“In every walk in nature we receive far more than we seek”
– John Muir
Hello from the ‘Creek,
It has only been a few years, but already the “polar vortex” type winter seems distant and on the fringes of memory. My recollection is with numbers. The five weeks below zero, the 175 inches of snow, the 14 cords of firewood that I burned, and, of course, the nearly 140,000 people who flooded the area to experience the ice caves. Lake Superior completely froze over for the first time in 18 years and the season stretched out for almost six months. Amazing statistics, but when I skip ahead to this winter it is easy to forget how that kind of cold actually felt. How quickly the mind can dismiss, but it has been, without question, mild and my warmest sweaters remained untouched. In fact, throughout much of December I was still able to work on the walking trails. Thankfully, however, when so closely situated to an open lake that can produce its own snow it usually does. So Brickyard Creek might not have been an arctic arcadia this year, but it was certainly snowy and a lot easier to strap on the shoes for a good stomp around the property.
Indeed, January and February were idyllic to be in the woods. It seemed most days began with pink striped skies that defused the rising sun and cast an unlikely light on my early morning walks. This wonder became so frequent that I was often out the door before my second cup. A testament to its beauty if you know my love of coffee. Certainly, the moment was somehow invigorating in its own way, but it never lasted long. I wanted to capture it, but once the first rays peaked over Basswood the clouds would lower in a heavy gray blanket and immediately snuff out the sun. Lake effect would soon begin in earnest and like clockwork add a few inches to our deepening snow depth. Now mostly melted, I am on high alert for a late winter storm, but otherwise looking forward to the new season and your return.
In the meantime, a few notes from the ‘Creek,
The winter did not produce the extreme cold we expect, but the huge temperature swings did create their own set of issues. Including, of course, ridiculously soft roads that required careful skill to remove snow while keeping our gravel mostly intact. Follow-up shoveling was often required to maintain driveways and protect the softest areas. Upon refreezing some roads would become so slick with ice that sand was needed for vehicles to get around. This scenario played out for most of the season, but overall I think roads and driveways that were recently upgraded remain in excellent shape. Erratic temperatures also made problems with well operation. Warm-ups created condensation that would later freeze-up pressure switches and pressure tank components. If time permitted a heater would sometimes work, but otherwise repair was needed. I am pro-actively exploring possible solutions to keep our well components ice free during our uncertain winters. Like most, I use to think of climate change in terms of the catastrophic, but I am discovering that it is the day-to-day variations that add up and make significant impact.
The Brickyard Creek Community website continues to evolve and has become a go-to resource for residents as well as the those interested in our community. The homepage has been redesigned for ease of use and cleaner aesthetic. The video header was removed and replaced with professional quality pictures that will change with the season. These photos have a “wow” factor and instantly relay the BYC identity. Additionally, the change will keep the site fresh, allow for faster download, and eliminates overlapping sound on uploaded videos. I encourage you to check out your community website – www.brickyardcreekcommunity.com – for the latest news, Facebook postings (found at the bottom of the homepage), and all the information you need to know as a resident of Brickyard Creek. A reminder that architectural guidelines, common expectations, and all other policies are located in the handbook under the resource tab. Committee pages are in the works as well as a new multi-media addition of our community newsletter the Boreal Forest Citizen.
Boreal Forest Citizen
You are a citizen of a boreal forest on the shores of the greatest of all lakes. In other words, you chose to invest in a place that is truly world class. If we all have just this one thing in common then that is enough, but there is so much more to learn and share from each other. What drew you initially to Brickyard Creek and how has that connection grown? Is it something that can be defined and measured or is it something you feel? Regardless, what captivates you, whether tangible or intangible, is important and beneficial to the greater community. If you enjoy creating videos, photography, or writing about your Brickyard Creek experience then the Vision Committee asks that you please consider being a contributor to our online newsletter. Please contact me if you are interested. At the very least, we each have our own story to tell. I look forward to hearing from you! With each experience we become more and more a part of community. Thank you!
Many of you are aware of the factory farm or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) that is going through the permitting process to open a 26,000 hog operation within the Fish Creek watershed, but I wanted to let you know that now that the moratorium is over the battle to stop it is heating up in Bayfield. After more than a year of strong opposition from local residents, municipalities, and tribal entities the state continues to go forward with permitting. There are now, of course, 100’s of articles and letters that have been written, but I have added two links for reasons cited.
The first is an overview of the situation as reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune last August. Please note the former Director of WI DNR’s Agricultural Runoff Program, Gordon Stevenson’s quote.
The second is an important scientific letter from Dr. Randy Lehr to the WI DNR. He is a distinguished professor of Environmental & Scientific Management at Northland College and Co-Director of the Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation. Without question, nobody knows the Chequamegon Bay watershed better than Randy. Please note the graph (fig.7) on page 7 that shows that the Roy’s Point and Buffalo Bay shoreline would receive high levels of pollutants if runoff from the CAFO were to get into the watershed.
Two organizations have formed to stop irresponsible factory farming in our watershed and promote healthy water.
- Farms Not Factories (http://www.farmsnotfactorieswi.org) – formed by local citizen Mary Dougherty and was recently awarded by the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce
- Citizens Concerned about Lake Superior CAFO’s – can be found on Facebook
Two other points to note:
- There has been an initiative to create a National Marine Sanctuary (http://www.lakesuperiorsanctuary.org) in the Greater Chequamegon Bay Region, but the nomination process takes several years and would not immediately stop a CAFO from operating.
- Bayfield County has recently passed an ordinance that demands more oversight by the county. This is the first such ordinance passed in the state and legal challenge is likely. WPR reported here – http://www.wpr.org/bayfield-county-passes-new-cafo-regulations
I have been watching this play out for quite some time and have attended numerous meetings to educate myself on CAFO’s and their impact. Obviously, it not my intention to be an alarmist, but certainly feel that my role as manager required communication on this potential threat to the Brickyard Creek Community. I will keep you posted on the latest developments.
An early reminder that the Brickyard Creek Associations annual meeting is Memorial Day weekend. We will meet at the Lakeside Pavilion at 2 East Front Street in downtown Bayfield on Saturday, May 28th at 9:00. Of course, later that evening we will gather back at the same ideal location for our community get-together and potluck. I am hopeful everyone can attend! Please look for your invitation in early May.
Please remember to “like” us on Facebook at Brickyard Creek Community on Lake Superior (Brickyard Creek Community Facebook Page) and remember postings can also be found on the homepage of our community website. Thank you!
It is going to be a great year at the ‘Creek! I look forward to sharing more of the exciting projects and improvement plans at the annual meeting!
Thanks and Safe Home,