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Chatty Belle - The World's Largest Talking Cow

Thursday, July 6th, 2006 -- 10:13 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

When dealing with a body of water the size of Lake Arbutus, you might not think a five-foot “draw-down” would have a big impact – you would be wrong.

North American Hydro lowered the lake level last Fall to find out how much work needs to be done on the Dam.

At the time, they said the worst-case scenario would have the draw-down in effect through Summer 2007, but have since said they’ll likely need to keep Lake Arbutus drawn down through at least Spring of 2008.

Joanne Rehm (rem) has summered at her home on the lake for over ten years. She, like many “locals”, seem to be taking the news in stride.

She actually says the lower lake level – and subsequently larger shoreline -- has plenty of positives.

"It makes it interesting to investigate: I like to look for fishing lures, and whatever else you can find in the sand," Rehm says.

"It also seems to have improved the wildlife - the birds seem to like it a lot better. We've had a number of nesting birds, and we've seen quite a few eagles and osprey."

Of course, given her druthers, Rehm would like to have her lake back.

"The obvious minuses for us are, because the shoreline is so large, it's really hard to get a boat in. No motorboats can come up our way because it's so shallow," Rehm explains.

The Rehms have to drag their canoe and kayaks 60 feet before getting to the water.

Lake Arbutus is not a creation of Nature; it is a creation of a power company. The Dam was built in 1907. The hydroelectric plant powered cable cars in Winona and La Crosse.

Rehm realizes that, without the dam, there would be no lake, so she hopes the repairs are done correctly.

That’s a sentiment she says is shared by most of the her neighbors, but she understands people just visiting for a weekend might be surprised to find a very different Lake Arbutus.

"As far as I know, there's no one jumping up and down angry about it," Rehm says. "The campers might have been annoyed because they didn't know the lake wouldn't be there."

North American Hydro is based in Neshkoro, Wisconsin.

Past Stories:
Town of Dewhurst Meeting - 8/18/05
Draw Down Begins - 9/18/05

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