erosion of shorelines around the lake. Cris Neff reported that a pontoon broke from its mooring and floated across the lake.  Bob Cochrane noted that Upper was “murky” and that using the Secchi disc at the usual “deep hole” at the north end showed that water clarity was reduced from 20 feet to 14.5 feet.

Tom Krob estimated that Robinson Lake was 7 to 8 inches above normal. Carol Lebreck reported that Bony Lake levels were quite high with levels still at an estimated 4 to 5 inches above normal 10 days later.

Lake levels persisted at high levels 7 to 10 days later at several lakes, especially at Upper and Middle Eau Claire Lakes, where dams do not have stop logs to lower the lake levels. Because high speed motorboats can create high wakes that cause shoreline erosion, the Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes area issued a high water alert to boaters that “Minimizing your motorboat wake will help protect shorelines from erosion during these times”.

two Teens at Middle dam

Two teens swimming at Middle Lock and Dam on July 12. Note the high water level pouring over the gate to the lock. The level was many inches higher than usual at the actual dam. Photo by T. Eastlund

The deluge of July 11 resulted in a lot of damage and created potentially lethal flash floods and road closings. It brought attention to the future need of better preparedness.


Reducing Public Health Risks of Swine Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

Reducing Public Health Risks of Swine Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

Recommendations for Their Prevention and Management With Reference to a Proposed Bayfield County, Wisconsin, Facility

Please CLICK HERE for more information.

Middle Lock and Dam and Mooney Dam Repair Completed in 2015-Article By Ted Eastlund

Repairs to Middle Lock and Dam and Mooney Dam Completed in 2015

During the summer of 2015, both Bayfield County’s Middle Lock and Dam on the Eau Claire River between Upper and Middle Eau Claire Lakes, and Douglas County’s Mooney Dam located where the Eau Claire River drains Lower Eau Claire Lake’s Mooney Bay, underwent significant repairs. Both dams were originally constructed of logs to impound and propel felled logs downstream during the late 1800s. They fell into disuse after logging ceased. Both of the existing, more permanent, dams were built in 1938 by the federal Works Project Administration during the Great Depression.

cartoon of the eau claire lakesMiddle Lock and Dam received repairs to crumbling concrete surfaces, improvements in riverbanks and restoration and improvements to the rare historic public lock. Repairs began around the first week of June and most was finished in time for safe portaging during the Town of Barnes Vatten Paddlar Canoe and Kayak Race on July 11. Repairs were by Pember Companies, Menomonie, Wisc. at a cost of $131,500 with close supervision by the county’s chosen engineering firm of Cooper Engineering of Rice Lake.

Middle damMiddle dam.2


BEFORE: Coffer dams on the right, the rust colored sheet pilings driven into the sandy river bottom, were put in place at start of construction to de-water the repair work site, one side at a time, so that a lake draw down was avoided.

middle dam3middle dam4

Working on the lock’s concrete surface.                   Exposed rebar ready for applying new concrete


The rare and historic, Middle Lock & Dam now has a repaired and improved lock for small watercraft navigating upstream or downstream around the dam. It is available for public use and operated when needed. It is truly a historic lock, only six-feet wide and manually operated by boaters and for small watercraft use only. A new metal railing was constructed along the lock for added safety. Extensions to the metal bars for opening and closing the gates now place the metal bars at railing level for more easy operation. They are secured and will no longer fall into the deep lock. New lock operating instructions are now publicly posted. It promises to become a special recreational destination now more than before.

Dam site repaired Norway boat in lock

AFTER: Finished, ready for use again.

Norway Friends at dam

Tourists from Norway watch with interest as the lower gate is opened and a boat with a child is guided by her father from the lock into the river below the dam

Repairs included a concrete pier landing running along the dam’s lateral abutment alongside entire length of the lock under the bridge as well at river’s edge upstream and downstream. In addition there is a public beach a short distance upstream.


Repairs to Mooney Dam

The Mooney Dam located at the Douglas County Mooney Park was extensively repaired starting the last week in July and finishing September 8.  Repairs were by Yahnke Company at a cost of $241,958 with close daily supervision by a representative from the county’s chosen engineering firm of SEH, St Paul, Minn.

Concrete surfaces were crumbling but more importantly deep cores into the concrete of the north lateral abutment showed extensive degeneration and crumbling. Repairs included extensive replacement of both abutments along the spillway, surface repairs throughout the dam, new dam stop logs and removing trees and bushes from both earthen sides, new steps and a new safety fence on the walkway above the dam.Lower 2Lower dam


more work on Lowermore work on Lower

Work started on the north wing dam using a 41 ton Cat hydraulic excavator. This machine drove across the downstream river just below the dam to get to the small confined space within which it had for working.


Work was delayed a week because of failure to sufficiently dewater the north coffer dam. This was due to the saturated sandy soil and the pressure of the water leaked up under the sheet piling. After installing a string of points into the sand to continuously remove water, the space became de-watered.


After replacing both wing dams of the lateral abutments, and surface repairs of the lateral and central piers, surface repairs to the south lateral abutment proceeded as a final part of the repairs.


New fencing for the public walkway over the dam, new public steps to river’s edge.



Local Control of Shore-line Zoning

Local Control of Zoning

The past Wisconsin legislative session resulted in changes to the regulation and implementation of shoreland zoning which remove County control of and puts the State in control of some of the most critical zoning issues. This “one size fits all” approach removes local control of this critical responsibility and thus has the potential to reduce frontage requirements to the state minimum of 100 feet and threatens the Barnes Overlay District which became a formal part of the Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance in 2009. Such changes would significantly threaten the pristine nature of our lakes
We have joined in an effort to return control of the shoreland zoning to the county where it belongs and to stop implementation of reduced lakefront minimum lots sizes until new legislation is effective.
Such an effort requires time, expertise and money. We are supporting the Plum Lake Association in the engagement of attorney Bill O’Connor from the Wheeler law firm in Madison. He has developed a short term strategy for defeating the state takeover of shoreline zoning lake front minimums so that no more property is split up before we can repeal the legislation. He will also draft legislation which will be introduced in the short session of the legislature this fall. In addition, Mary Panzer of Panzer Public Affairs and a former Republican Senate Majority Leader has been engaged. She has substantial depth of contacts in state government and a relationship with many people in the legislature and the administration. She has begun lining up support and the preliminary results are excellent. These efforts will hopefully lead to a broad base of bipartisan support for this bill.
At this time donations are needed for legal and lobbying retainers. We would encourage each of you to make donations to this effort by sending a check payable to Plum Lake Association, Shoreland Zoning (a 501c3 organization and therefore qualifies for a tax deduction). Send this check to “Plum Lake Association”, P.O. Box 193, Sayner, Wisconsin, 54560.
Thank for your consideration. We see this as an action that returns local control to such critical issues and help to ensure the continued pristine nature of our lakes and surrounding environment.

Eau Claire Lakes are Alive With Baby Loons, Once More

Jim Bakken, Loon Ranger for Upper Eau Claire, reports June 30, 2015, that this year’s first loon chick on Upper Eau Claire Lake was born a few days ago on an artificial nesting platform in Upper Eau Claire Lake across from Deer Grove Resort on wetland property owned by Sue & Ron Jansen.The nest is located across from the cabin of  Bob Cochrane and Denny Scharlemann in easy view of his spotting scope. The incubating loons have been watched and monitored, eagerly awaiting the hatching.

loon w chick on back Upper

Loon with Chick, Upper ECL. Photo by Jim Bakken June 28, 2015. Olympus Camedia 10X zoom.

From Jim, we learn that he “located the chick Friday June 26 and found it again Sunday June 28 taking a ride on one of its parent’s back. It hatched sometime between Sunday June 20 and Friday June 26. While observing the chick, it slid off the nest into the water and performed a few short dives.”

“While there, a couple of bald eagles flew over, causing the parent to sound an alarm. After that the chick was basically attached to the side of the adult. The adult loon seemed quite content to hang around my pontoon boat; maybe it felt some protection by the pontoon since eagles were in the area.”
Two artificial loon nesting platforms were built for Upper Eau Claire Lake two or so years ago by Greg Martin and the Eau Claire Lakes Conservation Club. They were placed at the south shore by Bob Cochrane and on the island at the north end by Greg Martin and loons have been nesting on them producing chicks. The platforms remain in place over winter to avoid disturbing walleye spring spawning beds which could occur if platforms were removed in the fall and put in place in April each year. Conservation Club members Greg Martin and Bob Cochrane repair the platforms annually, having to replace broken white poles placed there to deter the swooping bald eagles from killing the chicks, to repair damage caused by other animals and, as happened this year, to fix and secure mooring when one broke away from the island and floated to the opposite shoreline.Last year Upper’s loon pairs were driven off their nest eggs on both platforms by swarms of black flies, abandoning their eggs. Loons laid a second egg clutch on the platform at the north end and two chicks survived until the lake iced over last year.
In June, the usual Mooney Bay nesting loons were not seen and a nest with eggs not found, the old one being hidden and partly overgrown with vegetation. On July 4, Buzz and his daughter discovered a new loon nest near the beaver lodge, a new site this year. The loon was incubating eggs.
The bay had been silent with rare to no loon vocalizations for what seemed like weeks. The night of July 4 loon calls were heard again and the next day loons with chicks on the Bay, off the nest were seen. On July 5 the loons and two chicks were first seen on the waters of Mooney Bay with nearby kayaks, canoes and pontoons periodically through the day. One was likely hatched July 4 and the other shortly before.Both chicks, featureless little fuzzballs with a pointed head, were happily on their mom’s back, one more forward, more visible and usually motionless and the other often protected under her right wing but clearly more active, on and off mom and in the water most July 5.The partner loon was often nearby and spotted offering a shiny little minnow to the aft chick who was lured from under mom’s wing, while the other sat motionless in full view nearer to her neck. Papa loon dipped the minnow several times under water before apparently releasing it to the chick who was also in the water.Ted Eastland reported that he couldn’t tell if the chick was being taught to pick it up in the water or was presented the minnow directly to its beak. As the pair moved away very close to each other and the loons on the mom’s back ,Ted saw a turtle head moving along within 15 feet of them. He has not seen bald eagles in the area and hope this continues since. In 2012 and in 2013, the chicks were killed by a bald eagle.

Thom Storm, Loon Ranger for Sweet Lake, reports that there are currently two chicks with their parents on Sweet Lake and that they hatched on Sunday June 14 .Ingemar Ekstrom reported that Sandbar Lake has no nesting pair but that the lake depth is improving over the years and habitat is again developing so there is hope for the future.Patti Joswick of Tomahawk Lake reports that on June 11 two eggs were on the one nest on the lake and they were being incubated. Subsequently, a loon was seen on the lake but chicks have not been seen. She assumes that the eggs may have been swamped by a passing speed boat observed around June 12 pulling people in a tube or eggs or chicks lost by predation or other reason. No chicks have been seen.

Loon Rangers are volunteers who are assigned to a specific lake to monitor the numbers of loons, nesting pairs, chick production, chick mortality and outcome, visiting loons, dates of first arrivals in the spring and migration departure to the Caribbean in the fall. The volunteer Loon Ranger for Upper ECL is Jim Bakken, for Middle ECL is Lee Wiesner, and for Lower ECL is Ted Eastlund, recently joined retired, Loon Ranger Buzz Pickering who was a Loon Ranger for three decades but is still following the loons, their nest and chicks. The Loon Ranger for Sandbar Lake is Ingemar Eckstrom, for Tomahawk Lake is Patti Joswick. For Sweet Lake the Loon Rangers are Cindy & Thom Storm.
Loon Rangers report their data every year to Loon Watch, Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to protecting loons and conducting loon research in Northern Wisconsin
Periodic reports and news about the loons and their chicks on the Eau Claire Lakes Chain of Lakes will be posted on this website. If you wish to join a group of interested persons, lake cabin owners and neighbors who receive email notification of our local loon news and are called the “Loon News Junkies” contact tedeast@centurylink.net to be placed on the Loon News Junkies email list.

News is New to our Site!

photoWe’ll be sharing events and news that effect our area in this new section. Please check back regularly for the latest information!



The Friends of Eau Claire Lakes Team

Let us know if you have news  you’d like to share.