I have a special connection to the State Natural Area program here in Wisconsin. My time serving with AmeriCorps was spent in a special joint program between the Natural Resources Foundation and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. There’s a few more layers in there, but to keep things simple those were the two big players. While working with the NRF, my job was to focus on the State Natural Area sites in my two counties on Wisconsin’s East side. Kurtz Woods & Hurias Lake were fantastic, beautiful areas and they’ll remain quite special to me for years to come. However, I grew up living right next to Cherokee Marsh, a SNA in my own backyard for the most part. It instilled a great majority of my Eco-friendly thinking, and my genuine curiosity for the natural world around us.
Now, with this little bit of background – Parfrey’s Glen is Wisconsin’s first State Natural Area. I had the opportunity to visit it this past spring when the snow was still around (MARCH!!!) for an AmeriCorps meting.
The photo that I use for my header image this Winter is from there, during my visit. I was browsing my twitter feeds instead of going to bed, and I found an interesting story. With the rain we had this past Summer, the boardwalk featured in my photo was actually washed out and the Wisconsin DNR is not going to rebuild the boardwalk because of budget reasons.
You can read the whole article here.
No, I don’t think this is a good idea. Parfrey’s Glen is one of those extremely rare areas in Wisconsin that’s protected for distinguishing reasons. There isn’t an ecosystem like it anywhere else in the state, it’s a true gem of natural places left in the state. This whole situation lends itself to a small little problem:
Fragile Ecosystems + Large Human Traffic = Lost Treasures.
The boardwalk system in place, having used it myself, keeps the human element from damaging too much. Having an actual trail adjacent to the stream (which will just get washed over in rainfall – and lets not even think about carrying various seeds of certain invasive species into the park, and transferred downstream. ) Maybe I’m a little too protective. If they aren’t going to rebuild the boardwalk – they shouldn’t allow the general public back there at all. I don’t like that option at all, people can’t develop an appreciation for (and want to donate money to …) things that they can’t see. The proposed trail higher-up seems like a possibility, but until that is constructed, why risk it? No, I don’t believe that there should be places that are completely off-limits to people. It’s not that it’s OUR world, it’s that we are a part of THIS world, and the only way to gain that connection is to experience it. The boardwalk served a fantastic purpose to bring people into this special environment, while still protecting everything to a moderate degree that will allow it to be enjoyed for ages to come.
So for those that visit our State’s 500+ State Natural Areas … maybe sending a little feedback would be something the DNR’s Bureau of Endangered Resources might like to hear. After all, these Natural Communities belong to all of us in the State. It would be a shame to have them disappear.
It’s interesting to note, though, that the photo that I took is now officially a picture of a landscape forever lost.
I guess it became just a little more special to me.