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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

February 2005

Readers Write

Don't Pick the Flowers!
More Cars or More Deer?
Big Chip Info
Who Owns Shipwrecks?
Update: Bavarian Green

Don't Pick the Flowers!

I was reading the August 2004 article on Nature's dry bouquets, by Barbara Estabrook and something caught my attention. On page 22, in the middle column, she talks about gathering flowers. It reads, "City dwellers may find they are welcome to gather flowers at county or state parks, but never assume you can pick any plants without first asking park personnel." To my knowledge, Code NR 45.04 states that you can only harvest edible fruits, nuts, wild mushrooms and wild asparagus. Wildflowers are a no-no! You may want to check into this. We (DNR Service Center, Woodruff) answer a lot of questions regarding the Northern Highland State Forest, and that is a topic that comes up often.

Rosalie M. Richter

Bruce Chevis and Jason Fritz with DNR's Bureau of Parks and Recreation respond: "In fact, it is illegal by Wisconsin Administrative Code to pick any flowers on state lands under the management of the Department of Natural Resources. This would include state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas, natural areas, and wildlife areas. With the millions of people that enjoy these areas each year, if even a small percentage pick flowers it would have a significant effect on the habitat.

"The reasons for prohibiting the cutting and removal of flowers (even dried flowers) are based on one of the basic reasons that we have state parks: to preserve natural flora, fauna, geological features, and archaeological/cultural sites to allow all our citizens the opportunity to observe, learn, and enjoy them now and in the future. Every flower cut down is one that the next park visitor will not be able to see and enjoy.

"Cutting dried flowers in the fall concerns us because many flowers will not drop their seeds until the fall or winter. Thus, a cut flower will reduce the number of flowers sprouting next spring. Also, readers should be aware that the roadsides within the boundaries of state properties are normally considered state property and the same "no cutting" rules apply. The state often spends significant time and funds to plant roadsides with wildflowers to increase natural beauty while reducing maintenance. Those flowers play important roles in our parks. And, as always, if readers have specific questions about a state property, they should contact that property directly. If in doubt, ask!"

More Cars or More Deer?

Regarding the charts on page 18 (Deer in the headlights, October 2004), wouldn't we expect the increase as shown in the top chart because of the increase in average daily traffic counts on all roads in Wisconsin? The chart would probably drop down, left to right, if traffic counts were taken into account, wouldn't it? Check with the Wisconsin DOT, cities, counties, and so forth about traffic counts on the Interstate roads, other federal highways, state trunk highways, county trunk highways and town roads. Possibly a third chart should have been shown with the increase in traffic over the years versus people injured or killed. It appears that after this deer season, the number of deer will be decreased and the problem of deer crashes reduced. This was a very timely message in this article.

Wilbur L. Clark

According to studies done in several Midwest states, a number of factors influence the probability of deer crashes at a particular location. Aside from traffic volume, as you suggest, are such factors as vehicle speed, roadway features and visibility, adjacent land type/use/activity, vegetative cover, human population and deer population. A paper by UW-Madison Prof. Keith Knapp and graduate student Xin Yi reports that deer population and amount of vehicle travel are the two biggest factors affecting deer-vehicle crashes.

Big Chip Info

I found your website by looking for information on the Chippewa Flowage. I came across Mr. Larsen's article from 1997 (A meander through the Big Chip, October 1997) and really enjoyed it. The story was very well written and informative.

Our group of guys has been fishing since 1984 and we're always looking for new places. We found the Chippewa Flowage on the map and I think we're going to give it a try next year if we can get reservations.

Rich Ward
Lexington, KY

Rich, I'd bet that a call or visit to the Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism site would help you. Visit – you can search by area for places to stay, other attractions, package vacation deals, and so on. Or, call toll-free, 1-800-432-TRIPS (8747). The Chippewa Flowage is southeast of Hayward, so I'd bet that the Sawyer County and Hayward chambers of commerce would have publications that list resorts, hotel rates and other amenities for your group. The tourism sites and service center can help you reach those groups as well.

Who Owns Shipwrecks?

The question of who owns abandoned shipwrecks, cargoes and artifacts found in a state's territorial waters of the Great Lakes and oceans has been addressed by Congress on several occasions. It has been resolved in favor of the state in whose waters the submerged objects are located, but it is based on older law.

English common law rules that "title and dominion of all lands and objects found therein below the high water mark" belonged to the King of England. This rule became part of American common law subsequent to the Revolution and applies equally to all 50 states [Shively v. Bowlby, 152 U.S. 1 (1894)].

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 gave what is now Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio title to their respective bottom lands of lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently determined that the Great Lakes were factually and legally "inland seas" and subject to federal admiralty jurisdiction.

The Submerged Lands Act of 1953 gave states title to bottom lands within territorial waters to be held in an active trust for the benefit of all citizens.

Congress's latest declaration of ownership of objects on a state's seabed was the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 that directed where a shipwreck situated on a state's submerged lands has been abandoned and deserted by its owner [thus relinquishing ownership] the state has title to the shipwreck. The wreck site is to be managed by the state for educational and recreational benefit of the public. The courts have ruled that it is within a state's obligations to encourage the diving public to view, explore, study and enjoy our American shipwrecks. However, damaging, stealing from or otherwise injuring historic wrecks is violative of federal law and the laws of many states.

A U.S. Court of Appeals case for the Seventh Circuit last June affirmed that the State of Wisconsin owned the historic shipwreck MV Roscinco off Kenosha in Lake Michigan and bolstered state efforts to protect the wreck from looting by treasure and artifact hunters as well as commercial salvors. Wisconsin successfully argued that wrecks are publicly owned and neither wrecks nor their artifacts can be privately held. The decision restricts only divers who are selfish or greedy. The beneficiaries are the thousands of divers who respect shipwrecks as valuable cultural resources and who take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but bubbles.

Hank Whipple

Update: Bavarian Green

A delegation of Wisconsin business leaders and state agency representatives visited Bavaria last October to observe "green" initiatives in that German state. The group – which included Wisconsin printers, builders and power company managers – saw firsthand how environmental initiatives can make good economic sense.

Wisconsin builders observed alternatives to commercial air conditioning, such as passive solar systems, heavy blinds and double-hinged windows to catch breezes, and sod roofs that reduce runoff, cut heat absorption, and add oxygen to the environment. Printers learned new methods for cooling presses by using circulating groundwater, and other energy-saving practices. Initiatives at the household level included home insulation techniques that keep annual heating costs at $150, and garbage that's separated six ways for recycling.

Bavaria's environmental advances stem from a more collaborative approach between regulators and industry, similar to Wisconsin's new "Green Tier" legislation signed into law last April. The "Green Tier" law provides incentives to environmentally responsible businesses, including regulatory flexibility and permit streamlining. The law also allows qualified businesses to commit to superior environmental performance in exchange for some latitude in how they achieve their environmental goals.