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?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Letter to Dennis Leith

Mr. Leith;
Again, I want to congratulate the DNR on the work it has done on the Master Plan. In reading over the plan, my appreciation for the work you do has grown considerably.
I want to strongly support you in your plan to naturally allow more of the forest to grow back into presettlement forest types. I would have preferred even more of an emphasis on restoring white pine, but I understand that there are competing interests at work, and you have done a good job on planning a diversity of forest types.
I want to also strongly support the plan to increase holdings to the north.
And finally, as I have discussed with you, I want to strongly oppose the development of an experimental or showcase ATV trail in the Northern Highland State Forest.
I want to just summarize a few of my reasons:
1. A "showcase trail" is not a scientific valid measurement of the potential impact of an ATV trail system in the NHAL forest. The fact that it is a "showcase trail" actually precludes it being a scientifically valid measure of what a real trail would do. (We have plenty of real trails in the state in which impact can be assessed)
2. The issue of compliance will be very important at a time when the DNR does NOT have the staff to adequately monitor compliance. We can assume that snowmobile noise would be a good analogy here. Snowmobile noise is basically unregulated, as there is no reasonable enforcement mechanism for enforcing sound restrictions, and snowmobile clubs have fought reasonable restrictions. We are being asked to assume that ATV users will police themselves better than snowmobilers do now. On what basis should we make that assumption? 3. People spend a great deal of money buying an All TERRAIN vehicle. They will then be asked (on their honor)to use it only on trails (an activity that probably could be done with an improvised golf cart). It is highly unrealistic to assume that a significant percentage of people, given the opportunity, won't try to use their vehicle to do what it was advertized to do and go off the trail.
4. Quiet itself is a forest resource. We have only now begun to talk about this, even though most people who come to use the forest, or live in its boundaries, hope to encounter this resource. Snowmobiles have effectely decimated silence for a large part of the winter forest. There is a great danger that ATV's will do the same in the summer. Until we can actively monitor, evaluate, educate, and enforce methods to protect this resource, we need to be very careful about letting new motorized sports into the forest.
Thank you again for taking these points into account in finalizing your Master plan
Mark Haag5949 Oswego Fishtrap RoadBoulder Junction, WI 54512

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Back to the fray!

Please review Sue Drum's letter about strategies for fighting the proposed ATV trail. We have a lot of work to do!

Nixon Creek report

A long canoe trip up Nixon Creek to Nixon lake...I originally intended to stop at the beaver dam, but there was no wind and no bugs. The sweet gale was blooming. I saw a bald eagle sitting on the beaver dam on the way up, probably waiting for the sucker run. The same eagle sitting on the dam on the way back. The dam is engineered in a portage-friendly manner, a great improvement over the beaver dams in the Conover area of the Wisconsin River. Two loons popped up next to the canoe in the Manitowish above Fishtrap dam. I saw two deer alternatively swimming and walking through the muck to cross the Nixon and climb up one of the bare hills on the other side. One looked very pregnant.
A big timber cut just north of Fishtrap dam meant I had to go a long way before I could no longer hear human noise. Thereafter, I harvested a pretty good crop of quiet. Unfortunately, I squandered a large part of this resource by thinking too much. I am happy to report however that some of this quiet was used very well, and the area immediately grew another crop after I left. Speaking of the timber cut, I talked with one of the foresters responsible for the sale and she said the long term goal was to grow more white pine and red pine in that area. It seems that they are leaving a lot of big trees, which makes me happy.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Forwarded from Jerry Woolpy

I case you didn’t hear about this Wisconsin tragedy at the hands of Republicans:

From: Governor Jim Doyle [] Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2005 7:43 AMSubject: Stewardship Fund and Smart Growth

Dear Friends:We have communicated in the past about my efforts to protect Wisconsin's precious natural environment, so I wanted to let you know about two actions by the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee late last week that threaten our state's environment.The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee has voted to essentially bankrupt the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship fund, and to repeal Wisconsin's Smart Growth Act. I supported both programs in my 2005-2007 budget proposal.As someone who cares deeply about our state's environment, you know about my administration's aggressive use of Stewardship funds to purchase 42,000 acres of pristine wild areas all across Wisconsin in order to protect these areas for our children and grandchildren.In a cynical rejection of the spirit and intent of the Stewardship program, the Joint Finance Committee has recommended using these funds to purchase land that the state already owns. By forcing the Stewardship Fund to buy land that the state already owns, the fund won't have money to buy new land. This plan allows these legislators to claim that they did not cut the Stewardship program like they did in the last budget, when in fact their move has the same impact. After all the Stewardship funds are used up, there would be no funds available to protect land for parks or other conservation purposes. This vote is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attack on the Stewardship program.In another action, the Joint Finance Committee voted to repeal the Smart Growth Act that helps communities develop plans that prevent urban sprawl and development that can harm Wisconsin's environment and, ultimately, our quality of life. Repealing the Smart Growth law and cutting the funding for it would kill the incentive for communities to work together to carefully balance economic growth and environmental protections. The Republican majority voted to kill the program over the objections of a broad coalition of bipartisan legislators and business, and environmental and local government leaders.If you want to let your legislators know that you oppose these harmful actions, you should call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-362-9472.Thank you for your support on these issues. Please feel free to contact my office in the future any time I can be of help to you.Sincerely,Jim DoyleGovernor JED: rbwP.S.

-- Many of you have expressed concerns about the "Job Creation Act II" legislation. I agree with those who say we shouldn't unnecessarily limit the ability of the state to bring public nuisance actions against those who violate our environmental laws. We have proven that we can promote economic growth and create new, high-paying jobs in Wisconsin while ensuring strong protections for the environment.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Quietnorth required reading-A case study on how we talk about noise issues:

Read the three letters to the editor in the Vilas County-News Review about leaf blowers: The first letter is here, and two responses follow. A couple complains about the noise of a leaf blower, and suggests that if we rethought our idea of lawn care, we wouldn’t need leaf blowers.

For this heresy, the couple is excoriated, one writer suggesting that if they don’t like leaf blowers, they are free to move to another country.

I am not suggesting that we ban leaf blowers. We don’t live in a wilderness in the Northwoods, we live in a neighborhood, and its unrealistic to expect that our neighbors won’t make noise. On the other hand, why do we automatically assume that there is there more right to make noise than to be free from noise? I don’t know why, in a part of the state where most people earn a living from the quiet, it has so little standing that defending it cannot be brought up without derision.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

New silent sport, part one...

When I started this blog a few months ago, I expected it to be more contemplative than combative. I wanted to increase the discussion about, and awareness of, quiet in the northwoods. The ATV issue kind of blew up out of nowhere, and we have to deal with it firmly. But I didn't want this blog to be JUST about that....

So, here is my new silent sport for the month of April in the Northwoods:

Pick a rainy, windy, miserable day. Drive around the northwoods until you find the telltale berm of an old logging road. Fight the aspen and brambles to get to the other side of the berm. Don't follow the row of balsam that came awake under the logging equipment (following old logging roads being a different sport altogether). Instead, stand just far enough that you can't see the road. Contemplate for a moment the few old beer cans that litter the ground. Take a deep breath, and remember that a lot of what is bothering you, doesn't really matter all that much.

Score one point if you have never seen this particular road before.
Score another point if you hear nothing but the sound of the wind.
Score one more if, for only a moment, your sense of being in the world changes. (Its OK if the change doesn't last)

A strategy letter from Sue Drum

Hi everyone,

We scored a victory in round one but we have to keep the pressure on the DNR. I talked to Dennis Leith today and he said we woke up the pro-ATV people and they sent him 100 e-mails. There is a nice article in todays "Vilas County News Review", front page, on the public hearing, but there is also a nice editorial by Kurt Krueger, saying that he is in favor of the "experimental trail" so ATV riders can have another chance to show us how good they can be.

Things to do before June 1st.

1. Please continue to collect signatures by petition and keep circulating our online petition address:

We're stuck somewhere around 580, so we need more.

2. Write a letter to Dennis Leith, if you haven't, or write on the green form that they passed out at the public forum. All information you want to get to any DNR official will go through Dennis.
DNR - Attention Dennis Leith
8770 Highway J
Woodruff, Wi 54568

3. We need many letters sent to Governor James Doyle and copies to our two state legislatures: Senator Roger Breske and Dan Meyer
Jerry Woolpy is trying to contact Bryce Luchterhand, who heads Doyle's Northern Office in Park Falls, to find out if there is a
more direct address than the usual one to separate us from the crowd. You only need to write one good letter and send it to
everybody. Dennis said that if you write to the lawmakers they will ask him what is going on. Breske is good at responding but
Meyer rarely does. At least Meyer can't say he never heard from us.

Governor James Doyle -
Senator Roger Breske -
Assemblyman Dan Meyer -

4. Write a "letter to the editor" and send it to local newspapers. Again it can be the same letter. Give our online petition address
in case they want to show support.

Lakeland Times Editors-
Rhinelander Daily News Editor -
Tomahawk Leader-
Vilas County News Review-

After June 1st.

The DNR will pass their recommendations onto the Natural Resources Board. The board will meet and finalize the Master Plan.
Public participation is allowed at these meetings. I will find out as soon as they announce the date and a group of us will attend and speak. Dennis thinks the meeting will either be the end of August in Spooner or, more likely, in October in Tomahawk.

The web address for the Wisconsin Natural Resource Board:
On that page you will find the e-mail address of the Executive Assistant, Amy Lemberger and profiles with the address of each individual member. It would be a good idea to send letters after June 1st. I will find out if we can send all letters to Amy. Some of you may know individual board members which would give you a valuable connection. Members are: Stephen Willet, Attorney, John Welter, Attorney, Christine Thomas, Associate Dean at U.of W. Steven Point, Herbert Behnke, retired from 21st Century Genetics, Jonathan Ela, retired from Sierra Club, Howard Poulson, retired president Wis. Farm Bureau, Gerald O'Brien, Attorney.
All have been appointed by the Governor.

any questions - Sue Drum, 715-686-2655,

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Vilas County News-Review article on the Boulder Junction meeting

Quick Report from Wausau Master Plan Meeting...

Only I and one other person spoke about the ATV trail (both opposed). Joe Ryder's testimony was devastating. He worked as a conservation warden and trained ATV users on county land. He said basically that there was no fence, gate, or berm that would "keep the clamps on the yahoos". There were a handful of people there who seemed in favor of the trail, but they didn't speak on record. I wonder if there is a stealth campaign going on here...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Jerry Woolpy's letter to Dennis Leith about the Boulder Junction meeting

May 6, 2005

Dear Dennis Leith, Editors, Friends, and Neighbors,

To summarize the open meeting at Boulder Junction on the master plan for the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest last night:

Well over one-hundred people assembled to comment on the plan. Over thirty spoke with comments coming to a clear consensus as follows:

We are appreciative the good and thorough work that has gone into the plan especially as it has delineated the vast inventory of species, land, and water in the forest. We would like to see more emphasis placed on restoring the pine forest that was here before the intensive logging of the early twentieth century with pines as opposed to aspen. We would like to expand the protected forest making it contiguous with forests in the Upper Peninsula completing essential corridors for the movement and distribution of indigenous flora and fauna. We oppose clear cutting and support selective logging done in accordance with conservative principles. We want to preserve and protect the unique opportunities for world class scientific investigation that the forest ecosystem provides. We strongly favor reserving the forest for the enthusiasms of aesthetic, contemplative, and silent sports persons. Above all we favor a quiet freshness characterized by tall pine trees with a rich under story of seedlings, wildflowers, indigenous ground cover, clear lakes and streams.

We find the proposed experimental ATV trail to be incompatible with any reasonable expectations of achieving our objectives. This is because ATVs are noisy, dangerous, smelly, dusty, muddy, distribute the seeds of plants that displace more fragile native ones, cause erosion, cause eutrophication, poison and disruption of our waters. On this point, despite the influence of a small minority supported for the most part by people who do not live here, we speak for a clear majority of two or three to one--proven by referendum. We argue that there are already ATV trails throughout the state, that they are not containable by any means so far demonstrated, that they may contribute to the economy of our hospitals and to a limited number of businesses but that their net effect is economically negative and that it could take generations to restore the habitat in the wake of their destruction.

Approximately thirty persons spoke to these points. Only one person argued for the experimental trail saying that ATVs were inevitable and that they would help keep intercity punks out of trouble. Another spoke to how diligently ATV clubs were trying to train ambassadors to keep ATVs on the trails.

Jerry Woolpy
Minocqua, Wisconsin

From Sue Drum...About the Boulder Junction Meeting

Hi everyone,

I imagine all of you have received Jerry Woolpy's excellent synopsis of the meeting. So you know that thanks to you, the May 5th public hearing was certainly an over whelming show of opposition to ATV's in the NH-AL State Forest.We feel that about 150 people packed the community center. If you were late I'm told parking was non-existant. 30 people spoke and 28 were opposed to ATV's. I gave Dennis Leith over 800 signatures from all over the state opposing ATV's.
This included the Online signatures and many that I received at the hearing. These were all accumulated in a little less than 2 weeks. There are still petitions out there and the Online site will continue until May 25th. I'm sure we will top 1,000 signatures.

WRJO (94.5 fm) had Ken Anderson interview Julie Hilary and Harry Griswald who gave very convincing arguments against the ATV trail in the forest. Their words were played on the radio all day Friday, May 6th.

Some of the speakers during the 6 to 8:30 hearing (it ran overtime) were eloquent. A young man from Mexico said that our public land is a jewel. There is nothing like it in Mexico. He said that all over the world we are running out of wilderness and lakes like we have in Vilas County. NH-AL, he said was unique, like the Grand Canyon. There is no place like it in the world.

Thank you very much for once more making it clear that residents of Vilas and visitors from through-out Wisconsin, love our public lands. You have drawn a protective line in the sand around NH-AL. I hope we win.

Now we must keep the pressure on. What's our next strategy? Ideas!! Sue Drum

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Meeting Reminder....From Sue Drum

Hi everyone,

I hope a huge crowd of people come tomorrow night, May 5th, 6 - 8 p.m. Boulder Junction Community Center. When all those who oppose the ATV trail in our state forest stand it should sound like a thunder storm. I have over 500 signatures to give to Dennis Leith and expect more to be given to me at the meeting. I will wear a name tag and stay near the door. Joan Knoebel and Burton Kushner represented us well in Madison. Sounds like our-side out numbered the ATV side 3 to 1, since there was only 4 people there. I have heard nothing from Neenah. Thanks for your great effort. Sue Drum

Monday, May 02, 2005

From Sue Drum-Rules for verbal testimony

Hi everyone,

Kim Kost just sent me the offficial DNR Public Hearing rules. They are attached. Sue

Northern Highland- American Legion State Forest
Public Meetings and Environmental Impact Statement Hearings
A series of public meetings and mailings are scheduled to present the Northern Highland-American Legion (NHAL) Draft Master Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). All meetings will occur from 3:30 to 8:00 PM. A public hearing will be held during each meeting, beginning at 6:00 PM, to enable individuals to present their thoughts by verbal testimony.
Participants at the public meetings will find opportunity to comment on the draft in several ways:
Complete a written comment form and deposit it at the meeting, or take it home to return by mail.
Present verbal testimony during the public hearing portion of the meeting. Your testimony will be recorded for the public record. Hearing Appearance forms will be available at the entrance welcome table at each public meeting. You must complete a form to be called upon for testimony during the hearing. All hearings begin at 6:00PM.
Last Revised: Tuesday March 22 2005

Important information about meeting on May 5th

"Hi everyone,

Joe Hovel tells me that the DNR will hold a formal public hearing, May 5th, 6-9 p.m.Boulder Junction Community Center, which means that if you wish to speak you must sign up ahead of time and you will be given about 3 minutes to speak. Your words will become part of the official public record. Joe and I both plan to speak and I have attached copies of what we will say. We need a bus load of people at this meeting to show overwhelming oppostion in order to win. Sue Drum"

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Kevin McCullough's editorial in the Lakeland Times...

Titled "Proposed NHAL ATV trail a concession, not a compromise".

This is a great essay. The Lakeland Times would benefit from having Kevin on the editorial page much more often.