Vilas County is drafting its 15-year comprehensive plan for managing the county forestlands and recreation areas. 

Meeting last week, the Vilas County Forestry, Recreation and Land Committee heard opposition from property owners around 180-acre Hunter Lake in the town of Conover over plans to improve the public access.

Spokespersons representing the lake association indicated they were worried improvements would bring more people to the beach and picnic area, as well as more boats to the public landing.

“We are worried the improvements could bring invasive species and shoreline erosion,” said spokes­man Paul Kinstler, “and we don’t want a pier at the boat landing, or blacktop to the landing.”

Recreation supervisor Todd Bierman, along with Vilas County Forest Administrator Al Murray, indicated any improvements need to be brought up to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and access to water via a boat landing needs to be accessible.

Committee chairwoman Holly Tomlanovich pointed out, “This is county property and is used by the public and a pier helps persons getting in and out of a boat.” 

It was suggested the boat landing be relocated to north of the public beach area where the lakebed drops off better, but that could attract more boats.

The lake association mentioned “slow, no-wake” motor boat operation after 6 p.m. The town of Conover has enacted an ordinance addressing slow, no-wake on all lakes in the town, however the town does not have a constable for enforcement.

One other item was Murray indicating they would improve the parking area and eliminate any firepits and just have grills to discourage overnight camping.

Development proposed 

A proposed Headwaters of the Wisconsin River trail is being looked at for development in the next 15 years. This would start at Rummels Road in Conover and end at Dr. Oldfield Park, just north of Eagle River at the intersection of Adams Road and Highway G, a river distance of 25 miles. 

The route, popular for those using kayaks and canoes, would need some major improvements in access points for both ingress and egress. 

Additionally, some river camping sites will be looked at where the county has land ownership.

The committee also looked at possible improvements at the fairgrounds boat landing on the Eagle River and a more stable pier at Eagle Lake Park, along with improving the present pavilion and adding another with electrical outlets to be available for group rental. A walking trail connecting the picnic-swimming area to the boat landing is also proposed.

Finally the committee agreed at this time to prioritize outdoor recreation development, with the Torch Lake RV Park expansion first, development of the Tamarack Springs off-highway motorcycle trail and camping second, and opening the county public shooting range between Conover and Eagle River year-round third.