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Kettle Moraine Lake Property Owners Ordered to Remove Illegal Seawall and Pay $23,000 in Penalties

 

CAMPBELLSPORT - Germantown resident Shirley Strege and JG Cottage, LLC, have been ordered to remove an illegal seawall at property that they own on Kettle Moraine Lake in Campbellsport, Fond du Lac County, and to pay $23,089.10 in forfeitures, assessments and costs for building the seawall without a permit in violation of state water protection laws.  Strege and JG Cottage, LLC, have also been ordered to remove sand that had been illegally deposited in the lake.

 

Seawalls are one form of shoreline protection, and Wisconsin law prohibits the placement of a seawall on the bed of a lake without a permit.  Since a 1996 study identified the adverse effects that seawalls have on the environment, DNR has developed regulations that prohibit seawalls except in the highest energy sites, and that allow biostabilization or riprap as permittable shoreline protection measures instead.  

 

In this case, prosecuted at the request of the Department of Natural Resources, a pre-existing wall built and permitted in the 1980s had deteriorated beyond repair.  Strege arranged for a new wall to be constructed over and beyond the pre-existing wall in November 2007.  Department of Natural Resources staff responded to a complaint and determined that the wall had been constructed without a permit.  DNR staff calculated the energy level for the site and determined that less harmful shoreline protection measures such as riprap or biostabilization are appropriate.

 

DNR staff also determined that, consistent with the science behind and findings of the 1996 study, Strege's unauthorized placement of the seawall degraded and threatened water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, and harmed public interests in the preservation of and protection of quality water resources.  DNR staff concluded that only removal of the seawall will preserve and protect the natural resources that the wall has adversely affected.

 

Permits are also required for the deposit of any material on a lakebed.  In this case, in May 2008 Strege placed a truckload of sand so close to the lake that it eroded into the lake, without any permit.  DNR staff determined that the sand deposit has also harmed the lake environment.  The unlawful depositing of sand and sediment on the bed of near-shore areas inhibited vegetation growth and destroyed habitat essential to aquatic insects and fish, and reduced biological diversity and production in the shoreline lake bed area.  Accordingly, DNR staff concluded that the sand deposit needs to be removed to protect the littoral habitat.

 

Fond du Lac County Judge Robert J. Wirtz granted the State's motion for summary judgment on March 18, 2010, finding Strege and JG Cottage, LLC, liable for constructing the seawall and causing the deposit of the sand without permits.  Judge Wirtz scheduled a hearing on forfeitures and injunctive relief for May 10, 2010.  Before the hearing began, the parties reached an agreement calling for removal of the wall and the sand by July 15, 2010, and for payment of penalties totaling $23,089.10.  Judge Wirtz signed the order for judgment on May 26, 2010.

 

"Wisconsin law requires that property owners obtain approval to place structures and material on the beds of Wisconsin lakes," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.  "The Wisconsin Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure that Wisconsin's natural resources are protected through compliance with the law."

 

Assistant Attorney General JoAnne F. Kloppenburg prosecuted the case for the State.