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Lakes forum explores CAFOs, shoreland zoning

More than 40 clean lake advocates were updated on the threat of concentrated animal-feeding operations to the surface waters of Bayfield County and how this impact could affect water quality and waterfront property values.

The open discussion took place at the 2017 Bayfield County Lakes Forum annual meeting held Oct. 7 in Drummond.

Mary Dougherty, a leading advocate for responsible regulation of CAFOs offered an overview of the issue and the county's efforts to create effective policies that encourage responsible agricultural endeavors without sacrificing quality of life or creating a public health hazard.

Following the conversation, the BCLF unanimously passed a resolution commending the Bayfield County Supervisors for their proactive approach to this issue and calling for them to create "a public health ordinance that requires large-scale swine and poultry operations to develop and implement a plan to monitor and contain influenza and other viral disease outbreaks."

Next, John Richter, director of the Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative outlined the organization's effort to return local control of shoreland zoning regulation to Wisconsin's 72 counties. Two years ago, Act 55 removed local control of waterfront development regulation, eliminating many of the rules that protect water quality important to over 10,000 lakes in the northern tier counties.

Richter, a waterfront homeowner from Vilas County, emphasized the need for conservation organizations and lake associations to participate to minimize damage done by the changes made by the state Legislature's recent actions.

Group discussion then turned to a bill now being considered by the legislature that would allow developers to fill non-federal wetlands without permit or oversight, and another attempt to allow developers to substantially dredge public lake beds without Department of Natural Resources consent or knowledge, actions highly detrimental to water quality and habitat.

Citizens, local town boards and conservation organizations need to voice their opinions on CAFOs and local control of shoreland zoning, said Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Delta, adding the legislature needs to hear that the northern counties stand together on these issues.