Thomas Gallery, 6:30 PM
Attendees: Ann Connors, Dave Simcox, Richard Harris, Sherry Mitchell-Bruker, Patty Dennison, Mary Madore, Lily Bonwich, Howard Webb, Clint Studabaker, Erin Hollinden, Anne Hedin, Patrick Dunigan,Judy Berkshire,Jim Tarnowski, Cheryl Munson, Carol Miller, Blue Miller, Jeff White, Bill Jones
Sherry Mitchell-Bruker opened the meeting at approximately 6:35. First-time attendees introduced themselves, and Sherry introduced the members of the Steering Committee (Sherry, Coordinator, Science,; Dave Simcox, Policy; Lily Bonwich, Development, Patty Dennison, Stakeholders; Richard Harris, Outreach; Mary Madore).
HB 1089 Dave Simcox discussed the status of HB 1089, the Indiana House bill that eliminated Monroe County government’s ability to require permits for logging on private property. This bill was considered to be a threat to water quality if timber was cut on the steep slopes in the Lake Monroe (LM) watershed. Introduced by local representative Jeff Ellington, the bill passed through the House of Representatives, but was ultimately tabled in the senate by Sen. Sue Glick, chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and did not advance to the full senate for a vote. Dave related to the group that he spoke with Sen. Glick, who told him that she considered the issue to be a local concern, and should not be decided by the General Assembly. Dave thanked members of FOLM, and others, who made numerous calls to Sen. Glick requesting that she oppose the bill. He also mentioned that letters of thanks were sent to Sen. Glick, and Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) on behalf of FOLM, thanking them for their opposition to the bill. Dave also expressed appreciation to Carol Kugler, outdoor and food editor for the Bloomington Herald-Times, for the articles she has written about LM and FOLM.
Accomplishments Sherry took the opportunity to tell the group what FOLM has accomplished in the short time it has existed as an organized group. Accomplishments include:
- Mailing list grows to 88
- Steering committee formed
- Mission statement created, approved and posted
- Worked with press, state and local government to ensure HB 1089 not heard in Senate
- Accepted by Center for Sustainable Living and obtained 501(c)3 status
- Treasurer appointed and bank account started
- Committees formed: Logo (ad hoc) watershed tour (ad hoc). Stakeholder (standing)
- Member sent to Indiana Watershed Leadership Academy
- 3 members attended Indiana Lake Management society meeting
- Joined Indiana Lake Management Society
- Presentations at meetings from Friends of Yellowwood, Indiana Lake Management Society, Indiana University Professor emeritus, Bill Jones
- Gathered water quality data from USACE
- Met with various representatives from local government, academic and funding organizations
- Increased awareness through newspaper articles
- Meeting attendance grows to 27 in March
Logo Committee Lily Bonwich reported that the logo committee created and submitted several logo designs to the Steering Committee for consideration. The SC narrowed the designs to four, which were submitted to the full group for a vote. Meeting attendees were allowed to vote. The final logo design was selected and is visible on the website https://www.friendsoflakemonroe.org. The logo will be used on T-shirts and FOLM publications.
Watershed Tour Sherry announced that FOLM will conduct a LM watershed tour on June 3, 2017 from 10 am to 2:30 pm. The driving tour will be open to members of the public, and will drive through Green Valley, and make stops at Stillwater Marsh, the Nashville wastewater treatment plant, the Stonehead Nature Preserve, and the tailwaters below the dam. This outreach activity will be open to the public, and is intended to show some notable features in the watershed, and demonstrate the size of the watershed (approx. 415 sq. miles). Brief presentations will be made at each stop. Participants can sign up at the meeting or on the webpage.
Field Trips Richard Harris reported on a conference call by an ad hoc committee consisting of Richard, Dave Simcox, and Stacey Calderon to discuss possible field trips in the LM watershed in the future. The field trips are intended to be an outreach opportunity to grow membership, to conduct educational events, and to have fun! Events considered include a family fun hike and or picnic at a LM watershed location, a “limnology 101” event, and a water quality sampling/education event. Members of the group mentioned that many qualified people at IU, City of Bloomington Parks and Recs, and other local resources may be available to assist. The first event is tentatively planned for early July (location and topic to be determined), with an notice to be placed in the Bloomington Herald-Times newspaper Outdoor section prior to the event. Jeff White volunteered to organize an August water sampling event on Lake Monroe. We will try to organize the limnology 101 in advance of the August water sampling event.
LM Dam Tour Sherry announced that Dave Cable, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will conduct a tour of the LM dam facilities for FOLM members on June 17. The tour is limited to 25 people. Details of the tour signup are available on webpage/Facebook.
Water Treatment Plant Tour Sherry has arranged for a tour of the City of Bloomington Utilities water treatment plant, at a date to be determined in mid-May. The tour will need to be during the work week, and will be limited to 15 people. LM provides drinking water for over 100,000 people, and the city has a clear interest in protecting the water quality of LM. Details will be announced through email and the webpage.
Stakeholders Committee Patty Dennison gave a brief report on LM watershed stakeholders committee. Stakeholders are any people, organizations, businesses, or government agencies who have an interest in the lake. It should be noted that the interests of stakeholders may sometimes be in conflict. The Stakeholder Committee’s mission will be to identify and reach out to stakeholders as early as possible with the hope of gaining their support in FOLM’s mission of protecting the lake. Patty communicated to the group the magnitude of this effort, and noted that it will require a group effort to be successful.
Development Lily Bonwich briefly discussed her role as Development Coordinator for FOLM. She began by expressing her gratitude for everyone’s attendance at the meeting, and for the past and future support for the group. Lily noted that support can come in the form of volunteer time or financial support. She will be seeking out potential grants to support FOLM, and asked attendees to think about people they know who may be in the position of authority, or have the financial means to support the group. If those names are provided to Lily, she can initiate the conversation on how they can assist FOLM.
Social Media Coordinator Sherry mentioned that FOLM is still seeking a social media coordinator who will to manage the group’s web presence. Please let Sherry know if you, or anyone you know may be interested in assisting.
Bill Jones Report Bill Jones, IU SPEA professor emeritus, gave a presentation on water quality in LM. Much of the presentation was based on the sampling conducted under the Indiana Clean Lakes program. Findings of the Lake Monroe Diagnostic and Feasibility Study, which was authored by Jones in 1997 were also presented. This study is available on the internet by searching under the document title. The presentation included some history and physical statistics about the lake, and also some water quality findings. Jones noted that the 1997 report made several recommendations for protecting the lake that were, for the most part, never implemented. He stated that this may be in part due to the lack of political will since the lake watershed lies in five counties, and many people in the watershed don’t feel like they have a stake in protecting the lake. He noted that there are also major hurdles in getting several local governments to cooperate in protecting the lake.
Findings in the report showed that there are differences in water quality between the upper basin (east of the Hwy 446 causeway) and the lower basin (west of the causeway). This is due in large part to the fact that the causeway acts as a partial barrier in water movement from the headwaters toward the dam. In general, water quality parameters (transparency, phosphorus, chlorophyll) are worse in the upper basin due to higher levels of sedimentation and associated nutrients. Jones also mentioned that blue-green algae is a seasonal problem in LM (and many other Indiana lakes), and can result in taste and odor and body contact issues. He stated that excess phosphorus in the water is the primary cause of algal growth. In extreme situations, excess algae can reduce oxygen levels and result in fish kills, and be harmful to humans and pets.
Farmer’s Market Sherry mentioned that FOLM intends to have a table at the Bloomington Farmer’s market once a month this summer to serve as outreach to the community. FOLM Steering Committee members will staff the table, possibly with the assistance of other volunteers.
Green Drinks Sherry will speak at the next Green Drinks event, held in the community room at the Upland Brewery on May 24. Green drinks is held the fourth Wednesday of each month, and features a speaker representing a local environmental/sustainable living organization.
Next FOLM Meeting May 25, location TBA.