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Anita Carpenter's excellent December article, A hunter in winter white, reminded us of an incident a few years ago.
It had been a particularly nasty winter in Muskego with excess snowfall and very cold temperatures. Early one morning, my wife was returning home from her night job at a local hospital. I had already left for work when she turned our van into the driveway which had partially filled with fresh snow. As she started up the steep slope leading to the house, a white blur appeared in front of her windshield obscuring the entire window. As my wife fought to keep control of the vehicle she realized she was looking directly into two lemon yellow eyes. This rattled her even more. She lost control of the van and spun off the edge of the drive into a high snow bank.
At that moment, the white apparition slid across the windshield and silently drifted off to one side. It was a large snowy owl that had apparently been sitting on top of a snow bank on the left side of the van before it got startled. There was no evidence that the bird was damaged and it slowly flapped its way across the street and into the woods beyond.
I arrived home that evening and my wife was still in a bit of shock over the incident. The van was extracted with some difficulty and we never saw that owl again.
Donald W. Carter
In support of Mrs. Gerlach of Salem, I add my nonsupport of ANY facility which indulges ANY fossil-fueled off-road vehicle, and this includes a couple of other junk machines – the snowmobile which runs on snow and its abominable counterpart which runs on water. The "cerebrally challenged" should have a county, state or country of their own where they can indulge their adolescent fancies to the limit. Autos are headache enough with their attendant noise and garbage dispersal.
That fine writer Augie Derleth would be put to tears. A paragraph from his "Return to Walden West: has meaning for these people and for the Christmas tree merchants too:
"Alas. The countryside was so despoiled. Roads and verges were widened, trees cut down, and in the end the bushes were mercilessly sprayed with poisons by men too ignorant of their kinship with nature to consider the damage they wrought upon the land."
The book is worth your time.
I thought That perfect tree in the December issue was a real positive piece of work which will give all of the Christmas tree growers something to think about.
I thought Kathy Esposito did a super job of synthesizing what I said into an effective composition. My past experience with writers has been they often take unwarranted liberties in phone interviews. That was not the case in this very nice article.
What a surprise I had looking closely at the photo of the old Devil's Lake concession stand in your August article about some of the parks' friends groups. The gentleman standing on the right side wearing a cap and short-sleeved shirt is my stepfather, Stanley Romanski of Wisconsin Rapids. Standing by the trash can with her back to the camera is my mother, Katherine Andrin Romanski. We've figured that this photo was taken in 1953 and is one we did not have in our family album. Thanks for a great magazine!
I found your magazine through visiting your Web site at the local library. I recently moved to a rural town to better appreciate all the beauty of Wisconsin. The magazine will help me in that regard.
I've also been told the state has detailed maps of lakes by county. How might I obtain a few?
The Department of Natural Resources surveyed lakes and produced lake maps showing shoreline features, depths and vegetation for many of the lakes that are commonly fished. These are available through our regional offices and service centers.
Several private companies have also taken these DNR-produced maps, added color, printed them on waterproof paper and added a narrative suggesting when, where and how to fish these waters throughout the year. Outdoor sporting papers also highlight different lakes throughout the year and publish versions of these DNR maps.
Most sporting goods stores and bait shops carry these fishing maps and book stores sell regional collections of these maps bound in paperbacks or spiral-like notebooks.
Please set the record straight. A few months ago you carried an article about declining undeveloped shorelands in Wisconsin. Now I see on one of the last undeveloped lakes in Douglas County an ugly scar worse than development – little Derosier Lake has been dredged, drained and pumped into a cranberry bog. The site makes me sick.
A piece in Audubon magazine last November/December titled "Whittling Dixie" talked about devouring vast tracts of southern forest lands. It could just as easily have been written about Wisconsin. With logging roads left open to freewheeling four-wheelers, there is simply no place left to hide.
David B. Donahue
John Haack, DNR water management specialist in Spooner, responds: You are correct that the Department of Natural Resources is assigned to protect public waters. Wisconsin has a rich body of common law, statutory law and Constitutional law collectively called the "Public Trust Doctrine" that provides basic tools to protect the public interest from the adverse effects you describe. However, the Cranberry Laws of 1878 and 1883 provided broad exemptions to cranberry growers to divert and use waters from publicly-owned lakes and streams. Those special privileges were reaffirmed by the State Supreme Court as recently as 1980.
In the case you cite, DNR testified before the Douglas County Zoning Committee asking that the parcel not be rezoned from a forest district to an agricultural district as this rezoning would remove county options to enforce conditional use controls. DNR did not have regulatory control over this matter and the grower convinced the county to rezone the property.
The marsh is being constructed on uplands rather than in the wetlands and as proposed would have 50 acres of beds upon completion. Constructing beds on uplands avoided detailed review that would have happened had the site been required to procure an Army Corps of Engineers permit, but development farther from the shore also reduced impacts on the wetlands. We have visited the site three times with the grower and the Corps to respond to erosion complaints and dredged channels. State controls are quite limited where water is legally diverted to form upland cranberry beds.
A June article last year (Learning from 'Ol Man River) described workshops for teachers who want to learn about environmental practices and history along the Mississippi. Exploring the Mississippi River workshops will again be offered to 4th-12th grade teachers from July 8-10 for a cost of $50. For registration information, call Mike Ripp at (608) 996-2261 or Jeff Janvrin at (608) 785-9005. Registration deadline is May 1st.
Progress continues to construct a lake schooner, Wisconsin's first tall ship. To date the masts are squared, the keel is laid, 47 frames of the hull are up, the stem, stern, and transom are in place. Deck beams are laminated and the planking is being milled.
When completed, the 137-foot schooner will sail Lake Michigan holding 200 passengers for dockside visits, 146 passengers for day sails and 42 passengers for overnight voyages. The Wisconsin Lake Schooner will be a floating classroom where visitors can learn about Great Lakes history, culture and environment and experience the adventure of life on a tall ship.