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, December 28, 2006

Petitioners denied in Bond Falls case....

Vilas County Forest Management Plan-Vilas County News-Review

First ski at the Discovery Center...

Our first cross country ski trip of the year....we took it easy, just to test out my knee, which seemed to be fine. The track hadn't been laid for trail, but it was "panked down", as yoopers like to say. We had the trail to ourselves. Once again, our camera couldn't capture the beauty of the snow "fixed" in the trees. We both had on "classic skis", and whatever sins I had made in a hasty waxing were made up for by the smooth trail.

Lets hope for lots more snow!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

From Joel Patenaude...a call for ATV damage reports

Dear fellow silent sports advocates,

In the waning days before the third and final State Trails Policy committee meeting on Jan. 4, I'm I'm marshaling the necessary argument in favor of the establishment of a ATV damage repair fund in Wisconsin. In order to do so, I need a better idea of the extent of the damage ATVs and other off-road motor vehicles have done in this state and the toll they have taken on our public lands, at the expense of other recreational opportunities and overall cost to taxpayers.

No one person or state agency can put a dollar amount on it, I realize. But we can get a snapshot if we ask one another what we have seen happening in our own neck of the woods. So I'm putting out a call for witnesses and other folks knowledgeable about specific problem areas. I need details: dates, repair cost estimates, photos -- all as well documented as possible. Also names and contact info for folks who can tell me more, either by email phone or site visits.

The loss to ATV'ers of about five miles of the Ice Age Trail in northwestern Wisconsin is an egregious example and demonstrates that nonmotorized trails are being destroyed or taken away from their intended users without consequence or compensation. This is but one example.

I know but endeavor to learn more about other places in Wisconsin that have experienced property damage, environmental desctruction and displacement of nonmotorized recreationalists. What I'm primarily looking for is detailed accounts of ATV damage that has resulted in costly repairs completed or still needed on public lands, private lands adjacent to legal ATV trails as well to nonmotorized trails.

Given the Jan.4 meeting date, the sooner I hear of such accounts, the better. (Some of this may find its way into my magazine after the meeting date, but not before I obtain permission from the sources of the information, rest assured.)

Please send your first-hand accounts, photos or leads to this address:

Thank you in advance for your assistance,

Joel Patenaude,

Editor, Silent Sports Magazine
Public Member, Special Committee on State Trails Policy

P.S. What follows is my comparison between the draft ATV damage repair bill and existing legislation in Minnesota. Any comments you may have on the proposal would also be greatly appreciated. To read the bill in its entirety and other draft legislation that committee will discuss on Jan. 4, go to

Monday, December 25, 2006

Stepping up for the Great Lakes....Green Bay Press Gazetter

Merry Christmas!

We have a beautiful snowy Christmas up north. A coating of ice keeps the snow clinging to the trees. So why am I not skiing? I took a dramatic tumble off of my steps, and did something to my knee. It is one of those liminal kind of injuries: Pain when I turn my leg, but no swelling, and nothing to keep me from walking. So should I go to the Doctor? I will wait a day, and enjoy the winter from my yard. I have fed the birds and the squirrels. Tomorrow I am skiing.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Two new snowmobile ordinances....

Congratulations for the snowmobile clubs of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin DNR working together on reducing speed and noise. I have two questions:

1. Will snowmobile clubs pressure dealers to stop marketing trail snowmobiles as racing machines?

2 Will snowmobilers actually confront other snowmobilers who modify their exhausts in order to be louder?

3. Will it be illegal for businesses to sell after-market snowmobile exhausts?

4. Will there be enough enforcement officers to realistically make a dent in the number of violators?

This winter will be an interesting test case-if we have a winter!

Legislative Agenda for State Trails Policy meeting

January 4th. Will there be a place for public comment on ATV trails in general, or only in relation to these topics?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Good news from Fond du Lac County-

From Joel Patenaude:

Despite the Fond du Lac County parks committee voting 5-0 on Dec. 6 to
allow winter ATVing on the 10-mile Eisenbahn Trail, last night the FDLC
Board voted 26-9 last night against any ATVs use of the trail, even on
one-year trial basis.

For it's part, the committee did kill a preposterous petition asking
year-round ATV access to all of the nonmotorized state trails in the

So let this be a lesson: Turnout by silent sports enthusiasts can
protect trails. Thank you Fond du Lac County residents for showing us
how to make a difference.

Joel Patenaude, Editor
Silent Sports

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

From Brook Waalen; Quote from Polaris


Polaris Industries is trying to distance themselves from comments their CEO made July 19, 2004 The statement is rather damning:

“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.”

According to Tom Tiller, Polaris Industries CEO I have taken this quote out of context or worse. See the Polaris letter at

The beauty is that the 2004 statement doesn’t need to be taken out of context or misrepresented or paraphrased to work in our favor. WATVA will be using this Polaris letter to further their cause and misrepresent the popularity of ATV riding. Please carry this quote with you to your next public meeting on ATV issues. This has been a powerful tool.

You may listen to the entire Minnesota Public Radio Interview at Click on “Running a Business in Minnesota”).

Brook Waalen

Here’s the quote in its entirety:

“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 so if you think of a dairy farmer or you think of a rancher or you think of maybe someone who owns some acreage up in the Brainerd area they might use and ATV to plow their driveway they might use it to clean up the barnyard to put up some fence posts 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.” Tom Tiller, Minnesota Public Radio Interview, July 19, 2004. (

Monday, December 18, 2006

No snow here in Green Bay....

I wasn't positive, but I think I saw the grass turning green in Pamperin park. It doesn't look good.

Snowmobiles face new limits

This will be a good test year for the DNR's new policies, if we actually get snow. The article states snowmobile retailers and manufacturers back the new speed limits. That is why they are withdrawing all advertising that conflates speed and snowmobiling. OK, I made that last part up. Manufacturers know the money comes from making machines that people can't safely use.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association get DNR grant!

Money quote: "Oneida County is one step closer to its goal of becoming a mecca for silent sports lovers." I like the sound of that! Let's hope the Rhinelander Daily News becomes a strong editorial advocate for that kind of thinking.

Nothing sounds better to me than a competition between Oneida and Vilas county for being the major silent sports destination of northern Wisconsin. Think of a" grand circuit" of bike trails between the two counties....

Northwoods Link of the Week: Conserve School

At one time, I planned on having a "link of the week", where I would highlight the web site of an organization or group that reflected northwoods values. This week, it is conserve school....

From Ted Ritter: Invasive Species Cookbook!

Hello AIS Partners!

Are you still looking for a great stocking stuffer idea? How about a new cookbook?

The Invasive Species Cookbook - Conservation Through Gastronomy!

More information can be found at:

Thanks to Gail Gilson Pierce for sharing this hot tip!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Ted Ritter
Vilas Co. AIS Coordinator
330 Court Street Eagle River, WI 54521
Phone: (715) 479-3738
Fax: (715) 479-1978

What the Stakeholders mandate says....

It was pointed out to my by Sue Drum, a member of the stakeholders group, that its last line reads (p 166) "If no suitable sites are found to be feasible, no trail will be designated".

This seems to stand in sharp contrast to statements Dennis Leith has made that the committee is mandated to find a trail site. At any rate, we will need to take an active, outside strategy to get the trail off of "fast track" mode.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

We've been had, really....

Now that the Stakeholders group is moving quickly and stealthily to bring ATV's to the NHAL forest, I can see the strategy that had been in place all along. We have been "punked".

The overwhelming opposition to ATV trails registered by the public during the NHAL Master Plan process set the ATV interests and the DNR on its heels. The DNR already had its marching orders-bring an ATV trail to the NHAL forest. So what kind of cover needed to be created to get a trail made? The DNR was told to come up with somethinng-so creatively, the Stakeholder's group was born. Under the patina of "inquiry", the committee became an ATV trail planning process. If the DNR had just went ahead and planned a trail, opposition would already have been ready to go publlc. Instead, we sat around and assumed that a neutral process was in place, and that a neutral process would probably decide that a trail could not be built in a sensitive area that had a history of opposition to ATV trails. In short, we went to sleep. It is probably too late, but certainly worth fighting. Write to the Stakeholders group, write letters to the editor, and make the public aware of what is going on.

Action Alert! State Trails Committee Meeting

Friends of Vilas and Iron counties should be aware that the DNR Stakeholders group has located two potential sites for ATV trails in the Northern Highland-American Legion Forest. The first site will pass along sensitive wetlands areas and the Manitowish River. The other site will end near Sayner, an area already rich with silent sports activities. The group is moving quickly, and has already approached Manitowish Waters about the use of town roads for the first trail. It is important that residents of Manitowish Waters and the surrounding communities be aware of town meeting notices related to approving ATV’s on town roads. Also, State residents need to make clear once again their opposition to ATV trails in the NHAL forest. You can find minutes of the Stakeholders group here: and you can register your views to the Stakeholders group here:

Mark Haag
Boulder Junction

Time to talk to the town boards

People from MW should be looking for the meeting. People from other towns should be talking to their town boards. If the town OK's running ATV's on this road, they could be coming for your town road next.


ATV's are coming for the town roads!

From Kim Kost:

as you are probably aware, the stake holder's group has come up with a loop trail out of mercer to the south.
in order for it to work, a few town roads will need to be used in Mercer, Winchester and MW.
last night, there was a public hearing in Manitowish Waters to consider allowing ATVs on about 900 feet of Circle Lily Road, literally on the black top because the ditches are wetland.
what ensued could be judged anywhere between comical and ludicrous.

according to the MW town board (tb), there is presently a town ordinance that prohibits ATVs on roads in MW.
so the hearing last night was to amend that ordinance to allow ATVs on a portion of Circle Lily road.
I showed up early to read the ordinance, but nobody could find it.
so essentially, the tb had a public hearing about something they aren't even sure exists.
I also questioned the posting of the hearing.
it wasn't a 'typical' class two notice that needs to be posted something like 15 days in advance and in the newspaper twice.
it was merely posted last Friday at the town hall's bulletin board.
(and I didn't find out till 2 pm yesterday)
again, the tb could not say for sure if the posting was legal or not.
(can you say bozos?)

it was a very poorly run hearing.
I won't go into the 'testimony'.
it was more of a back and forth negation of the previous comment than it was a hearing.

after the 'hearing', the tb had a regular meeting.
to make a long story short, they postponed any decision on opening Circle Lily road because of the ambiguity of their being a current ordinance that prohibits such.
most likely, when they figure out something close to what it is they consider reality, they will hold a 'special' meeting to vote on the above.
when that meeting will be is anybody's guess.
more than likely, there won't be much advance notice.

so far, MW is the first town the stake holder group has approached asking permission to use their road.
if MW or Winchester says no, the trail may likely get scrapped.
(I'm assuming Mercer would give the green light to the use of roads)
one of our three tb members, Henry Bauers, is definitely for ATVs in town.
I think the other two could be persuaded to deny access, but that's not where they are leaning currently.

hearing details:
my memory is that there were about five people there who want the trail: Charlie Rayala, a buddy of his, an O'Brien (who's on the stakeholder group) and his wife Phyllis- the head of the Mercer chamber, Bill Schuman from the stakeholder group, as well as Denny Leath
in opposition were Mary Burns, John Bates, four elderly people from MW (whom I assume live near the proposed trail) and myself
I'm probably forgetting someone
perhaps Mary or John can correct me and/or add further comments

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A song Dad used to sing to us when we were kids..apropos of nothing, maybe

Dad was able to flag the train a couple of times, but in the end the train always gets us.

Schopenhauer, silent sports, and grief.

I remember once cross country skiing with my Dad along the Manitowish river flowage above Fishtrap Dam, near the DNR canoe campsites. A beautiful place in winter, by the way, if you like making your own trail from the dam parking lot. Or from my house, if you want to come visit.

I remember it was sunny and still, but I can't remember how cold it was. Dad had stopped for one of his frequent cigarette breaks. I remember we were looking at the aged ruins of stumps and trees sticking up from the flowage. Everything was absolutely still and remote. There was nothing in it for us-nothing human. Nothing pretty. And yet it was beautiful. One of us, I don't know which one, called it a terrible beauty. We were awed by what we saw. Time opened up its mystery for a moment-and then we closed it up (unable to bear it very long?)

Moments like this can't be forced, and any time we try to make them happen, they fail. They only come out of the corner of your eye, to steal a Roger Waters line. Silent sports, in my view, just put us in the place where they might happen. But live long enough that loved ones die, and the terrible comes looking for you.

Blogger Beta Blues

For some unknown reason, I took the bait and switched over to the "Beta" version of blogger, which is somehow connected to google. From what I can tell so far, the predominant feature is to add another redundant layer of screens before you can get to the post setting. So I don't recommend it!

What makes a good ATV?

I am watching some television show comparing ATV models. How fast can they go? How well do they go through water and mud? How much power do they have? The riders look like power rangers.

On the one hand, ATV manufacturers know that their biggest profits are going to come from people who want to buy more powerful machines to go "mudding" and racing. On the other hand, they are convincing the DNR that somehow, people can be educated NOT to use the machines in the way they were intended (as all terrain vehicles)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Grief as the original silent sport

It is impossible to talk about things of the mind without analogies being built in. The full impact of my father's death hits me now and again. Grief as a moving force. I am in Boulder Junction right now, it is night, but the moon brings a luminescence in the snow. Its funny, I don't remember this miracle growing up.

He's gone.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Buy a Bike Ornament....

From Molly, Scott and Sally at the Homestead, just North of Boulder Junction. Proceeds go towards developing a North-of-Boulder Bike trail.

Bicycle committee meeting....

The Boulder Junction Bike committee met yesterday-I met some new folks, and was inspired by all of the energy. Mark Hiller from the St. Germain trail graciously gave us a history of their trail development. One thing I could tell from the meeting was that lots of folks are very enthusiastic about connecting town to town.

Fit for an English countryside...

It would be great to see a discussion of aesthetics in northern Wisconsin. Some say we can't legislate aesthetics-but there are (supposedly, anyway) muffler laws, and laws against leaving junked cars on your property in view of the highway.

But even if we aren't talking about legislation, how about persuasion? Isn't humiliation a powerful force? I would like to see a

I think we should have a "best design, " "worst design" award for Lakefront development. What do you think?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lake Effect effect, part two...

The weather has been teasing us north of Vilas County with enough snow to pretty things up. I did take my "beater" skis out yesterday for 1/2 an hour, long enough to scrape any residual wax from the bottom. But a person didn't need to be out long.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lake effect effect....

I was pleased when we saw the snow coming down on Highway M-North of town, maybe just an inch of snow, but beautiful, quiet, still...and the wonderful sensation when you breath in, open mouthed. I fed the birds and we watched the deer munching on a brush pile. Just stay away from my baby hemlock, ladies!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Are ATV interests and the DNR in full steamroller mode?

Is the debate about whether to have an ATV trail in the NHAL forest over? Reading the minutes posted at the DNR web site doesn't leave me very optimistic.


Disappointing snow forecast....

For cross country skiers, this would be a great time of year for a blizzard. After deer hunting, a few weeks before the snowmobilers-"the quiet season". The only taste of snow is, well, the taste in the air. Places like Chicago and Madison, that don't really need it, are getting the blizzards again.