A twenty foot wide, four level fish passage will be built north of the spillway by Krakow Park that will allow fish to move all along the Fox River into and out of Buffalo Lake. That may, some day, include walleye.
Walleye may climb ladder into Buffalo Lake
One feature of the repaired and enhanced Buffalo Lake dam is a 20-foot wide, four tiered fish ladder that will be built on the north side of the spillway in Krakow Park. Department of Natural Resources Engineer Brent Binder told about 65 people attending an informational meeting at Montello High School on Saturday morning that the passage will allow fish to move in and out of Buffalo Lake and the traffic may eventually include walleye.
Other features of the project will be an enhanced canoe portage that will allow paddlers to move more easily from the lake to the Fox River and back as well as two ADA (Americans with Disabilities) approved fishing piers in the Krakow Park area north of the spillway. Improved parking at the boat launch as well as a greatly improved launch should make it easy for anglers entering and leaving the lake as well as for the Buffalo Lake District weed cutter to do its job. The boat launch will have one side big enough for the equipment and a second launch that can be used by visitors to the lake even if the weed cutter is using the other side.
The road from the City of Montello will be two-way to the boat launch. From the launch to the spillway the road will be a one-lane road that will be kept closed to vehicle traffic except during an emergency. There will also be lighting at the boat launch area.
Some features in the original concept design that has been shown to the public in the past are not on the design discussed Saturday.
Two additional accessible fishing piers off of Sunset Drive are no longer on the present plans because of cost, Binder said when asked about the change. However, he said that some features may be added back in if the costs come in less than expected or the contingency is not utilized during the construction. He also said that if the City of Montello wished to someday build a structure that would allow boaters to dock their boats while they visited Montello, that they could work with the DNR on that, but the present project did not include such a dock.
Binder was asked if the road will follow the same footprint of the present road and replied that basically it stays the same except for a small change because of some “property issues.” He showed a cutaway view of the road bed and how it will be constructed. The slope down to the lake will utilize smaller rocks so that lake users will have an easier time reaching the water. “We’re getting rid of the ankle breakers,” he said, referring to the large boulders that now line the shore. He assured County Supervisor Mike Raddatz that the ice will not take the new riprap out into the lake during the winter, saying the size of the rocks used as well as the slope should keep the material on the shore.
Saturday’s rain will slow the draining of the lake somewhat, but thus far, lowering the water level is going as planned. Expect to see, he said, pockets where the water stays wider and deeper even with the lock gates open. Buffalo Lake was always a widening of the Fox River even without a dam. In 1887 Reuben Thwaites canoed the entire Fox and wrote this about the Endeavor/Packwaukee/Montello waters. “Fishing-boats were also occasionally met with this morning, occupied by Packwaukee people; for in the widespreads just above this village, the pickerel thrives mightily off the swarms of perch who love these reedy seas; and the weighty sturgeon often swallows a hook and gives his captor many a frenzied tug before he consents to enter the ‘live-box’ which floats behind each craft.”
The design that was shown at Saturday’s meeting will be posted to view on the Buffalo Lake District website at www.buffalolakedistrict.org. The DNR plans to complete work and refill the lake by Memorial Day of 2014.