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Slalom course installed on Cedar Lake

New Richmond resident Dale Walker rounds a buoy on the new slalom ski course on Cedar Lake.1 / 3
Cedar Lake Ski founder Emmett Meister carves up the new slalom course on Cedar Lake.2 / 3
Lake resident Dan Early makes an early morning run on the new Cedar Lake slalom course set up near the southern shore of the lake.3 / 3

Jumping through hoops and skiing around buoys apparently have something in common ... paperwork. Just ask Emmett Meister, 25-year-old ski genius and founder of Cedar Lake Ski, the group behind a new slalom ski course destined for Cedar Lake.

Cedar Lake Ski consists of five of his friends "who live on the lake, including one friend I grew up with that's always out here skiing with me."

"I've been working at this for three years now believe it or not, to try to get a ski course in the lake that's all legit," Meister said. "There's enough interest on the lake with other people that they helped pitch in with the permitting costs."

Those costs amount to a $500 permit fee, good for five years. The course itself (consisting of 22 buoys, nylon anchor line and 20-pound galvanized boat anchors) costs closer to $1,000.

Three years ago, a determined Meister began the arduous process of applying for a permit to install the course out in front of his home on Cedar Lake.

"I've never done anything like this," he said. "It's been kind of fun, interesting, although I could have done a little more skiing if I wasn't caught up in the paperwork."

He was surprised to learn how many different local and governmental agencies have a say in the permitting process.

"Seems like we must spend a lot of money doing this kind of stuff," he said.

In the course of the applying to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Water Management Specialist Stacy Steinke informed Meister that he must also obtain local permits as well as U.S. Army Corp of Engineers approval. In January of 2009 Meister began by making his case before the Cedar Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District Board.

Dennis Early is president of the district board.

"Water quality is our number one priority in every proposal we review," Early said. "We wanted to know the answers to common sense questions, like when would the course be installed and removed each season, who would be responsible for its maintenance and handling any problems should they arise such as buoys getting loose, etc."

Early has some personal experience with lakes and ski courses. His brother lives on Carnelian Lake northwest of Minneapolis, which years ago went through the process of vetting and approving the installation of a ski course, which has "worked out very well for all the lake property owners over the years."

Following his presentation to the Cedar Lake Board, Meister began filling out the required paperwork for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In order for Meister's dream course to become a reality, he needed the approval of a number of government agencies including the recreational safety warden, conservation warden, fisheries biologist, watershed program supervisor, and program and planning analyst, as well as the project manager from the U.S. Army Corp of engineers and the St. Croix County code administrator.

The DNR application required Meister to obtain written permission from all of the landowners whose shoreline might possibly be affected by the course. The proposed course layout located it directly in front nine property owners.

According to Meister, it was a bit like flashing back to the days of door-to-door salesmen. He went door-to-door, petition in hand, talking with each of his neighbors, explaining the project in detail in an effort to convince them to sign the petition. If even one person objected, the project would be in jeopardy.

"To try to get anybody to sign something ... it's like a waiver type thing. It looks scary to bring to somebody to begin with. Some people you're there for over an hour talking and having coffee, the next person's like, you know whatever."

It actually went easier than he thought it would. "Everybody was onboard with it."

Once the appropriate paperwork had been filed correctly and written consent obtained from impacted property owners, in lieu of a public hearing, Meister was required to publish a Notice of Complete Application.

He also had to send a written copy to each impacted landowner. The DNR granted his application May 31.

Meister's original plan called for the course to be anchored partially in a zone classified as "sensitive" by the DNR. Meister accommodated and the course was relocated deeper to avoid any conflict with the area. The only other real issue with the course revolved around the dates of installation and removal each year. Those dates were determined to be May 15 and Sept. 15 to avoid any conflict with spawning fish.

The course starts just a couple lots north of Meister's Bar and spans an area roughly 850 feet long by 75 feet wide and incorporates some 22 10-inch round buoys secured to the lake bottom using 5/16-inch nylon rope and 20-pound galvanized steel boat anchors designed to grip the bottom and hold the buoys in place even under turbulent conditions.

"This end of the lake is almost the only good spot for a ski course because the prevailing winds in the summertime are normally out of the south which gives us protected flat water," he said.

Meister notes that fish cribs now encircle nearly the whole lake and that was a concern during the permit process.

"The new location will provide ample space from the new fish crib colonies," he said. "I, as a fisherman myself, intend to respect and be courteous to the rights of the fishermen. If there is someone fishing close to the water ski course, I plan on waiting my turn for use of the lake."

The newly installed course lays out a little like the landing lights on an airfield. Meister used GPS coordinates to help line up the buoys. The layout is designed for the boat to steer straight down the middle of the course while the skier zigzags back and forth behind the boat between the red colored buoys.

"The goal is to do it (the course) at 36 mph with as short a rope as you can possibly use," he said "It's kind of been like horseback riding during barrel races with no barrels. It's all about the challenge of making yourself a better skier."

Meister said he's is thrilled about the new course, even though it took so long to accomplish.

"I've been on the lake ever since I was born. I've been skiing since I was probably 8," he said. "A farmer down the road, Ron Wohler, taught me how to ski. I've been doing it ever since. I'm super excited. Having the course will make skiing so much more fun."