Promoting quiet recreation in Wisconsin.
Opposing the coming attempts to sell off Wisconsin's natural heritage.
Fighting denial about climate change. When are we hitting the streets?


Friday, September 19, 2014

Here's a Boulder Junction paddle-pedal trip for you



Last week I went on a paddle-pedal adventure, taking advantage of the great new segment of the bike trail between Boulder Junction and Manitowish Waters.  I parked my bike at the bridge overlooking Rice Creek.,   then drove back up to H and K, putting in at the Manitowish River  just below the rapids.

Its been years since I had been on that part of the river-it was actually better than I remembered.   The water was moving swiftly, and there were some downed trees to create strainers.   I never had to get out of the canoe, but I did have to pay attention.    There are houses along the first part of the river, but otherwise it felt peaceful and remote, especially after the first hour of paddling.

At about the time the river flowed into Island lake,  wind and rain and even a bit of hail came up.   I made the mistake of cutting a straight line towards Rice Creek,  which meant I had the full  force of the wind and choppy waves hitting me sideways.   Had I to do it over, I would have taken the long way around, sticking to the southwest, then cut across the lake when I got to the Creek.

At any rate, I made it across to Rice Creek, and then the wind basically carried me upstream.  You can see me moving through the wild rice in the video above. (whoops, trying to get the video uploaded now)  I saw these otter playing, but I couldn't really slow down enough to get a good video.

Lots of wild rice in Rice Creek!   Very quiet and peaceful.   The weather got better, by the way.

I was in the water around 8 a.m., and out around 2 p.m.    Once I got my legs to work again, I biked along the trail (did I say how great this trail is?) back to my car-about 30 minutes maybe.

Wildlife spotted: The otters, a mink (or fisher or something) eagles, kingfisher, blue heron, a huge cloud of redwing blackbirds descending on wild rice, lots of ducks and Canada geese.

Quiet hunting:   Bad weather makes for good quiet hunting.  This was  the big motorcycle weekend, but there was only a segment where I heard much of them.  The river initially runs along highway H, and that means you do hear vehicle noise from time to time.   Mostly, I noticed  the sound of wind through the trees.

I had a thought if anyone takes this trip-please remember that although the trip starts and stops along the bike trail on Highway K, for most of the trip, the river will move well to the south. If for some reason you have an  emergency and need to get out of the water, don't go north (to the downstream right) -the area is very remote.   Instead, look south (downstream right). In the early part of the trip, the river hugs highway H.   In the second part, there is a boat landing to the left just as you move into Island Lake.

  Though this is a "quietwater" trip, there were a number of strainers to look out for early on, so you should have  basic canoe handling skills.   Otherwise, this is a great trip.  I can't wait to do it again when the fall colors come out.

One more thing: The day before I ran along the trail close to the North Lakeland School and spotted a large coyote starting to cross, just  in front of me..   I wasn't able to get my phone out to take a picture, it was gone in a moment.   Did I say how great this trail is?



Friday, September 12, 2014

The scariest and most revealing argument of all for ATV's in Vilas County

Quoting from the print version of The Lakeland Times, August 29th:

     "Supervisor Walt Maciag said he found arguments against ATV's because of items such as noise, safety and invasive species to be hollow."
    " 'We have noise from other kinds of vehicles', he said." (p. 28)

That's like saying if someone is  kicking you in the shins, you have no right to complain if I want to poke you in the eye.

You see this argument a lot when it comes to noise.   On the face of it, it doesn't make any sense.   Peace and quiet is a scarce resource-the fact that other activities take away a good bit of it isn't an argument for ATV's, its an argument against them.

 Its another way of dismissing those of us who think the quiet of  Vilas County is an actual rare thing that needs to be preserved.    Which includes, by the way, most residents and visitors.

Mr. Maciag is basically saying "quiet doesn't matter to me, and if it matters to you, you don't matter either".

There are windows of silence, little bits of time when we aren't confronted by leaf blowers, "high performance" exhausts, fireworks, thumping car speakers.     That silence is an actual resource,  like whitetail deer and  clear lakes.  Visitors know that.  Its what people come here for. Its a real thing.  And it can be lost.


"Board; No Advisory Referendum",  The Lakeland Times, Vol 122-Issue 52 , p. 28.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Climate change is simple: David Roberts at TEDxTheEvergreenStateCollege

People's Climate March September 21st-come on board!

People's Climate Marchhttp://peoplesclimate.org/march/

On September 21st, the world's largest climate March will take place in New York City, to coincide with the U.N. Climate Meeting

Do you want to be part of something big? Buses will be leaving from Madison on Saturday and returning on Monday.   (probably from other locations in Wisconsin as well-go to the site to find out)

In 1970, 20 million people participated in Earth Day demonstrations in the United States, and that was how a bipartisan Congress and a Republican President passed the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.

This is a time to put away cynicism, and even worse, a tendency to want to analyze instead of act.  I take it most people reading this blog recognize the urgency.    But, we don't get a cookie for knowing the truth, if we don't act to do something about it.

ATV's all about a gentle ride through the Northwoods?

Not so much. Watch this Polaris ad and you can see the kind of "off road experience" they are selling. Note racing, going through stream beds, tearing through lots of different terrain.  Notice the suspension and engine power.   Is it sensible to expect people are going to pay for a machine like this to ride gently over old railroad beds and graded trails at slow speeds?

I bike through lots of the old back roads around Boulder Junction, and there are few logging roads that would require much power to get through.

ATV companies are responsible ATV'ers worst enemies.   They want to sell to responsible ATV'ers but they know there is a lot more money in selling oversized, overpowered machines to people who see the outdoors as nothing more than the backdrop to a video game.



Vilas County Residents and tourists: The Vilas County Board doesn't care what you think...

"effectively overturning" a 2004 advisory referendum, the Vilas County board jumped quickly to approving ATV's on a county highway in Phelps.

This in spite of the fact that a majority of residents of Vilas County and a majority of those who visit do not want ATV's in Vilas County.

 In that advisory referendum, residents overwhelmingly voted against ATV's on county roads and property.     On top of that, The Wisconsin DNR decided not to build ATV trails in the Northern Highland-American Legion forest after input from Wisconsin citizens clearly opposed the trails.

The Vilas County board could have held another referendum, but that takes a little time-time for opponents to inform residents what was happening.   And the board knew the results of a new referendum would be the same.

A majority on the Vilas board want ATV's in Vilas county.
A majority  of Vilas County residents do not.


Sunday, April 21, 2013


Happy Earth Day!

In 1970, 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day activities.  

No Internet, Facebook, Twitter, or cell phone crowdsourcing.

And we got the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts (sent to Congress by Richard Nixon, no less)

What could we do if everyone who believed in climate change hit the streets this summer?

When are we hitting the streets?




So you believe climate change is real-what do you want, a cookie?

What's worse? Not believing in man-made climate change, or believing it, but discussing it as if we were merely disinterested social scientists?

How many conversations about climate change have you been in in which folks:

1) Astutely identify psychological and economic reasons why people  deny the reality of climate change?
2.  Accurately assess the lack of intelligent media coverage of the issue?
3.  Focus with laser-like intensity on the influence of dirty energy money in our political discourse?
4) Discuss the impossibility of action in the current political environment?

Nothing wrong with these conversations-I have been in many of them myself-but what is our motivation? Is it  that we get it right intellectually-with a great deal of either smugness and/or knowing resignation?  What will just getting it right intellectually be worth in 2100?   

 "When are we hitting the streets this summer?"  That's the most important question we need to answer now.

Forget about the people who don't believe in climate change.    If everyone who believed in climate change hit the streets this summer:

-The Obama Administration would turn down the Keystone XL pipeline.
-We would stop plans to dig up and ship dirty coal to China.
-Conservatives would rediscover the carbon tax.
-A lot of people who don't believe in climate change would notice. ( motivated by the passion of those who are already motivated)

When are we hitting the streets this summer?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

We took the shot we had to take

Lots of folks who pretend to know better argue that we shouldn't have gone for a recall.   I think it was the shot we had, and the shot we had to take.  

Balloon Juice regular  DougJ   said it best:

Wisconsin Democrats took a pretty good run at Walker. They came up short, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Maybe recall elections are a trickier vehicle than we thought.
Doesn’t mean it’s time to retreat back into Vichy mode.
This seems right to me.   Lots of voters don't like recalls-and our side didn't win the battle of explaining why a recall was both constitutional and appropriate.   But more than that, it is crazy to think that just lying down and accepting the loss of bargaining rights (along with all of the other ALEC stuff coming down the pike) would have hurt us less than losing this election.

The only flaw in the recall was that it challenged our energy away from the protests.   People can't let this happen during and after the next Presidential election.  We need to work very hard for President Obama's reelection, but regardless of who wins, we will need to show up in the streets.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Q: What did these Wisconsin Governors have in common?

Gaylord Nelson (D 2 terms)
John Reynolds (D)
Warren Knowles (R 3 terms)
Patrick Lucy (D)
Martin Schreiber (D)
Lee Sherman Dreyfus (R)
Tony Earl (D)
Tommy Thomson (R-3.5 terms)
Scott McCallum  (R)
Jim Doyle (D)

A: None of them tried to abolish collective bargaining rights for public employees.






Face it Wisconsin

The DNC is just not that into us...


Crapping up Wisconsin, cont...

This has been making the rounds:

As reported in Lodi Valley News, Walker has hired Texan Dr. James Kroll to serve as Wisconsin’s “deer czar,” a position that gives Kroll considerable power over Wisconsin’s deer management policy. Kroll is an outspoken proponent of game farms, and an opponent of public lands and public game management, which he is on record as describing as “the last bastion of communism.”
The public lands Kroll despises include the state parks, state and national forests, and other publicly held property that hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites—particularly in the northern part of the state—rely on for deer hunting. Hunters on public land may be surprised to discover that Walker regards their annual trek into a state forest as a radical left wing activity akin to marching in a May Day parade in Red Square. But so it is.
Actually, Dr. Kroll is quite correct that hunting on public land is a socialist activity.   In the same way that breathing the public air and looking at public sunsets are socialist activities.

That being said,  it is doubtful that the people who pull Scott Walker's strings would really advocate privatizing all public hunting lands.  

 Most likely, The Deer Czar will work with (Secretary of Dismantling the DNR) Cathy Stepp in order to gut regulations on vanity cage hunts game farms,  privatize management rights to State forests, and sell off selected areas of those forests for private preserves for the kind of folks who contribute to Republican campaigns.









Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taking down Billboards

5 years ago, Sao Paulo, Brazil  removed all billboards from the city.  Apparently, people like the law.