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Delafield concerned about Hartland Marsh burning

City worried village could be polluting river, lake downstream

Feb. 13, 2013

City of Delafield - City officials are concerned that the Village of Hartland's plans to burn dozens, if not hundreds, of piles of cut brush that have accumulated in the Hartland Marsh could lead to additional pollution downstream in the Bark River and Lake Nagawicka.

The Common Council on Feb. 4 unanimously agreed to instruct City Administrator Tom Hafner to write a letter to the village "requesting more information about the village's plans and expressing our concerns about the water quality as it affects the Bark River and Nagawicka Lake."

The city will copy the DNR on the letter.

Hartland Village Administrator Dave Cox told Lake Country Publications the village had not considered the environmental issues raised by aldermen.

However, he said the village would take steps to control the burn and minimize adverse effects on the marsh and downstream river and lake.

He said burning during the winter would be an advantageous because it would slow the travel time, and thus help filter any pollution that might escape from the brush fires into the marsh.

Delafield Alderman Tim Aicher said it's possible that burning such a large quantity of brush could result in the release of phosphorus and nitrogen into the river and lake in amounts large enough to be detrimental to water quality.

He pointed out that both communities have spent years working with the Delafield-Hartland Water Pollution Control Commission to reduce and maintain nitrogen and phosphorus levels in area rivers and lakes.

Alderwoman Lynn Morrison expressed concerns about reports that the village plans to burn off larger sections of the marsh as a regular maintenance plan for controlling invasive species.

Cox proposed that the village burn off the piles of brush that have accumulated over several years in an effort to make marsh areas along the Ice Age Trail more attractive.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance has been trying to transfer marsh lands it owns to a government agency willing to take the land and more adequately protect it against invasive species.

Until 2011, Paul Mozina of Milwaukee volunteered almost every weekend for seven years cutting down buckthorn, pulling garlic mustard and trying to maintain the natural condition of the marsh and river.

Initially, he was allowed to burn the cut brush piles but had to stop in 2009 because neighbors complained.

The 200 acres of marsh includes land owned by three parties. The trail alliance owns about 132 acres. The Village of Hartland owns 81 acres, and the Waukesha County Land Conservancy owns 28 acres.

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