Sunday, May 13, 2007

Seeking Clarity in Dane County

This is a scary thought. A Dane County commission has taxing authority it has never used. Now that the Wisconsin State Journal has put the whiff in the air the minions of Governor Doyle may soon be on the scent. Failing to take full advantage of all approved tax revenue sources must surely be frowned upon by our current administer in chief.

Can Madison clean its lakes? Brett Hulsey, a member of the Dane County Board, praised the work of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission, which he leads. The commission was formed by state statute in 1988 as a county agency charged with coordinating work on the lakes and has an advisory role to the county board and the county executive on lake and water quality issues. The commission has taxing authority but has not used it, according to Hulsey, because it has been successful in using grants and other county money.

One of the goals is to improve the clarity of the lake until people can see their feet while standing in two feet of water. It's a simple, straightforward goal, Lorman said, that everybody can identify with and which progress toward can be easily measured.

It is a good thing the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission has been fiscally prudent so far, working through grant funding, ordinance writing and volunteer cleanup projects. I suppose it would be environmental heresy to suggest finding the way to “two feet” of clear water by looking to nature.

Zebra mussels are filter feeders. An adult zebra mussel filters up to a quart of water per day, which multiplied by millions of mussels means that the mussels may be filtering all the water in a lake or stream in a day. … The filter-feeding activity of zebra mussels causes a related and frequently dramatic increase in water clarity in infested lakes and rivers.

Zebra mussels do have a positive impact on some native species. Many native fish, birds, and other animals eat young and adult zebra mussels. Migratory ducks have changed their flight patterns in response to zebra mussel colonies. Lake sturgeon feed heavily on zebra mussels, as do yellow perch, freshwater drum, catfish, and sunfish. The increase in aquatic plants due to increased water clarity provides excellent nursery areas for young fish and other animals, leading to increases in smallmouth bass populations …

The heresy being denial of the tenet that nature has ordained a specific place and range for each living thing. If a species is not listed on some pre-millennial census then it is an illegal alien in Dane County. Flora and fauna immigration law is taken very seriously here. Ironic isn’t it because the zebra mussels only want the work the resident mussels aren’t doing, like clearing excessive algae from the lakes.