Mar

31

Brett Lobajeski’s effort to help save his brother’s truck Sunday, cost him his own vehicle.

Lobajeski said he saw his brother, Robert, break through the ice near Clarence’s Harbor at the south end of Lake Winnebago, and returned to try to help him. But his front tires also broke through the ice about 100 feet from his brother’s vehicle.

Robert Lobajeski’s truck was bridged above the water by its plow and rear bumper.

“We were finished riding (motorcycles) for the day and I was out picking up the cones to get them back on the truck,” Robert Lobajeski said. “I just drove off the track and my truck sunk. I sat there stuck and I had him come out and to try and pull me out real quick. He just did a U-turn and his truck got stuck.”

The two brothers were assisted by snowmobilers on the ice and rescue personnel included members of the Otter Street fishing club who were on the lake removing ramps Sunday. The trucks weren’t far from recommended driving paths, but weather that was in the 50s appeared to have caused ice in the area to soften and become fragile.

Snowmobilers, ATVs and other trucks were also operating in the vicinity at the time the Lobajeskis’ vehicles became trapped.

“He crawled through the window, but mine wasn’t down far enough where I couldn’t get out,” Robert Lobajeski said. “I wasn’t scared at all.”

About about two hours after the brothers escaped from the trucks, the front end of Brett Lobajeski’s vehicle slipped under the water as crews attempted to pull it from the hole.

Brett Lobajeski said that his vehicle, which he uses to drive to work, is unlikely to function.

At about 5 p.m., Robert Lobajeski’s vehicle still remained above water.

Contact Carlos Munoz at cmunoz@gannett.com or (920) 907-7921; Twitter @ReadCarlos.

2 trucks fall through ice on south end of Lake Winnebago | Action Reporter Media | fdlreporter.com.

Mar

25

BoatingWinnebagoLogoSilverPirateI think it has become obvious that I personally do not have the time or dedication to properly take care of this site anymore.  I no longer have a boat.  Other hobbies and life activities occupy my time now.

I’ve come to a tough decision but I think its the right one.  It’s time for me to sell the site or hand over the promotional reigns of the site to a new person or group of persons.  I’m doing this so that the site can again flourish and be the best resource for information for the Lake Winnebago boating community.  Which has always been the mission.

I am offering the site for outright sale or on a free lease.

If there is a person or group of people that would like to promote and drive traffic to the site while I still maintain the back end and hosting I’m good with that.  The lease would be free as long as the site is being promoted and stays active and it does not turn into a profit generating business.  Think of this as more of a community service type agreement.  If good faith is show over a couple boating seasons by said leaser to keep the site free and open, I would be inclined to transfer the domain name etc to them for a very very small price.  The spirit of the site has always been to be free and by the boaters for the boaters, it means more to me to keep that dream alive than to get any type of a paycheck out of this.   (Something I have never taken from the ownership of this site.)

If there is a person or business that is interested in an outright purchase, you will get the following:
The BoatingWinnebago.com domain name.
The Wordpess and SMF website and databases for moving to new hosting.
Facebook page with almost 1000 likes
twitter account and youtube channel.
All promotional materials I have.
Once you own the domain name, it is yours to do with as you please but I’ll be very selective and want to know your intentions.

Even with the reduction in activity the site still is #1 ranked site in most major search engines for boating on lake Winnebago and is consistently in the top 10 for just about any search related to lake Winnebago.  That is not by accident.

If you are interested in the site, please send an email to Webmaster@BoatingWinnebago.com or use the contact form here:  http://www.boatingwinnebago.com/contact/

If there is no interest I will be shutting down the site, but will still register the domain name for the foreseeable future to avoid any online domain wholesale places getting a hold of it.

Thank You,

Corey Mielke

Feb

14

NEENAH — A 56-year-old Menasha man avoided injury Sunday after his vehicle rolled multiple times on Lake Winnebago.

The man was driving about 1,500 feet from Paynes Point Road south of Neenah around 3:30 p.m. when his sports utility vehicle struck a snow bank and overturned, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.

While checking the driver for injuries, the Wisconsin State Patrol trooper noticed an odor of intoxicants. After the driver refused any medical treatment, the Trooper administered Standard Field Sobriety Tests to the driver who was subsequently
arrested on suspicion of pperating while intoxicated – third offense.

The OWI is being handled by the Wisconsin State Patrol while the crash is being investigated by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department.

 

Driver cited for 3rd OWI following crash on Lake Winnebago | Fond du Lac Reporter | fdlreporter.com.

Dec

27

A 23-year-old man was arrested for drunken driving early Friday morning after his vehicle got stuck in a snowbank.

The man, who is from the Oshkosh area, was driving on Lake Winnebago near Lakeshore Drive when his vehicle became stuck in a snowbank. A caller on shore reported the man to authorities, said Winnebago Sheriff’s Lt. Gordon Ledioyt.

The man was not injured, but he was arrested for his first drunken driving offense.

Deputies from the sheriff’s office made one other drunken driving arrest between Thursday at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Friday, Ledioyt said.

The sheriff’s office also responded to a report of a car that fell into a crack on Lake Winnebago near Ceape Avenue, Ledioyt said.

The driver was not there, but Ledioyt said authorities do not believe they are in any danger and are trying to locate them. The vehicle was removed by a local wrecking company.

via Driver arrested for OWI after vehicle gets stuck in snowbank | Northwestern Media | thenorthwestern.com.

Dec

16

A 33-year-old man was snowmobiling with his brother, when he hit an ice shove and disappeared.

Heavy winds and snow made the search difficult, as white-out conditions were created.

Eventually, a DNR plane found the man, and he was rescued about two hours after the initial crash.

“The cold is a severe problem, but the wind and blowing of snow caused visibility issues and we had difficulty getting people up to the person,” said Mark Ott, Calumet County Sheriff.

Authorities say alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

The man, whose name has not been released, is being treated for hypothermia.

Snowmobiler rescued from Lake Winnebago | News – Channel3000.com.

Dec

3

OSHKOSH – There’s barely any snow on the ground, but ice fishing has already started on Lake Winnebago waters.

“Looked like a good day to be fishing. Thought I’d give her a try. Didn’t do a whole lot, but it beat working,” said Larry Kissinger, an Oshkosh resident.

This isn’t the earliest start we’ve seen, but is a departure from recent history, according to Don Herman, who’s been checking ice depths for local anglers for years.

“Actually in the last 10 years, this is pretty early. Normally it’s been the third week of December, last week of December, something like that. I’ve already seen it where during deer hunting they’ve been out, but this is kind of early this year,” said Herman with Otter Street Fishing Club.

In more sheltered lakes and back bays, the ice is already thick enough to walk on.

At Asylum Bay near Oshkosh, it was about four inches thick across most of the bay – the minimum thickness to be considered safe to walk on.

On some of these bays, the water isn’t too deep. So even if you go through the ice, you won’t go in too far.

But the risk is even greater in places like the Fox River and Green Bay.

We couldn’t find any anglers out just yet, and the Coast Guard says that’s probably for the better.

“I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t recommend that at all yet. A lot of the ice that’s forming is very suspect and thin,” according to Wayne Spritka, senior chief with the Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard.

In fact, they say it’s probably best to think twice about the ice anywhere you go this early in the year.

Even though the best fishing can be early in the season, no fish is worth a life.

Nov

25

The date was Nov. 14, 1813. British Colonel Robert Dickson arrived on Lake Winnebago’s Garlic Island, and established an encampment with his group of 27 fighting men. Dickson’s goal as an “Indian Agent” for the British in the War of 1812 was to recruit the support of Native Americans against the Americans in the battle that basically was over the fur trade. Dickson’s goal was to use gifts and merchandise to gain support with tribes located in the corridor from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien.

Weather conditions prevented this group from completing their travel to Prairie du Chien that cold November, so Dickson and his troops set up camp on Garlic Island. Nearby on the mainland was a Menominee village that soon became reliant on Colonel Dickson for goods and supplies.

As winter pressed on, conditions became more difficult. Supplies from Green Bay were not able to get through, creating a serious situation for Dickson, his men and the local Menominee’s. “Although Dickson and his men were themselves often on the edge of starvation, both his natural humanity and strategic considerations compelled him to feed the Indians as well as he was able” (source: Illinois in the War of 1812).

Letters from Colonel Dickson to his lieutenants and others describe the rapidly deteriorating conditions. On March 15 he wrote, “…I am heartily sick and tired of this place. There is no situation more miserable than to see objects around you dying with hunger, and unable to give them but little assistance. I have done what I can for them, and will in consequence starve myself. With best wishes. Yours truly, R. Dickson” (source: Garlic Island War Letters, 1813-1814, Colonel Robert Dickson).

It was soon after, provisions arrived as spring allowed travel routes to become more accessible. Dickson and his men eventually continued their trek southward.

The result of the War of 1812 as stipulated in the Treaty of Ghent is that American forces prevailed.

Here, on Nov. 14, 2013, the 200th Anniversary of the arrival of Colonel Dickson, a few local citizens joined the Winnebago County Historical and Archaeological Society to commemorate this historic occasion on Garlic Island. On hand for the dedication was Richard Keene of Neenah, Archaeologist Richard Mason of Neenah and Randy Domer of the Winnebago County Historical and Archaeological Society. Two flags were hoisted onto the flagpole located near the waters edge. First, the American flag followed by the British flag. The flags were raised by Keene and Mason, followed by a commemoration read by Domer.

Historic Garlic Island is located on Lake Winnebago near its west shoreline, north of Asylum Bay between Oshkosh and Neenah.

via Garlic Island celebrates bicentennial | Post-Crescent Media | postcrescent.com.

Nov

11

MENASHA- Special recognition for friends and family of a man who met his untimely death on Lake Winnebago: The tragedy on the ice spurred an effort to help Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue start its own dive team.

It was a frantic scene on Lake Winnebago off Waverly Beach.

On February 19, 2011, Bruce Peterson’s truck went through the ice.

Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue responded, but had no dive team to go in after the 58-year-old.

Peterson didn’t make it out alive.

“We miss him dearly,” said Jeanne Schiesser, Peterson’s sister.

Shortly after the tragic drowning, Neenah-Menasha firefighters decided to raise funds for a dive team.

Those close to Peterson took the lead, and had great success raising most of the money.

Monday night, city officials took note of those efforts.

The mayor and council officially presented them with a proclamation.

“Thanks will never be able to convey how we feel with what they did. they really are the heroes in putting this together,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Sippin.

Those who were on the scene the day of Peterson’s death say his family and friends have provided the department with a wonderful gift.

One that allows it to be more prepared.

“We could see the hole where the truck had gone down and we knew that there was really nothing we could do. It was a pretty helpless and empty feeling,” said Firefighter Troy Janz.

It took a frenzy of fundraisers, but the group quickly raised 60 thousand dollars towards the 90 thousand the department needed.

“Right away, everybody said absolutely. We’ll do what we can to help so no one else loses a loved one,” said Diane Kiesow, Peterson’s partner.

“I wanted to do something to try to make some sense of the loss that we had,” said Debbie Becklund, Peterson’s friend.

By late 2011, enough was raised to purchase equipment and train divers. The team is now in service.

Peterson’s sister says she’s proud of the work accomplished, and feels so would her brother.

“He would be proud, but he wouldn’t like all the hoo-ha at all,” said Scheisser.

But by turning a tragedy into a community asset, Peterson’s loved ones are making a difference.

“It’s been a long journey, but very fulfilling,” said Becklund.

“Even if we can save one person, it’s all worth it because anyone that needs help, we can help them now,” said Kiesow.

Donations continue to be accepted to help defray maintenance and future training costs.

Dive team started in honor of ice victim.

Oct

31

The Winnebago Lakes Council has received two grants totaling $50,000 from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to begin Phase II of a large-scale issue prioritization and response program.
The program will benefit residents along and users of lakes Winnebago, Winneconne, Poygan, and Butte des Morts.


“During Phase I, we asked for public input on the most important issues facing the system,” Calumet County Director of Resource Management Julie Schmelzer said. Using www.WinnebagoWaterways.com, residents can still give feedback to local officials on various lake issues and receive news about grant projects. “The second round of funding will allow us to move forward investigating and implementing recommendations we received from lake users,” said Schmelzer, who was recently appointed to the Winnebago Lakes Council Board of Directors.

via DNR grant awarded for Lake Winnebago.

Oct

31

icestarOshkosh – He’s an icon around Lake Winnebago, because for more than thirty years, Don Herman’s company has helped to pull hundreds of vehicles from the lake after they’ve fallen through the ice. And now that lifestyle could be turned into a reality TV show.Don Herman is the expert when it comes to Lake Winnebago ice conditions. He has decades of experience to prove it. So when a reality TV show producer called Herman and expressed an interest in doing a show on his business, Sunk? Dive and Ice Service, and what happens around the lake in the wintertime, Herman was not interested.

“I said yeah, whatever! And I hung up,” recalls Herman. “I thought it was fake.”

But persistence paid off for producer Jay Russell who finally got Herman to agree to participate. Russell truly believes the Lake Winnebago ice fishing sub-culture is something America would love to see.

“We feel like it’s something that is different,” says Jay Russell from ACR Productions. “I mean one of the big positives is you don’t have shows, reality TV shows from this geographical area. There’s none on there because it just hasn’t been found.”

So, since April, Russell has been working with Herman and a cast of characters to produce a trailer that will be shown to network executives with hopes to sign a deal for a reality TV show. It’s a vision that Russell says actually has potential of being picked up.

He says, “Everybody seemed to really like it, you know, that it was different. It was dangerous, it was high stakes, that kind of thing.”

And for herman it’s helped to breathe new life into his decades old career.

Says Herman, “I said I was going to retire, but it kind of gave me a boost of energy now.”

A boost that will get bigger if the show is picked up, something that could happen by early next year.

 

Lake Winnebago Icon Could Become Reality TV Star – WBAY.

Oct

11

FOND DU LAC (WITI) – The Fond du Lac Fire Department has taken delivery of two Mercury inflatable rescue boats and a tandem trailer by working jointly to with Mercury Marine and Mr. Marine.

The FDLFD will use these assets not only along the south shore of Lake Winnebago, but in the rivers that wind throughout the city, retention ponds, and in areas of flooding.

The FDLFD has previously deployed waterway resources not only in rescues, but has served to locate victims, deploy booming for hazardous materials spills in Lake Winnebago and rivers, ice rescue, assisting the Fond du Lac Police Department in water investigations, and submerged boat and vehicle incidents. Fire department members will undergo “hands-on” training in the coming weeks so they are prepared for deployments.

The tandem trailer concept was brought to Fond du Lac Fire Department through its partnership with Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) which developed this boat rapid deployment model.

via Fond du Lac Fire Dept. receives two rescue boats | FOX6Now.com.

Sep

16

Those who fish all their lives develop a knack for the sport.

A feel for the lay of the lake…how to place the bait just right on the bottom.

Ray Groff of Fond du Lac has been fishing all his life but when he pulled up anchor on a recent windy day off the shores of Lake Winnebago this seasoned enthusiast was taken aback.

“It was around 11 a.m. on Sept. 4 and as soon as I saw the barrel I knew what it was,” he said.

There — hooked on the end of his anchor — was a flintlock musket, rusted and weathered by the passage of time.

“This is crazy. It’s like one of those tall fish tales,” he thought as he held the ancient musket in hand and turned his 14-foot Lakeland fishing boat toward shore near Clarence’s harbor.

The 47-inch heavy iron barrel was coated with zebra mussels and a large portion of the wooden stock was missing — eaten way after centuries of resting at the bottom of the big lake.

A piece of flint was still lodged in the corroded firing mechanism of the old muzzle loader. It was frozen in a half-cocked position.

Groff estimates the old firearm dates back to the late 1700s/early 1800s. From what he can tell, it matches flintlocks he found online from that era.

Area historyThe life-long Fond du Lac resident wonders who could have owned the musket and how it got lost. Maybe a trapper was out hunting, or a Native American from a tribe who lived in the region.

The Winnebago Indians were the major tribe to occupy the Fond du Lac area, according to the Fond du Lac Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. They controlled all of the streams and rivers flowing into the lake. Their homes were dome-shaped wigwams, made from basswood saplings, and covered with woven mats.

In 1801, two Frenchmen, Augustine Grignon and Michael Brisbois, built a trading post along the Fond du Lac River. They ran a thrivingbusiness with the Indians along the rivers and the lakeshore.

Whoever lost it could have been in a canoe in summer or maybe on the ice in winter and fallen through, Groff speculates.

Catch of a lifetimeHe calls it the catch of a lifetime. Groff began his fishing career as a young boy, riding his bicycle from home to Lakeside Park every day to catch fish — perch to be exact. He still lives in his childhood home on Wilson Avenue.

“I love being out in the middle of the lake — nobody bugging me,” he said.

His buddies tell him that he’s so good at the sport he could “catch (expletive deleted) fish out of a toilet.”

“I just got it down to a fine art,” he said. “For 40 years I’ve been fishing the south end of Lake Winnebago because I don’t need to go much further. I catch all the fish I want there.”

When his wife Nancy Groff saw the rifle he brought home as his catch of the day, she just shook her head.

“She used to come with me fishing, but one day she was trolling andreading a book and she ran over my line. She never went fishing again,” he said.

Other than putting some kind of sealant on the gun, Groff said he plans to display it in its current condition — just the way it came out of the lake.

“I’m not going to start messing around with it,” he said.

The rifle will be mounted on the wall near his other prize catch — a 44-inch northern.

“But the flintlock beats that by a long-shot,” he said.

Sharon Roznik may be reached at sroznik@fdlreporter.com or (920) 907-7936.

via Fond du Lac fisherman snags catch of a lifetime: Lake Winnebago gives up old flintlock musket | Appleton Post-Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Aug

26

KAUKAUNA — Imagine boating down the lower Fox River from Lake Winnebago to Wrightstown.

For the past three decades, that’s been a pipe dream. By spring 2015, it will be a reality.

The Fox River Navigational System Authority has begun a $3.3 million project to restore and reopen three Kaukauna locks — Nos. 1, 2 and 3 — for boating. Restoration of a fourth Kaukauna lock — No. 5 — will be bid separately later this summer but also will be finished by the 2015 boating season.

“The restoration of the Kaukauna locks is part of the final phase of the overall lower Fox River lock restoration project that began in 2005,” said Harlan Kiesow, CEO of the Fox River Navigational Authority, which was created by the state.

Upon the reopening of the shuttered Kaukauna locks, only one obstacle — the Rapide Croche aquatic invasive species barrier near Wrightstown — will prevent boaters from traveling between Lake Winnebago and Green Bay.

The Rapide Croche barrier will remain sealed, but the navigational authority plans to construct an overland boat lift and cleaning station to clear the obstacle. That work is scheduled for 2015-17 and would be the last piece of a puzzle that hasn’t been together since the 17-lock system was shut down in 1984.

“The opening of the lock system should not only provide boating opportunities but will also foster recreational and historic tourism, as well as promote community waterfront economic development,” Kiesow said.

The lower Fox River lock system was once key to Wisconsin’s shipping and paper industries but was closed as those industries declined and maintenance costs grew.

The navigational authority took over management of the system from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2004. Since then, the authority has reopened to boaters the Menasha, four Appleton, Cedars, Little Rapids and De Pere locks. The Little Chute locks have been restored but are not open to boaters because of a required bridge replacement on Mill Street.

“Everybody has been waiting for this for a long time,” Kiesow said. “They are getting excited about it.”

The Boldt Co., based in Appleton, has been hired to restore the Kaukauna locks to their 1930s style. The project includes repairing the locks’ mechanical systems and rebuilding the locks’ walls, gates, chambers and guard houses.

The Wisconsin Historical Society and Legacy Architecture of Sheboygan are working with Boldt on the historical preservation. All 17 locks are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We’re just repairing what we can and replacing what we can’t to make sure the locks work and function properly,” said Jennifer Lehrke, principal architect and consultant at Legacy Architecture. “However, we’re also matching old parts and ensuring the locks retain their historical value.”

Reed Rodenkirch, project manager for Boldt, said his crew will try to replicate the outstanding workmanship of a bygone era.

“I consider it sort of working in an outdoor museum,” he said. “We are actually building a museum display for the public.”

— Duke Behnke: 920-729-6622, ext. 32, or dbehnke@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @DukeBehnke

via Unlocking the locks | Appleton Post-Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Aug

12

On a windy July afternoon amid a fleet of sailboats, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Todd Miller dived into the tumultuous waters of Lake Winnebago, the state’s largest inland lake and the only source of drinking water for more than 200,000 people.

With waves crashing on his back, Miller grabbed hold of a 4-foot-wide, 3-foot-tall solar-powered water monitoring buoy and hooked it to a chain attached to one of four 262-pound metal weights that will hold the buoy in place.

Through research financed with a $750,000 five-year grant from the National Institution of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Science Foundation, Miller hopes to learn more about dangerous toxins produced by blue-green algae in the lake and whether these toxins end up in the drinking water of the cities of Oshkosh, Appleton, Neenah and Menasha.

Little is known about the conditions that lead to the production of the toxins, known as cyanotoxins, and the four cities that derive drinking water from the lake don’t know if the toxins end up in their water.

But ingestion of some toxins can be fatal.

In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told the Journal Sentinel that the toxins were a low-priority item and weren’t being dealt with because of a lack of resources.

Twenty years later, not much has changed.

Last month, Miller, an assistant professor at UWM’s Zilber School of Public Health, and his students deployed one of two homemade buoys equipped with sensors that measure physical variables, like water and air temperature, and blue and green algae pigment levels in the lake. Every five minutes, a modem on the buoy will send data collected by the sensors to the Miller Lab website.

The Miller Lab also is sampling water at each of the four cities’ water plants at various stages of the treatment process to determine what level of cyanotoxins, if any, are in the drinking water. Through his research, Miller hopes to better understand the conditions around the occurrence of these toxins. He hopes to construct a model that will help water plants prevent human exposure to the toxins.

While acute poisonings are well-documented, chronic exposure to low levels of cyanotoxins in drinking water is not. The toxins are known to cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, gastrointestinal illnesses, joint pain and damage to the liver — even cancer in extreme cases.

Since 1998, the EPA has listed cyanotoxins on three consecutive lists of contaminant candidates to regulate in drinking water.

“The EPA has this process: put stuff on the list and figure out the data gaps. Unfortunately, they hit the current federal financial squeeze and moving through that process has gotten more difficult,” said Alan Roberson, director of federal relations for American Waterworks Association.

Conducting the research to assess the occurrence of the toxins nationwide and develop a standardized analytical method to determine appropriate toxin thresholds for drinking water would cost millions of dollars, Roberson said.

No human deaths caused by algae toxins have been confirmed in the U.S. and not all algae blooms produce them. But there are documented fatalities in other countries, like Brazil, where 60 dialysis patients died in 1996 due to the presence of toxins in the water supply.

In 2003, a Dane County coroner’s report determined anatoxin-a, a neurotoxin produced by cyanobacteria, to be the culprit in the death of a Cottage Grove teenager who died after swallowing water in an algae-covered golf pond the prior summer. Today, officials still question the validity of the findings.

In Wisconsin, Lake Winnebago is the only inland lake used for drinking water. Mark Werner, section chief at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, said cyanobacterial algae blooms are not much of an issue in Lake Superior or Lake Michigan, where the City of Milwaukee derives its drinking water.

“It’s fairly safe to say that the removal is pretty good at surface water plants in Wisconsin, but it’s not something that is regularly on our radar,” said Steven Elmore, chief of public water supply at the state Department of Natural Resources.

Elmore pointed to studies conducted in the late 1990s, including one specific to Lake Winnebago, that showed treatment processes were effective at removing the toxins.

“It’s really up to the U.S. EPA to say this is something that we’re going to regulate,” he said.

But Miller pointed out the concentrations of toxins detected in the raw water were rather low back then, much lower than they are today.

“The problem is that you have a lot of dissolved organic carbon or other stuff in the water that can inhibit the breakdown of the toxins,” Miller said.

An auto-sampler attached to one buoy, located near the Oshkosh plant’s raw water intake, will collect at least two daily water samples that researchers will test for about two dozen possible cyanotoxins. Back at the lab, cyanotoxins in the raw water samples will be measured, but because the technology cannot detect all possible variations, researchers also will use a zebra fish assay to detect unknown toxins and overall water toxicity.

Wayne Carmichael, professor emeritus at Wright State University who has studied cyanotoxins over the past 40 years, said nearly half of the states have some kind of response strategy in place to monitor cyanotoxins. But it isn’t a nationwide problem.

Over the past four years, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has run a surveillance program that documents human and animal illnesses potentially linked to algal bloom exposure. In 2012, the program received 33 reports, five of which were for animals.

In Dane County, public health officials regularly monitor the water at recreational beaches and if there is an indication that a bloom is developing, they will issue an alert or health advisory. When levels of microcystin reach 20 micrograms or higher per liter, the beach is closed.

Every time Dane County sees large algae blooms in recreational waters, public health officials find that the toxin levels in the blooms are rather high — “greater than we expect,” says Kirsti Sorsa, program manager for the Department of Public Health for Madison and Dane County.

“There hasn’t been any significant move toward setting nutrient levels. All we’re doing is a better job of recognizing it,” Carmichael said. “We should be doing more.”

Twitter: twitter.com/skbaer

http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/buoys-in-lake-winnebago-search-for-dangerous-algae-toxins-b9959471z1-218616731.html

 

Aug

12

All boat traffic through Oshkosh will be shut down next week, cutting restaurants and other waterfront businesses off from key customers during a 120-hour construction blitz on the Fox River railroad bridge.

The river will be impassable for five days between midnight Aug. 18 and midnight Aug. 23 while Canadian National Railway, which owns the bridge, removes and replaces the main span that opens and closes to boat traffic.

The job will put a cap on nearly two years of reconstruction work on the 114-year-old structure that supports an average of 25 freight trains every day. The company said the new bridge will improve boating access to the river by widening the pass-through and allow trains to move across more quickly.

Boaters and riverfront business owners said they hope for improved access, but they’re frustrated the work is taking place in the midst of peak tourism season. Vacationers may find themselves confined to Lake Winnebago and unable to access restaurants and marinas on the Fox River and the upstream lakes. At the same time, Oshkosh residents who keep their boats along the river won’t be able to go out on Lake Winnebago.

The cutoff is the latest in a string of complaints boaters have with CN railroad over its operation of the bridge, said Ron Kelbert, 60, president of Lakeside Harbour Dockominiums Association in Oshkosh.

Kelbert said the company has not listened to boaters’ complaints about long wait times for the bridge to open — it will close 30-45 minutes before trains arrive — and he worries the company will disregard boaters during and after the bridge work.

“I guess we thought at some point, since we’re almost to the end of the season, why not just wait another month?” he said. “If they have one thing go wrong it could push the date to another day, another week, another month. To boaters, every day in the summer is precious.”

Restaurant owners expect to take a hit in both lunch- and dinner-time customers, said Jay Supple, Chief Executive Officer for the Supple Group, which owns Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant.

“Anybody on Lake Winnebago that’s coming this way obviously can’t get to us… It’s not just us. It’s all the restaurants on the river that flows from Oshkosh down to Winneconne,” he said. “I understand they have to do it, and it’s great we’re getting a new bridge, but I’m just surprised they’re not doing it in September.”

CN railroad spokesman Patrick Waldron said the company wants to finish the work before Labor day. He acknowledged the disruption and said the company cooperated with the U.S. Coast Guard to limit impact on the waterway by working only on weekdays.

“This is a very large portion of the project we’re doing all at once to minimize the interruption to the boat traffic,” he said.

Minimizing disruption

The U.S. Coast Guard has been notifying area boaters and organizations of the bridge closure so there are no surprises next week, said Scot Striffler, bridge program manager for the Ninth Coast Guard District, located in Cleveland, Ohio.

“They’re not going to be able to get through there, so I’m sure it will impact folks for this five-day period. That’s the nature of the work, and we’re doing all we can to minimize that impact,” he said.

The payoff at the end, however, will be greater access for boaters.

The old bridge was made up of three steel through-trusses that span 480 feet across the river. The center section consists of a swing span that twists horizontally in the center to allow boats through one of two 64-feet wide navigation channels.

The new, $27 million bridge will replace the swing span with a vertically-lifting bascule span that will open to a single 125-foot wide navigation channel.

Much of the new bridge is already in place. The bascule span is the only section not yet installed.

The construction schedule has been set up to ensure boaters will be able to pass through the bridge normally on the weekends.

Boaters appreciate that, but still, “it’s an inconvenience,” said Dave Pable, 56, who owns a small fishing boat he keeps at Kubasta’s Landing along the river.

Pable said he he could still access Lake Winnebago by pulling his boatacross town on a trailer , but that would defeat the purpose of paying to rent a boat house directly on the river.

“I’ll be shut down for August, but I’ll find another way to go fishing,” he said.

The bridge closure will also affect Becket’s and the Ground Round restaurants, which just had their river access restored last week when the river walk was completed.

“I wish it wouldn’t take a week,” Becket’s co-owner Kris Larson said about the bridge work. “It certainly will inhibit access, but it will be better when it’s done. Luckily, boaters know about it and can prepare for it.”

Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel General Manager Dan Schetter said awareness among boaters should minimize the impact on Ground Round at River’s Edge’s business.

“A lot of our traffic comes down the river from the west,” he added.

Adam Rodewald writes for Oshkosh Northwestern Media. Northwestern reporter Jeff Bollier contributed to this story.

via Bridge work will shut down boat traffic on Fox River through Oshkosh | Appleton Post-Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Jul

11

All,

Good afternoon. I’m writing to notify everyone that CN RR has provided the schedule for the removal and replacement of the bridge in Oshkosh. The floating of the new bridge span and removal of the existing swing bridge via barge is scheduled from 2359 on August 18 to 2359 on August 23, 2013. The swing bridge is expected to be removed by noon on August 21, with the new span already in place but not operational. The waterway would essentially be impassable throughout the entire period, but small craft that can pass under the new bridge (approximately 6 feet vertical clearance) in the closed position would be able to pass between noon on August 21 and 2359 on August 23.

We request that this information be distributed as widely as possible in the local area. We will issue our Broadcast and Local Notice to Mariners with this information, but request additional outreach be done for local users.

Please feel free to contact me at the number below, or Lee Soule at (216) 902-6085, with any questions, and thank you in advance for getting this information out.

Scot

Scot Striffler
Bridge Program Manager
Ninth Coast Guard District
(216) 902-6087
Fax: (216) 902-6088
Scot.M.Striffler@uscg.mil

Jul

1

The death of a windsurfer whose body was discovered in Lake Winnebago on Saturday is still under investigation.

Authorities have identified the 71-year-old Sheboygan Falls man but are not releasing the name pending notification of family members, said Al Erickson, Department of Natural Resources warden.

Erickson said investigators are waiting on the medical examination report before determining a final cause of death, but they do not suspect any foul play in the accident.

Lt.William Tadych of the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office said the DNR is handling the case because it is a water-related incident.

A search was launched for the man after his windsurfing board was found washed up on shore Saturday afternoon along the East Shore of Lake Winnebago. The search lasted approximately 2½ hours and the body was discovered at about 6 p.m. off the shoreline at N7156 Winnebago Drive in the Town of Fond du Lac.

The Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Coast Guard searched the lake on Saturday. Also on the scene were officials from the Department of Natural Resources, a dive team and an EMS rescue crew.

via Windsurfer death under investigation | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.

Apr

26

APPLETON — High Cliff State Park would more than double in size and get $11.3 million in upgrades under a proposal by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The draft master plan calls for the addition of 1,820 acres to the 1,195-acre park on the northeast shore of Lake Winnebago. Its boundaries would extend to Wisconsin 55 to the east and Calumet County Park to the south if the state acquires the additional land — which is in the hands of more than 100 landowners — at an estimated cost of about $9.1 million.

High Cliff, one of the state’s smaller parks, is Wisconsin’s fifth busiest, bringing in about 417,000 visitors annually, said Carolyn Morgen, park superintendent.

“What happens is the property just gets used a lot, it gets loved a lot,” Morgen said. “We would love to be able to expand and offer people more recreational opportunities.

“It is exciting. We also understand that it is for willing sellers only and it’s going to be a long process.”

The public can hear about the plan and comment on the park’s future at a May 7 meeting at the Sherwood Community Center. The master plan will be submitted to the state’s natural resources board for approval in June, Morgen said. Plans for specific projects will be drawn up once the master plan is approved.

While the park expansion could take years, work on upgrades to the park’s dated infrastructure and facilities could begin soon. Repairs to the park’s showers could start as early as this year, Morgan said.

Other projects, including a $1.5 million expansion of the family campground, will be prioritized based on need and available funds.

Morgen said it likely will take three to five years before bigger projects — such as the estimated $5.5 million marina upgrade — appear on the construction calendar. Funding can hold up the timeline, but projects can be paid for with state dollars, grants and donations, she said.

“I think there is a lot right now, and I think a lot of what happens with High Cliff is going to depend on the economy,” Morgen said. “If we have to wait for state funds, they’ll just get pushed back.”

High Cliff State Park’s last master plan was approved in 1982. It is supposed to be revised every 10 to 15 years once the plan’s goals are met, Morgen said.

The draft master plan calls for High Cliff to share a border with Calumet County Park and offers options to connect the two parks if complete land acquisition does not occur.

Frank Wasdovitch, Calumet County Parks Department director, said plans to connect the two parks through a trail system have been in the works for about a decade, but have stalled in recent years.

“We think it would be beneficial for both parks to be connected so there is an off-road type trail so people could safely go between the two parks,” Wasdovitch said.

The park’s northern neighbors are optimistic that plans for park expansion and improvements would increase business in Sherwood, said Village President Jim Rath. A portion of the state park is within the village’s boundaries, he said.

“We hope to have visitors spend more time and become a true destination for the people visiting High Cliff State Park,” said Rath, who plans to attend the May 7 meeting to learn more about the proposals. “The park is a treasured asset of the area.”

 

Park master plan proposes doubling High Cliff’s size, millions in upgrades | Green Bay Press Gazette | greenbaypressgazette.com.

Apr

1

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN – Although many are celebrating the arrival of spring, not everyone is thrilled about the warmer weather.

Don Herman from the Otter Street Fishing Club and Sunk? Dive and Ice Service sent FOX 11 this photo.

It happened on Lake Winnebago by Black Wolf Avenue near Oshkosh.

Herman said the driver went through the ice while coming back to shore from fishing.

The driver wasn’t injured, and Herman was able to pull the truck out of the water.

In Door County, officials say a 59-year-old Sturgeon Bay man went through the ice on his snowmobile.

It happened just before 6:45 p.m. Friday between the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge and the Bayview Bridge in Sturgeon Bay.

Police say the man was traveling toward the city’s downtown when he turned around and the back of his snowmobile went through the ice.

The man said he was in the water for one to three minutes up to his neck but was able to pull himself out. He was not injured.

Authorities said they suspected he had been drinking, and tell FOX 11 the man then admitted he was drinking. Officials say initial tests showed he was over the legal limit. He was arrested for operating while intoxicated.

Officials are urging everyone to use caution on the ice and venture out at their own risk.

The Door County Sheriff’s Department said conditions have deteriorated with the warm weather and the predicted rain will only make them worse.

They said anyone going out on the ice shouldn’t go alone, carry a cell phone, have proper clothing and equipment and be aware of current ice conditions and weather.

via Truck sinks in Winnebago County.

Mar

26

APPLETON — If you’re concerned about zebra mussels, boat landing fees, walleyes, algae blooms or swimmer’s itch that can accompany a dip in Lake Winnebago, a new five-county collaborative wants to hear from you.

Backed by a $50,000 matching grant from the Department of Natural Resources, the group is in the first phase a project to protect all aspects of the system that connects Lake Winnebago to Lake Poygan, Lake Winneconne, Lake Butte des Morts and parts of the Fox and Wolf rivers.

The five counties — Calumet, Fond du Lac, Outagamie, Waushara and Winnebago — hope to build on local public feedback to identify key issues with the Winnebago System.

“Usually a government entity comes up with a proposal and then you have to respond to it,” said Mike Lizotte, president of the Winnebago Lakes Council. “This way, we might go about identifying threats to the system, or just gather a public wish list.”

The group has an interactive Web portal designed to gather feedback with surveys and discussion boards at winnegabowaterways.com. So far, invasive species, algae blooms, water quality and boating fees have attracted the most attention.

A series of public meetings also will gather input from fishermen, boaters and others who use the system. The Appleton meeting is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Atlas Coffee Mill, 425 W. Water St.

Lizotte said not all suggestions will result in expensive, publicly funded projects.

“I hope somebody has some brilliant idea that doesn’t cost a lot of money and we can use it as a way to work together,” Lizotte said. “The real benefit from this may come in working together and trusting each other in our mutual interests.”

Julie Schmelzer, director of resource management for Calumet County, said the project could lead to broader recognition of the 132,000-acre Lake Winnebago that supplies water to more than 250,000 residents.

“Locally, people view the lake as a good recreation source for fishing, but the water quality might have hurt other opportunities for swimming and other activity,” she said. “We have one of the largest inland lakes in the country and it could continue to bring us economic opportunities, but not if we don’t deal with water quality, invasive plants and blue green algae together.”

After the data-gathering, the team will filter through the material.

via ‘Winnebago Waterways’ aims at protecting lakes | The Oshkosh Northwestern | thenorthwestern.com.

Feb

21

OSHKOSH – The Oshkosh Fire Department was called to investigate a report of a truck through the ice on Lake Winnebago. It happened about 12 a.m. on Wednesday.

Officials say the truck went into an existing crack in the ice on Miller’s Bay at the end of Merritt Avenue in Oshkosh.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department says the truck was empty, and it appears the driver attempted to pull the truck out of the water.

Deputies say the driver abandoned the truck, and did not notify officials that the truck was in the water.

The truck was removed from the lake on Wednesday afternoon.

via Truck falls into crack on Lake Winnebago ice.

Jan

21

SHERWOOD — The 42-year-old Sherwood man who died Saturday after his all-terrain vehicle sank in open water on Lake Winnebago has been identified as Chad E. Davis.

Calumet County Medical Examiner Michael Klaeser said the cause of death was accidental drowning.

Davis was driving his ATV on the ice of Lake Winnebago near the High Cliff State Park marina when he encountered a span of open water. Another ATV driver in front of him made it across the opening, but Davis did not.

The Calumet County Sheriff’s Department said Davis was under water for an hour before he was located and removed by the Calumet County Dive Team.

via Sherwood man who died in Lake Winnebago is identified | Green Bay Press Gazette | greenbaypressgazette.com.

Jan

21

OSHKOSH — Rescuers used a Husky airboat Sunday to retrieve a fisherman who was stranded overnight on the ice of Lake Winnebago.

The fisherman, Ronald R. Derr, 47, of Oshkosh, was not injured in the ordeal.

A spokesman for the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department said Derr had gone to his shanty Saturday night and became stranded as high winds pushed apart the ice. At 7:45 a.m., a passer-by spotted Derr on the ice about a quarter mile offshore near the W. 24th Avenue boat landing. About 200 feet of open water was between the shore and Derr.

The sheriff’s department said high winds have created an impassable crack in the ice extending from Merritt Avenue to Black Wolf Point in the southern part of the county.

via Ice conditions leave fisherman stranded | Appleton Post-Crescent | postcrescent.com.

Jan

8

Monday’s incident on the Bay of Green Bay, where people were stuck on ice that separated from the shore, raises the question of how safe local ice is right now. It’s an important question as we get closer to the ice fishing and sturgeon spearing season.

Each year thousands of people flock to Lake Winnebago to take advantage of it in its frozen state. This year is no different. And with fairly cold temperatures recently the ice seems to be in pretty good shape.

“We have about five to eight inches on Lake Winnebago and there isn’t any open holes,” says ice expert Don Herman.

He adds, “We took snowmobile around the whole lake yesterday, so the lake looks actually in excellent condition, but with the warm weather coming that could change in a hurry.”

Those changes could come this week when temperatures are expected to be above freezing.

The warm-up, according to Herman, will definitely have an effect on the ice and delay any preparations for opening these gates to allow for heavy vehicle traffic on the lake. Those delays could linger into the season.

“Most of the events start at the beginning of February, and sturgeon spearing is a month away yet, but if we don’t get cold weather it can affect all of that.”

Even though conditions out on Lake Winnebago right now may be pretty good for foot, four-wheeler, and snowmobile traffic, the sheriff’s department warns ice is never 100% safe and those who venture out on it need to protect themselves.

Lt. Greg Cianciolo with the sheriff’s department says, “We just don’t see a lot of use of personal flotation devices in the winter, and certainly if somebody goes through the ice that is going to increase their odds of survival and their odds of being recovered quickly if they can stay afloat. So one of the things I always try to do is persuade people to wear a PFD even during the winter on the ice.”

Because with changing conditions, it’s always best to be safe.

via Lake Winnebago Ice Conditions – WBAY.

Nov

23

A federal judge has upheld a costly strategy for cleansing the Fox River in northeastern Wisconsin of toxic industrial chemicals – requiring dredging and capping of the river bottom – that had been challenged by paper companies and others ordered to pay for the cleanup.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Natural Resources acted properly in imposing the combination of cleanup methods for remediating environmental damage caused by chemicals known as PCBs, U.S. District Judge William Griesbach ruled Wednesday. Griesbach is chief judge for the Eastern District federal court in Wisconsin.

There is no evidence of a “nefarious government plot” favoring significant use of dredging, a more expensive technique, rather than relying on capping alone, Griesbach says in a decision supporting regulators in their federal lawsuit against NCR Corp. and about 10 others.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 after the companies said that they were doing the dredging under protest and that they had not agreed to take full responsibility for completing the cleanup plan.

Griesbach in his decision says the impact of decisions made by regulators extends beyond corporations to the fish in the river and the anglers and their families who eat them.

Walleye and other popular sport fish in the lower river accumulate high levels of PCBs in fatty tissue that are unsafe for human consumption.

The companies, by protesting the use of dredging, “were demanding poisonous chemicals be allowed to stay in the river,” Griesbach says.

The regulatory agencies embraced a hybrid strategy of using each method where appropriate in an attempt to reduce costs, according to the judge.

Capping the river bottom with sand and gravel was to take place where contaminated muck had been covered by clean sediment in recent years, under terms of the remediation plan. But caps have shortcomings and one is the requirement for long-term maintenance, which adds costs to the solution. And caps can be eroded in flooding, Griesbach says in his decision.

The primary benefit of dredging is the permanent removal of the toxic chemicals from the riverbed, he says. Regulators acknowledged small amounts of PCBs could be resuspended in the river and flow downstream during dredging.

“Removal of PCBs is inherently better than trying to contain them, even if the dredging solution is not perfect,” Griesbach says.

The financial stakes for the companies are huge.

The lower Fox River is the site of the largest cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from a waterway in the United States.

Cost of the project is estimated at more than $1 billion. From 2009 through 2011, the Lower Fox River Remediation LLC, a special-purpose company set up by NCR and Appleton Papers Inc. for the cleanup, had spent $315 million.

Representatives of the companies could not be reached for comment Thursday, a spokesman for the group said.

The lower river targeted for cleanup flows from Lake Winnebago through Little Lake Buttes des Morts, Neenah and Menasha in Winnebago County; Appleton, Kimberly and Kaukauna in Outagamie County; to De Pere and Green Bay in Brown County.

PCBs were used in some papermaking processes from 1954 to 1971, particularly the production and recycling of so-called carbonless copy paper for typewriters. The chemicals were discharged to the river during that time and settled into river bottom muck or carried downstream to Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

PCBs were banned from use in 1971.

In April of this year, Griesbach ruled that Appleton Papers Inc. had contributed enough toward the cleanup. He removed the company as a defendant in the litigation.

Appleton Papers had spent more than $200 million in three years, 2009 to 2011, to dredge muck contaminated with PCBs from the river bottom, a company representative said.

Work abruptly halted in late summer of 2011 when Appleton Papers and NCR refused to spend more money on dredging.

In a second ruling in April, Griesbach ordered NCR to continue financing the cleanup on a 3-mile stretch of the river downstream of the state Highway 32 bridge at De Pere.

Work resumed May 14 and ended Nov. 12 for the winter, according to the Lower Fox River Remediation group.

An update on progress of the cleanup is available on the group’s website. In the 2012 work season, more than 660,000 cubic yards of contaminated muck was dredged from the river bottom. Much of the water is removed from the sediment in a processing plant on the shore of the river in Green Bay.

Around 1.63 billion gallons of contaminated wastewater were treated in the plant and returned to the river this year. Removing the water reduces the volume of sediment and an estimated 317,093 tons were disposed of in a landfill.

Earlier cleanup of a separate 6-mile section of the river downstream of Lake Winnebago already is paying dividends, according to the DNR.

Levels of PCBs in walleyes in that portion of the river, known as Little Lake Buttes des Morts, declined 73% from 2003 to 2010.

 

Check out cleanup

To view an update on progress of the cleanup of the Fox River, go to www.foxrivercleanup.com.