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Environment must remain a priority PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor:

Any self-respecting native Wisconsinite knows something of the legacy of one of our best, the great Gaylord Nelson — governor, U.S. senator, Wisconsin senator, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in 1995 for his work on environmental issues, the founder of Earth Day in 1970, served in Okinawa in WWII and was a Wisconsin native!

He also worked with the Wilderness Society and played a role in the establishment of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. What a legacy!

I recently visited the ice caves along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Bayfield County — a place I visit as often as possible — and couldn’t help but reflect back on a period in Wisconsin that now seems long gone. As tens of thousands of people streamed to the furthest tip of Wisconsin to view this magnificent creation sitting on the shores of the “Jewel of the Great Lakes,” Lake Superior, I thought, “Nobody had to ‘build it and they will come.’ ” No, all that needed to be done is to preserve what the good Lord laid before us.

Our federal lands and parks were given to us as a gift, a legacy of what once was, to remember, and to teach the next generation.

I wondered what that shoreline would look like today had its destiny been in the hands of our current bunch of right-wing Tea Party-leaning politicians led by this governor. They openly espouse the idea that the federal government can do no right, to be hated, distrusted and vilified, even to the furthest of extremes, that of secession!

I’m sure the outcome to the islands and the shoreline would have been quite different. It most likely would have been put in private development, chopped up into little pieces, or maybe a huge deposit of iron ore rests underneath that landscape?

If you think wilderness areas are a waste of wood and tax base, it might be because you haven’t spent enough time in one and Wisconsin actually has precious little real wilderness. Our public lands here are fragmented throughout, which is probably why we can’t assimilate high-level predators into the ecosystem.

If you ever take the time to expose yourself to real wilderness, you may see its real value. Minnesota, for example, is rich in wilderness and Canadian Shield lakes. The Boundary Waters might convince you, and don’t believe the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” title. It’s actually estimated at more than 15,000.

Or closer to home, you might want to try the Sylvania Wilderness Area just north of our border. It’s small and busy, but nevertheless can be quite inspiring! These areas have healthy fisheries without artificial stocking, and they’re federal lands. Thank God, and thanks to those great environmental pioneers who made it possible!

I can only hope that their legacy won’t collapse under the weight of our current right-wing Tea Party class trying to stand on their shoulders.

To them, the environment is no longer the priority it once was. It’s been replaced by job creation, tax base, corrupt political power, the ideology of privatization, science denial and hatred for the federal government. This is like a cancer that affects the whole system, especially when it has only one point of view.

We’ve done a complete turn-around on preserving significant resources and our Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is headed by a political operative where any recommendations by the DNR must be viewed through a political lens.

After all, you can only market the dream of the North Woods so long, until it really is just a dream.

Greg Schiek Sr.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:34 AM


-4 #6 Frank Gabl 2014-05-05 12:54

Your comment is the perfect example of the consequences of "a quick look up."

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore designation did not protect the area from being altered from its natural state which is what the additional overlay of a "wildnerness" mandates.

Thus, the "Gaylord Nelson Wilderness," signed into law on December 8, 2004 by a republican president and republican-controlled congress, not only renders the main thrust of Greg's argument unfounded, but your extreme far-Left rhetoric, silly as well.
+4 #5 2014-05-04 11:56
Greg, you make some very valid points. I will say conservatives in the past believed in conservation but today's Republican party that is being held hostage by the Far Right does little in terms of conserving our environment. A quick look up shows that the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore bill was signed in Sept 1970 with a Democrat controlled Congress and Richard Nixon (A RINO in today's Republican Party) signing it into law.
-12 #4 Frank Gabl 2014-04-23 07:28
On ObamaCare: “If you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan. Period. End of story.” – Barack Obama

On the IRS: There was “not even a smidgen of corruption.” – Barack Obama

On Benghazi: “That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.” – Barack Obama

On the Apostle Islands: “I wondered what that shoreline would look like today had its destiny been in the hands of our current bunch of right-wing Tea Party-leaning politicians led by this governor. I’m sure the outcome to the islands and the shoreline would have been quite different.” – Greg Schiek

Now all I need to bring this together is to check the historical record and see if by some silly chance a Republican president and a Republican-controlled congress were both in power at the time “Gaylord Nelson Wilderness” was signed into law.

Impossible. End of story.
+4 #3 2014-04-22 12:11

So in essence, the people you speak of, have already been there long before the environment was ever much of a concern. Then it all ended.

Tell me, has the serenity of that area been destroyed in your opinion? Keep in mind that it has been a long time since that happened, yet people flock to those areas to see the wonders.

In terms of the proposed Iron Mine, rest assured that the Apostle Islands, and particuarly Chequamegan Bay will never see freighters again. Everything will be shipped to Duluth or Marquette by rail. So, that should not be a concern.

The point here is that it once was the way you say it will be. And yet you are astonished by the wonders. Seems rather silly to me given the history.
-4 #2 2014-04-22 12:06

I consider myself a "right winger" and feel the same inspiration as you do when it comes to the Apostle Islands.

But for you to say that all right-wingers would destroy it, I find that to be quite flawed. And, I know MANY right-wingers who believe the same way as you and I do.

How? It so happens I have a boat on Lake Superior. Most of the boaters up there, especially the power boaters, are conservative. We enjoy that area due to the serenity and the creations that God provided. We don't want to see it destroyed.

Now, you do realize that over 100 years ago that area (particuarly Ashland) was a bustling shipping port thanks to the iron ore. There were over 31 docks that stretched into the lake in Ashland and Washburn had 9 docks (as seen from NOAA Chart# 14974).

-9 #1 Frank Gabl 2014-04-22 10:20

Your visible hatred is misguided.

Since everything is relative, can you imagine the disgust on the face of an early nineteenth century logger if you could bring one back to life and give him a tour of Eagle River?

Since 1970 U.S. Population has grown from 203 million to 320 - a net change of nearly 60 percent.

Your problem understandably lies in your age and the nostalgia that goes along with it. Let it go and quit blaming others, because after all, you are one of the 320 million as well.

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