Strategic plan to protect Oconto County waterways passed

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: taxonomy_term in similarterms_taxonomy_node_get_terms() (line 518 of /home/octimesherald/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in similarterms_list() (line 221 of /home/octimesherald/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in similarterms_list() (line 222 of /home/octimesherald/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
County plan sets 16 goals with 61 strategies

A strategic plan for surface water management and protection cleared the Oconto County Board by unanimous vote Thursday.

The 42-page plan is the product of 18 months of study by a group of farmers, naturalists and other citizens, said Dale Mohr, community development educator with the county’s University of Wisconsin-Extension office.

“We didn’t really have a strategy at the county to deal with the issue of water-related concerns,” Mohr said.

The document, developed with the help of the Center for Watershed Science & Education at UW-Stevens Point, aims to provide guidance to the county and its various partners in maintaining healthy bodies of water in Oconto County.

The group met in focus groups with 200 people who live on the water, surveyed 400 residents from all walks of life and conducted an all-day focus meeting with county department heads, Mohr said.

The plan sets 16 goals for the county to address, and 61 specific strategies to work toward those goals.

Supervisor Chris Augustine asked about the specifics of one of those goals: to prevent injury and death by enforcing boating regulations, with two law enforcement staff per boat.

“I’m concerned that this obligates us to a future manpower level that we don’t necessarily have funding for and then, therefore, has a potentially significant financial impact,” Augustine said.

“One nice thing about having a goal is that, unfortunately you may never reach it, but if you don’t have a goal identified, you’re probably not going to reach it anyway,” Mohr replied.

He said approving the goals does not lock the county into specific actions. But if, for example, state funding became available for additional officers, the county would be able to say it adopted a plan to address law enforcement staffing.

Corporation Counsel Cheryl Mick agreed that the document does not commit the county board to any particular action.

“There isn’t any statute or contract or resolution that requires us to do anything in this plan,” Mick said. “It’s an aspirational plan that will improve our environment if we’re able to reach the goals that are set out in it.”

Other goals include protecting wetlands, reducing runoff, minimizing soil erosion and preventing invasive species from entering county waters.

The plan passed 27-0.