DATE: January 29, 2019 at 6:00 a.m.
TO: All Members of the Quiet Lakes Improvement Association (QLIA) and Friends of QLIA
FROM: Dave Neuswanger, QLIA President and Executive Committee Chair
SUBJECT: THANKS to All Eco-Harvester Donors!
At the Annual Meeting of the Quiet Lakes Improvement Association (QLIA) on July 29, 2018, we initiated an ambitious pledge drive to raise at least $75,000 so we could order an Eco-Harvester aquatic plant puller in late December and place it into operation in spring of 2019. The Executive Committee believed this was the only viable option to effectively control invasive Hybrid Eurasian Water Milfoil (HEWM) in Lost Land Lake, and contain it before it spreads to Teal, Ghost, and other nearby lakes.
We MADE it! Our pledge drive ended in mid-December, 2018. By January 28, 2019, we had received 100 percent of the pledged total ($82,505) in actual donations — comfortably exceeding our goal of $75,000! The Executive Committee is grateful and relieved that we exceeded our pledge drive goal, because the total cost of procurement will be $77,464 if we include an unanticipated increase in the price of the trailer, plus delivery charges (from New Hope, Minnesota) that will include demonstration and training by the helpful folks at Lake Weeders Digest. A little extra funding for near-term operations and maintenance will be a great use of donations beyond those needed for initial equipment purchase. We might even be able to afford to fabricate a sun shade to protect the operator and a buy a GPS depth sounder to enable precise operations and accurate record-keeping required under a mechanical weed harvest permit from the Wisconsin DNR.
Thanks to several prompt payments in early December, Treasurer Gayle Little and I were able to make a 30% down payment ($23,240) to Lake Weeder’s Digest on December 18, ensuring procurement of a 2019 Eco-Harvester at the 2018 price of $70,000 — a $3,999 discount! All donors were either e-mailed or mailed a personalized letter of thanks for your gift, providing proof for your tax files that you made a tax-deductible contribution to a 501c3 organization in 2018 (if postmarked before January 1) or 2019 (if postmarked January 1 or after).
It is not too late to contribute to the Eco-Harvester fund! We will deposit any additional Eco-Harvester donations into a segregated account that will be tapped to help pay for auxiliary equipment, registrations, insurance, operations, and maintenance during the first year or two. It will be a relief to have this “O&M cushion” in the bank. So don’t be afraid to contribute if you want to join this community effort.
In summary, we received pledges and donations totaling $82,505 from 179 individuals representing 95 QLIA family or individual memberships (more than two-thirds of all members with paid-up dues; see list below), plus a few generous friends, including Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin ($2,500), the Quiet Lakes Tourism Association ($3,000), Woodland Development and Realty ($500), and the Cable Chiropractic Clinic ($100). Thanks to all these foresighted members and other supporters of QLIA for their prudent acts of civic responsibility.
Eco-Harvester Donors as of January 29, 2019 at 6:00 a.m. are listed below in chronological order by date of pledge form receipt. Dollar amounts in BOLD text have been received either by hand or by mail at our post office box in Hayward. We are amazed and extraordinarily pleased that participating members and friends “made good” on 100 percent of all pledges!
Dave (QLIA President), Sandy, and Bryan Neuswanger on 7/29/18 – $1,000
Carole and Richard Dujmovic on 7/29/18 – $1,000
Fred and Peggy Haueter on 7/29/18 – $1,000
Orlin Johnson and Gail Nicholson (QLIA Secretary) on 7/29/18 – $1,000
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 7/29/18 – $1,000
Bob and Sue Dale on 8/2/18 – $1,000
Lynn and Donna Wulf on 8/10/18 – $500
Brenda Brueske Kolve from Cable Chiropractic in Cable on 8/15/18 – $100
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 8/23/18 – $300 (+$200 on 12/3/18) = $500
Ray and Kay Schafer on 8/23/18 – $1,000
Dan and Jane Brandenstein on 9/5/18 – $500
Nancy and Dane Skow, and Jerry Kuchta on 9/15/18 – $1,000
Dave and Mary Kallal from Empire Lodge Condo Assn. on Lost Land Lake on 9/18/18 – $1,000
Dan and Jan Gavin on 10/12/18 – $1,000
Donna and Jim Nickel on 10/12/18 – $500
John and Emily Sleichter on 10/17/18 – $2,000
Laura and Rick Zaksas on 10/17/18 – $500
Wendy and Guy Franzese on 10/17/18 – $2,000
John and Sue Grady on 10/17/18 – $1,000
Gary and Michelle Keil on 10/18/18 – $1,000
John and Marlene Kalcich on 10/19/18 – $1,000
Dennis and Cathy Blackman on 10/19/18 – $1,000
Tom and Chris McEnery on 10/20/18 – $500
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 10/23/18 – $1,000
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 10/23/18 – $250 (actual donation = $300)
Bob and Sue Cook on 10/23/18 – $5,000 (Wow!)
Dan and Karen Fitzsimmons on 10/23/18 – $1,000
Tom and Christie Jablonski on 10/23/18 – $1,000
Darrin and Sandra Ott on 10/23/18 – $1,000
John and Christina Scharlau on 10/23/18 – $1,000
Michael Sund on 10/23/18 – $300
Steve (QLIA Director-at-Large) and Karen Fiala on 10/24/18 – $1,000
Sharon & Mike Brown from Sunset Lodge Condo Assn. on Teal Lake on 10/24/18 – $500
Joann Robertson on 10/24/18 – $100
Jim & Judy Tomasik from Wilson Bay Lodge on Lost Land Lake on 10/24 & 12/4/18 – $1,000
Rob and Linda Bohde on 10/25/18 – $500
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 10/25/18 – $500
Michael Mosling on 10/25/18 – $1,000
Jeff Johnson on 10/25/18 – $1,000
George and Connie Miller on 10/26/18 – $500
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 10/28/18 – $350 (actual donation = $300)
Tom and Nancy Ridgway on 10/29/18 – $500
William Phelps on 10/29/18 – $500
Ryan Brown from Sunset Lodge Condo Assn. on Teal Lake on 10/29/18 – $100
Aaron Zelko and Karen Horting on 10/29/18 – $1,000
Doug and Janet King on 10/29/18 – $1,000
Brian Walsh and Karen Kan-Walsh on 10/31/18 – $500
George & Dolores Brandt (formerly Empire Lodge) on Lost Land Lake on 11/2/18 – $1,000
Gerry and Trudy Krueger on 11/2/18 – $1,000
Marilyn Poulton on 11/2/18 – $505
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 11/2/18 – $500
Clifford Johnson on 11/2/18 – $200
Michelle & Terry Conroy from Boulder Lodge on Ghost Lake on 11/3/18 – $300
Keith and Beverly Baumgart on 11/6/18 – $1,000
Vance and Wendy Haesemeyer on 11/6/18 – $1,500
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 11/8/18 – $300
The Hansen and Kalstrup Families on 11/8/18 – $1,000
Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin in Hayward on 11/8/18 – $2,500
Ron and Lynn Kunz on 11/13/18 – $1,000
The Thearin Family from Northland Lodge on Lost Land Lake on 11/13/18 – $2,000
Steve and Liz Bejarano on 11/14/18 – $1,000
The Bayrd Family on 11/14/18 – $1,000
Russell Choyce on 11/14/18 – $200
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 11/14/18 – $100
Gary and Mary Meloy on 11/14/18 – $500
Fritz and Lynda Morlock on 11/14/18 – $1,000
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 11/14/18 – $1,000
Bart and Bonnie Shanley on 11/14/18 – $500
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 11/14/18 – $500
Greg and Liz Wassilkowsky on 11/14/18 – $500
Larry and Ann Wheeler on 11/14/18 – $100
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 11/15/18 – $100
John and Amy Jo Wittenberg on 11/18/18 – $1,000
Jane & Matt Pfleger from Reel Livin’ Resort on Lost Land Lake on 11/21/18 – $1,000
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 11/21/18 – $500
Kim and LouAnn Phelps on 11/21/18 – $500
Al and Tina Foster on 11/21/18 – $200
Gregory Benesch on 11/26/18 – $200
Ralph & Helen Hlavin & Samantha Smith from The Retreat at LLL on 11/28/18 – $1,000
Quiet Lakes Tourism Association (President Dave Thearin) on 11/28/18 – $3,000
Tom McLeod and Bonnie Huppert on 12/3/18 – $1,000
Jeff and Shari Peterson on 12/4/18 – $1,000
Stan and Carmen Sroka on 12/5/18 – $300
Roxanne Westrom on 12/5/18 – $150
Brian Tjosvold and Sue Biagini on 12/6/18 – $200
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 12/6/18 – $500
Gary Nathan of Woodland Development and Realty on 12/6/18 – $500
Barry Poulton on 12/7/18 – $1,000
Rod and Gayle (QLIA Treasurer) Little on 12/7/18 – $250
Art and Sharon Miller on 12/10/18 – $1,000
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 12/10/18 – $100
Doug and Susan Elsass on 12/11/18 – $1,000
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 12/11/18 – $2,500
Sharon O’Brien on 12/12/18 – $100
John and Terry Goth on 12/12/18 – $500
Nate and Terri Marsten on 12/12/18 – $500
Tom and Jane Precht on 12/12/18 – $500
Terry and Lynn Frick on 12/14/18 – $1000
Mike and Cindy Derrico on 12/14/18 – $200
Jerry and Sharon Oltman on 12/14/18 – $250
Gary and Marcia Dohrn on 12/17/18 – $100
Wish to Remain Anonymous on 12/20/18 – $200
Alan and Mary Becker on 12/29/18 – $1,000
John Gouze on 1/10/19 – $250
Future Grant Reimbursement? We may be eligible for a Wisconsin Recreational Facilities Boating Grant (RFBG) after we purchase the Eco-Harvester in spring of 2018 and submit an application for partial reimbursement (up to 35%) in time for the February 1, 2020 meeting of the commissioners who oversee the Governor’s Wisconsin Waterways Program. The Executive Committee will consider refunding up to 35% of all donations targeted to its purchase, depending on whatever reimbursement may or may not be approved under the RFBG program after the commissioners meet again in mid-April of 2020. (Also, some donated money may be held in a segregated account to guarantee funding for future operations and maintenance. We will probably put this question to a vote of Eco-Harvester donors.) In summary, we promise to do everything we can to leverage QLIA member dollars in procuring the equipment needed to effectively manage our HEWM problem.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Why must we BUY this machine? Why not just RENT it, as needed, from a dealer or another nearby lake association? Or why not share the cost with another lake association?
A: There are no franchise dealers of Eco-Harvester. These custom machines are not sitting on a commercial lot somewhere pending sale or rental. If you need one, you must order it from a local distributor, make a non-refundable down payment, and wait for several months while they build it for you. The nearest lake association that owns and operates an Eco-Harvester (Chetek Chain of Lakes) uses it every day throughout the summer to skim duckweed and filamentous green algae from the surface of their nutrient-enriched lakes. It is not available when we would need it most during the optimal weeks in late spring when HEWM is most readily pulled out by the roots without also pulling lots of non-target native plants. For similar reasons, we would not want to share the cost of purchase and ownership with another lake association due to liability issues and high probability of timing conflicts. There are only a few weeks each year when operating conditions are optimal. We will need it when we need it. In summary, neither renting the machine ourselves nor renting it out to others are viable options.
Q: Could this large, one-time equipment purchase be funded by a loan to be repaid with future income or donations over the next several years?
A: We have serious reservations about the feasibility of borrowing money from a commercial lender in order to fund this purchase. QLIA has no collateral. We hold no physical assets against which a commercial lending institution could place a lien. The Eco-Harvester itself would probably not qualify simply because it is such a rare piece of equipment. We suspect no commercial lender would want to be stuck with something so difficult to sell after repossessing it if we defaulted on our loan payments. Also, we have no guaranteed income. Even if a commercial lender were to give us the benefit of the doubt on voluntary dues payments, we collect only $3,000 annually in dues. Assuming we could borrow $50,000 for 5 years at 4.5% APR, our loan payments would be $932.15 monthly and $11,185.80 annually. We cannot imagine that a lender would simply trust that we could generate enough income from donations every year for five years to make up the $8,000 difference between $3,000 in annual “income” (from dues) and $11,000+ in annual loan payments. Who would co-sign the loan, and who would be liable for repayment if the organization defaulted on the loan due to lack of member support? That said, there are no finance professionals currently serving on the QLIA Executive Committee. Any QLIA member with expertise in finance is encouraged to contact us if you believe we are making a mistake to dismiss the possibility of borrowing money to fund part of this purchase.
Q: Why us? Why doesn’t the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources handle this?
A: For aquatic plant management, WDNR has only General Purpose Revenue (GPR) funding appropriated by the State Legislature. There is no federal funding. Minor GPR funding for WDNR personnel to actively manage aquatic plants in the state’s 15,000 lakes disappeared in budget cuts over a decade ago. Currently WDNR uses their limited GPR funding to support highly competitive cost-share grants for plant surveys, boat ramp inspections, planning activities, and a handful of nuisance plant control operations if conducted under an approved Lake Management Plan. We have tapped those sources already by experimenting with chemical control and developing our 2017 Aquatic Plant Management Plan (click on link below), which calls for mechanical control of HEWM. Implementation is up to local entities like QLIA.
Q: Why us? What about lake residents and users who do not even belong to QLIA?
A: We (the Executive Committee) do not have time to contact all potential members and implore them to join QLIA. At our Annual Meeting in July, Terry Conroy of Boulder Lodge suggested that every member visit personally with their neighbors and offer a Membership Application Form (available online) to non-members. I tried following Terry’s practical advice, and it worked. Whatever the outcome, let’s be proactive and control what we can, rather than waiting for everyone else to join and contribute.
Q: Why not try winter drawdowns like they do on the Chippewa Flowage, in part to control nuisance aquatic plants?
A: We have no water control structure to significantly alter the levels of Lost Land and Teal lakes. There is a rock dam that slightly impounds the Teal River Flowage downstream of Teal Lake, but there are no valves, stop-logs, or other water level control structures. Drawdown is not an option.
Q: Why not try some biological control method to eliminate the Hybrid Eurasian Water Milfoil?
A: Biological control is the first option we explored. In a nutshell, the only known biological control is an aquatic weevil that selectively eats milfoil but is highly vulnerable to predation by bluegill. WDNR fishery surveys reveal that we have an over-population of bluegills in Lost Land Lake. No number of introduced weevils will have any impact whatsoever on the HEWM in our lake. The bluegills would virtually eliminate them within days. There is no way to reduce the bluegills enough to matter.
Q: Why not contract a chemical applicator to control the Hybrid Eurasian Water Milfoil?
A: We tried that twice and failed both times. Chemical control will not be cost-effective. The first attempt in spring of 2015 was ineffective because 2,4-D (recommended by a consultant we no longer use) was the wrong chemical to use in spot-treating HEWM. The dilution factor around scattered patches of HEWM in open water did not allow the required 30-day contact period at an effective concentration. HEWM exhibited little impact. Our late spring 2017 application of Diquat Dibromide to several patches of HEWM in just under 10 acres of water had the intended effect of killing over 90% of HEWM along with associated native plants; and desirable native plants re-colonized the treatment areas by late summer with little evidence of HEWM. We were cautiously optimistic that Diquat Dibromide (sold as Reward herbicide) might be the answer until HEWM came roaring back in early July of 2018 in all 2017 treatment areas, while expanding significantly into new areas of Lost Land Lake. In 2017, Diquat Dibromide application cost more than $600/acre. I conservatively estimate that HEWM has now expanded to at least 20 acres in Lost Land Lake. Treatment of this area would cost at least $12,000 annually. QLIA’s income from member dues is only about $3,000 annually. With or without unreliable and administratively burdensome cost-share grants from WDNR, our budget cannot sustain an annual $12,000 operating cost. The potential fiscal burden would likely increase over time as HEWM spreads to other areas, as it did in 2018 despite the 2017 treatment. Despite some valid concerns expressed about the unknown effects of long-term chemical application, most Executive Committee members are not philosophically opposed to a careful chemical treatment strategy. But we’ve learned from experience that such a strategy simply isn’t cost-effective. Therefore, we are done “pouring sand down the rat hole” of chemical treatment.
Q: Won’t a noisy mechanical weed harvester make the problem worse by cutting HEWM into numerous small fragments that float away on wind-driven currents to take root elsewhere?
A: In a word, no. Not the Eco-Harvester. Unlike the old-style, noisy, diesel-powered, prop-driven mechanical weed harvesters used to cut weeds (like a sickle-bar brush cutter), the Eco-Harvester operates with a quiet, gas-powered generator that powers a shallow, paddle-wheel propulsion system and a bow-mounted, vertically adjustable rolling drum that extracts tall plants by the roots (rather than cutting them) and loads them into a storage bin with a patented conveyor system. Floating fragments are negligible and can be removed completely by operating the Eco-Harvester in “skimmer mode” after pulling all HEWM in an infested area. Your Executive Committee has done its homework on this, including a field trip to the Chetek Chain of Lakes to observe the Eco-Harvester in action. We learned of Eco-Harvester’s many innovative and easy-to-use features from volunteer operators on the Chetek Chain. On a good day with a boat ramp nearby, it may be possible to harvest HEWM from up to 10 acres of water per day. You can learn all about the Eco-Harvester by visiting the “Mechanical Control” sub-page of the “Aquatic Plants” page of this website.
Q: If we buy this Eco-Harvester mechanical weed puller, who is going to insure it, operate it, trailer it, store it, and maintain it; and might those costs be prohibitive?
A: QLIA will insure the equipment and license the custom trailer that comes with the harvester. We are counting on volunteers to operate it – chief among them QLIA Vice-President and Aquatic Invasive Species Program Leader, Norm Bratteig. We suspect others will want the two-hour training required to operate it safely and effectively. Norm has also offered to keep it docked at his place when not in use, and to store it in a large machine shed overwinter – all at no cost to QLIA. Maintenance of this well-engineered equipment will be minimal (mostly aluminum and stainless steel), and all minor operating costs (fuel, oil, etc.) will be paid from the QLIA operating budget or a small, segregated account with money donated for that specific purpose.
Q: What are we going to do with tons of dead aquatic plants once harvested?
A: Norm Bratteig has a dump trailer that we can back down to any nearby boat ramp where the Eco-Harvester can conveniently offload plants by reversing the conveyor system. Other lake associations who have used mechanical harvesters have had no problem finding private entities nearby to take the harvested plants for mulch. We must obtain a permit from WDNR for transportation and proper disposal. We are confident we can cross this bridge if and when we get to it.
Q: Are we over-reacting to the threat here? Can’t we just wait and see how this problem develops before committing so much time and treasure to its solution?
A: Our “wait-and-see” years are over. We have “tried and seen” already. We will soon enter the “monitor-and-regret” phase of this invasion if we don’t act decisively. In 2018 we watched HEWM come roaring back after a 2017 chemical treatment – probably doubling the infested area in one year. If HEWM continues to expand at or near that rate, here is what we can expect in the next 5-10 years:
– A potential decline in property value of ~16%. That was the average reduction in lakeshore property sales prices in lakes infested with HEWM in two rigorous socio-economic studies – one in northeastern Wisconsin (13% in Vilas County) and one in Washington State (19% in the Seattle area). If this sounds like hyperbolic rhetoric to you, please read the reports (available on the “Milfoil ID and Impacts” sub-page of our “Aquatic Plants” page) at www.quietlakes.org and judge for yourself. According to Gary Nathan of Woodland Developments and Realty in Hayward, the average sales price of residential property around Lost Land, Teal, and Ghost lakes was $241,000 last year. Are you prepared to see that decline by 16% to $202,440? Would you donate $1,000 now in order to reduce the very real risk of a $38,560 personal property devaluation over the next 5-10 years? Wouldn’t most financial advisors consider that a prudent investment?
– A notable decline in the quality of pontoon boating, kayaking, and fishing. Imagine hundreds of acres of Lost Land Lake (and Teal if it should spread there) where HEWM has “topped out” and is laying horizontally across the surface in a dense mat that is virtually impossible to drive through, paddle through, or fish in. And if you should run into such a patch, chances are good you will inadvertently fragment some stems that will float off to start HEWM beds elsewhere.
Fishing over the tops of popular weed bars with surface lures for muskies could become a thing of the past. Excellent native aquatic plants like large-leaf pondweed (also called large cabbage or “musky” weed) and clasping-leaf pondweed (also called small cabbage) could be replaced by dense thickets of HEWM that do not offer the type of “plant architecture” that promotes healthy fish community interaction. It could become impossible to fish for “weed walleyes” on those bars, too, except for fish that may occasionally swim alongside the vertical “weed walls” formed by HEWM. Many of the things we love about our lakes could change for the worse if HEWM is allowed to become the dominant plant species.