Popular landing gets needed replacementMADISON — A state commission last week approved spending $240,500 to reconstruct one of the most used and damaged boat launches on the Upper St. Croix Lake in the Brule River State Forest.
By: By Kevin Murphy/For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON — A state commission last week approved spending $240,500 to reconstruct one of the most used and damaged boat launches on the Upper St. Croix Lake in the Brule River State Forest.
The Lake St. Croix Picnic Area and boat launch, located just off County Highway A on the northeast side of the 800-acre lake is “very popular” because of its parking facilities, said Dave Schulz, forest superintendent.
However, it has been ice damaged and unusable for several years.
“It’s been deteriorating for some time now, people with bigger boats no longer use it … You can get a smaller boat or trailer in there but you use it at your own risk,” Schulz said.
Originally, the launch ramp was constructed on an angle to the lake but prevailing winds have pushed the ice into the ramp, moved the ramp closer to shore and buckling it in the middle.
“There’s also a steep drop-off below the ramp which is a safety issue,” Dan Olson, a Department of Natural Resources policy analyst told a committee of the State Building Commission last week.
The DNR initially planned to reconstruct the 16-by-40 foot ramp and related work for about $185,000. However, making the vault toilet and sidewalks at the site compliant with the Americans with Disability Act and higher-than-expected construction bids received in March, increased the cost of the stewardship-funded project , Olson said.
The new ramp will be realigned to extend perpendicular to the lake, which should make it easier to back in a boat trailer, said Olson and make it less prone to ice damage.
The dock also will be replaced with a floating, roll-in dock that will work better with the lake’s fluctuating water levels, said Schulz.
The launch, formerly known as Palmer’s Landing, will be closed during construction which is expect to occur between June and September, according to the State Building Commission. Another launch is located in Solon Springs, near the motel, where larger boats have launched in recent years, said Schulz. There also several smaller private launches.
The picnic site also has a flowing artesian well, and is crossed by a snowmobile trail, the historic Brule-St. Croix portage trail and the North Country Scenic Trail.
“It’s more than a boat area which is why the site as a whole is fairly well used. It’s never over flowing (with people) unless there’s a party, but there’s always someone around, it seems,” Schulz said.
The commission also approved spending $5 million to improve roads and signage at public recreational facilities statewide. Most of the work will be done in southeast Wisconsin, but the Brule River State Forest, will receive some new signs this summer to better identify public facilities, roads and parking areas on it and other recreational land in Douglas, Bayfield and Ashland counties.
The DNR fell behind marking state properties and improving access roads the past several years, as more funding was spent to combat chronic wasting disease, Miller said. However, last year the Legislature approved $25 million to fund capital projects in 2011-’13 in order to “catch up” on parking and other improvements necessary so the public can better use the public lands the state has acquired in recent years, said State Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, also a commission member.