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, February 24, 2006

In my defense....

I am not trying to excuse drunk snowmobilers. I want people to focus on the manufacturer's responsibility for building machines that are way too fast, and for confusing track and trail in their advertising. Each individual is responsible for the individual consequences of reckless driving, but manufacturers are partly to blame for the overall consequences.

Lawmakers call for speed limit

A 55 mph night speed limit just makes sense. An overall 55 mph speed limit would make even more sense. Is any snowmobile trail wider than a two lane highway? Isn't that the speed limit on a two way highway?

This article mentions alcohol was only a factor in half of the snowmobile deaths, which I think proves the point I made in a previous post-until we know how many snowmobilers are drinking, we don't know, maybe there are less deaths among snowmobilers who drink.

One lawmaker is considering a zero tolerance policy for drinking and snowmobiling. I have to think that is a bad idea, for tavern and restaurant owners, for snowmobilers, and for the DNR, who will look like bad guys for fining someone who had a beer or two on a trail stop.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Snowmobile Industry's dirty little secret....

The real reason for so many snowmobile deaths is that the snowmobile industry makes its money linking snowmobiles and racing-making snowmobiling a faux Nascar sport. I have covered this in the past, you can see my collection of snowmobile ads in past posts or find your own by going to the manufacturer's websites. Machines are way too powerful, and people are encouraged to buy faster and faster ones. There is absolutely no reason for a snowmobile to go over 50 miles an hour.

I think alcohol is actually less a factor than suggested by officials. I bet the percentage of accidents where alcohol is a factor is about the same as the percentage of people who would show alcohol use in a random stop of snowmobilers. In other words, it isn't so much the alcohol, but the speed.

Snowmobile Deaths on the Rise...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Forgot to mention...

By the way, I forgot to mention I did ski the perimeter of the Discovery center trail last weekend. I used my old wooden skis, and the trail was just the way I like it-just a little dust to get a good push.

This is a great "first trail" to take kids or people who haven't skied much. There are lots of trail choices that are reasonably flat, and there is variation in tree types and a number of interpretive markers to be interesting.

My favorite part of the trail crosses Tower road and runs along the Manitowish river. Unfortunately, you have to cross the snowmobile trail to get to it. I am not sure that, by the sound of what I heard, the new sound testing devices have made any impact on snowmobile noise.

The trail makes a nice run of twists and turns down by the river. The river itself makes a couple of turns and moves quickly enough here to be open in a couple of places.

Wind, snow, and thunder in Madison!

I can't believe I left all of my skis in Boulder, and I am in Madison in a great white blizzard. People are skiing by on our street. By the time I clean off the rear window, the front window is under another inch of snow!

I have a lot of work to do, so its probably a good thing I don't have skis!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The little lake I am privileged to live next to...

this photo taken a year or two ago by my friend Bruce Card...

Snowmobiler speaks out on snowmobiling...

Interesting comment posted by phil in the News-Review talkback. I have written about the two kinds of snowmobiling, and how one kind is incompatible with the northwoods experience. It is also apparently incompatible with the other kind of snowmobiler!

Vilas County News-Review: Great article on bike trails

There is a great article on bike trails in the News-Review. The author, Diedre Strauss, is the first person in the local press to really get it:

"Vilas County may someday be able to boast not only the finest snowmobile trail system in the state, but also the finest network of nonmotorized trails as well."

One Criticism: The article rightfully credits Boulder Junction as being the first town to develop a trail, but doesn't mention Jeff Long, the Boulder Junction Chair, whose vision got the wheels rolling, so to speak.

I will have more to say on this later, but here is an important link provided in the article:

" “Trek the Northwoods” is a 40-page publication promoted by the Vilas County Chamber of Commerce and other northern counties that contains complete information about bicycle trails including maps, services and descriptions of the many types of trails to be found throughout the county.
To obtain one of these free guides, visit the Trek the Northwoods Web site at or call 1-(800) 236-3649."

Thanks, News-Review!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Old Silent Sport Activity...shoveling roofs...

Sure, the Avalanche is a great device if you just want the most efficent way to get snow dumped on your head. But to make roof snow removal a winter sport, you have to get up there. Ideally, the wind and snow will be blowing fast like it was on Sunday. There will be a pileated woodpecker on a red pine nearby keeping you company. The snowmobilers are mostly at lunch. The work will be hard enough to keep you warm, but you will feel satisfied as the snow calfs onto your scoop, stays intact like a giant piece of birthday cake, and drops with a thud onto the rising mountain at the side of the house. Every few minutes, you will stop and stare into the wind. Remember: You are alive.

When you are done, Look at the mountain of snow. Take a dive. You probably won't break anything, but at 51 its a thrill, anyway.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Trail News from Northern Minnesota: Brook Waalen

Friends:The following email concerns a trail issue in Northern Minnesota: Brook Waalen
From: Peter Hovde
Sent: Friday, February 03, 2006 4:39 PM Subject: Hooray for the White Earth Tribal CouncilFrom the White Earth Tribal Council to the Becker County Board of Commissioners (Northern Minnesota):The Tribal Council comes out foursquare against a 70 mile ATV trail proposal that has the backing of the Minnesota Legislature and apparently the MnDNR.The Tribal Council based their opposition on the impacts not only on tribal members, but on local residents and non-ATV tourists as well. In fact, they make their case on virtually all the points we might raise, and then some. For example, there is a not-so-veiled warning that they are going to question the jurisdiction of anyone but the tribe, since they "have been informed by heirs of the original allottees that much of this tax forfeited land was illegally taxed and taken from their ancestors."Wow! Talk about a way to tie down DNR.They also issue a warning that the Tribal Council is "currently studying the possibility of designating all areas within the White Earth Reservation boundaries as a closed area, so that no ATV/OHM trails will be permitted."End.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Not skiing today...

Too much work to do. I am going to try to get a lot done to free up some time next week.

Vilas County Lake Association

The little lake that I live on doesn't have a lake association. I suspect that over the next 10 years, most lakes will have associations. People will start to understand the value of keeping "the North the North"

The Path not taken?

Do any readers know the history of the E.M. Griffith forest proposal (linked here)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The messiness of a mature forest

Mature forests are messy. Some trees are older and dying, others grow into wierd and assymetrical shapes, fallen limbs obscure paths and discourage plans. The overall effect is sometimes as ominous as it is beautiful. But filled in forests, even close to home, offer a buffer from civilization for those folks who take the time to go into them.

Continuing North....

After the aspen stand, you come across a red pine plantation that needs thinning (somehow my pictures didn't come out). Then, you start moving into the older red and white Pines. I know that some of these trees will remain (The forester wrote that a majority of them will remain) but whether it will have the wonderful look and feel of an old forest, I don't know.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Here is an idea...

This weekend, I am going to ski through the part of the forest north of Fishtrap dam that was cut last year. I will take some pictures to get a sense of what the area north of Oswego might look like after its cut. As I remember, there were mostly big red and white pine in that area, not so much aspen, but it will give us a sense of comparison with the old white pine forest south of Partridge Lane that I will show you tomorrow.

Aspen Forest

After moving north through a mixed forest, you hit an extensive aspen stand. According to the forester in charge of the sale, this stand will be managed to have multiple-age groups of aspen. He also thought spruce and balsam would continue to thrive in these stands.

This was a great day for "bushwacking", by the way. Enough snow to keep above the downed branches, but not enough to sink down much.

Tomorrow's pictures will show the beautiful old White Pine forest north of here.

documenting a timber sale....

I posted recently about the two timber sales happening in two of my favorite cross country ski areas. Given that the sales are a done deal, there is nothing else to do but watch, wait and document. I will be posting some pics of the areas I am talking about, though by no means am I a nature photographer. Lets see what happens!

This is the inviting introduction to the old logging road running north of Oswego-I love skiing the trail through this balsam growth. The paradox is: if there wasn't logging, there wouldn't be old logging roads like this. On the other hand, I would just like to see more old growth stands to ski through. You can see the red band on the white pine in the foreground.

Big money spent on small piers...

It seems the DNR has bent over backwards to come up with workable rules so that Wisconsin's lakes don't turn into party pier hell-only a very small number of pier owners would be effected by new rules, and even many of them would have options to comply. But a small group is using a particularly persuasive resource-money-to sway the vote.