Tubing companies concerned after new ordinance on Apple River

Updated: August 21, 2019 05:15 PM

Inner tubing on the Apple River has been a part of summer in western Wisconsin for decades.

However, the Village of Somerset Trustees passed an ordinance Tuesday night that prohibits tubing companies from using Village Park downstream so their customers can exit the river before a shuttle picks them up.


"I'm still a little confused, a little amazed by that vote last night," said River’s Edge Apple River Tubing and Camping owner Steve Kauffman.

Somerset ordinance

The tubing company said 30,000 tourists come to their business to rent tubes every season.

"Somewhere along the line somebody has been to the Apple River — that's what drew me here," Kauffman said.

The River’s Edge customers have been renting tubes to float on the Apple River since 1945.

Kauffman said after all these years, the company will need to find a new spot for customers to get off the river downstream.

"It's a devastating effect on our business, absolutely," he said.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS analyzed several years worth of calls to the Apple River during the summer months and found they haven't changed much. Over the past five years from June through August, Somerset Fire and Rescue responded to an average of seven medical calls related to tubing on the river itself.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS tried to speak with elected trustees on the Somerset board, but was directed to their attorney instead.

“The ordinance was passed to multiple concerns regarding the public’s health, safety, and welfare,” said Anders Helquist, the Village of Somerset’s attorney.

“I’ve expressed concerns on littering and garbage in the river,” said Tabatha Hansen, whose dock is near the exit point. “It’s detrimental to the wildlife and river itself.”

The new law goes into effect October 1, which means two of the town’s four tubing companies will need to find new exit points.

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Eric Chaloux

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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