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, September 19, 2014

Here's a Boulder Junction paddle-pedal trip for you

Last week I went on a paddle-pedal adventure, taking advantage of the great new segment of the bike trail between Boulder Junction and Manitowish Waters.  I parked my bike at the bridge overlooking Rice Creek.,   then drove back up to H and K, putting in at the Manitowish River  just below the rapids.

Its been years since I had been on that part of the river-it was actually better than I remembered.   The water was moving swiftly, and there were some downed trees to create strainers.   I never had to get out of the canoe, but I did have to pay attention.    There are houses along the first part of the river, but otherwise it felt peaceful and remote, especially after the first hour of paddling.

At about the time the river flowed into Island lake,  wind and rain and even a bit of hail came up.   I made the mistake of cutting a straight line towards Rice Creek,  which meant I had the full  force of the wind and choppy waves hitting me sideways.   Had I to do it over, I would have taken the long way around, sticking to the southwest, then cut across the lake when I got to the Creek.

At any rate, I made it across to Rice Creek, and then the wind basically carried me upstream.  You can see me moving through the wild rice in the video above. (whoops, trying to get the video uploaded now)  I saw these otter playing, but I couldn't really slow down enough to get a good video.

Lots of wild rice in Rice Creek!   Very quiet and peaceful.   The weather got better, by the way.

I was in the water around 8 a.m., and out around 2 p.m.    Once I got my legs to work again, I biked along the trail (did I say how great this trail is?) back to my car-about 30 minutes maybe.

Wildlife spotted: The otters, a mink (or fisher or something) eagles, kingfisher, blue heron, a huge cloud of redwing blackbirds descending on wild rice, lots of ducks and Canada geese.

Quiet hunting:   Bad weather makes for good quiet hunting.  This was  the big motorcycle weekend, but there was only a segment where I heard much of them.  The river initially runs along highway H, and that means you do hear vehicle noise from time to time.   Mostly, I noticed  the sound of wind through the trees.

I had a thought if anyone takes this trip-please remember that although the trip starts and stops along the bike trail on Highway K, for most of the trip, the river will move well to the south. If for some reason you have an  emergency and need to get out of the water, don't go north (to the downstream right) -the area is very remote.   Instead, look south (downstream right). In the early part of the trip, the river hugs highway H.   In the second part, there is a boat landing to the left just as you move into Island Lake.

  Though this is a "quietwater" trip, there were a number of strainers to look out for early on, so you should have  basic canoe handling skills.   Otherwise, this is a great trip.  I can't wait to do it again when the fall colors come out.

One more thing: The day before I ran along the trail close to the North Lakeland School and spotted a large coyote starting to cross, just  in front of me..   I wasn't able to get my phone out to take a picture, it was gone in a moment.   Did I say how great this trail is?

Friday, September 12, 2014

The scariest and most revealing argument of all for ATV's in Vilas County

Quoting from the print version of The Lakeland Times, August 29th:

     "Supervisor Walt Maciag said he found arguments against ATV's because of items such as noise, safety and invasive species to be hollow."
    " 'We have noise from other kinds of vehicles', he said." (p. 28)

That's like saying if someone is  kicking you in the shins, you have no right to complain if I want to poke you in the eye.

You see this argument a lot when it comes to noise.   On the face of it, it doesn't make any sense.   Peace and quiet is a scarce resource-the fact that other activities take away a good bit of it isn't an argument for ATV's, its an argument against them.

 Its another way of dismissing those of us who think the quiet of  Vilas County is an actual rare thing that needs to be preserved.    Which includes, by the way, most residents and visitors.

Mr. Maciag is basically saying "quiet doesn't matter to me, and if it matters to you, you don't matter either".

There are windows of silence, little bits of time when we aren't confronted by leaf blowers, "high performance" exhausts, fireworks, thumping car speakers.     That silence is an actual resource,  like whitetail deer and  clear lakes.  Visitors know that.  Its what people come here for. Its a real thing.  And it can be lost.

"Board; No Advisory Referendum",  The Lakeland Times, Vol 122-Issue 52 , p. 28.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Climate change is simple: David Roberts at TEDxTheEvergreenStateCollege

People's Climate March September 21st-come on board!

People's Climate March

On September 21st, the world's largest climate March will take place in New York City, to coincide with the U.N. Climate Meeting

Do you want to be part of something big? Buses will be leaving from Madison on Saturday and returning on Monday.   (probably from other locations in Wisconsin as well-go to the site to find out)

In 1970, 20 million people participated in Earth Day demonstrations in the United States, and that was how a bipartisan Congress and a Republican President passed the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.

This is a time to put away cynicism, and even worse, a tendency to want to analyze instead of act.  I take it most people reading this blog recognize the urgency.    But, we don't get a cookie for knowing the truth, if we don't act to do something about it.

ATV's all about a gentle ride through the Northwoods?

Not so much. Watch this Polaris ad and you can see the kind of "off road experience" they are selling. Note racing, going through stream beds, tearing through lots of different terrain.  Notice the suspension and engine power.   Is it sensible to expect people are going to pay for a machine like this to ride gently over old railroad beds and graded trails at slow speeds?

I bike through lots of the old back roads around Boulder Junction, and there are few logging roads that would require much power to get through.

ATV companies are responsible ATV'ers worst enemies.   They want to sell to responsible ATV'ers but they know there is a lot more money in selling oversized, overpowered machines to people who see the outdoors as nothing more than the backdrop to a video game.

Vilas County Residents and tourists: The Vilas County Board doesn't care what you think...

"effectively overturning" a 2004 advisory referendum, the Vilas County board jumped quickly to approving ATV's on a county highway in Phelps.

This in spite of the fact that a majority of residents of Vilas County and a majority of those who visit do not want ATV's in Vilas County.

 In that advisory referendum, residents overwhelmingly voted against ATV's on county roads and property.     On top of that, The Wisconsin DNR decided not to build ATV trails in the Northern Highland-American Legion forest after input from Wisconsin citizens clearly opposed the trails.

The Vilas County board could have held another referendum, but that takes a little time-time for opponents to inform residents what was happening.   And the board knew the results of a new referendum would be the same.

A majority on the Vilas board want ATV's in Vilas county.
A majority  of Vilas County residents do not.