Citizen Action Network for our Environment

Volume 5 Issue 17

July 25, 2002

In This Issue

1. Governor to Veto Ashley Exemption
  Comments from Todd Ambs, River Alliance Executive Director
  Wisconsin State Journal's Coverage

2. Help Shape Upcoming Conference
  Input needed for Rivers 2002-A Watershed Event

3. 63 Dams in 16 States to be Removed in 2002

4. Innovative Manure Spill Settlement to Protect Big Eau Pleine River


Today's Quote

"...the river seeps slowly into your life and washes away everything else. It slowly takes you over, until the only way to do it is to live it ,to be on the river every day."

-- Mallory Burton, "Reading the Water", 1995

1. McCallum to Veto Ashley Furniture Exemption

Statement By Todd Ambs, Executive Director of the River Alliance Of Wisconsin
"The Board of Directors and members of the River Alliance of Wisconsin applaud Governor McCallum's decision to veto the so-called 'Ashley Furniture Exemption' contained in the Budget Repair Bill. The exemption was an unconstitutional, special interest, non-fiscal deal that had no business being in a budget bill.

While we applaud the veto decision, we do have some concerns regarding the proposed environmental regulatory reform effort. Any such review, if it is to be done, should be spearheaded by the state agency that knows the most about the environmental laws of Wisconsin - the Department of Natural Resources.

We have no problem with the idea of a 'one stop environmental shop' - provided that the shop sells the full enforcement of laws that give us clean water, clean air, and healthy natural resources. In the end, these are the most valued products we produce in Wisconsin."

- This is the second time a special exemption for Ashley Furniture has been included in a state budget bill. River Alliance of Wisconsin was one of five organizations that successfully challenged the constitutionality of the exemption contained in the 1999 state budget. For more information, please contact Todd Ambs at (608) 257-2424

Governor to Veto Wetlands Exemption for Ashley Furniture
7/24/02 Wisconsin State Journal
Tom Sheehan State government reporter

Ashley Furniture Industries will not get an exemption from state law to fill a wetland for an expansion of its Arcadia factory.

Gov. Scott McCallum on Friday will veto a state budget repair bill proposal that could have allowed Ashley to fill 13 acres near the Trempealeau River, McCallum spokesman Tim Roby said Wednesday.
Full story at Wisconsin State Journal


2. Help Us Shape Statewide Rivers Conference:
  Rivers 2002 - A Watershed Event

The year 2002 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, while 2003 has been proclaimed as “International Year of Freshwater” by the United Nations and has been proposed as “The Year of Water” in Wisconsin. To mark the occasion, the River Alliance of Wisconsin and a host of other organizations are sponsoring a statewide conference, Rivers 2002: A Watershed Event, on November 8-10, 2002 in Rosholt, Wisconsin (just east of Stevens Point).

As someone interested in watershed protection and as a conference invitee, your input is crucial to making this event as valuable as possible for all attendees. Please take 10-15 minutes to complete survey located at

Rivers 2002 will bring together over 100 representatives of Wisconsin organizations concerned with local watershed protection – conservationists, activists, anglers, paddlers and others – to sharpen our skills, strategize ways we can work together toward our common goals, and to continue to build our “water stewardship community.”

There are two primary goals for this conference. First, we will develop River Works 2002-2005: A Citizen Action Plan for Wisconsin's Watersheds. River Works will identify issues of common concern to all represented organizations and begin to develop a structure through which we can address them. Through this process, our goal is to bring our community’s collective efforts to bear on the most pressing issues facing local watershed advocates, and to coordinate and support ways to address these.

Secondly, this event is a training opportunity. There will be hands-on workshops and conference sessions offered to help improve organizations’ communication, management, planning, funding and overall effectiveness in watershed protection work.

Thank you for taking the time to help make this a successful event. Your responses will help the River Alliance and this conference serve you better. Please complete this questionnaire and return it today to the River Alliance of Wisconsin. Only surveys received by Wednesday, July 31, can be considered. We look forward to seeing you at Rivers 2002!

For survey, click here.



3. 63 Dams in 16 States to be Removed in 2002
  Restoring rivers through dam removal picks up steam
  -- more states removing more dams

63 dams in 15 states and the District of Columbia are scheduled for removal in the 2002 calendar year-the most since American Rivers began conducting its annual survey in 1999. Warm weather and low water are conducive to these projects and many removal efforts will be getting underway in coming weeks.

This nation's aging dam infrastructure, combined with a growing appreciation of the ecological impacts of dams is the impetus behind this burgeoning dam removal movement. About 40 dams have been removed since 1999 when the breaching of Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River captured national attention. Another milestone was reached in October of 2001, when conservationists celebrated the completion of a series of dam removals that restored 115 miles of the Wisconsin's Baraboo River, the longest stretch of river ever returned to free flowing condition in America

"It's an exciting trend for our nation's rivers," explained Elizabeth Maclin, director of American Rivers' Rivers Unplugged Program. "The number of voluntary dam removals is clearly accelerating as the word gets out about the ecological and economic benefits."

The dams slated for removal this year represent just a tiny fraction of the dams in place across the country. There are approximately 75,000 dams greater than 6 feet high and countless smaller obstructions. The vast majority were built for purposes such as running mills, controlling floods, and to create municipal and agricultural water supplies. Less than 3% generate hydroelectricity.

While dams can provide valuable services, they come at a price-dams drown valuable habitat under reservoirs, block the annual migrations of fish, and can create downstream conditions inhospitable for fish and wildlife. As dams age, their benefits often diminish while maintenance costs and safety hazards increase. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates that approximately 30% of America's dams have reached the end of their useful lives.

"Many dams have outlived their intended purpose and no longer provide any economic benefit," said Leon Szeptycki, Eastern Conservation Director for Trout Unlimited. "Many communities have looked at their local dams and realized the dams provide virtually no benefits. Communities that do look at dam removal soon learn that a healthy river can enhance quality of life and be a tremendous economic asset."

Communities that choose to pull out obsolete dams enjoy once again the benefits provided by healthy free flowing rivers-better water quality, revitalized fisheries, new recreational opportunities, and recovery of habitat suitable for parks and other public use. These benefits become even more attractive once the costs of renovating aging dams are considered. For example, it would have cost $400,000 to repair Deerskin Dam on the Deerskin River in Wisconsin. Instead, the community chose to remove it in 2000 at a cost of just $15,000.

"In Wisconsin, dam removal is, on average, three to five times less expensive than dam repair. And if you're a small town or an individual owner, that price difference can be the straw that breaks the dam's back," said Helen Sarakinos, Small Dams Program Manager for the River Alliance of Wisconsin.

American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and River Alliance of Wisconsin all provide educational, technical, and financial assistance to communities that are considering or have committed to removing a dam it no longer needs.

For detailed information about each dam to be removed, including local contacts, point your browser to:



4. Innovative Manure Spill Settlement
  to Protect Big Eau Pleine River
  Courtesy of Sierra Club, John Muir Chapter

Madison and Wausau, WI - Earlier this month, the Sierra Club, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Maple Ridge Dairy agreed to settle a lawsuit brought against the Maple Ridge Dairy of Marathon County for a manure pollution incident that caused thousands of gallons of manure to pour into tributaries to the Big Eau Pleine River. The Maple Ridge Dairy spread the manure on frozen and snow-covered ground in late February this year in violation of its permit.

"This is a very positive outcome for the public and Maple Ridge Dairy," said Melissa Scanlan, attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates, representing the Sierra Club. "Maple Ridge Dairy has agreed to take some proactive steps to prevent future manure spills and runoff and protect the waters of the Big Eau Pleine River."

"We're encouraged by the settlement," said Richard Wentzel, a member of the local Sierra Club chapter that initially filed the notice of intent to sue the Maple Ridge Dairy. "I fish in the Big Eau Pleine River and feel that in the long run the fishing community and the businesses that depend on it will benefit knowing that less manure will flow into it as a result of this settlement."

According to the settlement terms, the Maple Ridge Dairy agreed to take several actions to prevent future manure spills and improve water quality in the Big Eau Pleine River, including:

  • "Paying a total of $51,250 in penalties, forfeitures, supplemental environmental projects, and attorneys' fees. The facility will pay $28,500 to the North Central Conservancy Trust to buy conservation easements for vegetative buffers on farmland along the Big Eau Pleine River;

  • "Refraining from spreading liquid manure on frozen and snow-covered ground;

  • "Maintaining six months of manure storage capacity; and

  • "Reducing its application of manure to crops to prevent polluted runoff.

"This settlement will directly improve water quality in the Big Eau Pleine River," said Caryl Terrell, Chapter Director of the Wisconsin Sierra Club. "Anyone who fishes, swims or lives near this great river should feel much safer after this agreement."

The innovative agreement will provide settlement funds to the North Central Conservancy Trust to protect the water quality of the Big Eau Pleine River. The Conservancy, which holds conservation easements for lands in Central Wisconsin, will use the money to buy permanent conservation easements for agricultural buffers.

According to Jane Raymond-Wood of the North Central Conservancy Trust, "our mission is to preserve the worthy natural resources of north central Wisconsin for future generations in partnership with landowners, so we're happy to cooperate in this settlement and to have an active role in developing conservation easements in the Big Eau Pleine watershed."




River Alliance of Wisconsin
306 East Wilson Street, #2W Madison, WI 53703
Tel: 608-257-2424. Fax: 608-260-9799.
Email: Web: