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, June 29, 2006

On the WPS betrayal of Bond Falls...

Objections to Bond Falls Development in the U.P.

A number of letters to read, including Joe Hovels, in the Vilas County News Review about the Bond Falls betrayal.

From Brook Waalen-League of Conservation Voters

I am posting the conclusion of a letter from Brook about the NRB meeting on a proposed ATV recreational area. I will post the complete letter over the weekend:

"In the end the NRB voted unanimously to support the DNR’s exploration into the concept of a Wreck Area. This came as no surprise. What was a surprise is that about half the NRB members went out of their way to say that this is not a solution to existing ATV problems and that the problems are widespread and serious and need to be addressed. There was some other subtle but interesting play that occurred – I’d be happy to expound on that by phone if anyone wants the full report.

The DNR knows that the NRB is not going to bless any plan for a Wreck Area unless certain conditions are met. This is good news for us. There was no stopping the Wreck Area at this stage of development and I don’t know if we really want to stop it. The ATV lobby is going to have to make some concessions if they want this Wreck Area concept to fly with State backing and that might be good for us.

In the meantime if gas hits $5.00 per gallon we won’t have to worry too much about motorsports getting out of hand in the woods.



Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
2596 State Road 35, Luck, Wisconsin 54853

Office: 715.472.5000 Cell: 608.658.0186"

John Bates-"The Precautionary Principle"

John Bates' columns in the Lakeland Times are must-reads. John teaches us-gently and with humour-how to recognize and appreciate the natural gifts that we have around us in the Northwoods-And how to protect those gifts.

I only have two complaints-the first is that his columns aren't available (as far as I can tell) on the online edition of the Lakeland Times. The second is that his views are "buried" too far in the paper. He should have space on the editorial page to counterbalance its reflexive anti-DNR, prodeveloper stance.
This last week's column is a great example. John writes about the current trend of dismissing environmental concerns with a fake scientism that says we have to be "certain" and need complete information before we can act to protect the environment. The President's position on global warming and the Lakeland Times' editorial stance on shoreline development come to mind as examples.

John counters:

"We move to new places, take new jobs, raise children, make friends, get married, start businesses, convict people in courts of law, elect officals, manage our resources, et. al., based nearly always on incomplete information."

In counterpoint, John recommends The Precautionary Principle: "...if the consequences of an action are judged to have the potential for major or irreversible damage to humans or the natural world, it is deemed wise not to advance the action."

Please look for the entire essay in the June 23rd edition of the Lakeland Times. Sorry it isn't online, so I can't give you a link.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

From Brook Waalen-Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters


The Natural Resources Board ( is scheduled to decide whether or not to direct the DNR to further explore the feasibility of an Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area (see attached). This doesn’t mean that any area will be approved it just means that the DNR is moving ahead slowly and making certain that it has the blessing of all the big players before it considers building a rather large (2,000 acres or larger) this facility.

I will provide comments on this proposal and will basically ask that the NRB and the DNR direct resources at fixing existing ATV problems before it spend millions on an extreme motorsport facility. My comments and a supplemental fact sheet are attached.

If anyone wants to show support (I know the motorsport community will bring a large contingent) for silent sports and the environment you may attend but it’s too late to sign up to speak. The NRB is meeting at River Falls at Rodili Commons at the University and the OHV Recreation Area should be on at about 9am.

Two weeks from now the Governor’s State Trails Council ( takes up the same issue. I’ll be providing a 15 min presentation to that group on Friday, July 14 at 12:30. ATVers always have a show of force at these meetings while silent sport folks and nature lovers are conspicuously absent. That’s not a call to arms or a guilt trip but we need to ready ourselves to be a part of a public discourse that will determine the fate of our public lands and trails.

Brook Waalen

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
2596 State Road 35, Luck, Wisconsin 54853

Monday, June 26, 2006

Nature watch....

I had been complaining about the stealth bear that keeps eating the suet cakes we leave out for the birds. I wouldn't mind so much if we actually saw the bear. We had company visit this weekend, and at 7:00 PM, while we were in the screen porch, the bear sauntered by. He didn't stay long, either wary of the people in the screen porch or noticing that I hadn't put out a new suet cake. The bear wasn't particularly large, but when you see one that close, it is pretty impressive.

A pileated woodpecker has returned, but is skittish about returning to the suet cake. The Trumpeter swans seemed to have moved on, perhaps to grassy lake, by one report. There seem to be two pairs of loons (or four singlets) that spend time on Oswego-resulting in some loud loon arguments at night.

email from Merrill Horswill-ATV trails and invasive species

From Merrill Horswill;

Hi Mark,
As I emailed Sue, I think the issue of the spread of invasive species should be raised and researchedbefore any ATV trails are allowed in the Northwoods.As you are aware, Presque Isle has a large infestationof garlic mustard in town around the DNR Rearing pondsand the woods adjacent. Steve Garske, GLIFWC Botanistwho found our infestation has since found garlicmustard in the Northern Highlands SF in manylocations.As it happened, last Saturday Bob & I hiked on theUller Hiking/Ski Trail in Iron Cty. with theNorthwoods Native Plant Society. On the hike werebotantists with the Ottawa NF, DNR and botanyprofessor at Northland College. We had a beautifulhike on the wooded trail and saw a variety ofwildflowers and ferns. However, when the trail crossedthe ATV trail (which Iron Cty has in abundance), wefound garlic mustard. No garlic mustard on the hikingtrail but on the ATV trail. What does this tell you?By the way, us silent sports enthusiasts pulled thegarlic mustard and picked up a large garbage bag oftrash from the ATV trail. The threat to the northwoodsby ATVs was evident on just this one hike.
Merrill Horswill

Friday, June 23, 2006

Which way for Northern WIsconsin Lakes?

On Quietnorth's required reading list for people interested in the lakes of the Northern Highland forest. Developed by the University of Wisconsin Limnology department.

Heritage Lakes Project..."Rewilding" Wisconsin Lakes

Would your lake be appropriate for rewilding?

Heritage Lakes Project....A very cool idea!

The DNR presented this idea at the Vilas County Lakes Association meeting. I think it is the right idea at the right time. Wisconsin lake owners are concerned about "keeping the north the north" and keeping the value of their property. Value becomes associated with a pristine, natural looking shoreline.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A winter park for Boulder Junction?

St. Germain Bike Path nearly complete!

From the Vilas County News Review

From Ted Ritter, Vilas County AIS coordinator


Please see the following (also attached) DNR news release regarding DNR wardens stepped up efforts to help stop the spread of AIS. This is welcome news! Thank you, Wardens!

Ted RitterVilas Co. AIS Coordinator330 Court StreetEagle River, WI 54521Phone: (715) 479-3738Fax: (715) 479-1978


Released June 20, 2006, in the DNR News

Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark (608) 266-1115;
Deputy Chief Warden Karl Brooks (608) 266-7820

Conservation wardens step up education to contain aquatic invasive species
July 4 effort aims to boost boater awareness and prevention

MADISON – State conservation wardens will stop at boat landings across Wisconsin during the July 4th holiday to talk to boaters and enforce a state law aimed at preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species that can harm lakes and rivers and hamper recreation.
“Aquatic invasive species can threaten boating, fishing, hunting, swimming and other favorite recreational pastimes,” says Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark. “Preventing their spread to new waters depends on the individual behavior of the more than 630,000 boaters. We need everyone to cooperate.”
Conservation wardens will distribute literature about aquatic invasive species and show boaters how to clean their boats to avoid accidentally transporting invaders to a new water, Stark says.
“If boaters refuse to comply with the law, they can expect a citation,” he says. “We are serious about preventing the spread of invasive species.”
Aquatic invasive species spread when they cling to a boat or trailer or are transported in bilge water or a bait pail from boaters leaving a water infested with invaders. A 5-year-old state law makes it illegal for people to launch a boat or boating equipment with an aquatic plant attached; a first citation carries a $154.50 fine; subsequent violations can go up to $249.
Aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian water-milfoil, two of the most common in Wisconsin, can rapidly multiply and take over, displacing native species, reducing the food supply for fish, and setting the stage for excessive growth of blue-green algae and other aquatic plants. Invasive species can also hamper recreation: Eurasian water-milfoil, for instance, forms thick mats at the water’s surface that get tangled in boat propellers, make swimming difficult and collect onshore in smelly clumps that can harbor bacteria.
In other efforts to raise awareness of aquatic invasive species, DNR will be delivering public service announcements to television and radio stations across Wisconsin and encouraging them to air the announcements during the holiday weekend and throughout the summer.
Ron Martin, who coordinates DNR’s efforts to manage aquatic invasive species, welcomes the wardens’ efforts. “It has the chance to make the difference,” he says.
Martin says that most people should be aware of the prevention steps because of significant media attention in recent years, and because of information and education efforts by the state and other groups, including the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species. The council promotes June as “Invasive species awareness month” and lists opportunities to get involved on its Web site. <>. Eighty percent of Wisconsin boaters surveyed in 2003 said they took the necessary prevention steps, up from 39 percent of boaters in a similar survey conducted in 1994.
The wardens’ effort complements the one-on-one education work done by DNR’s small corps of watercraft inspectors and several hundred volunteers who have received state Clean Boats - Clean Waters training. The volunteers are stationed at boat ramps to help educate boaters on steps they can take to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
To avoid accidentally transporting aquatic invasive species to other waters, before launching your boat and after leaving the boat landing at the end of the day:
· Inspect and remove aquatic plants, animals, and mud from boat and equipment;
· Drain water from boat and equipment (motor, bilge, live wells, and bait containers);
· Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash;
· Spray/rinse boats and recreational equipment with high pressure and/or hot tap water; OR
· Dry boats and equipment thoroughly for at least five days before launching into a different water body.
More information about aquatic invasive species can be found on the DNR invasive species Web pages: .

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Just saw Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker at American Players Theater in Spring Green. Favorite line: "There's nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head."

From Brook Waalen: Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters

From National Public Radio’s Morning Edition:
Interior Department Reverses Snowmobile Policy
Audio for this story will be available at approx. 10:00 a.m. ET at:
Morning Edition, June 20, 2006 · The Interior Department reverses a controversial proposed policy that would have eased restrictions on snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles in national parks. A draft of the new policy stresses that when there is a conflict between preserving and using natural and historical places, conservation will remain the parks' predominant mission.

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
2596 State Hwy 35, Luck, Wisconsin 54853

Office: 715.472.5000 Cell: 608.658.0186

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Geothermal heating systems

We are thinking of having a geothermal system installed "Up North" . If you have any experience with a geothermal system, or know of someone who does, please email me at

I am worried about maintenance costs, and how the system holds up in cold weather.

"Hobbies Can't be Enforced"

A good father's day column by Pat Durkin. Pat discusses the truth that many kids don't follow their parent's interest in sports like hunting and fishing, and we probably can't regulate interest back. The title in today's Wisconsin State Journal is "Hobbies can't be enforced".

What hobbies did you recieve from your parents? Which did you give up on?

I gave up on golf-I seem incapable of following my golf ball, even on those rare occasions that I hit the ball on the fairway. I like the smell of grass, and the way everything seemed bathed in a fresh coat of sunlight.

I did learn to appreciate the outdoors from my Father. Highlights: The magic of a late night smelting trip on Lake Superior in the U.P., the taste of eating fried eggs outdoors on a canoe trip on Little Rice creek, the feel of catching a large mouth bass on a Rapala, most of all, the pleasure of following a trail in the woods.

What hobby have I passed on to my daughter? Sitting silently in a canoe, resisting the urge to paddle while the current takes you wherever it takes you.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Celebrate Lakes Day Links: Clean Boats-Clean Waters

I went to the Vilas County Lakes Association celebrate lakes day last Tuesday. Those of you who are concerned about northern Wisconsin lakes should know about the VCLA.

Invasive species are on lots of people's radar. An unintended consequence of invasives are that they may spur creation of more lake associations.

I went to a "Clean Lakes-Clean Waters" workshop on voluntarily monitoring boat landings. If you have a favorite northern Wisconsin lake, volunteer to staff a boatlanding for a few hours this summer. The purpose is primarily educational, and according to most boaters are very supportive.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From Brook Waalen: Wisconsin's Wreckreation Park

From Brook Waalen;

To the Editor:

The all terrain vehicle (ATV) lobby has been pressing the State of Wisconsin to develop a 2,500 acre or larger “intensive use area” for off-highway vehicles, namely ATVs. ATVers want a place where they can ride hard, jump high, and tear through the mud without fear of repercussion from the neighbors or the law. According to ATVers a designated intensive use area would also alleviate pressure on other public lands because it would limit ground-ripping activities to one managed site.

Isn’t it optimistic at best and naive at worst to think that an ATVer out on the trail will think twice about tearing through a wetland because if he just trailered up his vehicle and went to an ATV “park” he could do it legally?

ATVers have been getting their way in Wisconsin primarily because they have a powerful lobby that keeps the pressure on the legislators who in turn keep the pressure on agency staff. ATVs account for most of Polaris’ annual revenue and half of Arctic Cat’s - that’s hundreds of millions of dollars for each company and billions for the ATV industry as a whole. These companies can smell the money and they want as much of it for themselves as possible.

These companies know where the money is (remember we’re talking billions of dollars) and it is in the manufacturing and sale of ATVs not the development of intensive use areas or trails. This seems a little counterintuitive since most people picture ATVs out on a trail or in the woods. But the fact is most ATVs are used in a work application and only a third of the ATVs sold are used for recreational riding. Who says? Polaris says.

“Most of the calls this morning would have you to believe that every ATV is used on a trail in the state of Minnesota. That’s not quite exactly the case. About two-thirds of the ATVs that are sold are actually sold for a work application…that’s where the vast majority of ATVs have been used and are used… The recreation market is about a third of the total ATV industry.”

Tim Tiller, President and CEO of Polaris Industries
Minnesota Public Radio interview, July 19, 2004

If we trust that Polaris knows its customer then the state needs to look a little closer at those ATV registration numbers that get thrown around like tube tops at Sturgis. The ATV lobby is fond of saying that ATV registrations in Wisconsin have surpassed snowmobile registrations and are hovering around 300,000. What they don’t say is that all snowmobiles except for a few rare exceptions are used exclusively for recreation while the vast majority of registered ATVs – according to Polaris – are used on site as a work vehicle.

That would explain why so many ATV owners don’t even think about riding them on a trail.

If there was money in intensive use areas the industry would already be there developing their own playgrounds for ATVs, jeeps and jetskis for that matter. Projections are that the property for intensive use area would cost anywhere from $1 million to $5 million and the facility would cost $300,000 annually to operate. Too bad Wisconsin isn’t considering using that money to repair the existing ATV damage on its public lands and trails.

Brook Waalen
Luck, Wisconsin

How about a park for ATV's, jet skis, fireworks, and party piers? We could call it "wreckreation area" or "God forsaken Hell Hole Park". The state digs out a 4 square mile ditch, lines half of it with concrete, and fills it in with water, and lines the other half with sand. All piers will be wide enough to have ATV traffic in both directions. Even the Honda Generators will have after market high performance mufflers!


Monday, June 12, 2006

Andrew Sullivan's quote of the day, from Blaise Pascal

The past, the present, the future. Where do YOU live?

Trumpeter Swans

On Oswego Lake...they make an actual trumpet call that is at once surreal, comic, and haunting. Echoing off little Oswego lake, it is pretty impressive.

They loons haven't seemed to scare off the two parents and their three offspring. They just keep gliding along.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Trees for Tomorrow

I attended the Vilas County Lakes Association meeting last Tuesday at Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River. I will report on the VCLA meeting in a day or two, but I just wanted to put in a link for TFT. I had never been there before. It is tucked in the middle of Eagle River, but the deeply forested grounds give you the feeling of being anywhere in the NHAL forest. Trees for Tomorrow has some great programs, and also sells tree seedlings.

Aquatic Invasive Species meetings...Protect your Lakes!.

Boulder Junction Town Hall, June 16th 6:30
Eagle River June 11th 6:30

Happiness is....

Watching a new bike trail segment go in west on Highway 70! Eventually, this segment will link up with the Boulder-Sayner trail. Follow the link to make a donation...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Any silent sports people wanna buy a lake house?

I see with some trepidation that the property across the lake is for sale. The previous owner kept a relatively natural shoreline, and the house itself was barely visible from the lake. The property is surrounded by state land. Lots of wildlife visits the lake from the adjoining state land. The realtor states it has a "sand beach", which is a little decieving and invites mischief. Actually, the shoreline is primarily made up of natural vegetation. I am afraid of someone moving in with a different value system.

If you are concerned about keeping northwoods lakes in a natural state, buy this property!

Email From Joel Patenaude of Silent Sports magazine

I didn't attach the related pdf, but if you email me I will forward it to you. Sorry about the HTML editor....

" Dear silent sports enthusiasts,

The attached pdf file describes the potential development of "one or more" off-highway vehicle parks in Wisconsin by the DNR.Included is a May 30, 2006, letter from DNR Secretary Scott Hassett to the Natural Resources Board stating, “In response to the growing issue, and to meet our statutory requirements (to ‘encourage and supervise a system of all-terrain vehicle routes and trails’), I have asked our Land Division to take a comprehensive look at the statewide ATV/OHV issue in relation to access, routes and trails.”Hassett continues: “The Department requests your support in putting together a public involvement plan and a concept plan for one or more motorized recreation areas that will ensure the participation of not only off-road vehicle enthusiasts but also interested stakeholders.”Also attached is a May 22 “draft concept paper” that summarizes existing state ATV facilities and lays out the argument for additional state funded and operated motorized recreation areas.Examples of such areas in Gilbert, Minnestota, two state parks in Missouri and Michigan’s Silver Lake State Park are presented as success stories without problems or drawbacks.The paper states that “new funds” would be needed to buy, say, a 2,000-acre parcel of Wisconsin forest land for $800,000 to $5 million and cover the $300,000 annual cost of operating a motorized rec area.The white paper mentions that the “valuable” and “neccessary” support of the Wisconsin ATV Association and similar organizations have “pledged to help with this effort.”No specific non-motorized group is mentioned as being similarly consulted as of yet. However, the white paper does mention “outdoor enthusiasts” including “silent sports groups like skiers, hikers, bikers and nature oriented associations. These groups may not be motorized enthusiasts but they are realizing the phenomenal growth of off-highway vehicle use and the need for them to be located in managed areas where they can be safely accomodated.”This issue will be continue to be followed closely by Silent Sports magazine and a growing statewide network of concerned citizens. If you have particular concerns with what you read here, please share them with the DNR and yours truly.
Sincerely,Joel Patenaude, EditorSilent Sports"

Loon vs. Swans...

I woke up to the sound of loon warning cries. Since the loons seem to have been relatively quiet lately, I went down to look. One loon in the middle of the lake was rising up, flapping its wings and yelling angrily at something across the lake. Sure enough, I saw two adult swans and three babies slowly cruising the shoreline. The swans didn't seem to be paying attention. Soon, the single loon went back to fishing.

Monday, June 05, 2006

ATV's-the machines speak volumes

If an ATV trail is made in the NHAL forest, what will keep machines like this out? By the look of "The Outlaw", the purpose of a curvy trail will be to create the ultimate road race.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bike-able and walkable Oneida County

Think about it:

Woodruff to Rhinelander
Three Lakes to Eagle River
Bearskin to Tomahawk

Identifying frogs....

This is a wonderful site. Now, I think the frogs I identified as"creakers" are toads, actually.

ATV Stakeholder's meeting, Part Three (From Sue Drum)

The first meeting was not the time for me to ask why Vilas County must have ATV trails. Norm Poulton, from ECCOLA, is also on our side.

I’m going to look up the following State Statue and Administrative Codes and you may also wish to do this.
NR 28 – role of the state forest to provide multiple, environmentally sustainable uses of the forest
State Statute 23 – ATV laws
NR 161 – all state land open to foot traffic as primary use
NR 44.07(3)(h) ATV trail development
Robert Dall, Rhinelander DNR posts the minutes to the Stakeholder meetings and related documents, on the web at

These are public meetings and chairs are provided for visitors. Questions from the public will be answered at the end of the meeting.

Our next two meetings will be Tuesday, June 13, 10 AM to 2 PM, and Tuesday July 11, 10 AM to 2 PM
Meetings take place at Reuland”s Catering, Hiway 51, Woodruff, just north of Hiway 70 East. – in little shopping mall near the Paint and Wallpaper store.

I am open to your advice and thoughts and will keep you informed.

Sue Drum

Back to posting....

I have a lot to post, but haven't had much internet access lately. The Boulder Junction library is now a wi-fi spot, and that will put me over the edge to purchase a powerbook. We were up north for a quiet week before and after Memorial day weekend, and even Memorial day weekend had many quiet moments, in between fireworks and one or two loud motorcycles racing through quiet country roads.

I have more to say about those two phenomena. But first a wildlife report:
- Stealth bears destroyed our bird feeders twice, both during very stormy nights.
-The Pileated woodpeckers are making a lot of crazed noise.
-After an initial set of spring loon battles, the loons have been relatively quiet, one pair courtin' on the lake and fishing. Then, last night, we watched as another loon landed on the lake, creating an uproar. All three flew off, apparently to High-Fishtrap.
-I caught (and released, of course!) a nice largemouth on a nightcrawler fishing from my canoe.
-Spring peepers have given way to creakers, and a few bullfrog bellows.
-I heard something bugling or trumpeting on the lake one night.
-Many albino deer and fawn sightings early on, but now with the summer foliage, they are harder to spot.

Most importantly, nighttime quiet was in great supply! Please plan a vacation to the northwoods during this "quiet season" and tell the local merchants why you came.

Pat Durkin on the Pier regulation issue...

Durkin exposes Gard's fake populist position. A must-read!