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, August 25, 2006

Thanks to Governor Doyle-From Sandy Gillum

Dear Governor Doyle,

It is with deep appreciation that I received the news that you have taken steps to reduce mercury in our environment. I was part of a WI-DNR research team investigating the impact of mercury in northern lakes. I am a mother, a grandmother, and a scientist, who understands the effect mercury has on women, young lives, and the economy of the northwoods.

Thank you for your leadership and courage to take corrective action.

Sandy Gillum
Wildlife Ecologist
1875 Bald Eagle Lane
Eagle River, WI 54521
Phone & FAX: 715-479-6051

Mute swan DNR dust up.

I think it is a real problem that the DNR can be shouted down, either by a few vocal audience members or special interest groups pulling the Legislature's strings. After listening to the Trumpeter Swans this summer, I am biased on this issue. If the mute swans need to go, so be it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Willow Flowage, Bike Tour, and John Bates Column-is The Lakeland Times going Green?

Two nice articles by Debbie Munson, one on a Northern Highland bike tour, the other on the Willow flowage. John Bates wrote a great column on beauty this week as well, though you can't get it in the online version. The bike tour article brings up the huge number of people riding the Sayner-Boulder trail (strangely not mentioning the St. Germain connection) and Will Maines shares the dream of many business people and bikers:

"With the success of the new trail, Maines said his vision for the future includes paved bike trails that would connect all of the towns in the county."

Make it so!

Hummingbird Madness...

Lots of hummingbirds chasing and scolding each other for a chance at the bird feeder this weekend, so we put up another hummingbird feeder. I am told that hummingbirds stick around for about another month. I watched hummingbirds going from cone to cone on the hemlock tree that is tucked next to our house. I didn't know they took sap from cones.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good news from St. Germain

A letter from Mark Hiller, co-chair of the St. Germain Bike Trail Committee, in the Vilas County Review. Can't wait to ride it this weekend! Thanks to the Vilas County News Review for covering this story. I think we still haven't figured out how big the bike trail story is!

Sad news from Bond Falls Flowage issue....

"environmental consultants" work their magic by playing with the idea of subjectivity. This will be a chronic problem for people who truly care about lakes in Northern Wisconsin. On the one hand, it is hard to "prove" that piers cause environmental damage. A person could put a dozen purple plastic piers all the way across my lake, and and I don't think the bald eagles, loons, and fish would care. And it is hard to "prove' that it causes damage to the "naturalness" of a lake, because what you notice is "subjective". I personally hate the big colored rafts that people put on the water. But at some point, it is hard to prove why that it is less aesthetically pleasing than my dock (though it is).

I think that we have to learn to make better arguments about this. I think we have to confront the current notion that we can't regulate aesthetics. I think the state should be able to decide whether a dock diminishes a public resource or not. After all, we regulate the number of junked cars that can sit on a property.

the next step would be to make the argument that we are protecting future financial resources. Only a small number of people can benefit from the private use of lake property. But the number of people interested in ecotourism is increasing. Forward looking States, counties, and townships are going to move to protect what "place" there is by restricting what private landholders can do.

From the River Alliance of Wisconsin: Important!

From: Lori Grant []
Sent: Wednesday, August 16, 2006 5:23 PM
te Hearing on ORW/ERW Next Wednesday
Importance: High

I had high hopes I could send you a message announcing that the Outstanding and Exceptional Resource Waters designations as unanimously approved by the Natural Resources Board were finalized. Unfortunately, I just got word yesterday that the Senate Natural Resources and Transportation Committee will be holding a hearing on the proposal next Wednesday, August 24, at 10:00. I've been trying to discover what, if any issues have prompted the decision to hold a public hearing, but all I've been able to find out is that the hearing was requested by Senator Breske, a member of the committee and representative of a large region in northeastern Wisconsin. Senator Breske's district includes Vilas, Oneida, Lincoln, Langlade and Forest Counties, which include 8 of the rivers in the proposal: portions of the Wisconsin, Manitowish, Trout, Squirrel, Tomahawk, Spirit and New Wood Rivers, and Swamp Creek.

This truly is our last chance to make sure the proposal is approved. Senator Kedzie, Chair of the Natural Resources and Transportation Committee, has a history of being fair and balanced on conservation issues, and has specifically told us that the best way to influence his committee is to contact him as well as your own Senator, even if they aren't on the committee. Short of a trip to Madison to speak in person at the hearing, emails and quick calls to their offices are crucial to this last step in the process. A handful of email and phone messages go a long way. The message can be very simple:

Please support DNR's proposal to classify 45 northern rivers as Outstanding and Exceptional Resource Waters.
Please give these pristine rivers the protection they deserve.
Maintaining the high quality of these rivers is good for our economy, and good for our families.
It is especially important to contact Senator Kedzie, and to also contact Senator Breske if you live in his district. If you live in one of the other northern senate districts, contact Senators Jauch or Decker in addition to Senator Kedzie. Be sure to give your address so they know you are a constituent. Even though they aren't on the committee, Senators Jauch and Decker will deliver and discuss you messages with Senator Kedzie.

Senator Kedzie

If you live in Vilas, Oneida, Lincoln, Langlade, Florence, Forest, Marinette, Oconto or Menominee Counties:

Senator Breske

If you live in Price, Rusk or Taylor Counties:

Senator Decker

If you live in Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer of Barron Counties:

Senator Jauch

If I gather any intelligence as to why Senator Breske asked for a hearing, I will pass it along. In the mean time, this is it folks - one last, make-it-or- break-it push!

Lori Grant
Policy Program Manager
River Alliance of Wisconsin
608-257-2424 x 111

Monday, August 14, 2006

Wednesday invasive species meeting in Presque Isle

Last Wilderness Conservation Association invites you

Invasives Among Us!
A Program on Terrestrial Invasive Species
Presque Isle Community Center
Wednesday, August 16 at 7pm

Details at quietnortharchives on the link above!

From Sue Drum: ATV stakeholder's meeting for August

An interesting meeting-click above for the link.

I just had a thought about these meetings:

Sue Drum mentioned that ATV proponents are using the "foot-in-the-door" tactic here-once a trail is authorized, they will push for more, until every community has a connecting trail.

I think Sue is right, but I also think they are planning on using the same technique that realtors used with the doc issue and agricultural intersts used the manure run off issue: When the DNR finalizes an agreement among parties, special moneyed corporate interests will pull legislative springs to invalidate the deal.

So I think those of us generally opposed to ATV's in the NHAL forest need to be on guard.

More to follow....

Legislature: "Let them eat manure!" From Tami Jackson

From Tami Jackson and the Wisconsin Association of Lakes. I posted the rest of the letter (with contribution breakdowns) at quietnortharchives: link to it by clicking above. Thanks to Sandy Gillum for sending it on.

"Those of you who have been following the NR 243 rules (Manure Management Discharge rules which apply to Wisconsin’s 150 permitted farms called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) may be interested in the following campaign contribution analysis from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The NR 243 rules have been in development for 4 ½ years. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is a non partisan group."
Tami Jackson
Development and Communications Director
Wisconsin Association of Lakes
One Point Place, Suite 101 / Madison, WI 53719
608-662-0923 phone
608-833-7179 fax"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

3 A.M., Saturday morning; full moon, coyote and loons

Movies never quite capture the sounds of coyotes howling. My first impression is that of a crowd disturbance coming out of nowhere. Only after a second does the thought "coyote!" come into your head. Between the impression and the thought is when hackles would be rising, if I knew where my hackles were. The coyotes got the loons' hackles rising, and they called immediately after. Since we had an unsolved plumbing emergency in the house, I decided to take advantage of the moonlight for a quick walk to the woods. When I got back to bed, I lay there, listening to cones from the big norways drop in the night...

ATV Deaths on the Rise in Wisconsin (again)-Check out ATV ads to see why...

Any investigation that doesn't look at how manufacturers conflate track and trail is bogus. I am hoping trial lawyers are getting on this one.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Spend a few minutes "soundhearing"

Sightseeing is the number one tourist activity in Wisconsin. (Reference unchecked at this time). But what about sound? We don't even have the equivalent word for sightseeing for the ears. "Ya, we are going up to Vilas county to hear what is up there..."

But if we asked: What are three things you think of when you think of vacationing in Northern Wisconsin, wouldn't one of the answers be "peace and quiet"?

Quiet is sometimes hard to come by in Northern Wisconsin, but it is around, and being that you are already here, it is free! So go ahead, close your eyes for a minute and just listen to the northwoods...

More on the farm runoff issue....

Sent by Sandy Gillum-A letter from Tami Jackson from the Wisconsin Association of Lakes. I posted the letter at quietnorth archives and linked to it above. Sandy Gillum calls the legislative action a "blatant disregard for public health". Here is a clip from the WAL press release:

"Let us be clear.

When people are getting sick from their own tapwater, that is not ok.

When manure runoff makes our lakes unswimmable because of e coli and fecal coliform bacteria, that is not ok.

When manure runoff makes our nationally renowned trout streams and lakes are unfishable because all the fish are dead, that is not ok.

When manure runoff changes clear lakes into algae basins, that is not ok.

When manure runoff creates nutrient rich waters invasives like Eurasian water milfoil prefer, that is not ok.

When our elected representatives take the paid lobbyist positions more seriously than the public health of their constituents, that is not ok.

We needed these rules before another spring pockmarked by manure runoff events, sick kids, and dead fish. The legislature has let all of us down."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Joel Patenaude from Silent Sports on WPR this morning....

Joel Patenaude, editor of Silent Sports magazine, will be a guest on
Wisconsin Public Radio's Ideas Network today from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30

He and host Larry Meiller will likely talk about the recent Keweenaw
Trail Running Festival, the upcoming Pro Walk/Pro Bike conference in
Madison, the Dairyland Dare challenge bike ride and the Fox Cities
Marathon among other topics.

If you can, tune in and/or call in with questions and comments.

Monday, August 07, 2006


My back is improving gradually. I am sitting in Kavarna, my Green Bay coffeeshop and restaurant. I still have glimpses of being on the river (funny how powerful 3 days of paddling can be on the "sensory manifold"). It wasn't much, but I am proud that we overcame inertia and were able to get out. I am already thinking about another, longer trip next year.

Factory Farms trump Rural Families...Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters

Once again, the legislature acts against basic health and safety of all in favor of a few moneyed interests. We need to consider what would happen if the Governor held the same general views as the legislature. I posted the newsletter at quietnorth archives, but you should also visit

As I was reading this article, I was thinking about some recent Andrew Sullivan posts about green conservatism (green the movement, not Green the candidate). You can see the posts here: and here:

It would seem to make sense that a conservative would want to conserve.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Wisconsin River Part Four...

I slept really well the second night-too well, actually, I was disappointed that I didn't wake up to hear anything interesting. However, I woke up at that great time when it is light enough to see, but the sun isn't up yet. The world was very naturally cool and quiet. I looked for signs of animal prints, but didn't see any new ones.

After a while, I woke Amanda up. After yesterday, we wanted to get out early before the wind started blowing. We had loaded up the canoe, and I had just reached to tie a rope, when it happened....

Intense Pain. Lower back. Felt nothing like it.

I remember feeling a bit lightheaded, it was that bad.

My daughter was concerned, so I wasn't putting up a good front. We had nothing we could do but go on, so we did. I was in agony getting into the canoe, but once there, the pain subsided to a dull, consistent ache.

So we proceeded. I have to say that the stretch from Woodman to Millville was my favorite of the paddle. You get to see the entrance of the Kickapoo, a river Amanda and I love. There were lots of wonderful hidden animal sounds from the banks. I think we heard a wild sounded like a pig to both of us. We saw lots of bald eagles, immature bald eagles, and maybe an Osprey. There are some beautiful sandbars for swimming. There were less moments of traffic noise. At one point, the river bumps right up against a bluff....

I enjoyed myself so much, that I mostly forgot about my back. But when we pulled up at Millville and I got out of the cano I knew it was the end. I couldn't move to sit or lay down without pain. Later, the doc said I had "back spasms", which sounded wonderfully non-surgical. I have never had real back pain before.

Since I don't want to end on a medical note, I want to leave with a few observations: Small roads you have never been on before are particularly beautiful. I encourage you to drive (quietly) on highway C along the river.

After you have been on the water a long time, don't you see the river when you close your eyes?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wisconsin River Part three....

Enough ranting. I had those thoughts about motorcycles and airboats from time to time, but the loudest noise when you are on the river is the noise in your head. The river becomes more and more beautiful as you go on. The second day, mostly between Muscoda and Woodman, was a more difficult trip. The wind came back to the usual course and so we actually had to paddle and focus. Ordinarily, it wouldn't have been a problem, but in the 100 degree heat it was a chore.

I will post some pictures when I develop them. The second night, somewhere near Woodman, we found the perfect campsite: A sandy beach next to a wood to keep us out of the sun and wind. We were next to a dry creek bed that, had it been a cool evening, would have been fun to follow. As it was, we weren't doing any more moving than we had to. There were a number of animal paw prints, including an intriguing cat footprint. A bobcat?

By the way, I haven't mentioned the wonderful driftwood on the river. We saw many animals "carved" out of the trees by water and wind. It is wonderful to see much of the river left alone to do its work.

I will publish the last dispatches of the trip, and why we got off the water early, tomorrow...(hint: it wasn't the weather)

Motorcycle with after market muffler sound file...

Just kidding. But it needs to be said. Highway 60 runs along the north side of the Wisconsin river. I would say about 70 percent of the highway noise you hear on the river is the sound of motorcycles with obviously loud mufflers. It is frustrating. One can accept the tire noise of trucks because we haven't figured out how to reduce it. But motorcycle noise is a voluntary noise with no other purpose than sounding loud. Don't give me the "loud pipes save lives" argument unless you wear a helmet, and your bike is only used for transportation purposes. But even then i need to tell you: No matter how loud your muffler, I can't hear you when I am driving with Radiohead on. At best, you have loud pipes because you like the sound, at worse, you are saying "screw you" to the quiet places of the world.

What worries me is the growing popularity of motorcycles. In the past, a few motorcycles didn't make a difference. But everyone seems to want to be Peter Fonda now. We can't give motorcycles a pass.

Sand Hill Crane sound files

You really have to turn this one up! Imagine it 10 times as loud, from birds all around you, and sounds echoing off the river valley...these birds sound mellow compared to the ones we heard. Just listening to them was worth the trip.

Great Blue Heron sound file

Wisconsin River Part two...

We got on the water Sunday at about 10:00. One of the problems of Wisconsin River paddling is that "downriver" usually means "into the wind". But for the first day of paddling, the wind was actually behind us! We made great progress, though we weren't hurrying to "progress" anywhere. The water is very low, and we were gawking to much to try to read the river well, so we got hung up many times on future sand bar. But on a 90 degree day, getting out of a canoe is NOT a problem.

There weren't many people on the river-but it was an interesting mix. A few small fishing outboards (how DO they navigate? They must carry a bushel of shear pins). three or four families with young children playing on bars. Three people sitting in lawn chairs fishing, nearly as deep in the water as their prey. The only surprise was an airboat, called "air ranger", something so unbelievably loud that I couldn't decide which was stranger: that it was allowed, or that people were ignorant enough to use it.

Most of the banks along this stretch of the river is undeveloped, thick with trees and undergrowth. Bird sounds are fantastic, I heard many birds sounds I had never heard before. But of course the most interesting sounds came from the Blue Heron and the Sand Hill cranes, which were thick all along the river, but especially where we camped, just below Muscoda. That first night, it sounded like a great turf battle was taking place among the birds, every time a pair would fly, another pair would yell at them. Here are some reproductions of the sounds. At one point, just when it got too dark to see, there was a great screaming coming from the woods, a sound I couldn't identify, then more croaking, then what sounded like keening at a wake. Here are some links to sound files of these birds. Plug them into your speakers, and turn it up to get a sense of what its like.

Sound issues...good letter in the Lakeland Times

I have not written about the "dust up" between Minocqua bed-and-breakfast and bars over sound at night. I will post a link in a bit, but in the mean time here is a thoughtful letter that addresses the comprehensive issue related to sound in the northwoods. Decibel meters are PART of an overall strategy to reduce sound, but meters or no, governments will not enforce the rules until people appreciate that quiet is an important resource.

Three hot days on the Wisconsin River...part one

My daughter Amanda and I took a long planned and oft delayed canoe trip on the lower Wisconsin river. The original plan was to go in spring for a week, to do all 90 miles from the last dam on the river. WE had to postpone, then scale back our plans. We started out in Lone Rock with the intention of going all the way to Wyalusing. Just to summarize, the weather was very HOT, the person who shuttled us said it hit 100 one of the days. We were probably crazy to be out. Actually, canoing was OK, hotter than you would like, but we were floating downhill and we jumped in the water when we needed to. It was actually sleeping that was hard, with no wind at night our tents seemed especially hot. We also ran through more water than we expected, and so called the good folks at Wisconsin River Outings when we hit the boat landing at Boscobel, they were good enough to shuttle me into town. So this afternoon I will tell you about what we saw and heard, which was extraordinary.