In 1970 Beth Martineau fought the Conservation Commission (the predecessor of the Department of Natural Resources) over access to Upper Spring Lake in Palmyra Wisconsin as they attempted to add the property to the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Now, the fate of Upper Spring Lake is once again back in court. The original dam was washed out while the current owners were under negotiations to buy the property out of bankruptcy. When the deal went through, the owners worked with the DNR to rebuild and improved, modern dam; spending about $1 million in the process.
As part of the dam permitting, the creek became a navigable waterway and canoers and kayakers were allowed to portage past the dam. As more visitors arrived, some quite carelessly and with little respect for the water and surrounding lands, the owners posted “Private Property” signs. It will be up to the courts to decide if in the fact it is private property or DNR land.
Beth Martineau was ruled to own “as much land as the water covered when the water at the old dam was 13 feet, 4 inches deep. Because it was somewhat lower in 1972, the judge said Martineau also had a strip of dry land varying from 6 to 50 feet around the water’s edge.” The DNR is claiming the owners are exceeding the 13-foot-4-inch water level behind the dam, meaning more water is impounded and trespassing on state forest land that surrounds the lake.