DNR staff conduct draw down of Vern Wolf Lake Dam

KENOSHA (WITI) -- Department of Natural Resources staff conducted a successful controlled draw down of Vern Wolf Lake Dam on Monday, April 15th. The draw down consisted of dam safety staff removing a board from the inlet structure to begin lowering water levels.

The dam is located in the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County. State Highway 75 remains closed from State Highway 142 to County Highway JB. Several trails within Richard Bong State Recreation Area are also closed around the lake.

DNR conservation wardens and Wisconsin Department of Transportation staff will continue around the clock monitoring of the dam.

Rain has caused concern over the Vern Wolf Lake levee.

This past summer, places like the Epper's Dairy Farm were in desperate need of water. This year, there is no concern about a drought for Urban Eppers.

As Eppers cared for his over 100 cows on Sunday, April 14th, he said he is all too aware this past summer's water worries could come back to haunt him.

On Friday, the levee not far from his farm showed signs it could fail. The ground around the dam containing Vern Wolf Lake began to erode.

Road crews began to block off parts of Highway 75 and nearby recreation trails -- including the pavement closest to the levee. An estimated two miles of roadway were shut down for safety.

Warden Kyle Dilley with the DNR is part of a rotation watching the water day and night. He says the main concern is how saturated and weathered the ground around the dam is. However, he adds that Mother Nature has helped to take pressure off the dam through the lake levels.

"Certainly has receded especially with no rainfall in the last couple of days," Dilley said.

Eppers says flooding would impact his crops, estimating a loss around $7,000 to $10,000. However, in his working life, Eppers has never seen the levee fail.

"I'm thinking positive," Eppers said.