Minocqua Buoys: Illegal Or Property Savers?

Aug 16, 2017

Credit pixabay.com

MINOCQUA – Minocqua lakeshore owners are being put on notice that a state waterway marker permit is needed before they can place a buoy in the lake. The Minocqua Town Board took up the issue Tuesday, Aug. 15th with Wisconsin conservation warden Tim Ebert and town boat patrol officer Gary Lade in attendance.

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim points to an increase this year of those orange, “ball-type” buoys illegally being placed along the shorelines. “What we are seeing on the Minocqua chain, and it could be happening on other lakes in town, too, is these large orange balls being placed in front of people’s piers, as if to create a fence, carving out their territory on the lake.” he said. “We all know that the surface waters of the lake are owned by the state of Wisconsin and available to everybody.” In addition, the town chairman said, the orange buoys are an eyesore and a safety hazard at night because they are not lighted. “We have seen these cropping up and (we’re) trying to nip this in the bud before it becomes too widespread,” he said. “They don’t belong there.”

Last year, there was one or two on the lake chain; this year there are batches of them, Hartzheim said. “It’s giving people the impression that it’s O.K. to have them.” Warden Ebert said those wishing to put in a buoy must first make an application for a permit to do so from the DNR. However, it’s doubtful that the agency would issue a permit without good cause to do so, he said. “They (the orange buoys) do not have any purpose that the Department recognizes,” Ebert said. Minocqua officials pulled together local representatives to discuss the problem.

Attending that recent meeting were Hartzheim, public works director Mark Pertile, Minocqua Police Chief Dave Jaeger, Slade, Woodruff Police Chief Lenny Drewsen, Ebert, and Sally Murwin, president of the Minocqua-Kawaguesaga-Lake Tomahawk Lake Association. Audience member Gerald Mader, who has a home on Lake Minocqua, said affected lakeshore residents are upset about wakeboard boats that create large wakes that bounce on the shorelines. One such boat in particular drew his ire: “There is one out there that’s half the size of the Queen Mary ... that makes a wave that has a curl on the top for 300 yards in the middle of the lake. It’s unbelievable. ... Those things are a detriment to your shoreline. ... Those people with those orange balls out there ... you’re forcing them to do something to save their property. They don’t want their shoreline washing away.”

Supervisor Bill Stengl, who is also a local watercraft dealer, said enforcement of slow, no-wake zones would help alleviate those concerns. “What we really need to do is to reassure lakefront residents that the 100 foot no-wake (zone from shore) is going to be enforced,” said Stengl. “If we give that reassurance there should be no need for buoys that are 100 feet off the docks.” Jaeger reminded the board that he has only one boat patrol officer to patrol “a huge chain” of lakes. The boat patrol officer is on the chain for about 32 hours a week; the DNR has a presence of 4-6 hours during the week, it was noted. An effort to educate lakeshore owners about buoys is underway. A flyer prepared by the DNR about buoys placement is included in the recent newsletter of the lake association. In addition, the information will be posted on the town’s new website soon.

The Minocqua boat patrol officer will determine who owns the illegally placed buoys and turn the names over to the warden. Ebert says he will contact the owners to have the buoys removed. If they are not, a citation could be in the works. The illegally placed buoys matter was not the only issue on the waterfront, so to speak. Hartzheim brought up the issue of swim rafts placed far from shore (state law allows a maximum distance of 200 feet from shore). Also unlighted, those rafts pose a danger to nighttime boaters, he said. The town chairman is pushing for a maximum distance from shore of 100 feet. But no recommendation will be made until town officials clarify with the state as to whether the town can impose a shorter distance than state law dictates. The town apparently has to enact an ordinance to legally keep boating speed greater than slow-no wake through the thoroughfare from the Mid Lake entrance to the north side of Thoroughfare Bridge. The rest of the thoroughfare is a slow, no wake zone. The board is also mulling adopting certain state administrative codes related more broadly to boating, ATVing and snowmobiling, so that local officers can issue citations or warnings. Currently, the town boat patrol officer can cite boating violations related only to slow-no wake and certain entrance areas.

In other actions, the board: · Learned that Hartzheim has appointed Brian Fricke to the planning commission to fill a vacancy left by Margo Oppenheim, who is retiring after 10 years on the commission. Fricke would serve the remainder of her term, which ends April 1, 2018. · Gave the first reading to an ordinance that limits watercraft placed on land at all boat landings, public piers, and public access points to no more than three hours. Fines and impound fees can be imposed on violators. · Approved the addition of two more stop signs at the intersection of Camp Pinemere Road and Hower Road. · Gave a first reading establishing a local access availability to ATV/UTVers on certain portions of Sutton Road, Blue Lake Road, and Camp Nine Road. Although the intent is to allow local residents only to use the road to access establish ATV/UTV routes, anyone can use the listed roads for that purpose, said Ebert, from the audience. · Approved and forwarded to the county a rezoning petition by Robert Blohm, from District #1A Forestry, to District #15 Rural Residential, his property off Driftwood Place. · Declined to allocate $7,500 to $11,000 for pre-engineering studies for a proposed bike route from Old Hwy. 70 West to Camp Pinemere. The state Department of Transportation is strongly encouraging the town to conduct the study, as it would increase the probability of the town receiving a Transportation Alternative Program grant. The grant, if awarded, would offset the majority of the project cost, estimated at $900,000. The town’s share of that would be 20 percent. ·