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, June 28, 2005

From Joel Patenaude: Call In, Speak Out!

Dear nonmotorized trail supporters,
Wisconsin ATV Association President Randy Harden will be the guest for
an hour-long call-in program on Wisconsin Public Radio tomorrow morning
(Wednesday, Jan. 29) starting at 6 a.m.
Yes, that's early. But I would encourage you and any like-minded people
you know to set the alarm and call in to register your concern for the
increasing presence of ATVs on public lands in Wisconsin.
The statewide broadcast is prompted by a front-page story in the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Sunday titled "ATVs lead the pack: For
better or worse, all-terrain vehicles are quickly passing the
in popularity."
You can read the story here:
The story discusses the prospect of an ATV trail in the Northern
Highland American Legion State Forest in Vilas County -- where, in
2004, local residents voted 2-1 against allowing ATVs on county land.
Nevertheless NHAL superintendent Dennis Leith is quoted saying, "Let's
give them (ATV riders in the state forest) a chance."
The JS story also focuses on run-away ATV riding and subsequent trail
damage in Jackson County. But there's plenty of evidence of ATV damage
throughout the state.
Let's ask Harden why there should be more trails -- on public lands in
particular -- when the majority of state park and trail users are
to get away from motorized traffic and the attendent noise and exhaust?
Let's ask Harden why the majority of recreationalists seeking peace,
quiet and a safe and unspoiled natual environment, should have to put
with a destructive sport enjoyed by a small minority?
Let's ask Harden why he thinks so-called "multi-use trails" -- where
ATV'ers, bicyclists and hikers are theoretically all allowed -- are a
good idea and not nonsensical and dangerous? Why does he think anyone
foot or on a bicycle who encounters an ATV on a trail would ever return
to that trail again? Multi-use trails become defacto ATV trails, do
Let's ask Harden if he supports the buy-out of nonmotorized state
-- returning federal funds to release trails from restrictions against
motorized use?
And while we're at it, let's ask Harden why Wisconsin taxpayers should
be supporting his family financially by paying the National Off-Highway
Vehicle Insurance & Services Group Inc. $1 million since 2001?
"The payments to the national group are unprecedented - there is no
similar program for snowmobiles, mountain bikes or personal
The Journal-Sentinel reports.
He claims ATV'ers pay their way through registrations and gas taxes. I
doubt that that alone is what's paying the salaries of Harden, his wife
and son.
So tune in and please consider calling with these and other questions.
Harden has already notified his constituency to do the same, you can be
sure of that. Let's not let the loud pro-ATV crowd monopolize the hour.
Joel Patenaude, Editor
Silent Sports magazine
P.S. For a more sympathetic take (for the silent sports perspective) on
the threat posed by ATVs in Wisconsin, read "Here come the ATVs," the
recent cover story in Madison's alt-weekly, Isthmus. You could glean
some questions from that story as well. The copy is attached to this
Dennis Leith
Northern Highland-American Legion Forest

Mr. Leith;
I just read the article on ATV's in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I was dismayed, Dennis, to have read your "Let's give them a chance" remark. You are aware, of course, that ATV's have been creating havoc in the state for a number of years. I would think ATV users have had their "chance", but by any reasonable way of thinking the "second chance" ATV users deserve is the chance to clean up their act on trails already established.
As I review my correspondence with you, I notice that you promised to send me information from the meetings of the ATV committee regarding the decision to create a loop trail. At this point, I have not recieved that information. In the meantime, I have revised some of the questions, and would like information about the following: 1. What research and literature did the committee review to assess ATV environmental impact on other areas in the state? I would like to have the references to the research the committee used.
2. Given that you are presenting this trail as a research tool, what standards have been developed to judge if the trail is or is not a success?
3. Who will evaluate whether the standards have been met?
4. Does the ATV committe believe that a successful experiment with a loop trail represents a valid measure of the impact of a larger trail system in the Northern Highland-American Legion forest?
5. I would like to be made aware of any plans, however hypothetical, for a trail system in the NHAL state forest, discussed by the committee.
More generally, I would like to know where I can access any information from Master Plan discussions regarding this trail, including the Department of Natural Resources subcommitte on ATV's.
I would appreciate if you could send the above references via email.
Mark Haag

From Sue Drum: Journal Sentinel Article and what you can do

Hi everyone,

From Sue Drum:

If you haven't seen it here is an article in the "Milwaukee Journal about ATV's that ends with a quote from Dennis Leith, "I love this forest," he said. "But let's try doing this. Let's give them a chance."

Please write letters to the Natural Resources Board members. The NRB is at . As soon as we know at which meeting they will discuss the NHAL State Forest Master Plan, we will let you know and arrange for speakers and many people to attend the meeting. We believe it will either be the August meeting in Spooner or the October meeting in Tomahawk,

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Oneida County biking possibilities

Here is the Oneida Biking, Hiking, Birding and Canoeing Trails guide:

Take a look at the map and imagine the biking possibilities if some far-sighted people complete a bike path along the railroad grade from Woodruff to Lake Tomahawk, then connect with the McNaughton path to Rhinelander.

Then, find a connection with the Crescent Town Road bike path west along highway 8, and you would have a loop from Tomahawk to Minocqua along the Bearskin/Hiawatha, from Woodruff to Rhinelander along the railroad grade, then back to Tomahawk.

Is it crazy to think people might plan a vacation around this kind of bike loop?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

To Fishtrap Dam from High Lake

I took a recent paddle from High Lake to Fishtrap Dam-I forgot how nice those canoe campsites are on High Lake. I hiked along the snowmobile trail in that area on another day to see if I could get to them, but I ran out of time. I will leave that for another day!

You can get an education on thoughtful lakehouse construction by canoing along High and Fishtrap lakes. Some homeowners-even of fairly large houses- really care about making sure their houses blend in with the surroundings. (There is a great example on the north shore of Fishtrap, on your right hand side after you get on the lake)... Others do everything they can to say "Look at Me! I have a Big House on the Lake!" Some people cut down trees to have a "view of the lake", but I suspect more cut down trees so people on the lake have a view of them.

I have a few more thoughts on the subject:

Hey, lake shore homeowner: No matter how "good" your architect was, or how much you spent, if you chopped down most of the trees and planted grass down to the water, your property looks like a lesion on a dog's a few years, you will realize you own the equivalent of a half a million dollar mullet. Go out right away and plant yourself some trees, so that in 10 years or so, the embarrassment will start to go away.

Full disclosure: I own lakeshore property myself. I think people who live on a lake have a unique responsibility to stop bad practices, and encourage their neighbors to stop them too. My view is, if people want a view of the lake, they should get off their dead asses and walk down to the water.

And finally, has anyone actually improved on the classic dark brown log cabin color for lakeshore property? Add some white paint around the windows and you are set.

Monday, June 06, 2005

From Sue Drum


1. Opening the door to ATV trails in the NH-AL State Forest is an important Wisconsin statewide issue because the majority of residents and tourists who use these public lands come to relax and enjoy a wilderness experience and introducing ATVs will diminish this wilderness.
In just under 2 weeks Northwoods Citizens for Responsible Stewardship was able to gather over 800 signatures, statewide, and inspire 150 people to attend the Boulder Junction DNR public hearing.

2. The NH-AL forest is a one-of-a-kind resource! Like the Grand Canyon, this forest attracts visitors from throughout the U.S. and from foreign countries. Surely no thoughtful person can believe that the DNR’s primary mission, “to protect and enhance this unique resource” can be upheld by opening the boundaries to ATV trails.

3. The 3,325-acre section proposed for the ATV trail contains several wild lakes. The U.W.-Trout Lake Limnology Laboratory is currently conducting important research on two lakes in this area and a portion of the forest floor. One project involves an on-going 18 year study of Mercury levels in our lakes. ATV traffic threatens these studies.

4. ATV riders carry a 20-year history of destruction and fragmentation of public lands, even with attempts at enforcement and monitoring by their own trail ambassadors. What in the world are we doing sanctioning an activity that requires such constant enforcement, and where all attempts at enforcement have been unable to keep riders on designated trails? No one user group should have the right to misuse and abuse this fragile, wild environment.

5. ATV users diminish the outdoor experience for all other users through their explosive generation of noise and energy. On the other hand ATV users are not affected by the silent sport users. A minority use group should not consistently be allowed to displace the majority of low impact users who have demonstrated good stewardship over time. (Only 13% of state forest users are ATV operators.)

6. Rather than more ATV trails, the greater need of people, plants and animals is large areas of unspoiled land where the sounds, smells and sights of nature are uninterrupted by persistent engine noise. Such areas are rare and priceless.

7. The growing number of registered ATVs in Wisconsin (over 200,000 in 2004) can not be used as a valid reason to build more trails. 2/3rds of ATVs are registered for utility use on private land. Utility use is the most rapid growing sector, not trail use.

8. The present 5,000 miles of ATV trails and routes in Wisconsin connect most northern counties (not Vilas) to the U.P. where 100’s of miles connect the Wisconsin border to the Keewenaw Peninsula. This trail system is still uncrowded and there is no real need for more trails. ( For comparison, this 5000 mile trail system is 21/2 times the distance from Wisconsin to California.)

9. Presently Vilas County ranks 3rd and Door County ranks 1st in tourist spending. Neither county allows ATV trails. 63% of Vilas County residents voted in the February 2004 presidential election to continue to grow their economy by attracting people who care about the land. Voters realized that their healthy forest and lake ecosystem contributes to personal as well as economic prosperity. If we continue to promote nature study and silent sports, Vilas will standout as a refuge for the majority of public land users.

10. As people become more urbanized and alienated from the natural world, doesn’t it become more urgent to teach our youth a “land ethic”? Could we at least show our children that we are willing to save one forest for posterity? Could we acknowledge that in this unspoiled habitat of trees and lakes there is no room for ATVs. Such action would provide a clear example of what a “land ethic” means.

Information in this paper comes from Wisconsin Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), 2000-2005. Public land users: 13 % ATVs, 75% non-motorized
ATV trail miles come from Wisconsin Department of Tourism, March 2004 “Economic Demographics Profile of Wisconsin ATV users.