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.
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.
This past Saturday at the SFLECC Annual Meeting, the Greater Monticello Chamber of Commerce & White County Visitors Bureau presented the SFLECC with the proceeds from the Frenzy on Freeman Fundraising Event held on May 20th earlier this year. The event raised just over $5,000, with half of that going to the SFLECC for the ‘Keep the Lakes Level’ Fund. In addition, the SFLECC presented the ‘Volunteer of the Year Award’ to the Chamber of Commerce for all the effort they’ve put forth so far to help us save our lake levels!
Yesterday, while driving in the rain, I found myself going over the Norway Bridge and over the Oakdale Bridge. As I crossed each bridge, I gazed at each dam in wonderment. I remembered an elderly neighbor recounting rare trips to Monticello and where he, his sister, and mother would ford the river before the lakes were created. My grandfather and great uncle would tell how they traded at Delphi because it had more stores, better deals, and they wouldn’t have to get wet fording the river.
In 1923, the Norway Dam was completed and in 1924, the Oakdale Dam was completed. With the closing of the spillway gates, Lake Shafer and Lake Freeman were filled. And the stories changed. No more did the stories contain who did what to whom while fording the river. The stories were now about going to Monticello on Saturday nights to purchase supplies or to the livestock auctions or getting the great deal on the first tractor.
Over ninety years those dams have done more for this community than holding back water to make electricity or providing a place for people to escape for a rest. They have provided incomes for people to feed their families. They have provided the counties with revenue to build roads about which we can complain when we hit a bump. They have provided schools with more than one room. They have provided memories that we would never trade.
And they can provide so much more, if they are allowed to operate as they have for the last ninety years.
What a wonderful day, sunshiny with a few clouds, temperature’s just right, and a slight breeze. Even more, the Tippecanoe River is transporting water at a rate that NIPSCO will not be required by USFWS to lower Lake Freeman.
Why am I watching the water flow rate coming down the Tippecanoe, especially after coming out of an abnormal low flow event that required NIPSCO to lower Lake Freeman almost a foot? The answer is not that I’m a pessimist. The answer is September and October can be prone to abnormal low flow events also, maybe not as frequent as July and August. In fact, there are times during December and January when abnormal low flow events might happen.
The big danger during December and January is the water drop may not be seen if ice covers the lake. Occasionally, lake ice is strong enough to allow the water to drop, but not drop itself. This leaves a void between the water and unsupported ice above it, which could collapse under you.
A representative from USFWS has stated they are concerned about only one endangered mussel dying. To this end, they are requiring NIPSCO to manage the water flow through the lakes in a new manner which now endangers people recreating in the summer, fall, and winter.
Hopefully we will be safe in the spring if there is adequate snow melt and rains.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: August 16, 2016
SFLECC MEETS WITH U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE, NIPSCO AND U.S. SENATOR DAN COATS
During the past weeks, SFLECC has continued its fight, along multiple fronts, to maintain lake levels by eliminating flow requirements imposed again this summer by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). First, SFLECC has met with more than a dozen officials from both FWS and NIPSCO to address SFLECC’s concerns about the lowering of Lake Freeman. After the meeting, SFLECC Executive Director, Joe Roach commented: “FWS suggested it would consider ‘alternate solutions provided by an independent source’. FWS, however, could not immediately identify any funds that it could use to help develop the independent solution it desires.” Meanwhile, SFLECC has already spent more than $250,000 to prepare and file legal papers and expert reports demonstrating that FWS’s flow requirements are not based on sound science and should be eliminated.
Lakes Level Task Force Chairman, John Koppelmann, who attended the meeting added, “In the past 15 months, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), which will determine whether FWS’s flow mandates are made a permanent part of NIPSCO’s license, has received reports from our two expert hydrologists. Those reports demonstrate that maintaining constant lake levels is the best, scientifically-based means of providing the natural rate of flow for the mussels.”
Koppleman continued, “Once our experts’ reports were submitted, FERC’s own staff, including more than a dozen consulting scientists, as well as hydrologists commissioned by the State of Indiana also filed reports unanimously concurring with our experts about maintaining the lake levels. The science is in and we think all of these reports represent the views of ‘independent sources’ that should be adopted by FWS, without the delay and expense of more studies.”
In addition to meeting with FWS and NIPSCO, SFLECC president, Lee Kreul and Monticello Mayor Ken Houston met with U.S. Senator Dan Coats last week and requested assistance in expediting the release of the final environmental report from FERC. FERC released its initial environmental analysis last October and largely concurred with the SFLECC’s position; however, until the final report is released and FERC Commissioners determine what license requirements are appropriate, FWS’s mandate remains in effect. Kreul commented after the meeting, “Senator Coats listened to our plight and promised to make an official inquiry with FERC.”
Finally, SFLECC officers also met a member of U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita’s staff and requested assistance with FWS. “SFLECC is pulling every lever in this complicated battle, even though we don’t control the dams – – NIPSCO does – – and we are largely at the mercy of NIPSCO and FWS’s mandate.” said Kreul. Citing the Endangered Species Act, FWS first ordered increased flow during a drought in 2012 to provide more water for protected mussels below the Oakdale dam. FWS’s mandate went into effect again in 2014 and 2015.
This year, on August 4th, NIPSCO again alerted Lake Freeman residents that “Abnormal Low Flow” conditions existed because flow readings at a gauge at Winamac had dropped below 300 cubic feet per second (cfs). As a result of FWS’s mandate, NIPSCO discharged required flow rates at the Oakdale Dam that caused Lake Freeman’s levels to drop steeply. Despite this past weekend’s rain, as of the morning of Monday, August 15th the level of Lake Freeman was at ten inches below normal as reported on NIPSCO’s website – – while some residents have reported even lower readings. With heavy rainfall later in the day, the Lake was returned to normal levels.
What you can do to help:
SFLECC urges residents to:
-Contact your congressional representatives. Ask them to urge FERC to release its final report and encourage FWS to work for a balanced resolution. www.house.gov/rokita
-Contact NIPSCO. Ask NIPSCO to get off of the sidelines and join in the scientifically-based position presented in FERC’s initial report that provides for protecting the mussels by halting power generation and keeping the lakes level during abnormally low flow events. Call NIPSCO at 260-439-1260 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Contact the US Fish and Wildlife at the Bloomington Indiana Field Office to express your concerns about the agency’s mandate to lower lake levels even though more than a dozen experts agree that FWS’s science is invalid:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
620 S. Walker Street Bloomington, Indiana 47403,
(812) 334-4261 or email email@example.com
-Document property damage, dying fish and wildlife, pools of stagnant water, newly exposed stumps and other hazards as well as your inability to access the lake. Do not disturb any mussels along exposed shoreline. Post pictures of any such damage on social media and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
-Monitor SFLECC’s Facebook page for updates.
-Donate to SFLECC’s “Keep the Lake Levels Fund”
SFLECC’s Recommendations While Lake Levels Are Below Normal:
During the low flow event, SFLECC warned lake residents to be extremely careful while boating and beware of exposed stumps and other hazards . Residents are cautioned that, while they may need to remove boats from the water, they should not move boat lifts into deeper water.
SFLECC officials also encourage lake residents to be proactive and aware of the lake levels by monitoring the SFLECC website for lake level details and alerts or by signing up for any of three free options for water level alerts:
1) White County Emergency Notification System at www.wcgconline.net
2) NIXLE Alerts where local NIPSCO hydro-related updates are available at www.nixle.com
3) NIPSCO alerts at www.nipscohydro.com
There are also free apps that can be downloaded to mobile devices to receive the daily flow levels for the Winamac gauge, and the gauges below Norway Dam and Oakdale Dam. The IOS apps are: “Floodwatch” and “Rivercast”. For Android devices use: “Riverflows” or “Levels-USGS Water Data”.
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SFLECC
John Koppelmann, Lake Levels Task Force Chair
email@example.com 574 583-3171
Joe Roach, Executive Director
firstname.lastname@example.org 574 583-9784