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?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Some thoughts about the stakeholder's meeting....

-I want to focus on two arguments presented at the stakeholder's meetings concerning expanding ATV use into the NHAL forest:

First of all, one argument seems to be solely about money. ATV users ante up a lot of money through their fees, therefore, they should have rights (over and above other user's rights, and the rights of residents in Vilas County). I argue that silent sports users need to have an equivalent user fee. Like the scarecrow's brain, the cowardly lion's nerve, and the tin man's heart, the silence in silent sports won't ever really "exist" as far as the state is concerned without a user's fee.

Second point: ATV users argue that they need more trails than they have (between 5000 and 9000 miles!) to accomodate increasing numbers. But the total number of miles added by a simple connecting link trail in the NHAL forest would be negligible. Either ATV clubs have in mind a much more expansive series of trails in the forest, or their argument falls. One connecting trail isn't going to do much to lessen the "pressure" they describe.

Third point: I think we need to try to be several steps ahead here. There are only a certain number of possible "linking points", a certain number of areas that aren't obviously wetlands or lakes that would provide a corridor for an ATV trail. I think we should draw up possible maps. Are there two or three points that would almost HAVE to be the areas an ATV trail would go through to get from trail to trail?

Stakeholder's meeting: from Sue Drum...

Hi everyone,

Alan and I attended a DNR stakeholders meeting, Saturday, Sept 17 in Wausau and represented Northwoods Citizens for Responsible Stewardship. There were about 22 participants, 8 of which represented silent sports and the environment. Of course Randy Hardin, Wisconsin ATV Asso., was there and several advocates for OHV recreation which includes 4-wheel drive trucks, cars and motorcycles.

Tim Miller officiated the meeting and did a good job keeping focus on important topics. Tim gave us the new ATV manual code that provides specific criteria for designing ATV trails on Department land. The code covers trail siting, maintainence and detailed trail design. Each ATV trail request must have public input and evaluation of impacts on the natural resource. These criteria apply only to state lands, not county or national forests. They also apply whenever DNR funds are used.

The DNR can not ignore the demands of ATV groups for several reasons.
1. State statues mandate that the DNR "encourage and support" a system of ATV trails. Randy Hardin, you can be sure, gets together with state legislatures, like Mark Pettis, to promote ATV desires without any input from silent sport or environmental groups.
2. The DNR collects ATV registration fees (currently $30/2 yrs. for public use and $15 as a one time payment for agricultural and private land use.
3. A portion of the state gasoline excise tax also goes to the DNR for ATV use. The amount is based on a formula that allots 25 gallons of gas per year per registered ATV. Randy Hardin wants the gas allotment raised to $65 - $75/yr./ATV.

The DNR then distributes ATV dollars to counties and municiplaities as grants for trail building and maintainance.

ATV people claim that their numbers are growing rapidly. 1985 = 27,000 registered ATVs with 1200 miles of trail.
2004 = over 200,000 registered ATVs with only 1700 miles of trail.
In reality the Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism lists 5,555 miles of state funded trails; 1559 open in summer and 3996 in Winter.
At the meeting, Randy Hardin failed to mention that his Wis. ATV Asso. purchased 10,000 copies of a new digitized map, produced by U.S. Trailmaps of Wausau, showing over 9,000 miles of ATV trails and routes in Wisconsin for summer use.
You can order a copy of the DVD map and become a member of Wis.ATV Asso. for just $56.65

Brook Waalen said that the president and CEO of Polaris, located in Polk County, told him that 2/3 of ATVs sold were used for utility work, not primarily trail riding. With that many trails available and with connections to the U.P., are more trails really needed? Has a study been done to determine if the present 9,000 miles of trails and routes is overcrowded?

Tim Miller channeled discussion to an intensive use area. ATV people would like a 2000 acre intensive use area with campgrounds. When asked if such an area would relieve pressure for more trails in the north they quickly said YES.

Ideas for intensive use area.
1. Pick a site in central or southern Wisconsin near population centers to save gas used in hauling.
2. A large fenced in area would allow better control of off trail riding; make it easier to educate and give safety information to users; make it easier for staff to enforce rules
3. Let ATV users help design the area
4. Fenced area would separate ATVs from snowmobiles and non-motorized users
5. Sizeable user fee could go toward maintainance of area
6. This could ease the need to fragment public lands and disturb natural habitat.

Negative Points: the park would concentrate noise, dust and ATV crowds; It would be difficult to find 2000 acres that people would be willing to sacrifice and live near plus it would be expensive to build.
Perhaps ATV manufacturers, like Polaris and Yamaha, would help fund the sport that they created and work so hard to promote.
I don't trust ATV advocates to stop pushing for more trails. Is there some way we can work a compromise deal? We help them build their park and they help us sustain priceless natural resources.

Mike McFadzen, Representative on the Governor's State Trails Council, feels the state has a responsibility to guide the next generation of forest users. The state should be in favor of fossil fuel conservation, exercise to combat current obesity and health problems and most of all, respect for our natural resources.

One of the wardens present made the comment, "no generation has been granted permission to degrade land for the next generation." It is not a good trade off, he said, to accept tourist dollars for land destruction. That was a good note on which to end.

Sue Drum

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

From Sue Drum...

Hi everyone,

You deserve a big congratulatory pat on the back! As you have no doubt read in the Sept. 16, 2005, "Lakeland Times" and the Sept. 14, 2005, "Vilas County News Review", your far-reaching, grassroots network, that spoke out against the proposed ATV trail in the NH-AL State Forest, was successful in removing the loop trail from the final draft of the master plan.

The DNR, primarily Dennis Leith, deserves our praise for listening to and acting upon the feelings of the majority. The final Master Plan continues to sustain our forest in a relatively wild and undeveloped state so that the majority of users can still enjoy the peace and beauty of nature.

Wisconisn State Statutes still mandate that the DNR encourage and support an ATV trail system. This obligates NH-AL
planners to continue to look for suitable sites for ATV trails. The final draft of the 15 year Master Plan contains the following language about ATV's: " As a result of an overwhelming number of comments related to ATVs, the plan does not include the experimental ATV loop trail. The plan does allow ATVs on designated trails, however it does not designate a specific location for an ATV trail. A stakeholder group will be established to provide analysis and recommendation to the Department for the appropriate use and designation of an ATV trail. If no suitable areas can be found, no ATV trail will be designated."

We have not yet closed the door on ATV trails in the NH-AL State Forest. Therefore it is very important to again gather in large numbers at the October 26th meeting of the Natural Resources Board in Tomahawk when the final approval of the plan is on the agenda. The detailed agenda for the Oct. 26th meeting is not yet "on line", but they will probably have a listening session (as they did at their Sept. 27-28 meeting) Oct. 25th from about 4:30 - 6:30 P.M. This listening session is open to everyone for public comment. This would be the time and place to show up in large numbers. I have heard that key people with the ATV advocates will be there. I will call Amy Lemberger, N.R. Board executive assistant, this Friday, 9/30 to get details.

There will also be an opportunity to speak during the board meeting on Oct. 26th. You have to sign up ahead of time to speak and I will find out how this is done and let you know.

Please try to activate our very effective network to continue what we started, the protection of a priceless natural resource threatened by an unsustainable form of recreation, ATVs.

Sue Drum
11384 CTH B
Presque Isle, Wi 54457

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Random Thoughts-preparing for the next round...

-For people who care about quiet, rainy weekends are the best time to be in the northwoods.

-quiet is too often invisible as well...

-How about a user fee on silence? (Seriously-I will write more about this soon...)

-How about a business card that says "Silent Sports enthusiast-I am here for quiet recreation". Silent sports enthusiasts drop it off at every restaurant, gas station, bar, etc., on their excursions...

-How will we demonstrate "use" to the Department of Natural Resources when trail proposals come up? If, for example, a proposal suggests running by a certain lake, how can we document "before the fact" that people already "use" that place for peace and quiet?

-(For Vilas County) how about a "quietest place in the county" contest...people can write in about their favorite quiet places...we can "tally" the results and pinpoint where those quiet places are.

-Perhaps simpler than a contest would be just to interview people...ask them what their quietest place in Vilas County would be...

Any ideas? I am trying to be proactive and not reactive....

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tune in Tuesday to the Ideas Network...

Tune in to Wisconsin Public Radio's Ideas Network stations tomorrow
(Tuesday, Sept. 20) at 11:45 a.m. to hear Larry Meiller interview
Sports editor Joel Patenaude and Madison Rutabaga paddlesport shop
co-owner Darren Bush. They will discuss fall bicycling and paddling
opportunities among other subjects.

Before them, starting at 11 a.m.. Meiller's guest will be Milwaukee
outdoor writer and (past Silent Sports contributor) Eric Hansen who has
authored books on the best hikes in Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper

ATV Loop Trail Removed from Master Plan

It is too early to tell if this is a victory or not The loop trail was never well supported among ATV'ers, who can't for the life of them see why they shouldn't have connecting trails. But it does tell us something: An ATV trail in the Northern Highland-American Legion forest is NOT INEVITABLE. Some folks felt like we were fighting a losing battle.
We need to be sure that all discussions of potential trails inside the Department of Natural Resources, town, and county government are transparent and well publicized. The worst thing that could happen now is that we become complacent.

By the way, does anyone know where the proposed connecting trails are?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Squaring policy with plans...

Ideas to present at the meeting-from a letter I received:

I think the drafters of the All-Terrain Vehicle Use on Department Lands Policy should be asked how their policy would be applied in respect to the following specific situations.

The Northern Highland American Legion Forest in Vilas County
The July 2004 conversion of 0.6-mile of the Tuscobia Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to an ATV trail.
The draft includes the following guideline which seems to apply to NHAL:

1. Are social/economically sustainable --Are accepted and/or substantially supported by affected parties.

How does this square with placing an ATV trail in a county where by referendum the citizens voted against ATV trails on public land? The people's desire for Vilas County to be the quiet county is a legitimate goal. I personally would like to see at least one haven where Wisconsin citizens could excape the cacophony of motorized recreation. There certainly must be a number of state forests where social sustainability is more compatable. The Department's first application of their new policy by placing a trail in Vilas County, strikes me as a in your face retalitory action advanced by ATV proponents.

The draft includes the following provision covering the Ice Age National Scenic Trail:

Using the criteria contained in this document, State Natural Areas, State Parks, Wild Rivers properties, and State Ice Age and North Country Trail Areas will generally not be suitable for ATV use. On these properties, ATV use will only be considered by exception (Secretary sign-off) and will generally be restricted to a select few larger properties where the trail siting criteria can be met. (underscoring supplied)

This is weasle worded provision provides no protection for the Ice Age and North Country Trails, since the Secretary merely has to sign-off on an exception. I imagine the Secretary may have given his approval for giving a portion of the Tuscobia Segment of the Ice Age Trail to ATV users.

Finally, the policy of placing ATV trails should provide some remedy and compensation for a user group that is displaced by ATVs on a property that was previously available to them. In the case of the Tuscobia Segment of the Ice Age Trail, ATV proponents gained valuable infrastructure including a substantial bridge at no cost and no volunteer effort. On the contrary Chapter volunteers will spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours as they attempt to scratch out an alternate route over who knows how many years. Hikers will have to use the paved shoulder on a bridge of a busy state highway for a water crossing where a pedestrian bridge was available.

I hope this will provide additional insight to the folks in attendance at the meeting and representing Sue's viewpoint. This outcome of this meeting could well determine if silent sports enthusiasts, especially in Northern Wisconsin, are destined to become an endangered species.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bruce's Pic-North of Boulder Junction

Bruce Card's pic-published in Silent Sports magazine this month-North of Boulder Junction. There are a number of albino deer in the area.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

From Sue Drum-Very important meeting...

Hi everyone,

I am writing to you because, as you have e-mailed me, most of you have been invited to the DNR Stakeholders meeting, this Saturday, Sept. 17th, at the Best Western Midway Hotel in Wausau. This meeting holds extra importance as the final draft of the master plan for the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest is ready for the Natural Resource Board to approve on October 26 at their Tomahawk meeting.

Kurt Krueger, Editor of "Vilas County News-Review" told me that the ATV loop trail has been eliminated but the plan still authorizes future use of ATV's "on suitable trails". Kurt Krueger got the impression, from talking to Dennis Leith, that this stakeholder meeting, and others like it, will decide where to place this ATV trail, using the departments newly established trail policies and standards.

There will be many ATV people at this meeting, including Randy Harden, who will not be shy about pushing a corridor trail through our state forest to hook up with Oneida and Iron County trails. I hope to see all of you there to represent the intelligent, insightful,
opposition to turning yet another priceless natural resource into a motorized raceway. Silent sport users, by far the majority in numbers, are sadly lacking in money and lobby influence in Madison. The unique environment of Vilas County, public forests that support more lakes and rivers than anywhere else in the world, must be spared the noise and destruction from ATVs.

Linda Netzer told me this was an open meeting so you can bring other silent sport advocates with you. They may not get lunch if unannounced, but they can find food near-by, I'm sure.

Date: Sept. 17, 2005
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Best Western Midway Hotel, 2901 Martin Avenue, Wausau

Sue Drum

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

From Brook Waalen-Wisconsin-Minnestota-ATV summit

Friends in Wisconsin and Minnesota:

The following invitation is being sent this week as a friendly reminder about the Minnesota-Wisconsin ATV Summit on Thursday, September 22 (10am-2pm) in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Please respond as soon as you can so I can finalize arrangements. So far representation at the Summit will include silent sports clubs and organizations, environmental organizations, professional organizations, grassroots organizers, and long-time community leaders.

YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER TO ATTEND. Deadline is 4:00pm, Wednesday, September 21.

Call or email if you have any questions. –Brook Waalen, 715-472-2922

(Quietnorth note: please see earlier entry from Brook for more details)

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Several Photos taken by Bruce Card in Vilas County...First is sunrise on Oswego Lake, Second is taken from Cathedral Point on Trout Lake.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Silent Sports Magazine Link

I haven't figured out how to make a permanent links feature yet, but here is a link on the Quietnorth required reading list...

From Marcia Kittleson-The Sayner bike trail ribbon cutting ceremony

Just received a message from Marcia Kittleson-President of the Star Lake Chamber of Commerce. The Sayner bike trail will have a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, September 24th. Marcia said that the final blacktopping of the Sayner portion will be completed in the next couple of days. This segment will connect to the Crystal Lake-Boulder Junction trail. You can read about the trail in this month's Silent Sports Magazine.

I will post more information on the ceremony when I get it. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pics from the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage-

As readers of this site know, I have been biking a lot this summer-and consequently I haven't been paddling as much as I would have liked. Here are some pictures I found from last year's solo trip down the last stretch of the Manitowish into the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. I remember waking up all night wondering why I was freezing, later my uncle told me that it had reached down to 32 degrees. SOme "Hot August Night"
What I remember most was all of the bird sounds going on in the flowage all night long-loons, geese, ducks-lots of calls, lots of splashing. Very wonderful and a bit spooky when you are alone.
I hope to get out a bit this fall-these pictures have given me a push.

From Brook Waalen: Ready to Roll?


Sorry for yet another email this week but when it rains it pours.

The following article (from Rep. Mark Pettis’ office) ran in this week’s _Inter-County Leader_ (Frederic, Wisconsin) in a slightly modified form. I assume this hit many other papers across Wisconsin too. The article explores the likelihood of opening the Gandy Dancer State Trail in Polk and Burnett Counties to ATVs year-round even though federal Transportation Enhancement (also know as TE or T-21) funds were used for trail development. Remember, federal rules stipulate that if TE funds are used on a trail it must be closed to motorized vehicles (snowmobiles are the one exception).

Joel Patenaude, Editor of _Silent Sports_ magazine is genuinely concerned that this issue will have statewide ramifications. The threat is that the ATV lobby will look for sympathetic governments or staff to simply open non-motorized trails that were developed with TE dollars to year-round ATV use and bet that the Feds will be unable to track such violations or respond with a deterrent.

How to respond: We have the opportunity to share any "hot" ATV topics with in an attempt to get that issue on the agenda for the DNR's next ATV policy meeting (Wausau’s Best Western Midway, Sept 17 from 10-3pm...ask me for more details). Joel and I are no Chicken Littles but we do take this threat seriously.

I am having trouble with the link function, please go to here,

You will have to paste it in-then scroll down to article titled "Ready to Roll"