To protect and enhance the aquatic ecosystem of Norway Lake, Norway Brook and adjacent waterways for the benefit of all who enjoy time on or near the water.
More than 50% of property owners on Norway Lake and Norway Brook chose to support the association with their dues and donations last year. That is twice the average membership rate for lake associations around the state. Together, we've accomplished much!
Board members are elected by the general membership present at the annual meeting held the first Saturday in June. On June 4, 2023 members elected Rick Behary, Paul Hamilton, Terri Hamilton, John Linssen, Carol Lovro, Paul Mendoza and Jane Zoubek to the board. Officers were then determined by the board as follows; President - Paul Hamilton, Treasurer - Jane Zoubek, Secretary - Carol Lovro.
Membership dues fund the basic operations of the association, including the control of the invasive plant Curly-leaf pondweed which otherwise grows in dense mats that make parts of the lake inaccessible in late spring and early summer.
In the summer of 2023, in two different conversations, NLA volunteers in the course of harvesting nuisance plants heard from individuals who shared that they have never seen the lake in such good condition in the 35+ years they've been visiting the lake! This is not a coincidence.
Through the efforts of volunteers, we have removed 1.4 million pounds of aquatic vegetation from Norway Lake and Norway Brooke in the last 8 years! In the first years, we focused on controlling the extensive mats of coon tail that, by mid-July, blanket large areas of the lake making navigation and recreation a challenge rather than a pleasure.
We then began to mechanically harvest the invasive species, Curly Leaf Pondweed (CLP), rather than treat it chemically. This has saved the association and our partners, Cass County Soil and Water District and the DNR, $5,000 - 10,000 per year. It's also proven by independent research to be a more effective method of control when done in a timely manner.
The last two years, CLP has been virtually non-existent.
Our successes have not come easily, and challenges remain. Winter weather plays a significant role in our success managing Curly Leaf Pondweed (CLP). When snowfall exceeds 30", the growth of CLP, which germinates in early fall and grows under the ice all winter, is significantly reduced. This makes management through harvesting an easier task. Since the reproductive structures of CLP can remain viable for years in the lake sediments, the association needs to remain viable itself to deal with future outbreaks.
Maintenance of our vintage equipment is an on going challenge as well. We've had a core group of volunteers who brought some specialized skills, and a abundant willingness to learn, to the tasks. Without volunteers, none of what we've accomplish would have been possible!
Sheltered storage for the equipment is also required. While the elements won't hurt the equipment having a space to complete maintenance and repairs is essential. We currently benefit from having storage space donated for our use just north of Pine River on 371.
But we can't depend on that forever. For that reason, the NLA has engaged in discussions with the City of Chickamaw Beach regarding their purchase of the former Pine River Sanitation District parcel on Indain Trail Lane. The NLA encouraged the purchase and is committed to reaching a long-term lease agreement with the city, with the vision of building a structure that would meet the storage, meeting and other needs of the two parties.
Donations are to the association what fish are to the lake - without them, there's not much going on below the surface. You've read about all the time and talent that has been donated, but Without your generous donations, the association is a lake devoid of fish.
Your donations fund the maintenance and operation of the harvester to control nuisance native plants and keep the lake open for recreation all summer. They also allow us to maintain a fund balance of about 20% of our annual budget to address unexpeected situations.
Some members prefer to manage aquatic plants along their shoreline by way of mechanical harvesting. The association provides this service through the volunteer efforts of those who maintain and operate the association's equipment, another reason that your donations are greatly needed.
Purchase private aquatic plant harvesting. The optimal time to harvest most aquatic plants is late June - early July, when the plants are prominent enough to cut, but not so overgrown that they quickly fill the bed of the harvester. This is particularly true of Wild Rice, which becomes very bulky by mid-late July. For this reason, later season harvesting may require additional fees.
In some cases, a permit from the DNR is required to harvest aquatic plants. Property owners are responsible for obtaining permits prior to harvesting. You'll find more information here and the permit application site here.
The old dam/Highway 84 bridge combination is a thing of the past. The riffle dam has been in place now for nearly two full years now, each of which featured significant summer droughts. The lake water level, while lower than normal, held its own for the most part. One problem the association encountered was traveling downstream with the harvester - the low water levels just wouldn't allow that after mid-June.
This meant being unable to harvest plants along some shorelines in the brook. All we can do is hope for more precipitation, and prioritize harvesting there when conditions allow. I anticipate developing a list of those interested in having the harvesting done, and collecting payment IF the work can be completed. Look for more on that in spring, 2024.
At the same time, the performance of the dam, i.e., its effectiveness and passively controlling the flow of water downstream is worth reviewing. If the flow rate is higher than expected, additional small rocks may be added to further restrict the flow, though in may conversation with the engineering company that designed the dam that are no plans for modifications at this time.
It's important to note that as was the case with the past gate-controlled flow, some movement of water downstream is essential for the health of downstream ecosystems.
As called for in the association by-laws the annual membership meeting will be held on the first Saturday in June June 8, 2024. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude not later than 10:30 a.m. Members will receive an email with meeting details in mid-May.