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County Executive Falk Invites Public Comment on Draft Zebra Mussel and Shoreland Zoning Ordinances

For more information contact:

Sue Jones (267-0118)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/30/2003

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Public Hearing January 12; Public Comment Accepted Through January 20

Building on initiatives to protect Dane County’s lakes and waterways, County Executive Kathleen Falk invites public comment on two topics at a Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission public hearing on January 12.

The topics are:
· An ordinance prohibiting introduction of zebra mussels to Dane County waters, and
· Proposed shoreland zoning ordinance changes to make erosion control requirements and procedures consistent with the county erosion control and stormwater management ordinance.

The public hearing will be Monday January 12, 2004 at 6:30 p.m., in Courtroom 2F on the 2nd floor of the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Madison.

“We need to try to prevent zebra mussels from getting a foothold in our beautiful lakes,” said Falk. “They can cluster together to severely impact water intake facilities, fishing and boating, beaches, and the natural balance of the lakes.”

The zebra mussel is a species of freshwater mussel that originated in Eurasia. They have rapidly spread across North America during the past decades. In 2001 and 2002, individual adult zebra mussels were found in Lake Monona, but there are not yet established populations in our lakes.

Zebra mussels can coat hard surfaces such as gravel, rock, native mussels, intake pipes, boats and motors. Once they are attached, they reproduce very quickly. A mature female zebra mussel can produce one million eggs per year. Due to their high reproductive rate and the limited number of natural predators, zebra mussels can significantly populate a body of water within several years.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit placing watercraft, equipment, or trailers in the waters of Dane County if there were reason to believe that zebra mussels are attached.

For boaters, the proposed ordinance would provide extra motivation to protect our water resources from invaders by: removing aquatic plants and animals before launching or leaving; draining lake or river water on land; or properly disposing of unwanted live bait. Ordinance violators would be subject to a $50 forfeiture on first offense, and $100 for subsequent offense, if a law enforcement officer suspected that their boat or trailor had zebra mussels attached.

The shoreland zoning standards apply within 300 feet of a river or steam (or to the outside of the floodplain if that is greater), and within 1000 feet of a lake. Shoreland zoning is administered by Dane County Zoning within unincorporated areas.

“It’s important for landowners and developers to have predictable, consistent procedures and standards to follow when doing work near our important waters,” said Sue Jones, Dane County Lakes and Watershed Management Coordinator.

The shoreland zoning changes under consideration would make the erosion control provisions of that ordinance consistent with the county-wide erosion control requirements found in the Dane County Erosion Control and Stormwater Management Ordinance. In addition, certain activities in the shoreland zone would be subject to more scrutiny, given the environmental concerns about land disturbance so close to the water. For example, the exemption for residential construction of less than 4000 square feet is proposed for removal, and runoff leaving the site must be directed to a stable outlet to prevent offsite erosion problems caused by water velocity and volume.

Background information and the text of the draft ordinances is available on the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission web site: www.countyofdane.com/commissions/lakes/

Comments on these proposals will also be accepted through January 20 by mail or email:
Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission
Room 421, City-County Building
210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703-3345
lakes@co.dane.wi.us

The Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission will consider public input before making changes to the draft ordinances and introducing them to the Dane County Board.

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