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, May 31, 2007

Summer goal number one: Investigative reporting questions....

Now that summer is here, and I have a little bit of a break, I have three goals for this blog. Goal number one is to do a little investigative reporting. Nothing earth shattering, just asking some questions and letting you know what I find. Blogs are criticized for being nothing but opinion. I will continue to "opinionate", but I will also search out some information?

Question number one: What's with all of the grooves in the banks on Highway M? I assume they are made by snowmobiles. Are the DNR and Vilas County aware of them? Is it legal for snowmobiles to ride the banks? Does anyone have an action plan for addressing this? I have left a message with Mike Sealander's "Ask a Warden" feature (you can link to it from the St.Germain chamber of commerce site), and will make some phone calls.

Question number two: What are Land O' Lakes and Presque Isle planning as far as links with the Heart of Vilas County trail system? I suspect Land O Lakes would love to connect through Boulder Junction. Are they considering "Old B" (I wrote about biking along Old B several years ago) or are they going along highway B? And will the proposed Manitowish Waters-Boulder link take the pressure off Presque Isle's connecting through Boulder?

Your "to do" list part two: June 12: Vilas County Lakes Association Celebration

Come celebrate the wonderful water resources we have in Vilas County.

Your "to do" list....Sunday June 3rd: Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail Dedication

Monday, May 28, 2007

Baltimore Orioles

We saw our first ever Baltimore Oriole sitting on our feeder, as if it were looking for something. It flew away and back again, not finding what it wanted. So we bought an Oriole feeder with hopes of seeing a return visit. Lo and behold, the next day Laura Erickson talked about Baltimore Orioles on the radio. You can download her programs by clicking on the link above.

Dennis McCann: Biking in Vilas County!

Dennis McCann, always a great advocate for our area, writes a column on biking in Vilas County. I have been arguing that silent sports could be big here, he shows that they are big! There are more calls for biking at the motels than for other activities now.

And he discusses how other towns want to "hook up" to the Heart of Vilas trail system.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wildlife report...Boulder Junction lake front property for sale!

An albino fawn with classically detailed mother observed on the other side of the lake, next to the for sale sign for this property. I didn't have my camera, but here is a fall picture to give you a sense of where it was.( If you are a "silent sports" type, who wants to keep their property in a natural condition to attract wildlife, then please buy this place! I have seen albino deer, fishers, loons, heron, eagles, trumpeter swans, osprey, and pileated woodpeckers on this property.) Here is the way the site looks from the lake, in the fall. It is exactly the way a lake house should look from the water, that is, you should hardly see it at all. Hey, if you "blow up" the picture and look carefully, you will see a surprise flying by. That is what I mean.

I get no commission from the sale of this property, just hoping a person with respect for nature (like the previous owners) buys the place.

I'd rather be paddling....

Its sad that I have to rely on old "file photos!" As I noticed at the time, note the poor paddling technique. I never said I was any good at it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Late May sounds....Barred Owl?

I can only identify a few birds, but I am amazed at the resources now available online. I was sitting on my porch, listening to the "peepers" when I heard at least two of these. I remember hearing one last year, but only for a couple of nights.

Connecting Eagle River to the Heart of Vilas County Trail

Those of you coming up to ride on the Heart of Vilas County trail will be happy to hear about this: Energy is generating fast for connecting links. There is no better way to keep the North the North than developing a "destination activity" that is quiet and sustaining.

Monday, May 21, 2007

To go on your to-do list! The Heart of Vilas County Dedication June 3rd

Come celebrate the wonderful bike trail building efforts of the towns of Boulder Junction, Sayner, and St. Germain. Learn about the communities that want to join. Help make Vilas County the premier Biking destination of the Midwest!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve

Met a woman from this organization while running along Lakeshore Path in Madison yesterday. Those of you who attended or visited the UW will appreciate this site.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In ATV supporters own words...

"The ATV clubs of Vilas County are working on the responsible development of a corridor trail system". In other words: think of the snowmobile trail system. Links to every town. The author of this letter maintains there are sound restrictions on ATV's. There are sound controls on snowmobiles, as well, yet their sound permeates the forest in winter.


Friday, May 11, 2007

From the Lakeland Times: Get the lead out! Loon Appreciation Week

Lead from fishing tackle appears to be a threat to loons, osprey, and eagles. Alternatives to lead are showing up in north woods retailers.

Lakeland Times:DNR employees don't like the ATV trail either

According to this Friday's Lakeland Times, an "Internal Technical Review" of the proposed ATV trail by DNR employees "has been predominantly critical". You really need to read the print article for specifics.

The quiet season...

Do you love quiet? This may be the best time to be "up north". I think every season up here should be quiet season, but what if we had a month where we agreed to be especially respectful of the beauty of silence? What if we marketed the northwoods that way, the way we market hunting season, snowmobile season, biking and swimming seasons?

Where there is smoke...

The local news reports said we would be able to smell the smoke drifting over Lake Superior from wildfires in Northern Minnesota. Sure enough, last night, you could smell the smoke in Arbor Vitae. I don't smell it this morning in Boulder Junction, but there isn't much wind. Things are very dry here, and people are worried. My Dad said that when he grew up in the area, there were constant wildfires caused by the refuse of "hit and run" logging operations. We have more sustainable logging now, but not sustainable lifestyles. Lets hope we aren't seeing a long term climate shift in the amount of rain northern Wisconsin gets. Most of the lakes are, as we say, "way down".

Follow the title link above to see some pictures of the Minnesota fires

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bruce Card pic

from somewhere in Southern Wisconsin. Thanks, Bruce

One more point about the original Master Plan proposal....

I was just reviewing the original Northern Highland-American Legion Master Plan proposal for an experimental ATV loop trail. The stated purpose of this trail was to see whether a small ATV trail could be sustainably maintained in the NHAL forest. Would riders stick to the trail? Would they create unreparable damage? A small loop would have been easier to monitor and provide legal enforcement.

Of course, most of us were doubtful that this was the real purpose, thinking it was the "camel's nose in the tent". But lets take it at face value for a moment. The proposal suggests that ATV sustainabiltiy in the NHAL forest was still a question that needed to be researched. So my question is: When, between the loop trail and now, was the question answered?

Let me put it differently:

1. At one point the DNR said it didn't know if a trail was sustainable, and wanted to research it through a small loop trail.

2. Now, the DNR is recommending a highly extensive, unmonitorable trail system in the Northern Highland-American Legion forest.

Something is missing in between.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Say hello to Annie....

We adopted Annie from a great organization, The Labrador Connection. She is between 8 and 10 years old. She hasn't been "up north" yet, but I am sure she will like swimming,smelling stuff, and, I hope, chasing squirrels away from the bird feeders. I will want to make sure she knows how to come when called before we let her run, though.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

From Bruce's Spring Pics-Southern Wisconsin

Thanks to Bruce Card

The slippery word "enough"

Dennis Leith stated that “enough” interest in ATV trails was generated during the NHAL Master Plan to warrant the current trail development process. The word “enough” should spark some investigative curiosity. At the October 05 National Resources Board meeting that summarized the Master Plan results, opposition to an ATV trail was characterized as a “loud outcry”, so much so that one board member asked why the issue even remained open. We can supply a probable answer: A group of legislators, representing a narrow interest group, gave the DNR its marching orders: Put a trail in the NHAL forest in spite of the Master Plan review process. The Stakeholder’s group was not an objective reevaluation of the feasibility of an ATV trail, it was a trail building committee. It is still important to note that an ATV trail is not inevitable. Write to me and I will tell you what you can do...