“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.”
-Neal A. Maxwell
~From the SFLECC Board & Staff
“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.”
-Neal A. Maxwell
~From the SFLECC Board & Staff
SHAFER & FREEMAN LAKES ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION CORPORATION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: October 11, 2017
CONTACT: Lee Kreul, President firstname.lastname@example.org, 765 412-2984
On October 3rd the Washington, D.C. law firm of Smith, Currie and Hancock, attorneys for the Shafer and Freeman Lakes Environmental Conservation Corporation (SFLECC), filed a twenty-page letter with the Secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on behalf of SFLECC and its Coalition Partners. Who are classified as “interested parties” in the controversy between the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and FERC over Lake Freeman and Shafer water level controls. The letter contests the findings of the FWS Biological Opinion (BO) published on July 5, 2017. Copies of the SFLECC letter and the FWS Biological Opinion are available on the SFLECC web site at: www.SFLECC.org.
According to Lee Kreul, SFLECC President, “We have had discussion with FERC and FWS about dam control, lake levels and mussel mortality stretching as far back as 2012. Hopefully, the issue is coming to a conclusion very soon.” In the last three years SFLECC, its coalition partners, expert witnesses, and private citizens have strongly protested the operating rules for abnormal low flow water periods. The low water rules were originally requested by FWS in a Technical Assistance Letter (TAL) to FERC in 2014. This led FERC to order NIPSCO, under a new temporary license, to follow the FWS request.
“We (SFLECC) have filed countless documents with FERC containing expert scientific evidence and arguments urging FERC to understand the fallacy of the hydrological science behind the FWS TAL and to have the low water rules overturned”, said Kreul. Through their attorneys and in public meetings, SFLECC has continually cited the damages that have already occurred and they say that damages will continue if the use of the FWS TAL as the basis for dam control is not overturned.
In the letter SFLECC points to the testimony of expert witnesses who have determined that the FWS insistence on the use of linear scaling as the basis for dam control in low water conditions is not “the best science available” and ignores presented evidence to the contrary. Very significantly the SFLECC letter also attacks the legal foundation of FWS intervention into dam control stemming from FWS own statements in their Final BO that the FERC Staff Alternative for operational changes in dam operations “are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the clubshell, fanshell, sheepnose or rabbits foot mussels and is not likely to destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat ”.
The latest FWS statement now appears to be a reversal of their earlier position and brings into question the legality of FWS to dictate dam operational measures to FERC. SFLECC attorneys argue that since the FWS final Biological Opinion states that harm to endangered mussels and their habitat is “not likely” to occur if the FERC Staff Alternative are put in place; then FWS has no legal authority under the Endangered Species Act and under the FWS “not likely” statement to seek to impose their own formula for dam operations. Further, that it is FERC, not FWS, who legally have the right to determine whether to proceed and in what manner, not FWS.
FERC published its own Opinion in August of this year. FERC’s findings essentially agree with and resemble the SFLECC findings and recommendations for changes in dam operations during abnormal low flow periods (ALF). Meanwhile FWS is holding to the position it established in 2014 that the TAL offers the best methodology for avoiding harm to endangered mussels.
Procedurally FWS and FERC are nearing the end of the list of federally recommended actions for resolving regulatory disagreements between Federal agencies. The decision now clearly rests with FERC. The FERC commissioners will have to decide whether to (1) make permanent the temporary NIPSCO license as is; or (2) cancel the temporary license and Introduce new regulations as promulgated by FERC staff. If the FERC Commissioners vote to adopt the FERC Staff Alternative, then future lake levels will remain at normal levels during dry periods and will not be lowered as they were in August 2014 and August 2016 to satisfy FWS demands.
The temporary license has allowed NIPSCO to comply with the TAL without fear of violating the Endangered Species Act. The new procedures recommended by the FERC staff call for NIPSCO to shut down power production during ALF events and operate the dams as to provide constant lake levels, even during ALF periods. FERC maintains the position that the new procedures would establish natural river flow during ALF periods and are “not likely” to result in harm to the mussels and thus not violate the Endangered Species Act.
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SFLECC
John Koppelmann, Lake Levels Task Force Chair email@example.com 574 583-3171
Gabrielle Haygood, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org 574 583-9784
ABOUT SFLECC – The Shafer & Freeman Lakes Environmental Conservation Corporation was formed in 1994 to take title to Lake Freeman and Shafer shorelines and other nearby properties owned by NIPSCO. It is a non-profit corporation whose Articles of Incorporation state its mission is “to promote environmentally sound use of Lake Shafer and Lake Freeman. The corporation will conduct itself in a way to protect and enhance the environment and the water quality of these lakes in order to facilitate public recreational use. The Corporation will accomplish this purpose through various activities, including but not limited to, the issuance and administration of permits for the use of shoreline property, the testing of the water quality, monitoring shoreline quality and ensuring continued public access.” The SFLECC Board of Directors meets at 7:00PM on the third Thursday of each month at the IU White Memorial Hospital. Meetings are open to the public.
During the Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 26th, SFLECC presented service awards to Jack Werner and John Wells, both for 6 years of service on the Board of Directors. SFLECC also presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to Rex Millhouse, Jefferson Township Trustee, for his dedication and service to the SFLECC Task Force and its continuous efforts to Keep the Lake Levels.
Please be mindful of the idle zones on both lakes. In addition, Lake Shafer residents and visitors need to be careful around the dredging pipelines.
WE ARE ALSO LOOKING FOR SPONSORS! $500 SPONSORS WILL GET 2 FREE TICKETS TO THE EVENT AND $250 SPONSORS WILL GET 1 FREE TICKET TO THE EVENT. CALL THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AT 574-583-7220 FOR MORE INFO.
The Shafer Freeman Lakes Environmental Corporation (SFLECC) has announced the hiring of a new executive director, Ms. Gabrielle Haygood. Ms. Haygood replaces former Executive Director Joe Roach, who retired in November, 2016. Ms. Haygood, who was selected after a state-wide search, is no stranger to the SFLECC, having served as SFLECC Land Manager and Office Manager since 2005.
Haygood is a familiar face to SFLECC license holders, having managed the clean-up crew, dredging operations, and working with property owners and fund raising for twelve years. Since 2012 the SFLECC’s role has expanded in taking the lead role in the protest filed against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife(FWS) mandate to lower Lake Freeman to maintain water flows on the federally protected mussels downstream. Haygood will work with the SFLECC board of directors to seek a favorable resolution as quickly as possible. Haygood reflected, “Unfortunately, dealing with two competing federal agencies (FWS and FERC) takes time and money. As I reflect on my experience, whether it be the wonderful people or the hurdles we have faced, I am committed to leadership that protects our beautiful lakes and effectively communicates our mission and work to our license holders.” Haygood’s goals include improvements to equipment needed to clean out silt traps and continued dredging work to keep the lakes clear of silt and sediment build up. “My goal is to lead the effort to preserve and improve the beauty of Lake Shafer and Lake Freeman and work to keep our lakes level and protect our lake property values.”
Former Executive Director Daryl Johns, a member of the executive selection committee, praised Haygood’s selection by commenting “I had the honor and pleasure of working with Gabrielle for over 10 years. Her working knowledge of the whole organization is unparalleled. As I was preparing for my own retirement I delegated more responsibilities to Gabrielle and she excelled. There is no one more qualified to lead the SFLECC forward.”
President Lee Kreul was pleased with the committee’s selection and pointed to Haygood’s twelve years of experience and said, “Gabrielle’s time as SFLECC land manager has proven her ability to understand and enforce the SFLECC policies and procedures governing the preservation of the shorefronts of the lakes. She has exhibited a sensitivity to the needs of our license holders; and fairness in dealing with many shorefront issues. “
Haygood has a degree in Business Management and is a native of Carroll County, and has lived in Monticello with her family for many years.
Ah! Autumn is arriving. Crops are ripening. Foliage is starting to change colors. The lakes are less crowded. Shoals of minnows are being chased. A few people taking slow boat rides in the evening. Now and then, you catch yourself gazing over the lake, losing yourself in the moment. Losing yourself in a moment that never lasts long enough. Losing yourself in a moment you could happily live in forever. You did not know it then, but this is why you got your place on the lake.
Memory is a vital attribute in life. Often memories spur us on, compelling us to reach beyond our grasp. Sometimes these memories are painful. Sometimes these memories are ones you could happily live in forever. Regrettably, we tend to forget why we are working so hard when work gets so hard. I have to remind myself of the wisdom of an old man who had dredged in the Louisiana swamps. He would say, “When you find yourself knee deep in alligators, it’s hard to remember you’re there to drain the swamp.”
Enjoy Autumn on the lakes!
~Joe Roach, Executive Director
Many years ago, I had a teacher who would tell his class to read the assigned text first for what it said, and then again for what it did not say. The first time I heard this, I thought to myself that it was going to be an interesting semester. But as the course progressed, I began to understand. Often, the text would use many words and in doing so, say nothing. Yet, when I asked myself what the text left unsaid or omitted, I began to understand what the author was trying to say. I must say that semester was interesting, but it did spoil recreational reading for a long while.
While reading the summary of a study by USFWS titled: Tippecanoe River, Indiana: Defining point source threats to rare endangered mussels, I heard my teacher say that I should read it again. If you wish to read it, click here and have a look. During the first read, I learned while the object of the study was to identify point sources that negatively affect the river via chemical degradation of water and sediment, it went on to suggest that a more serious threat to the mussels may be non-point source pollution such as: urban runoff; agricultural chemical inputs; aerial deposition; and excessive erosion and sedimentation. During that second read, I learned the study did not point to the dams or abnormal fluctuations of water flow rates as being a threat to rare endangered mussels. Then, I recalled all the information I have read from USFWS stating how the dams’ generation of electricity and their supposed change of the natural run-of-the-river flow rates were detrimental to the survival of the endangered mussels. In all of that material, I recall nothing being said about these point and non-point source items being threats to the endangered mussels.
~Joe Roach, SFLECC Executive Director
On Saturday, August 27, the Shafer and Freeman Lakes Environmental Conservation Corporation (SFLECC) held its annual meeting. Board of Directors President, Lee Kreul, welcomed those in attendance. Introducing the present Board of Directors, he thanked them for their volunteer service. Going off the Board were Nan Albright-having served one term, and Wayne Garrison-having served two terms. Kreul introduced Jared Bond, liaison representing Rep. Rokita. Also introduced were Janet Dold and Jack Faker of the Greater Monticello Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. They presented the SFLECC with $2,565 from their Frenzy on Freeman fundraiser in support of SFLECC’s efforts to keep the lakes level. In appreciation of their raising $10,632 for this effort over the past two years, the SFLECC named the Monticello Chamber of Commerce as its recipient of its 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award.
The Chair of the Nominations Committee, Wayne Garrison, introduced the seven candidates for the five available Director positions. They were: Merle Peterson (incumbent); Mike Triplett (incumbent); Lynn West (incumbent); Daryl Johns; Neil Klemme; Marc Motuliak; and Paul Neumann. The polls were open until the end of the meeting.
John Koppelmann, former SFLECC President, discussed the ‘Keep the Lake Levels’ Taskforce’s activities during the past year. Koppelmann noted FERC had presented its Draft Environmental Assessment, which agreed with SFLECC that in abnormal low flow periods NIPSCO was to stop generation of electricity and keep the lakes level. In spite of this, USFWS has refused to concur with FERC’s position. Koppelmann explained the several options available, but which course of action depends on what FERC’s final Environmental Assessment says, because USFWS has indicated if it is not accepting their position, they will not concur. Then the two Federal Agencies must begin negotiations. It was stressed that NIPSCO owns and controls the dams, not SFLECC.
SFLECC Treasurer, Jack Werner, presented the financial state of the organization. He indicated that the finances were within the projected budgets for operations and dredging. Werner indicated the Keep the Lake Levels fund has been drawing on SFLECC’s reserves and has been difficult to project needs, but thanks to community donations we are in good shape.
Joe Roach, Executive Director, shared highlights from the past year and anticipations for the next. He discussed the dredging occurring on both lakes. Roach stressed if individuals want informed regarding high or low flow events on the lakes, NIPSCO is using White County’s Emergency Notification System. In addition, he spoke regarding a mile and half buffer zone around the lakes in White County. This buffer zone prohibits new confined animal feeding operations, CAFOs.
Gabrielle Haygood, Office/Land Manager, discussed her activities over the past year. She noted the acceptance of license payment by credit card has improved timeliness of payments. Construction around the lakes is on par with previous years. The Clean-up Crew has been an asset this summer and has been quick to respond to items needing picked up.
After a period of questions and answers, Vice President John Engler called for the adjournment of the meeting. This signaled the closing of the elections. Elected to three-year terms as Directors of the SFLECC were: Merle Peterson; Mike Triplett; Lynn West; Daryl Johns; and Paul Neumann.