It has been my absolute pleasure serving this community since its creation in Feb. of 2010.  Due to inactivity, time constraints and costs, the forums here at have been set to a “read only,” state.

The site has always been by the boaters for the boaters and we wanted to insure that there was a place to continue to have the Boating Community come together.

A Facebook Group seemed like the best option as we can have multiple admins and everyone can post / discuss things in a common fairly well known interface.

These forums will remain online until further notice.  There is a wealth of knowledge here on many different subjects.  Feel free to use the search function and link back to it as a reference source at your leisure.

If anyone here would like their user account deleted you are able to do that from the Profile area.


Here is the link to the archived forums:

Here is the link to the Facebook Group:






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 |



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 |



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.”





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 |




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 Striffler
Bridge Program Manager
Ninth Coast Guard District
(216) 902-6087
Fax: (216) 902-6088



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 |



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 |



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 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 |



Residents in Fond du Lac, Calumet, Outagamie, Waushara and Winnebago counties will be asked to participate in upcoming stakeholder sessions to talk about issues that affect the Lake Winnebago System.

Calumet County, working with the neighboring counties, was recently awarded a $50,000 grant by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to begin the process, which will include surveys, focus groups and meetings.

The public and focus group meetings are tentatively scheduled for late December and early January and will be held throughout the project area to accommodate Winnebago System users. Online surveys will also be available.

Many issues affect Lake Winnebago, including blue green algae, invasive species, weeds, varying boat launch fees and a general overall lack of coordination to address matters of concern.

Although the DNR, non-profit organizations and conservation groups have done their best to address specific issues, there lacks an overall lakewide approach to managing Lake Winnebago and the pool lakes that comprise the Winnebago System.

The Lake Winnebago System includes the waters and surrounding watersheds of Winnebago, Butte de Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan lakes, encompasses four counties, four cities, four villages and 20 towns, and has economic and health impacts on municipalities further downstream in Outagamie County.

• To receive notification of the surveys or meetings, send contact information to:

via Lake Winnebago may get some help | The Oshkosh Northwestern |



There is a petition submitted to the Oshkosh city council to make the Fox River slow-no-wake from the Butte-des-mortes bridge to Lake Winnebago (all of Oshkosh). This would roughly triple the current slow-no-wake distance.

If this concerns you, there is a preliminary meeting Monday at 6:00 to talk about it. The petition is being presented to the City Council at 6:00 Monday Sept 10th.  This is a preliminary meeting held by the parks dept. Oshkosh city hall room 410. With enough opposition, the issue might be killed right there. Please be there!  (Note correction to meeting time and location.)

Please get involved.

For more information and discussion on this please see the following forum post:



This is a reminder / notice of the temporary security zone on Lake Winnebago for EAA Air Venture. This security zone is Monday July 23rd through Sunday July 29th from 8AM to 8PM every day.

This is a no entry zone, patrolled by the USCG. The purpose of this no entry zone is to facilitate the takeoff and landing of sea planes during EAA’s Air Venture. The zone is usually very clearly marked with large orange buoys.

View EAA Security Zone in a larger map

Below is an excerpt from the USCG “Code of Federal Regulations.”

61) EAA Airventure; Oshkosh WI.
(i) Location. All waters of Lake Winnebago bounded by a line drawn from 43°57 30″ N 088°30 00″ W; then south to 43°56 56″ N 088°29 53″ W then east to 43°56 40″ N 088°28 40″ W; then north to 43°57 30″ N 088°28 40″ W; then west returning to the point of origin NAD 83 .

(ii) Enforcement date and time. The last complete week of July, beginning Monday and ending Sunday; from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

via Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:.



Warning issued for blue-green algae:

 OSHKOSH – It’s not hard to spot it. It sometimes looks like a sheen of blue-green paint on the water.

But it’s what you can’t see that health officials are warning the public about.

“There’s a possibility that as the algae grows, it creates toxins, people get into the toxin, their animals get into the toxin,” said Jeff Phillips, Winnebago County Health Department.

Different from your normal benign green algae, toxins created by blue-green algae can cause irritation, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. In severe cases, it can even cause nerve and liver damage.

Phillips says this potentially harmful type of algae blooms because the Lake Winnebago system is perfect for growing it.

High levels of nutrients, like phosphorus from some fertilizers and pesticides, primarily come from farm and yard runoff.

Eventually forming mats of algae, it can travel long distances, even down the Fox River.

For something that happens every year, are the concerns that surround it blown out of proportion? Well, at least one scientist doesn’t think so.

“I think people tend to forget, year to year, that there is a hazard associated with blue-green algae. It’s important, for every public health issue, to remind people that it’s here,” said Rob McLennan, DNR water supervisor.

Fisherman John Gorski knows that it’s here. But he says you just learn to live with the conditions of the lake.

“Like I said, every year, it’s like that. Depends on the wind. Today it was out of the west, it’s blowing it to the other side of the lake, so. It’s pretty clear today,” said Gorski.

“Is there a cost that we see?” asked FOX 11’s Bill Miston.

“I think there is, I think it kind of goes back to the people that utilize the lake for recreation, that live around the lake. The only way we can ever get a handle on the blue-green algae is really to stop the nutrient flow,” Phillips responded.

And Phillips says that will take everyone’s help and time.

The DNR says it is making an effort to reduce the number of algae blooms each year. It is studying how to reduce the amount of nutrients from area runoff coming into the Lake Winnebago system.

Experts say you can keep your family and pets safe by following these steps:

  • Avoid swimming, wading, skiing, or coming into contact with blue-green algae blooms.
  • Keep children away from algae blooms. They are more likely to transfer material from their hands to their mouths than adults.
  • Talk to your neighbors to make sure they are aware of any potentially threatening conditions.
  • Keep pets away from algae contaminated water.

If people or pets touch the algae, they should was thoroughly with clean water. Contact your health care provider or the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you begin to experience any physical symptoms that could suggest exposure to the toxins. Contact a veterinarian if pets become sick.

via Warning issued for blue-green algae on Lake Winnebago.




Lake Winnebago – The recent warm spell has intensified the threat of blue-green algae on Lake Winnebago. The algae produces a toxin that can make people and animals severely sick after simple contact.


And it’s showing up unseasonably early.


Several weeks early, blue-green algae blooms are popping up on the lake. The Department of Natural Resources is issuing a warning to people on the water to avoid contact.


Diane Cappozzo of the Fond du Lac County Health Department advised, “People have to be aware that it can cause physical symptoms, and if they’re in areas where they think blue-green algae is present they really need to make sure they’re rinsing off well after you get out of the water and make sure you’re not swallowing it.”


The problem is tied to several days of intense heat.


Algae has been a problem in Lake Winnebago for years, but normally is doesn’t show up until late July. That change was brought on by a warmer than average spring and now days with temperatures in the 80s and 90s.


“Typically when we get to this point in the summer, when we get these hot sunny days, there’s plenty of nutrients in the water, and the blue-green algae starts to bloom and rise to the surface, and where the blue-green algae concentrates is a function of the wind direction,” DNR Water Resources Supervisor Rob McLennan said.


So far, the algae is mostly isolated to the northeast corner of Lake Winnebago.


The DNR expects the algae blooms to expand over the next few weeks.

“It just depends on the character of the summer as to how long it stay out there and to what degree it becomes a problem,” McLennan said.

via Blue-green Algae Blooms Unseasonably Early on Lake Winnebago – WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News.



MENASHA — State Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens will remind boaters and anglers this weekend to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The wardens, DNR Water Guard and Clean Boats Clean Water will work with local county patrols in the Lake Winnebago area Saturday to raise awareness about the spread of invasive species.

The DNR will set up a portable station to wash down boats and trailers from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Jefferson Park in Menasha.

via DNR raises awareness of invasive species | Appleton Post Crescent |



The Lake Winnebago Quality Improvement Association will meet for the first time at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6 at University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac, rooms 113/114, 400 University Drive.

The group’s objective is to improve the overall quality of Lake Winnebago for recreational purposes while preserving its natural resources and caring for the creatures that make the lake their home.

Fishermen, boaters, jet-skiers, windsurfers, birdwatchers and anyone interested in natural resources, wildlife preservation and conservation practices is invited to attend the charter meeting.

Fond du Lac County and the UW-Extension are co-hosting the meeting.

via Lake Winnebago improvement group meets Wednesday | Fond du Lac Reporter |



This summer the Railroad bridge in Oshkosh is under construction and we’ve already heard numerous complaints about the bridge being closed more than it’s open.

With the bridge being constrained to one lane this has become a concern and we wanted to make sure that all boaters have the proper information to contact the bridge tender directly and if that fails to know that you have the option / right to file a complaint to the US Coast Guard.

To contact the bridge tender directly you can hail them on channel 16.  If you do not have a marine radio or they do not respond you have the option to call them directly.  The bridge tender is required to carry a phone and answer it at all times of operation.  (8AM to Midnight.)  That number is 920-456-9864.

I have it on very good information that the head of bridge operation for the CN railroad is highly committed to responding to boaters this summer with the inconvenience they are unfortunately imposing.

If contacting the bridge operator directly fails or you are not happy with the wait times or see any unsafe behavior due to bridge openings being delayed, you can submit this form to the US Coast Guard and they will be meeting with the CN Railroad to review all complaints later this year.  (There is a reason the tender was required to be at the bridge starting last navigation season.)

train bridge – coast guard blank form

For more information or help from the members of Boating Winnebago please visit our forum by clicking here!



Heavy rains over the weekend caused the City of Fond du Lac to send untreated water into Lake Winnebago from two locations.

Fond du Lac Public Works Director Jordan Skiff confirmed Monday afternoon that bypassing of the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant occurred late Sunday morning. Water was diverted from the sewer treatment plant and from a section of town experiencing extreme volumes of water. Untreated water is diverted to avoid the backup of water in basements around the city.

“Part of (the problem) is the saturation of the soil,” Skiff said. “Sunday we had more intense rain. Thursday we had more actual rain, but spread out throughout the day.”

Skiff said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was notified of the bypass.

Skiff said Monday that he is working to gather facts and complete a detailed report for the DNR.

The system was back to normal function on Monday. Bypass of the treatment plant was a temporary, emergency action.

City officials were made aware Sunday of some isolated cases of standing water in the streets. The area received more than an inch of rain Sunday and about a half-inch on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. That is on top of about 1½-inches of rain received on Wednesday and Thursday.

The intersection of Park and Merrill avenues was one of the trouble spots, including some portions of Johnson Street, Park Avenue, Amory Street and Rose Avenue.

“To my knowledge, the storm sewer was flowing fine — it was simply overwhelmed for a brief period before noon yesterday (Sunday),” Skiff said.

There were few reports of flooded basements due to the intense rains.

He said staff was working with a resident that was dealing with water in a basement without the help of a sump pump.

Public Works staff also received a few complaints of overflowing ditches. Skiff said he was not aware of widespread problems.

via Heavy rain forces City of Fond du Lac to bypass treatment plant | Fond du Lac Reporter |



Sailing 600,000 kilometers—more than 37,000 miles—is an impressive feat even aboard modern luxury yachts. It’s downright astounding to do it without using a single drop of oil.

At 102-feet long and 49-feet wide, the €12.5 million MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is the largest solar-powered ship to sail the seven seas. It just became the first watercraft to circle the planet using nothing but the Sun’s energy.

Built by German boat-building firm, Knierim Yachtbau, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar cost €12.5 million. Its deck is covered in 5,780 square feet of solar panels—38,000 individual photovoltaic cells—producing up to 120kW of electricity. That’s fed to six massive Li-Ion battery blocks which, in turn, power four electric engines. These engines drive a pair of six-foot-wide, semi-submerged, counter-rotating carbon propellers—eliminating the need for a rudder and propelling the MS Tûranor at a respectable 14 knots. Granted, it can’t keep up with massive cargo ships like the Emma Maersk, but it also doesn’t burn 13 ounces of diesel fuel per revolution.

Since each engine only produces an average of 26 HP and the solar cells have a paltry 22.6-percent conversion rate, the MS Tûranor is designed for efficiency. Its 95 ton hull is built from a foam core sandwiched between layers of carbon fiber and resin. This makes for a lightweight but extremely durable hull while extensive hydrodynamic and aerodynamic testing have ensured minimal drag.

A crew of six piloted the Tûranor during its 585-day trans-oceanic voyage. It launched from Monaco on September 27, 2010 and sailed West for 19 months. This past Friday, May 4th, the boat came home. With a world record now under its belt, the Tûranor will be converted into a 40-passenger luxury yacht. Because, you know, Monaco.



OSHKOSH – It’s a picture perfect day on Lake Winnebago, but there is a familiar buzz in the air.

The lake flies are back. For two weeks now, the feisty fly has started to appear on piers, bushes and more.

Early Friday morning a team of scientists from the DNR and UW-Oshkosh set out to find out why.

“We expected them to be ahead this year. We didn’t expect them to be this far ahead,” said Scott Koehnke, DNR water management specialist.

The team checked four locations around the lake looking for lake fly larvae hidden in the mud below sixteen feet of water.

“Right down there do you see that little worm? There’s about a dozen of them in there. These are what will turn into pupae, swim to the surface and become adults,” said Koehnke.

So why are the lake flies out so early? The DNR says warm temperatures in March triggered a feeding frenzy at the bottom of the lake.

“Two weeks of really warm temperatures, algae bloom took off. They put on some feed bags, and just went to town. And you’re seeing the results of that now,” said Koehnke.

The lake flies usually hatch twice a year, and can live from one to three weeks. Biologists predict the traditional Mother’s Day emergence may not be as big.

“Normally, it’s like poof! They’re here one day, where they weren’t here the other day. Whereas this year, I think it’s gonna spread out over several weeks,” said Koehnke.

The worms will be sent to the lab. Biologists say this batch is healthy and normal.

“They are a base of that system, of that food chain and that food pyramid. Without them you wouldn’t be able to support the amount of fish that we currently have,” said Tim Anderson, UW-Oshkosh research associate.

Nuisance or necessity? Biologists say whether the hatch comes all at once, or a little at a time, Lake Winnebago can’t survive without its seasonal visit from the lake fly.

The DNR says it will be back on the water in a couple of weeks. Weather permitting, lake fly surveys will continue on Lake Winnebago until October.

Lake News: Lake flies are back on Lake Winnebago.



DYCKESVILLE – An effort is underway to clean up area beaches. That’s what one Pulaski-based inventor hopes to do to do by turning zebra mussel shells into sand.

The inventor patented something called the Beachmaker to do just that.

This is a typical sight on beaches across the area: what was once shoreline is now a resting place for invasive zebra mussels.

RJ Elsing watched them pile up. Within months, several feet high on his property in Dyckesville.

“They’re an eyesore. You can’t use the beach the way, I think, God intended it to be used. Also, the stagnant water is harboring all sorts of bacteria,” said Elsing.

So Elsing invented the Beachmaker. Like turning straw into gold, his machine turns shells into sand.

“When we change that into sand, it takes care of these problems, and you can walk on it barefoot again,” said Elsing.

It works by vacuuming the shells, then crushing them. The Beachmaker mimics the waves’ erosion on the shells, but where it takes the waves centuries to turn the shells into this, it takes the machine only moments.

But is it safe? That’s what Kimberly Busse, a water quality specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh wants to find out.

“We just want to be sure that this product isn’t affecting water quality. Then you have recreational activities on the beach. We just want to make sure those are safe,” said Busse.

Busse said she’ll work with Beachmakers, testing the sand they make.  She wants to see what happens to the bacteria the shells are carrying.

“Seeing how much bacterial contamination is in there and then if the shell sand is actually contributing to bacteria concentrations, or eliminating, or staying the same,” said Busse.

Elsing hopes his patented invention passes the university’s tests. He said his machine can help make shorelines fun again.

“Allow people of all ages, especially kids to be able to play on our beaches,” said Elsing.

The team will be testing the Beachmaker and the sand it makes into October.

The DNR tells us the invention is unlikely to have any negative impact on the environment, and that Elsing complies with all appropriate laws.

via Turning shells into sand.



Wisconsin is not fully enforcing strict phosphorus limits adopted two years ago to reduce lake-algae blooms that make people sick, a Gannett Wisconsin Media review has found.

That’s despite the state Department of Natural Resources secretary’s alarm at foul conditions in a lake in northwestern Wisconsin last summer.

The state Legislature in 2010 approved DNR regulations intended to cut down on the amount of phosphorus running into waterways, where it causes algae to grow so thick that the water turns to green soup. The regulations are aimed at wastewater treatment plants, paper mills and factories — which are required to reapply for permits at five-year intervals.

But as of last week, only 19 permits with stricter limits have been issued since September 2010. The DNR still is evaluating applications from 201 municipal facilities and 155 industrial facilities, while hundreds more must apply for permits in the coming years.

That means boaters, swimmers and anglers on waters such as the lower Fox River and Lake Winnebago, where the annual algae bloom can be bad, can expect little change this summer as phosphorus continues to pour into the water. Once in lakes and streams, the chemical helps algae grow uncontrollably, robbing them of oxygen, harming fish and other plants and sometimes leaving people who come in contact with it ill.

“On a very practical level, the DNR is so behind and permits are sitting out there not being reissued,” said Melissa Malott of the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, which pushed for the rule. “It’s not that the DNR isn’t trying, but they just don’t have the staff to do all the things they’re supposed to be doing.”

The Fox River and Lake Winnebago are among more than 300 waters across the state in which high phosphorus levels cause problems.

The EPA requires states to maintain a list of lakes, rivers and ponds that don’t meet water quality standards. States then must come up with plans for addressing the problem at each location and send regular updates to the EPA.

Health hazards

At its worst, cyanobacteria — the organisms that feed on phosphorus and are commonly known as blue-green algae — can sicken humans, causing respiratory problems, skin rashes and cold- or flu-like symptoms. During the last three years, 100 people reported illnesses to the state Department of Public Health after exposure to blue-green algae, which also has caused the death of at least two dogs in that time.

“It’s certainly a health concern for people swimming, especially young kids,” said Todd Drew, environmental health sanitarian for Menasha.

Concerns about blue-green algae spotted on Lake Winnebago have been raised in four of the past five years, Drew said, noting a health advisory issued last year for Municipal Beach on the north shore.

Dunn County in northwest Wisconsin reported the highest number of illnesses, largely at Tainter Lake and the equally algae-coated Lake Menomin. Dick Lamers, president of the joint Lake Improvement Association, built his house on Tainter Lake in 2007 and said he was fully aware of the algae that grows on the lake each summer. But he had no idea how bad it could get.

Lamers, 64, and his wife, Marilyn, envisioned the lake house as a place their family could gather for fishing or boating — “the typical vision for someone retiring.” But on most summer days, the bay in front of their home looks like a bowl of pea soup — and smells worse. In late summer, the algae decays and gives off an odor that forces the Lamers and other neighbors to head indoors and close their windows.

“You barely want to put a boat in, much less swim,” he said.

In a video shot last summer by Clean Wisconsin, Lamers guides a small boat across the lake’s bright green surface and through decaying algae giving off a “hog farm” odor. An oar dipped into the water comes out covered in green, like a brush dipped into a can of paint.

Cited by both the DNR and Clean Wisconsin as an example of how high phosphorus levels can spoil both the recreational and economic benefits of a lake, conditions at Tainter Lake and Lake Menomin also made DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, appointed by Gov. Scott Walker in December 2010, push for tougher phosphorus efforts.

Stepp visited with the Lamers and several other neighbors in August, touring the lake and listening to their concerns. The following month, Stepp told members of the state’s Natural Resources Board that both she and Walker were “alarmed” by the conditions.

“That this has gone on for as long as it has, for over 50 years easily, is an example to us that priorities need to be examined in all things DNR and how we spend our money,” she said. “We do not have clean water in these areas. And that to me, as the head of this agency, is disappointing at best and alarming at worst but (also) motivation to do the right thing.”

Stepp said the DNR should act as a “helper,” bringing together residents, business owners and environmentalists, rather than “a hammer” forcing rule changes.

Clean Wisconsin’s Malott said Tainter Lake and Lake Menomin should serve as cautionary tales for residents near other lakes or rivers with frequent algae problems or high phosphorus levels.

In the 40th anniversary year of the federal Clean Water Act, “we’re reaching a phase two of pollution,” Malott said. “I feel like there’s this looming cloud of toxic algae on the horizon. What’s happening in Tainter (Lake) is the direction all of our waters are headed if we don’t stop this pollution problem.”

Slow progress

Wisconsin has significantly strengthened phosphorus regulations in recent years to prevent the chemical from winding up in bodies of water. In addition to passing more stringent discharge rules for industry, lawmakers banned phosphorus-based fertilizers in 2008 and the DNR is working with farmers to reduce phosphorus runoff from their fields.

From the viewpoint of Randy Much, manager of the Neenah-Menasha sewage treatment plant, agricultural land is the biggest culprit.

“Probably the biggest source (of phosphorus) all together on the whole Fox-Wolf River basin is ag land,” Much said. “You can take all the point discharges (from municipal and industrial treatment plants) down to zero and it still wouldn’t even come close to meeting the standards.”

That means to improve the water quality in Lake Winnebago and the lower Fox River will require phosphorus reductions throughout the whole watershed, he said.

The DNR’s slow progress at enforcing the phosphorus limits isn’t that surprising to environmentalists who fought for the change. Malott said she anticipated a gap between the limits’ effective date and stricter permits being issued.

That’s why Clean Wisconsin fought against Walker’s February 2011 proposal to push back the new rules’ effective date by two years.

“We knew delays would happen, but an enforcement-deadline change would push back progress even further,” Malott said.

Regulators, environmentalists and residents of lakes dealing with the effects of phosphorus agree it could take years for new rules to bring change, even without an official delay.

The permit section of the DNR’s Bureau of Watershed Management lists 19 employees in the agency’s organizational chart and 15 employees of the wastewater section.

Amanda Minks, a water quality specialist with the DNR, said the agency is issuing new permits to city or town wastewater plants as fast as possible. Progress slowed last year when Walker proposed the delay, and the DNR had to get the process running quickly when the governor withdrew his proposal, she said.

“Infancy maybe is a good word” for the new phosphorus rules, Minks said. “We’re the first state in the Midwest to really implement this for all of our water body types.”

Minks said DNR employees at the regional and central offices work on permit applications, but the agency also is trying to be flexible with facilities applying for permits. Upgrading a wastewater plant to decrease phosphorus levels can be expensive for a company or municipality, she said.

“We want to be partners,” Minks said. “Giving that additional flexibility and compliance options takes staff time and resources to get off the ground.”

Todd Ambs is the former administrator of the DNR’s water division and now works as president of the River Network, traveling across the country to bodies of water dealing with a variety of pollutants. Wisconsin should look to the “critical state” of Lake Erie in Ohio and Michigan for a glimpse of what severe phosphorus contamination and uncontrollable algae growth can do to a body of water, Ambs said.

The shallow western side of the lake was hit with a “sickly and unprecedented” algae bloom during the last three summers with a severity not seen since the 1970s, according to the EPA.

“The western end of Lake Erie is dying,” Ambs said. “It’s very, very troublesome. We’re not just talking about quality of life. There are whole industries including charter boat fishing that are in deep, deep trouble.”

But Ambs, DNR officials and residents near algae-affected waters are prepared for a long process to improve Wisconsin waters.

“It took us more than 100 years to screw it up,” Ambs said. “So I’ve always said, it’s going to take more than a couple years to fix it.”

via Dangerous algae flourishes as Wisconsin slogs through permits | Appleton Post Crescent |



The Village of Winneconne could see a new resort and marina on the banks of the Wolf River.

A developer identified as Winn-Win Resort Inc. is pursuing the redevelopment of a parcel of land located at 111 North 1st St. in Winneconne into an upper-midscale hotel and marina resort, positioned along the banks of the Wolf River. The hotel would have 60 units and the marina would include 116 boat slips. The site is currently home to Lang’s Landing, a motel owned by Dennis Lang.

Winn-Win is headed by Mike Mullen, a professor of marketing and international business at Florida Atlantic University, said Winnebago Village Administrator Steve Volkert. Lang contacted Mullen, an Appleton native, to look at the property, and an offer for Winn-Win to purchase the land has been accepted, Volkert said, adding that Mullen has spent a lot of time as a tourist in Winneconne and spent about three months investigating the site last summer. Neither Mullen nor Lang could be reached for comment.

“The mere presence of an upper-scale resort in the village is going to really bring us kicking and screaming into the 21st century,” said Tom Snider, the Winnebago County Board supervisor who represents the Winneconne area and is chairman of the Town of Winneconne. Snider said the resort would help combat a shortage of accommodations in the area and might make events such as fishing tournaments more successful.

Snider is the sponsor of a resolution that will be considered by the board Tuesday that urges the state Department of Natural Resources to approve the development of the marina. Snider said he plans to amend the resolution to simply voice the board’s support of the development. Similar resolutions have been prepared for the Winneconne town and village boards.

According to the county board resolution, the marina is part of the redevelopment of an existing Brownfield marina, motel and industrial site on a well-flushed waterway that requires no new dredging and that will substantially reduce runoff consistent with the 2010 Wisconsin Clean Marina Guidebook.

Officials said the resolutions do not represent approval of any specific plan for the project.

Volkert said Mullen will meet with the DNR within the next few weeks. After that, Volkert said, Mullen will determine the total construction costs for the project and begin explore options for financing it. Mullen completed a feasibility study in February that showed that the 60-unit resort model would be financially feasible, Volkert said.

It is unclear if Mullen would seek public assistance to finance the project.

Snider said after one meeting with the developers, he doesn’t foresee a request for public money to finance the project, but the project is in the early stages and could go in that direction.

Volkert and Snider see the project as an opportunity to bring a different market and different kind of clientele to the area, taking Winneconne’s tourism industry to a new level.

Increasing the number of tourism dollars coming into the community would help sustain Winneconne’s restaurants and other businesses that rely heavily on money from outside the community, Volkert said.

“Tourism is huge,” Volkert said. “The community doesn’t have an enormous amount of industrial or commercial properties. The dependency to get people to come to Winneconne primarily because of the water is extremely important to all our businesses.”

New resort and marina may be headed to Village of Winneconne | The Oshkosh Northwestern |



Oshkosh – zebra mussels are back near Lake Winnebago, spreading out across shorelines and clogging boat channels.

The Department of Natural Resources says the zebra mussel population is “extremely high” right now, and that’s causing problems for area boaters and residents.

People who come to the lake regularly near Oshkosh are noticing a changing look the beaches.

“This has been a radical change. This I’ve never seen before,” Bill Glander said.

Glander has visited the lake for more than half a century but hasn’t seen this many zebra mussel shells until now.

Just a few miles south of Oshkosh, homeowners are seeing even more shells. There are thousands of them at the very least. Residents say the infestation grew by about 40 percent just this year.

“They’re filled right in. You can’t get out… and, if you open them up, couple days the wind picks up and they close right up again,” said Gary Weber, Point Comfort resident.

The influx of those shells has blocked the Point Comfort boat channel. That’s putting a damper on some people’s chances to boat and fish.

“There’s no spawning for the fish in here, there’s no crop. This used to be great fishing here,” said Patrick Schaeffer, a Point Comfort resident and Lake Winnebago boater.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources doesn’t have a practical way to dispose of them.  The agency urges boaters to be cautious when moving from lake to lake to watch out for hitchhikers.

“It’s important that people be very careful about not transporting any water or live plants anywhere from Lake Winnebago or among any lakes,” said Rob McLennan, DNR basin supervisor.

But residents still want rid of the invasive species.

“You’d need dump trucks to come in here and get the stuff out of here. It’s no shoveling deal to get them out, it’s not going to happen,” said Schaeffer.

Residents cannot remove the mussels without a permit from the DNR.

In the meantime, some Point Comfort homeowners say they’re thinking about moving out.

Lake News: Zebra Mussels Impact Residents and Boaters at Lake Winnebago.



OSHKOSH – Oshkosh’s Menominee Park could be seeing some changes over the next few years.

The city is currently developing a master plan for the park, getting input from residents Wednesday night.

The more than 100 acre park is located on city’s east side along Lake Winnebago.

For more than a century, the park has been an iconic part of the city, drawing hundreds of visitors a day.

And now, officials say it’s time to think about its future.

“We don’t have an existing plan, so it’s an exciting time for use to really look at the park itself and hopefully get some plans for the next 15-20 years and really start adding those things to our capital improvement projects,” explained Parks Director Ray Maurer.

Wednesday night, residents got a chance to share their ideas.

Some, would like to see more restroom access.

“I’m thinking they could maybe add some port-a-potties with some wood stands that would hide them and protect them from vandals and what have you. They would work well for people walking on the trails,” said Oshkosh resident James Rothe.

Other, more extensive upgrade ideas include expanding the beach area and making it more season friendly.

“Opportunities for people to access Lake Winnebago a little more, so I think we’ll hear a little more on beach access and a year-round bath house facility for ice skating, warming shelter, and so forth,” Maurer said.

However, some park goers don’t want to see any changes, other than routine maintenance.

“We have a unique view of Lake Winnebago, I think it’s one of the prettiest spots in Wisconsin,” said Helen Herlache of Oshkosh.

The public will have another chance for input later this month or early next month.

Maurer hopes to have a comprehensive plan in place, and in the hands of the common council for a vote by mid-June.

He says the city doesn’t have any cost estimates at this point, since it is still in the planning stages.

via New plans in the works for Menominee Park.