APRIL 2, 2018 — The Wisconsin DNR has informed us that the public boat landing on Landing Camp Bay of Lost Land Lake will be closed to public use beginning the week of July 15, 2018 and extending 4-6 weeks until all work is completed (almost certainly by Labor Day weekend). Lake residents and visitors alike will have to find alternate points of access for launching and loading boats during that time period. A complete renovation is needed after several years of ice damage and power loading have rendered the current boat landing difficult if not downright unsafe to use. There is no good time to do this. Construction cannot be done during the “off season” because the project requires open water and temperatures warm enough to pour and cure concrete. WDNR altered project timing (originally planned to start shortly after Memorial Day and not be completed until after July 4) in order to cause the least disruption possible.
There are no good alternatives for launching boats on public land around Lost Land or Teal lakes. The gravel landing just north of Highway 77 on Larson Road, on the upper end of the Teal River Flowage, is sloped so shallowly that vehicles must back completely into the water to float a boat off a trailer, with some risk of getting stuck in the soft sediments there. This site is useful only for small-craft access (kayaks or canoes). There is no off-road parking at Larson Road either. The only other “boat landing” on public land is on a decent gravel slope just upstream of the rock roller dam on the Teal River Flowage about 1.5 miles south of Highway 77 on U.S. Forest Service land at the end of a short access road off Route S. It’s a long, slow ride up to Teal Lake from there, and there is room for only 2-3 vehicles with trailers to park.
So what are we to do between mid-July and the end of August when WDNR’s public boat landing in Landing Camp Bay is being renovated? Some folks, of course, will be able to use one of several private resort boat landings on Lost Land Lake in areas not designed to accommodate significant traffic flow or parking of multiple vehicles with trailers. But what about visitors or lake property owners who have no connection to a resort with a landing?
We think we have a solution. Ralph and Helen Hlavin of The Retreat on Lost Land Lake (formerly Totem Pole Lodge) have proposed to renovate the boat landing this spring on their private resort property, then open it to free use by the general public during the 4- to 6-week period WDNR’s public boat landing is under renovation. Ralph believes there is adequate space to temporarily accommodate the increased traffic and parking in large, open, grassy areas at The Retreat during this time period. Once WDNR’s public boat landing is re-opened, the general public would still be allowed to launch at The Retreat for a nominal fee, though we believe most general users will choose the convenience of the new WDNR facilities.
Availability of The Retreat as a temporary point of free public boat access during the WDNR boat landing renovation is dependent on three things: 1) continued approval by WDNR of a permit for renovation of The Retreat’s private boat landing; 2) approval of a Conditional Use Permit required by the Township of Spider Lake to make alterations in the riparian corridor at The Retreat; and 3) the ability of Jim Miller Excavating (Hlavin’s experienced and conscientious local contractor) to complete the work before the alternate point of public access is needed in mid-July.
The Town of Spider Lake Plan and Review Commission held a public hearing to consider the Conditional Use Request on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at the Spider Lake Town Hall. With approval of the QLIA Executive Committee, I attended the hearing and spoke in support of the project as a benefit to the entire lake community. I expressed appreciation to the Hlavins for their willingness to help all lake users make the best of an inconvenient situation. Members of the public and the Plan and Review Commission asked good questions and offered helpful input that helped the Hlavins to resubmit their permit application with requested details aimed at addressing any lingering concerns.
The Plan and Review Commission reconsidered the revised application at their May 2 meeting. After constructive discussion, they voted unanimously (4-0) to recommend conditional permit approval to the Spider Lake Township Board when the full Board meets on Wednesday, May 9. Assuming timely action, boat landing improvements at The Retreat should be ready for temporarily free public use by the time it is needed in mid July.
May 10, 2018 Update: The Town of Spider Lake Board met last night and unanimously approved issuance of the requested conditional use permit. The operational phase of the project will begin this spring. We will inform readers when the upgraded facilities at The Retreat are ready for public use. Thanks again to Ralph and Helen Hlavin for spending the time and money needed to maintain public access to our lakes during WDNR’s main facility renovation.