Request for Shishebogama Lake Slow-No Wake Marker Gets Swamped

Sep 16, 2020

Credit Town of Minocqua

An effort to place a slow-no wake marker in a bay of Shishebogama Lake went nowhere Tuesday, as a large number of lakeshore residents and others opposed the measure when the request came before the Minocqua Town Board.

Rod Anderson, who moved to Lakeland Village on the 700-acre lake last November, requested a slow-no wake status for Rockwood Bay, which would require boat operators to move as slow as possible while still maintaining steerage (control of boat’s direction).

He was mostly concerned about the behavior of operators of personal watercrafts, commonly referred to as “jet skis” or PWCs.

“I’ve seen what goes on, and it’s scary. It’s dangerous,” he said. “It looks like they’re mostly teenagers, and they’re having fun.” But, he explained, some of them are “racing side-by-side going 50 miles per hour.” He said they pose a danger to anyone in a nearby canoe or kayak, and they create waves that rock boats, either on shore or out on the bay.

A warden from the state Department of Natural Resources told the board he’s been covering the area since 2007, but that he’s had “very few complaints about slow-no wake issues” on Shishebogama. The bay is wide enough that boat operators can plane out without violating shoreline restrictions, he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Rockwood Country Club, Bruce Welz said his board of directors opposes placing a slow-no wake buoy in the bay. The board president said a survey of lake residents along Rockwood Bay showed 19 households overwhelmingly opposing the request. Furthermore, a total of 72 people who live in Rockwood County Club Estates also oppose a no wake zone.

Welz allowed, “...there’s a little bit of out of hand” behavior, but overall, through the years, the lake users have been following boating laws and are respectful of lakeshore residents. “Jet ski” users tend to run into the bay, make a big loop and exit, he explained. At their running speed, they don’t created significant wakes.

The bay is quiet enough that parents use it to teach their children how to water-ski, he said. Residents, some of them elderly, enjoy watching the skiers and tubers having fun.

Pat Hayes, president of the Shishebogama/Gunlock Lake Association, said that group also opposes the slow no wake zone. Welz said his group and the lake association “work together to continue to promote boater safety.” He urged Anderson to report any violators to the wardens.

Michelle Olson, a long-time lake resident, said she has a paddleboat, wave runners and a kayak. The family swims in front of her home. “We’ve lived here 20 years, and never saw an issue. And I never felt unsafe.”

Another woman said boaters could still have fun without going so fast in Rockwood Bay.

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim noted the “pretty significant opposition to this (request).” The agenda item drew 10 people to the meeting.

Before the board’s unanimous vote to deny the request, supervisor Bill Stengl noted the exceptionally busy tourism season, and suggested to Anderson, “...(J)ust let this calm down, let the lake association do their job in educating people on the water. Do your job to report people you see that are violating the 200-foot rule from the shore for personal watercraft, 100-foot for regular boats, and let’s all work together to keep the lake safe, fun and accessible to everybody .... invested in real estate on that property, on the water.”

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