March 9, 2017 Meeting Minutes

Monroe County Public Library, 6:30 PM

Attendees: Sherry, Dave Simcox, Richard, Mary Madore (remotely), Marti Crouch, Sarah Marvell, Lucas Marvell, Joan Harris, Lily Bonwich, Dean Ford, Dick Rubinger, LInda Baden, Charlie Cole, Tom Gallagher, Dave Cable, Dash Ruthenburl, Martha Dogan, Kevin Dogan, Cheryl Munson, Clint Studebaker, Patrick Dunigan, John Gallman, Howard Webb, Stacy Calderon, Nancy Rutkowski, George Hass, Vic Kelson


Action Items

  • Sherry will work with Dave Cable to set up USACE open house/tour
  • Steering Committee will set next meeting date
  • Dave will work with Stacy and Richard to plan field trip
  • Sherry will contact Patty Dension about working with Sarah Marvell and Charlie Cole on outreach to stakeholders

FOLM Outing : The group previously discussed having a social hike at the new Sycamore Land Trust property on Lake Monroe (Weingartner-Branigin Peninsula Preserve). Due to the popularity of the new preserve and logistical issues with parking and trail maintenance, the SLT requested that a group hike not be held at the new preserve at this time. The group discussed other options for an outing, including the Turkey Trot Trail at Allen’s Creek, and trails at the Crooked Creek boat ramp. Richard Harris and Stacey Calderon agreed to work with Dave Simcox to organize an outing.

Center for Sustainable Living: Sherry announced to the group that the Friends of Lake Monroe has been accepted as a project by CSL (Hooray!). Working under the CSL umbrella provides FOLM with 501(c)3 status as a non-profit group. Sherry will be the project manager for FOLM. Mary Madore has agreed to act as FOLM’s interim treasurer (having a treasurer is a CSL requirement). Participation as a non-profit means that lobbying activities cannot be a major part of the group’s function, although advancing FOLM’s mission with elected officials is permitted.

Lake Monroe/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE): Dave Cable (USACE manager at Lake Monroe) talked briefly about the purpose of Lake Monroe (why it was built), and mentioned that the Corp’s primary function is flood control, water supply and water augmentation for downstream users. Those functions are different than, and sometimes at odds with, recreational users of the lake. Some Indiana reservoirs have significant water drawdown during winter months to increase holding capacity during late winter/early spring months. The ratio of Lake Monroe’s surface area to its watershed area is such that winter drawdown is not necessary to insure sufficient holding capacity for flood control.

Mr. Cable mentioned that the USACE could conduct a tour of their facilities at Lake Monroe for FOLM members. Such a tour may need to be part of an “open house”, depending on the number of interested people.

Networking: The group discussed the need to begin identifying and developing a relationship with stakeholders. Charlie Cole and Sarah Marvell agreed to work on this issue. There was discussion about whether to have an meeting open to all potential stakeholders, or a smaller, more focused meeting. The general sentiment was that a more focused group (at least initially) would be more productive. Potential stakeholders identified were: Soil and Water Conservation Service (attend annual meeting?), IU-SPEA, various conservation groups, DNR, USACE, county officials, and others. Dean Ford stressed the need to have a facilitator for these meetings. Dave Cable mentioned the need to have a means for participants to comment on the process (electronic?).

There was some discussion about potential funding sources for future work, including Clean Water Act 319 grants (through IDEM), Lake and Reservoir Enhancement grants (DNR), and the Monroe County Community Fund.

Legislative Update: Dave Simcox provided an update on two pieces of legislation pertinent to Lake Monroe. HB 1089 would take away Monroe County’s ability to require permits for logging on private land in the county. Based on 2005 legislation, Monroe County is the the only county that has this ability. Inappropriate logging in the Lake Monroe watershed could result in increased sedimentation and have a negative impact on water quality. The bill has passed the Indiana House of Representatives and is now in the Indiana Senate.

A second house bill (HB 1132) would change the definition of "urban area" for purposes of a land use provision regarding the use and alienation of mineral resources or forests to include any lands or lots used for residential purposes where there are at least 50 residences (instead of eight residences) within any quarter mile square area. This bill appears to be dead for now.

Guest Speakers: Charlie Cole and Linda Baden from Friends of Yellowwood Lake spoke about their experience as part of a watershed group. The group released a watershed management plan in 2006 in conjunction with IDNR, Division of Forestry (the entire lake and much of its watershed lie within the Yellowwood State Forest). Due to the location of the lake and watershed, the IDNR was the primary stakeholder in the process. The group wrote a grant to hire a watershed coordinator, and commented that IDEM was helpful throughout the process.

The group surveyed the 55 residents in the watershed (30 responded), and also had input from a fly fishing group. An IU-SPEA intern assisted with the management plan.

The group identified four areas of concern for the lake: 1) sustainability; 2) sedimentation; 3) nuisance and invasive species; and 4) biological and chemical contaminants. They also mentioned the forest roads and campground as potential concerns.

Linda commented that getting standing (having a position with power to enact plans) was a problem for them. This was in part due to the DNR’s overwhelming presence with the lake and watershed.

Suggestions based on their experience:

  • Engage stakeholders; figure out how to partner.
  • Document everything
  • Keep goals manageable
  • Problems can seem insurmountable; be persistent; don’t loose patience!

Logo Contest: Sherry mentioned that moving this forward seems to have two options: either someone steps up to take on this project, or the group can ask a volunteer graphic artist to design a logo (there may be a volunteer). Dean Ford and Lily Bonwich agreed to work on the logo with a friend of Sherry’s that is a professional graphic artist.

Social Media Coordinator: FOLM could benefit from having a social media volunteer to improve the group’s social media presence. Otherwise this avenue for engagement is likely to be underutilized. No takers so far.

Watershed Tour: Sherry, Tom Gallagher, Steve Higgs, and Clint Studebaker met to discuss a tour of the Lake Monroe watershed, hopefully for sometime this Spring or early summer. 

Potential stops on the tour were considered and include Stillwater marsh, Jackson Creek/Scarce of Fat Ridge, Nashville treatment plant, Story for lunch, Elkinsville, Maumee, and the Tailwater. A final set of stops will be selected based on driving times.

New Topics for next meeting: Dean Ford and Howard Webb both suggested that discussing water quality issues, and defining what water quality means for the group would be worthwhile.

Upcoming events: Charlie Cole announced an Indiana Forest Alliance event, “Barn Dance for the Trees” will be held April 7, 6:00 pm at Mike’s Music and Barn Dance. The $10 admission supports the IFA.

Green Drinks: Sherry hopes to speak at some future “Green Drinks” event. Green Drinks is a social networking opportunity for people who are interested in helping to provide for a greener world. Green Drinks is held at the Upland Brewery on 11th St in Bloomington on the 4th Wednesday each month. Stay tuned.

Next Meeting: the steering committee will set the next meeting date, time, and location and notify members by email.