Bad River Watershed Association

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Connecting People, Land, and Water

Paddling to DC

Dave and Amy Freeman, 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, spoke to an audience of around 40 people at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute on September 9th.  Among their many adventures, the Freemans are currently traveling from Ely, MN by canoe and sailboat to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the issues related to ​sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters and ​Lake Superior region.

The canoe carrying the Freemans​ to their destination is covered with signatures of people from Minnesota and surrounding states who are opposed to sulfide mining within the watersheds of the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior. Their concerns include potential damage to delicate ecosystems as a result of acid mine drainage, and resulting threats to the more than 18,000 tourism-based jobs in these wilderness areas sustained by the quality of the water and outdoor experience​.

Dave and Amy will continue to collect signatures along their journey, and will present the canoe to President Obama when they reach Washington, D.C. The petition canoe was on display at the presentation, and will be leaving Ashland with a few more signatures.


Dave and Amy's journey commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which was responsible for the establishment of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This canoe trip mirrors ​Chief Buffalo's journey to Washington, D.C. in 1852, which successfully stopped attempts to remove the Lake Superior Chippewa from the region ​and led to a treaty in 1854. Professor Joe Rose, Bad River Elder, shared​ the story of Chief Buffalo's amazing journey at the presentation.​



The presentation also included stories from Dave and Amy’s North American Odyssey, a three-year expedition they embarked upon as newlyweds. They traveled 11,700 miles by dogsled, canoe, and kayak from the Pacific Northwest to Key West, FL via the Arctic. They shared their experience remotely through their educational nonprofit organization, The Wilderness Classroom. The Freemans’ progress during their Paddle to D.C. can also be followed through The Wilderness Classroom. They chose to make the trip while school is in session so that students and teachers could share in the adventure. For more information, visit and Click HERE to sign the petition online.

​The Freemans’ presentation was hosted by the Bad River Watershed Association and Northland College.​


April Stone Dahl Receives Karen Danielson Award

In 2009 the Karen Danielson Award was created to honor the memory of one of our founding board members.  Karen was a strong voice for the Association, and aside from serving as Board President, she also was a field volunteer, committee member, and helped with event planning.  She showed a passion for the Bad River Watershed Association and her time and commitment will not be forgotten.  Each year the Karen Danielson Award is given to a dedicated volunteer who shows the same energy and passion for the Bad River Watershed Association.

This year the Board has selected April Stone Dahl as the recipient of this award.  April served as the first treasurer on the board of the Association when we were founded in 2002.  Although she quickly discovered that this was not her passion, she stepped up when she saw the need.  April also performed Water Quality monitoring starting in 2002 and often included her whole family. She has taken on large roles planning and catering events and very much enjoyed serving good food and bringing people together who all cared about the watershed.  April is a skilled basket weaver and donated some of her pieces for silent auctions and other fundraisers.  Sometimes she was doing what she loved, and sometimes she was helping out where help was needed, but her commitment has lasted over so many years and reached across so many areas that the board is very pleased to recognize her with this award.  Please tell April congratulations and thank you if you see her out and about.


Culvert Restoration News

Culvert restoration progress continues around the watershed.  Recently, a large restoration project was completed on Albert Mattson Road, in the Town of Ashland.  The Marengo River tributary stream that crosses the road has been an ongoing source of problems and expense for the township because high spring flows cause flooding, erosion and road failure.  A grant to BRWA from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, along with funding and services from the State of Wisconsin and Ashland County, led to the completion of restoration in July.  This is a significant long-term cost saver for the township, and is another great step in reducing the amount of damaging sediment flowing into the Marengo River.


Full House for "Wisconsin's Mining Standoff" Screening

Over 200 people packed the Martin Hanson Theater at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center on July 24th to view a documentary called "Wisconsin’s Mining Standoff." The film was produced by a Milwaukee group, 371 Productions, and recently aired on Al Jazeera America’s Faultlines series.  The audience listened as a panel discussed the issue and responded to questions following the showing. Panelists were: Tracy Hames, Executive Director of the WI Wetlands Association; Pete Russo, Ashland Co. Board Chair; Devon Cupery, producer of the film; Charles Ortman, Ashland Co. Board and Impact Committee member; Mike Wiggins Jr., Bad River Tribal Chairman; and State Senator Bob Jauch. The event was sponsored by the Bad River Watershed Association.


Checking In On a Marengo River Subwatershed Restoration Project

By Kevin Brewster, Restoration Manager

The Marengo is the most erosion-prone subwatershed in the Bad River watershed, due to the amount of open agricultural land present and its erodible soils.  But a lot of positive things are quietly going on across this watershed, and it's great to get little reminders once in a while just how committed some landowners are to helping improve the health of our watershed's streams.  Recently, BRWA landowner contact contractor Erika Lang led a tour to visit several examples of improvements made on the landscape that help reduce sediment pollution and improve fish habitat.  I was able to join the group for a visit to Ted Mika's cattle farm, where innovative streambed crossings have been installed to allow passage of farm equipment and livestock across sensitive intermittently flooded drainage features that cross grazed fields.  In the past, a standard practice used to deal with intermittent stream channels on farm land was to fill the channel and install a culvert to allow water to move through during wet periods.  The filled area was often added into productive acreage, decreasing vegetative buffering capacity to slow runoff to filter out nutrient pollution from livestock and reduce erosion.  The relatively new approach involves leaving a vegetated channel zone in place, contouring the crossing to the approximate natural stream bed level and then creating a compacted surface consisting of a base of course rock, filter fabric, crushed gravel and a top layer of crushed or fractured granite.  Eventually, the crossing will be re-colonized by streambed vegetation.  The resulting hard-bottomed crossing allows cattle or heavy farm equipment to pass through the flooded channel without getting stuck or stirring up excessive sediment.  A typical crossing costs about $5,000, with the landowner paying about 10% of that, and federal and county conservation incentive programs covering the rest.  The Mika farm now has five of these crossings installed, virtually eliminating problems associated with wet weather operations, and greatly minimizing impacts to the intermittent stream that meanders across the property.

Hard-bottomed CrossingTour Attendees


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