|Environment must remain a priority|
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|