(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Common Council Monday night discussed a new plan related to the city’s possible purchase of Big Skunk Island. The Beaver Dam Lake Development Corporation is offering the one-and-a-half-acre island, that is closed to the public, to the city for one dollar. Recent calls to open to the island for public use would result in additional costs for liability insurance for the lake group; the city by contrast has no costs with what is called “recreational immunity,” though some officials have expressed concerns over other costs for city departments. During last month’s council meeting, the matter was sent back to committee while details of forming a conservancy district were explored.
Lake Corp President John Moser Monday night outlined the new three-year plan which does not require any expenditure or labor costs for the city; it would instead utilize volunteers, possible grant funding and limited money from the lake group. The plan includes getting an assessment of the plants and wildlife on the island by an arborist or wildlife biologist; stabilizing the ground cover and shoreline to prevent erosion; removing trees and using their trunks and limbs to establish a coarse woody habitat adjacent to the island; creating a primitive dock for one boat which could be used for installing or removing the lake’s aeration system, by law enforcement or – possibly sometime in the future – by the public; developing partnerships with non-profits or volunteer organizations for long-term development and maintenance; and finally exploring grant opportunities for development.
Under the plan, the city could open the island at any time, or not. The lake group is recommending that the island remain closed until parts of the plan are implemented over the next couple years. If the decision is eventually made to open the island to the public, the Lake Development Corp and Lake Improvement Association would look into securing grants or donations for a kayak launch. The city would be encouraged to hold public hearings for the possibility of opening the island to hunting. City officials will now discuss the plan in committee and any action would then go to the Lake Corp for consideration.