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home : opinions : your opinions October 19, 2014


11/20/2013 1:26:00 PM
Bear Lake report was inaccurate
Larry Mofle, Bear Lake

Tyler Gruetzmacher's Nov. 4 report to the Barron County Property Committee, summarized in the Nov. 13, 2013 Chronotype article, "Report finds Bear Lake levels OK" is inaccurate and far from complete. 
In order for the members of the Property Committee to be brought up to date on the Bear Lake level controversy, their names will be added to the ever-expanding email group that continues to debate the issue before the Secretary of the DNR and the DNR Board.  A more thorough rebuttal of Tyler's report will be presented to that group.  To date, Tyler and Dan Harrington's tandem responses to recent public testimony concerning the detrimental effects of extreme low lake levels on Bear Lake's ecosystem and docking capabilities would indicate that eventually the controversy will go to a public hearing. 
 While most advocates for Bear Lake know the levels of Bear Lake are being intentionally held at low levels, what the advocates don't know is the rationale for the intentional low target levels.
Why is the lake being kept low?  Tyler states that the two documents mentioned in his report "confirm the targeted goal that we have been using."  Words like "around" and "approximately" are not confirmations and provide no rationale or justification for intentionally lowering the level of a lake.  However, the documents did confirm the 1915 court-ordered 2-foot navigation allowance which would provide more water depth at the docks of those Bear Lake residents having navigation difficulties. 
Tyler's report did confirm that in 2002 the "Vee" opening configuration replaced a straight board configuration in the Haugen dam.  By design, the "Vee" opening lowered the level of Bear Lake 9 inches below the 1963 to 2000 DNR survey average lake level.  (In 2006 the level was at least 11 inches low)  Tyler and Dan insist that the constant low levels since the inception of the "Vee" are the result of "a drought of historic proportions" and support their assertions by comparing Bear Lake, a dammed lake with constant flow, to seepage lakes, Beaver Dam and Shell Lake.
 Tyler's statement (Dan's also), "Achieving a static level for Bear Lake is difficult if not impossible for three reasons" is another DNR/Barron County smoke and mirrors fabrication.  A 1993 U.S. Geological Survey of Bear Lake determined the size of Bear Lake's watershed to be 47.6 square miles, 70% of which is wetlands/woodlands.  The drainage area/lake size ratio of 22:1 is considered to be excessively high.  The two 6' openings in the Haugen dam would be about the same width of a naturally shallow Bear Creek prior to the late 1880's Knapp, Stout & Co. capitalistic logging venture.  Maintained properly the two openings could deliver the same static level as occurred naturally. 
If Barron County and the volunteer dam operator practiced good stewardship by not raising and lowering boards and/or the "Vee" during the summer a relatively constant level could be achieved.
 I think the Property Committee should request another report from Tyler.

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