2017 Annual Letter
From the President Bob Banks:
We hope this letter finds you well while preparing for winter and the holiday season. A week ago, while canoeing the river, I flushed over 30 migrating bald eagles who were feeding on spawning trout and salmon in the shallows of Ashland and Spring Lake. It was an awesome sight! It was almost surreal to see so many within a short distance. I also enjoyed the company of six magical trumpeter swans, who have returned to their winter habitat. Yes, the river has many faces during the course of the year, and will change yet again with last night’s snow fall.
We hope that you will once again keep Brule River Preservation in mind as you consider your year-end giving, as well. We have been busy underwriting a variety of activities this past year, including monitoring the river’s temperature, studying the history of forest fires in the valley, offering summer education programs and working with local agencies and organizations to preserve the river and watershed.
This past summer, for example, BRP once again sponsored an event to bring together a host of government agencies, local organizations, and stakeholders who have strong interests in preserving the river. The Brule River Coalition was formed a few years ago as a forum to share information on management programs and research projects, insuring that everyone communicates and knows of each others’ interests. This year’s roundtable was co-sponsored with West Wisconsin Land Trust, the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club, Trout Unlimited and the Isaac Walton League. Over 60 precipitants shared their concerns and ideas in an effort to insure that we work together to understand and manage the most critical issues facing the Brule Watershed.
In the process, we identified one of most serious threats to the river – the potential collapse of the abandoned South Shore Railroad Grade over Nebagamon Creek. Attached are documents, including a map and photos, that describe this threat. The grade is a portion of the rail route used by visitors who came to the river in the 1880’s, landing at WInneboujou Station. Since then, over the past more than 100 years, it has slowly been deteriorating. Were the culvert and embankment to collapse completely it would severely impact the spawning and fisheries of Nebagamon Creek, the Brule, various tributaries, and eventually, even Lake Superior.
When the railway ceased its use of the line, it deeded the abandoned right-of-way to the Town of Brule. However, the town is not in a financial position to deal with this issue. With the help of the DNR, a plan is therefore being developed by others to eliminate the railroad grade and culvert, insuring that silt and sedimentation do not enter and impact the waterway. The estimated cost of the project is $130,000. Grants from the DNR (secured) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (pending approval) would cover about $88,000 of the estimated cost. We have secured additional pledges from other local organizations, including one of a lead gift of $10,000 from Brule River Preservation.
Our challenge now is to raise an additional $28,000 from individuals and organizations. We are certain that if you were to stand on the grade you would understand the impact should it collapse….and it will, in due course. I am therefore asking for your financial support. Please help us raise the additional funds to remove 30,000 cubic yards of soil and repair the slew-way to insure silt does not enter the Brule waterway. Once funds are secured, the project will begin, July 1st. Our greatest fear, of course, is that if the project is delayed, the health of the fisheries will be at even greater risk of irreparable damage.
Please help BRP continue to do is work on all the aforementioned programs. It is our goal to further everyone’s understanding of issues in order to preserve and protect the Brule River Watershed. You may send tax deductible contributions to Brule River Preservation, Inc, PO Box 15, Brule WI 54820, knowing that your help is greatly appreciated. On behalf of the BRP Board of Directors, thank you for your continued interest and financial support, and best wishes to you, your family and friends for a wonderful and happy holiday season!
Bob Banks, President