Drifting bog leads to lake clog

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Kevin Hoffman
Friday, August 12, 2011
— As if the snapped tree limbs and power outages weren't bad enough, residents along Lake Lorraine in Richmond Township last month learned thunderstorms have one more destructive power.

They can move land.

A powerful line of storms that ripped through southern Wisconsin on July 11 dislodged an 8-acre bog that has blocked lake access to about seven homes on the south shore. A lakes group is now trying to raise $30,000 to remove the mucky parcel of land before it inflicts further damage.

Tony Novak, president of the Lake Lorraine Restoration and Protection Association, said about 20 percent of the bog was removed earlier this month. The group raised about $6,400 so far but needs additional donations to pay for workers and equipment to pull the material from the water, load it on a truck and dump it at a nearby property.

The bog—a floating mixture of soil, grass and other plants roughly the size of seven football fields—is as thick as 3 feet in some areas, Novak said.

Walworth County and the state Department of Natural Resources told Novak they didn't have money to fund the project. The township donated a dump truck and driver, but the lakes group is left to raise the rest on its own.

"It's like your house is on fire and the fire department is 50 miles away and you start throwing buckets of water on your house," Novak said. "What are you going to do? You got to just keep trying to survive this. If this starts to root, then we can't touch it."

That's just one of Novak's many concerns. Volunteers are able to use pontoon boats to push the bog closer to land where it's scooped up with a backhoe.

If the bog sits idle for too long, it could lay roots, making it more difficult to excavate.

That's a problem for lakefront residents who already are cut off from the main portion of the lake. Novak fears it could devalue property if they let it stay, and if it began to drift again it could threaten boaters and swimmers.

"This thing can go out of control," he said.

It's the first time in decades anyone had to worry about roaming bogs on Lake Lorraine. Novak said this bog was part of a larger one staked to the ground 24 years ago with 5-inch pipes.

He said the pipes could have weakened over the years, allowing high winds to free the bog. It drifted in the southern portion of the lake for a few days until about July 19, when it parked in the nearby bay.

Volunteers and local residents last weekend began removing portions of the bog, and they'll do the same this weekend. Novak expects about 30 volunteers, but he's still hoping more donations will come through to pay for services.

The group's lakes management budget is only $17,000 annually, some of which is spent on fish stocking, chemical treatments and weed removal.

Novak said volunteers will begin at 5 p.m. today and work all day Saturday and Sunday chipping away at the gigantic bog.

"Over all these years bits and pieces would fall off," he said, "but we didn't have any problems like this."

To make a donation

Donations can be sent to Tony Novak, 2416 S. 7th Ave., North Riverside, IL 60546. They also can be sent to Dorothy Camodeca, N6813 Lake Drive, Whitewater, WI, 53190. Make checks payable to LLR&PA and write "bog fund" and the bottom of the check.

For additional information about the project, contact Novak at (708) 822-7762 or tnovak2416@aol.com.

Last updated: 6:08 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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