June 22, 2017 Meeting Minutes

Location: City of Bloomington Utilities, Conference Room, 6:30 PM

Attendees: Sherry Mitchell Bruker, Dave Simcox, Richard Harris, Mary Madore, Lily Bonwich, Kevin Dogan, Phil Sharp, Alice Sharp, Howard Webb, Ellen Popodi, Rudy Savich, Bet Savich, Mike Chaveas (guest speaker), Sarah Marvel, Luke Marvel, Jim Tarnowski, Judy Berkshire, Joe Ryan, Clyde Irvine (Lake Lemon Conservancy District).

Sherry MB opened the meeting at approximately 6:35 pm. Attendees introduced themselves and told why they were in attendance.

Watershed Tour: Sherry briefly described the Lake Monroe watershed tour that took place on June 3. The tour was conducted to educate people about features of the watershed, to give a sense of its size (approximately 415 mi2), and to have fun!  A few people at the meeting who attended the tour described their experiences, which were positive without exception.

Water Fund: Sherry briefly talked about FOLM’s meeting with representatives of The Nature Conservancy and the City of Bloomington Utilities (Vic Kelson) to discuss the potential for FOLM to partner with them to pursue a Water Fund. Water Funds are collaborative projects that link downstream water users with upstream land stewards on conservation projects. The meeting was described as a positive step to “begin the conservation” on the potential of completing a feasibility study.

Shady Side Logging: FOLM has been closely following the permit application to cut timber on 244 acres on a peninsula of Lake Monroe near Shady Side Drive. Paul and Alice Sharp (in attendance), who live near the area brought the matter to FOLM’s attention. Monroe County Planning officials recently denied the permit, except for 25 acres, due to existing easement issues. The permit applicant has the opportunity to work with area landowners to modify the easement, or to have the ruling overturned in court. Consequently, this matter is not considered to be resolved. In response to the permit application, FOLM has been monitoring water clarity in two coves near the proposed logging area, and a control cove in an area that would not be subject to sedimentation from logging, to establish a water clarity baseline in the event logging does occur. Secchi disks are being used to record water clarity, and water samples are also being collected and submitted to IU-SPEA for turbidity readings.

Lake Lemon: Clyde Irvine from the Lake Lemon Conservancy District spoke about recent events at Lake Lemon. The lake has been subjected to excessive siltation for decades, which has caused parts of the lake to be filled in over time. The area near the inlet of Bean Blossom Creek is dredged periodically, but only about one-quarter of the annual sediment load is removed when it is dredged. Clyde expressed concern about erosion associated with logging that occurs on state forest property, which makes up part of the Lake Lemon watershed. He stated that logging has occurred in the past, and is scheduled to continue into the future. The watershed includes isolated sections of both Yellowwood SF and Morgan Monroe SF. Clyde also stated that monitoring is occurring to determine where the sediment load originates.

Window Decals: Sherry talked about the possibility of the group purchasing window decals that feature the FOLM logo. The decals could be sold to recover the cost of purchase, or given as tokens to members of the public. Howard Webb volunteered to pursue the cost, etc. of having the decals made, hopefully in time for the July 4 parade.

Treasurer's Report: Richard Harris gave the treasurer’s report. FOLM currently has a balance of $426.68 from donations. The only expenditure to date is to purchase checks from Old National Bank.

Volunteers: Richard briefly discussed volunteer needs/opportunities, including social media coordinator, online data acquisition and management, data analysis, meeting setup and coordination, grant writing, and others.  Bet Savich (in attendance) met with Richard after the meeting to discuss what assistance her office (City  of Bloomington Volunteer Network) may be able to offer. Stay tuned.

Guest Speaker: Mike Chaveas, Hoosier National Forest Supervisor, gave an informative and enjoyable presentation about the HNF, including its history, administration, and presence in the Lake Monroe watershed. The HNF includes approximately 203,000 acres of land in south-central Indiana, in two distinct management areas. Lake Monroe is located in within the Brown County Hills section of the Highland Rim Natural Region. This area includes Indiana’s only congressionally designated wilderness area, The Charles C. Deam Wilderness on the south side of Lake Monroe, which has the highest level of protection of any property owned by the Forest Service. The Forest Service (FS) began purchasing property in the HNF in 1935, in part, because acreage was being abandoned by landowners after failed attempts at homesteading during difficult economic times. Land purchases served the dual purpose of acquiring property and providing economic relief to burdened landowners.  Approximately 105,000 acres were purchased between 1935 and 1951, at which time land acquisitions slowed. An additional 98,000 acres were purchased from 1951 to 2017, with 2200 acres having been purchased since 2007. Recent acquisitions have been made from willing landowners with high priority land. Land is purchased as funds and willing landowners are available.

Mr. Chaveas explained that different management strategies are applied to parcels of land managed by the FS based on their perceived value for habitat protection, watershed protection, recreation, timber management, cultural heritage, and other factors. The Deam Wilderness, for example, has the highest level of protection and is managed for solitude. The FS does allow timber harvesting on parts of the HNF as part of their multi-use mandate from congress. Timber sales are contracted through a bidding process, and strict guidelines must be followed by the contractors when harvesting timber. Timbered areas must be reasonably restored, and follow up studies are done on timbered tracts. As a frame of reference, Mr. Chaveas explained that  0.1%-0.15% of the HNF is impacted by timber harvests each year. He pointed out that over a 100 year time frame, only 10% of the HNF would be subjected to timber harvests. Profits made from timber harvests are divided between the county where the harvest occurred, the HNF, and the U.S. FS. Local counties get approximately 25% of the profit.

Mr. Chaveas pointed out the properly managed forests are among the most protective land uses in watersheds, and that we are fortunate that over 80% of the Lake Monroe watershed is forested. Looking forward, his recommendations to help protect LM are to support public lands, to keep forested land forested, and to add newly forested acres to the HNF.

The HNF management plan was last updated in 2006, and is available on the USFS website.

Sherry made a quick announcement about upcoming events: join Lily and Mary at the Pour House (across from the library) Thursday June 29 from 5-7 PM to help make fish hats that will be worn by July 4 parade marchers, and given out to children. Don’t forget: never run with pointed scissors and don’t eat the crayons.

July 4th Parade, 10-11 AM. Join in the fun and march with Lily, Mary, and who knows how many other enthusiastic participants in Bloomington’s annual parade. Come early to find the group.

July 13, 1:30-3:30 PM, City of Bloomington Utilities, water treatment plant tour. More information is available and you can sign up on the FOLM webpage.

July 13, 6:30-8:30 PM, Limnology 101 Workshop with Melissa Laney, IU-SPEA Senior Lecturer, CBU office 600 E. MIller Drive. This is a great opportunity to learn the basics of the chemical, physical, and biological features of lakes.

Next Meeting: Thursday, August 24 at the Brown County Public Library in Nashville. Since about one-half of the Lake Monroe watershed is in Brown County, it is important to have a presence there. Sherry encouraged as many people as possible to make the trip from Bloomington to show support for FOLM at the Brown County meeting.

Meeting ended at approximately 8:35 PM.