The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on efforts to help landowners clear the gunk from beaches. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved emergency regulations that will allow Great Lakes landowners to use backhoes, front-end loaders and other equipment to scoop up organic material that piles up and slowly rots in the summer sun.
Until now, if landowners wanted to use heavy equipment, they had to spend $500 on a state permit and wait 30 days to allow the public to comment because waterways are publicly owned and managed.
Officials say a malodorous mix of plant life, invasive mussels and gull feces is getting so bad in some areas that they felt compelled to move quickly this year. Conditions are at their worst in July and August as temperatures rise.
In documents, the DNR described stretches of Lake Michigan where vegetation extended 30 feet off shore and was 2 to 3 feet deep.
The mats of vegetation may cause higher levels of E. coli and other bacteria that settle on beaches, presenting a threat to public safety …