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?

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Polaris ATV ads: marketed for the "ten percenters"

I hope everyone sees the new Polaris ATV commercials on television. The finer points: The purpose of ATV's are to go over terrain you didn't think you could go over, and get there faster than anyone else.

I posted on the duplicity of the ATV industry a day or two ago. They know that only a certain number of people are going to buy an ATV to ride gently along trails you could traverse with a golf cart. They know the money is in competition, speed, and aggression.

How will the Department of Natural Resources keep ATV's gently and peacefully rolling along trails in the NHAL forest when they are being sold and promoted as "OUTLAW" machines, capable of tearing up any terrain, faster than opponents?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"one of the great sensations of life, the first view of a new lake"

A special place in the Northern Highland forest....

Come and see for yourself.
Photos and quote from John Fleming...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Meetings on the ATV trail proposals in the NHAL forest....

Since I learned that Pro-ATV people have been reading this blog, I have shied away from any strategy posts regarding ATV's in the Northern Highland forest. But since the information is out there, I have linked to the DNR website. Read over the recent letters that show when the meetings are being held. Go to the meetings. Write to the DNR board (email me to ask how to do that)

If I could boil down my opposition to ATV's in a nutshell: The name stands for ALL TERRAIN Vehicles, not Amiable TRAIL vehicles. Manufacturers are playing a dual game: To sell as many machines as they can, they market them as able to race and tear up any terrain. The machines are way more powerful than would be necessary to gently roll along a highly maintained trail. But when it comes to presenting themselves to the DNR, manufacturers and their paid interests present the machines as if they were another green form of recreation.

Once a trail is approved, I estimate that at least 10 percent of riders will be yahoos who want to do with their machines what they paid for. Why 10 percent? Because if I complain about snowmobile noise in winter, or motorcycle noise in summer, I am told by someone who shakes their head, "YA, MOST riders are good, but it is always the 10 percent". But that 10 percent has a significant impact on the environment, when there is no way to stop them. (I am listening to some idiot on a motorcycle with illegal pipes riding up and down our rural roads right now)

If as many ATVers come to the northwoods as pro-ATV people suggest, that will be a lot of people riding off trails, and riding with noisy exhaust systems.

News from the Fox River Trail

The trail was my first "marathon training" route. Starting from downtown Green Bay, it takes you south with many great views of the river in the first miles. If you haven't been to Green Bay in years, give it a look. For years, Green Bay seemed to turn its back on the river, it was after all merely the means by which industrial chemicals were washed to the magical place called "away".

But now the Fox is back, at least visually. It is a reminder that natural areas can be reclaimed and sustained in the middle of industrial and commercial development.

This is a real "people trail", lots of bikers, skaters, baby strollers, and runners. If the communities in the area South of Green Bay ever connect this trail with the contoured, park-focused East River trail, which roughly runs parallel to it, Green Bay will have a wonderful scenic, natural loop that would be an asset to residents and a draw for "Green" tourism.

Good news! New Silent Sports Blog from Joel Patenaude!

Its called Silent Sports Sounds off. (You can link to it by clicking on this post title, and it will be in the links section to the right)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Music and silence

A kindred spirit here. Silence exists! (when we let it)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Perseids

We were in Boulder Junction with good friends this last weekend. On Friday we made an easy 20 minute bike ride into town for fish, and later sat in the screen porch and played an electronic version of "Catch Phrase". Stepping outside around midnight, we looked up in the sky and were shocked by how bright the stars were. Someone mentioned that the Perseid meteor shower was coming, so we walked down in the darkness to the dock. Sure enough, one person, then another, saw a shooting star. We saw around a half a dozen. But they were just the icing on the cake. We lay on our backs on the dock, in the quiet, moonless night, looking up at the Milky Way, the satellites , The North Star and the Big Dipper. Often, everything on earth seemed as still and quiet as the stars.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Highway M to St. Germain on the Bike Trail...

I finally rode the new section of the "Heart of Vilas County" bike trail. Gina and I started at the Junction of M and N, and rode to Crystal Lake, where I jumped in for a swim. If you are new to the trail, and wanted to do a "beginner's section", this would be it. It is relatively flat, and you have the reward of ending up at Crystal Lake,(15 minutes, one way) or, by going a half hour, at the Corner Store for ice cream. Getting into Crystal Lake by bike is a real treat. I recommend on the way back taking the path to the Firefly lake campgrounds-there is a beautiful little run through a red pine forest that takes you off of highway N.

But I digress...After an ice cream at the Corner Store, (the kids working were real pros at customer service, and the ice cream cones were huge, but I digress again...)

After the ice cream, Gina and I parted ways, she back to the car, me onward towards St. Germain. I have already rode the section from the Corner Store to Sayner, which goes over a scenic bridge, and a nice view of Plum Lake. If you want an added scenic detour, head off to Plum Lake Campground.

It was in Sayner that I was on a new adventure. The trail follows through town on a very pleasant backstreet. Lots of businesses are putting up signs welcoming bikers. Out of Sayner on quiet town roads, and then into the quietest, most pleasant part of the Sayner-St. Germain section.

Editorial comment: Its important to know that the proposed ATV trail would run parallel to this section. Because bike trails need to generally run along highways and roads, there are fewer places for bikers to get away from road noise altogether. Bendrick drive along Trout Lake is one, the section into Crystal lake another, and this would be a significant third. If ATV's can run in the area, they will be taking away a significant part of the soundscape value of the bike trail. Please write the Natural Resources board and tell them you oppose ATV's in the Northern Highland-American Legion forest. You can write to:, and she will pass on your views.

Highway C is a relatively quiet road, making for a pleasant ride to Highway 70. Highway 70 is pretty much a straight shot into St. Germain, with a nice wayside at the bridge on the St. Germain river. Two detours I didn't make, but will investigate: A public fishing area off of Highway C, and a road to a natural area off of Highway 70. Both roads are gravel, as I remember.

As far as I can tell, the one thing I find lacking on the St.Germain part of the trail is a good swimmin' hole. If I am wrong, correct me. For that reason, I might recommend that if you did the entire heart of Vilas County trail, you start in St. Germain, so you could hit Crystal and Trout lake for a swim when you needed one.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

thoughts on "framing"

I was just looking at the picture of the albino deer and thinking about framing. Not sure what I mean here, but its worth an exercise. Perhaps the danger for the northwoods is when we want to do OUR activity, but "frame out" the consequences to the environment. So, we want to own a house with a great view of the lake, but do whatever we want with our septic systems. But we have our view. Or we want to feed the pretty deer in our yard, but "frame out" the destruction of the forest that occurs when deer are concentrated. But we have the deer in our yard.

Every activity you do, stop for a moment and pay attention to what goes on around the actiivty itself. When you are water skiing, what do you smell? What do you hear when you first come up after falling in the water? What do the waves look like?

If you are visiting someone with a lake house, and they show you the beatiful "view of the lake", say "Yes, but what does it sound like?" You actually get a much different sense of being alive from hearing a lake as opposed to seeing it.

IF you are really bold, ask if you can taste the lake.

I suspect we can have most of our actiivities, once we really and truly stop "framing out" the environment.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Albino Deer are still around!

They are harder to see in the summer, but its nice to be surprised. Another reason to come to Boulder Junction.

The surrounding stillness and quiet is part of what makes seeing wildlife special Its not just a visual vacation you are taking!

(Photo by Bruce Card, frame effects by me playing with iphoto)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Air Car

From time to time, I note technological developments that will have an impact on the environment and, more particularly, the soundscape

I have been hearing about "The Air Car", a car that runs on compressedair. (I guess you could say it runs on electricity, since that is what powers pneumatic pumps). It may or may not be true that this car is far enough along in development that it is going to be mass-produced in India.

I imagine that if it works, it would eliminate a great deal of smog in the cities around the world. It would shift Green House gas emissions to the electric grid, but there are several reasons why this would be much easier to contain.

So, what quietnorth wanted to know: How will this impact the soundscape? According to one web site, since there is no internal combustion, the sound created is much less than conventional engines, though not as little as an electric car.

Mid summer quiet!

I have noticed myself getting a little shrill lately about noise-a paradox, I suppose.

Last night we were sitting outside with guests, and cataloguing the soundscape. It was very quiet for a Saturday night at the beginning of August.

We heard mostly pileated woodpeckers and loons. About 5 minutes worth of firecrackers. From time to time, motorcycles with ornamental exhaust systems.

The Milky Way was nicely visiible, and I saw a shooting star.

The night before, with a bright moon, the coyotes were close, closer than I ever remember them here, on our side of the lake and across as well.

Don't let my ranting from time to time fool you. I am a little obsessive about noise. If you come to Vilas County, you will usually find your fill of quiet if you know where and when to look for it. Come on up!