Monday, June 25, 2012

Our state's heritage is green

What if Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had lived 25 miles apart in central Wisconsin? How big of a point of pride, how big of a tourist draw would that be?

The environmental equivalent is true. The father of our national parks and a founder of modern environmental thought spent intellectually formative years within easy walking distance for one of them.

John Muir, who surveyed mountainous future national parks on foot sustained only by hardtack and tea, developed his excitement for nature as a boy on a farm in Marquette County. The area is now John Muir Memorial County Park.

It was a shallow launch on from Indian Trial Landing.
Aldo Leopold, who pioneered a land ethic that recognizes all of nature is interconnected, pondered the concepts that led to his classic "A Sand County Almanac" at the weekend retreat northwest of Portage that he called the Shack. It has been preserved by the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Why are these not major eco-tourism destinations?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shiocton eaglets' popularity soars

By David Horst

See more photos  ||  Watch a video of the banding  ||  See Fisher's photos

Like most celebrities, they seemed small in person.

They’ve been on camera almost constantly this year, even though they aren’t able to walk yet. Clearly these are the stars of Wolf River Cam — Shadow and Feather, two eaglets growing up in a towering white pine outside of Shiocton.

Hundreds of Internet users may be tuned into their live web feed at any given time. Last weekend, the show went beyond the usual feeding time rituals. The main act involved pulling Shadow and Feather from the nest, checking their health and returning them with identifying bands clamped to their legs for future tracking.

This is the work of Pat Fisher and her Feather Bird Rehabilitation Center near New London.

MJ Electric provided a lift truck able to carry two people to the upper reaches of the 80-foot tree, where they will pluck the baby eagles from their nest, under the watchful eyes — and menacing talons — of their parents, George and Martha.

The first ascent misfires. The truck needs to be jockeyed into a little better position. On the second attempt, the bucket rises, carrying MJ Electric lineman Dan Verhagen and Feather volunteer Don Baumgartner.