Letters to the Editor

Open letter to Wisconsin Governor Evers:

Thank you for directing the DNR to respond to our letter of distress over the impending doom facing Geneva Lake by the Exotic Species Infestation of Starry stonewort. Unfortunately, our letter appears to have landed on the desk of a dutiful, adjunct staff member who could only acknowledge our plight and attempt to assure us the DNR was doing its best to help Lake Geneva in its current crisis. It’s well understood that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has the objective, jurisdiction, and authority to deal with serious environmental and ecological issues like the Aquatic Invasive Species crisis facing Lake Geneva. The only question is, does the DNR have the will to do everything it takes to carry out its mission to protect and sustain Wisconsin’s greatest natural resource or does it surrender its authority at the altar of private privilege?

Let’s be honest, the Department would have already eradicated SSW in Lake Geneva if they were the dynamic, proactive “can do” organization they once were. Instead, to put it bluntly, we are today dealing with a re-purposed, Walker-esque DNR that has been turned into a complacency compliant, impotent, laissez-faire bureaucracy that treats its emergency powers like they were the “Nuclear Option” instead of the necessary response to perform its mission to protect nature and the environment and help Lake Geneva avoid a catastrophe Voluntary cooperation vs. Imposing regulations.

In August of 2018 the WDNR discovered that the existence of Starry Stonewort (SSW) was confined to the Trinke Lagoon/Marina which then connects to Geneva Lake, but that the invasive hadn’t yet escaped into the lake itself. Benefitting from the experience of the many hundreds of lakes already infected with SSW, the DNR knew exactly what management plan had to be imposed to eradicate SSW from the confines of Geneva Lake.

The DNR respectfully submitted this “can do” plan to Trinke Estates, but the plan required the 30+ residents of Trinke Estates to put-up with some temporary inconvenience that could be interpreted as a challenge to their Personal Privilege. Conditioned by the Governor for the past 8 years to the primacy of Personal Privilege, the WDNR was quick to offer Trinke an alternative, worse than worthless, chemical treatment plan followed by the eradication plan in the fall– provided the most aggressive of all invasive species, SSW, stays contained in the Trinke Marina after a summer of heavy boat traffic.

The DNR recently released the final results of chemically treating Little Muskego Lake beginning in 2014 along with an experimental drawdown of Little Muskego in 2017-2018 of over 50% of the lake’s water content in order to freeze-kill SSW. Not only did the chemicals and drawdown fail to kill or reduce SSW, but they also succeeded in more than doubling the foreign algae’s former population. What we find so upsetting is that the DNR recommended these same useless chemical treatments be used in the Trinke Lagoon. Also, the DNR closed down Little Muskego Lake for over 6 months but refused to initiate the Invasive Species Rule – NR 40, whose purpose is to enable quick action by the DNR to eradicate prohibited Invasive species before they get established in the lake.

These are precisely the conditions we have here in Lake Geneva where the DNR seems to prefer to study and publish reports on Starry-stonewort rather than helping Geneva Lake escape this lake-killing infestation by closing down the Trinke Lagoon/Marina or putting it in quarantine until it has been hydraulically dredged.

Casey Schiche, Lake Geneva resident and president of the Care for Lake Geneva organization.

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