Pewit’s Nest. Adding Injury To Insult.

Pewit’s Nest. Adding Injury To Insult.

It’s bad enough that Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area is seeing so much damage from high use and no quality management or interventions, but what happens when we introduce high volumes of highway runoff and the associated salt, oil and other pollutants into the deep pools and falls of the glen? It can’t be good. But hey, somebody tell me I’m wrong!

Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area has, in recent years, become an amazingly popular attraction here in the Baraboo Hills. Of course it has. High cliffs, waterfalls and cool pools in a jungle-like atmosphere is akin to heaven on earth. The fact that this little “heaven” is located just a few miles from Wisconsin’s most popular state park and minutes from Wisconsin Dells only increases attendance. In recent years attendance has been so high that the damage to the area itself has become wildly out-of-hand.

Pewit's Nest SNA

Pewit’s Nest SNA

Today’s Pewit’s Nest is still beautiful, but it’s tired. Once you hike in on the now wide dirt path from the parking lot (If you are lucky enough to find a place to park), all signs of an official “trail” are gone. The land is now a maze of foot trails up to the cliff edges. Native plants are being crushed and killed to be replaced with hard ground and invasive plants brought in on tennis shoes. People are climbing the cliffs, diving and swimming in the water in volumes never once imagined. With practically no foot patrols by rangers or wardens, it’s the wild west.

Pewit’s Nest is now part natural area, part water park and dotted in peak season with both trash and fire pits. And the sad fact that this is old, very old news. While I know there are those rank and file in the DNR who do care, it seems the people who can do something can’t be bothered. The time to make changes to restore and protect Pewit’s Nest while allowing the public safe, respectable access is long overdue. Anyone who loves Pewit’s Nest SNA needs to speak up.

bypass

But that’s only half the story.

Pewit’s Nest now has to cope with a new enemy. The highway 12 bypass. What some of you may not know is that the stream that feeds the pools and falls of Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area, known as Skillet Creek incidentally, flows from near Devil’s Lake Park and runs north-west to Pewit’s Nest SNA. The new high-volume, 4 lane bypass will use 2 big bridges to cross Skillet Creek at its new location, west of the old highway.

Runoff from the highway & cleared land travels less than 1/2 mile before reaching the SNA

Runoff from the highway & cleared land travels less than 1/2 mile before reaching the SNA

I saw this one coming, but I held my breath. Things started feeling a bit more ominous last year when visitors to Pewit’s Nest started to mention how muddy and brown the water was looking. I imagined this had to do with the construction. Still, I’d never actually looked at the new bridge and landscaping which wasn’t easily accessible, nor did I ask. I mean, the DOT knows what they are doing, right?

Well, sadly after visiting the area I don’t think they do. I went out to look the new bridge over Skillet Creek on Saturday, March 12th. I didn’t much like what I saw. It’s not the bridge itself. Construction brings changes and some change is ok. It’s pretty impressive actually. It’s a huge bridge for such a small stream. You can see how they avoided damaging the scenic sandstone to the west and remained out of eyesight of Skillet Falls to the east. You can also see how they attempted to mitigate higher flows by creating a long meander under the bridge. Knowing how high and hard Skillet Creek ran in past floods, I don’t think their mitigation will work, but let’s put that aside. Let’s talk about the runoff.

drainage

Here’s my concern. There is now a huge area of pavement and grass. A square mile or more. Trees have been cleared and slopes graded over a large area. When the snow melts or when we have high volumes of rain, there is going to be a lot of water to move. The solution was to pipe all the water into a large stone filled gully which will carry all that water down into Skillet Creek.  (Keep in mind that the stream is shallow and normally only 4 feet or so wide at this point.) The water coming down that gully during heavy rains, regardless of the stone, is going to enter the creek hard and fast. The stream will see vastly increased volumes of water and increased force. All that water and energy is going straight into Pewit’s Nest sandstone gorge less than 1/2 mile downstream. When it pours, it’s going to get rough in there. Increased erosion? Increased sediment? Probably, but that’s not all. What about the pollution?

Imagine a 4 lane highways worth of gas, oil, salt and other chemicals all being channeled directly into Skillet Creek then into Pewit’s Nest.  I can’t help but wonder what the various chemicals and road salt will do to the enclosed glen. Not to mention the birds, plants and other animals including river otters that call it home. How long before we see oily rainbows on the water below the falls or clinging to the mossy stone on the water’s edge? I know, we’re draining these pollutants into our rivers and waterways every day. So what right? Well, whatever your feelings on that, Pewit’s Nest (Which IS a protected(?) State Natural Area btw!) is going to get more than its fair share. Much of it may get trapped in the gorge. My bet is that pollutants will slowly collect in the sediment at the bottom of the deep pools risking long-term health of life in the water as well.

On the upside, maybe the volume of visitors will go down.  I mean, who will want to swim in a toxic, glorified drainage ditch?

UPDATE: Download Stormwater Management Plan – Read the stormwater management plan for this section of Hwy 12. While I’m not an engineer, I do find it interesting that while the Baraboo river & Green Valley Campground’s pond are given significant attention, Pewit’s Nest SNA isn’t mentioned in the plan.

UPDATE 2: THIS POST IS NOW 1 YEAR OLD. – Currently the DNR is looking for comments on their proposed plan for Pewit’s Nest which you can read here. (It does not address possible damage from the Hwy bypass however.)

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PS:  I believe that if you are going to complain, you should have the glimmer of an answer prepared. When it comes to protecting Pewit’s Nest from highway runoff, it seems to me that the solution would be a retention area or pond in place of the current gully. Let the water flow off of the highway into an artificial wetland area, then seep into to stream.  This idea may not solve everything, but it’s my opener to the conversation.

PPS: Want to Contact the DOT? Here are the Hwy 12 Bypass Project Contacts.

PPPS: Want to Contact the DNR?

Regarding The Natural Area in general try Thomas Meyer at Thomas.Meyer@wisconsin.gov

Regarding the Hwy Runoff Try DNR EA Transportation Liaison, Andy Barta at andy.barta@wisconsin.gov

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***Obligatory Disclaimer:  This website is NOT associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not represent the views of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Which is sometimes too bad if you ask me!).

37 comments

  1. Judy Kowalke Tipton

    I am thoroughly disgusted that Pewits Nest has been made known to the tourists (aka terrorists) that invade our State every season of the year. I grew up a few miles from Pewits Nest and it is devastating to see it disrespected & destroyed and all for the almighty dollar!! Is nothing sacred anymore? I guess not. Thanks for letting me spout off.


    1. Author
      derrick

      I feel what you’re saying being “local” myself, however I am actually thankful for our tourism trade. I also realize that in order to preserve something people need to see value. So large numbers of visitors make that point clearly. This message has to be drilled into the powers that be so that they will see value in treating the land as an asset. With the right investment and infrastructure, Pewit’s Nest & Parfrey’s could be managed and maintained beautifully, while at the same time bringing visitors into our community. Our community depends on tourist dollars.. So it’s win-win… IF they are maintained and patrolled regularly.

  2. MSC

    PN is so beautiful; rather, it was so beautiful. Part of the problem, is the lack of maintenance and supervision. It is the last area to be taken care of under the auspices of the DNR. Not enough “staff” etc. Perhaps an “adopt a park” like “adopt a highway” or other local programs ? But, ultimately, the budget has to open up and allow these fantastic areas to be patrolled and maintained in a proper fashion; and by patrolled; the idea of being able to give a citation for disobeying all posted rules…including letting dogs roam and/or fires, and/or creating rope swings. A few good citations and the word will travel. This should remain a local “secret”….


    1. Author
      derrick

      I agree with everything you’ve said, other than the “local secret” part. We can’t do it and even if we could, I believe we should share with pride. However, we need to make sure that anyone who disrespects our natural wonders is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.. This is why we need regular foot patrols by nearby rangers or wardens.

  3. henry

    sadly the Internet allows everyone to find these places overuse,has destroyed many hiking trails..the Appalachian Trail Is one of many, total lack of respect for the ecosystem. …


    1. Author
      derrick

      We often want to roll up our sidewalks and hide our gifts, but that will never work. We can however manage them in a way that allows us to share them with everyone. It may mean regulating numbers or building clear trails. It certainly means we need patrols and law enforcement to protect nature from the idiots. Thing is, as far as Pewit’s is concerned the biggest issue is that it’s simply being loved to death. These folks are not “bad”, they simply are not being provided the information or infrastructure necessary to protect the land.

  4. John

    I remember living just by this amazing place as a kid. I remember discovering it before it was widely known about when it was still private land. I have not been back in years and am sad to hear that my little slice of paradise is no longer that….what a shame that our DNR have not thought enough to protect this location, but are overly concerned about some of the sillier things! Oh well, at least I will always have my memories!

  5. Joseph Salemi

    Hi Derrick and everyone,
    I continue to read here specifically because of the concern and love of the area I see expressed here. The entire Baraboo Hills area is a gem in your beautiful state and I am always amazed at how few people down here in Illinois know about the area other than the Dells.
    I have been visiting the area all of my 59 years, we taught our kids, cousins and neighbors to ski at cascade and Devils Head, to camp and hike at Devils Lake and Skillet Creek/ wheelers, how to paddle at DLSP and the Wisconsin River. We average 15-20 visits per year which in 40 years is too many visits to believe.
    All of the kids are grown now and they still practice what we taught them about leave no trace and that includes that fires only belong in fire pits, leave your camp site and picnic area cleaner than how you found it, and respect nature, keep it quiet, no drinking and driving and to respect every rule and law like it was your own house.
    Most people we know are exactly like we are while in the outdoors. None of us hunt, none run big boats, none run big ATVs or RVs and I practice catch and release exclusively.
    A quick look at the number of license plates from out of state vs the great state of Wisconsin easily points up that most of the issues we see with garbage, pollution, scofflaws, could not possibly be from out of towners who are either simply disrespectful or ignorant of the beauty we seek.

    I did a few solo paddles from Sauk to Spring green last summer and saw somethings that I had never been so struck by in the past. The first is the overcrowding at all state facilities. But even more astounding is how staff is just not able to keep things clean and safe. Specifically, porta pottys are unusable, garbage cans stuffed and cars parked willy nilly.
    This sort of thing is not so striking at well known areas like the Ferry or DLSP but once off the beaten path, things deteriorate. Even Tower State Park, where I was stranded on a Sunday awaiting shuttle back to my care, was terrible. Angry people, no where to park because everyone parks silly, NO RANGERS for 5 hours, stuffed stuffed porta potties, busses blocking everything, pollution, garbage.

    But to blame “non locals” for this directs efforts in the wrong direction because by far most are from Wisconsin. That’s right the cigarette butts in the sand, the garbage under the tree, the blue worn containers, the beer cans are not all finger printed by illinoisians not Iowans, not Minnesotans.

    This conversation can go a lot of ways but let’s start where it starts. Where do my fishing license, park permit, trail fees go? I don’t mind the money so why not charge me tax on food as part of this discussion. But the central issue lies with the State of Wisconsin which is charged with education, policing, cleanup and general safety. What has happened to the state of Wisconsin.

    PS: I have never, even once, been asked by a ranger to produce my fishing license in at least 20 years. Why not? I have never had even one word of conversation with a ranger in more visits than I can believe and I AM A PERFECT target to be questioned.

    These patterns are worth a good look.


    1. Author
      derrick

      You are right in my observations. The parks are so woefully understaffed that its embarrassing. This leads to mental and physical burn out and those who are working are not always at their best. When it comes to law enforcement, budget is an issue, but also (and something that needs more attention) young people are not applying to become rangers and wardens like they used to. If kids don’t grow up in nature, why would they want to grow up to protect it? So lack of good applicants seems to be at issue as well.

      In addition our current political climate is anti-environment in Wisconsin the DNR is certainly in a soul-searching crisis. Many of the folks who actually care have left or keep their heads down.The problem here of course, is that while folks argue and name call over politics, the parks are simply left to fend for themselves..

      When it comes to visitors and tourism. Baraboo is a community in my mind that had eco-tourism thrust upon it and is still coming to grips with what this means and how best to adapt and serve. Folks that think we don’t need the millions of visitors to our local state parks and natural areas are simply wrong. I for one am glad your family has been visiting for so long! 🙂

      1. Joseph Salemi

        Yes and thank you Derrick,
        I do not want my commentary to get too far afield here but certainly politics plays a huge role with environmental control.

        In terms of policing, It appears that all park staff except the maintanence crew are uniformed rangers in the State Parks. I am not sure how it all works but In municipalities, we see less trained officers who do parking patrol, traffic control, bicycle patrol, perhaps animal control while fully trained officers do the more complex work of traffic stops, arrests, court work, etc.
        Having these two levels of policing helps to control cost and enables the municipality to place officers where they are needed while controlling numbers and professional staff are just not available.

        In private industry we see plumbers helpers, construction laborers who are not high priced carpenters and not full fledged tradesman on the job to control cost and to provide service where there are just not enough fully credentialled professionals. And we see teachers assistants in the schools etc.

        At massive ski areas in the west where thousands of people share dangerous slopes and facilities we see fully trained ski patrollers supported by “volunteer Information” people patrolling the area but also “yellow Jackets” who are like a safety patrol with radios posted all over the area ready to talk up safety, stop scofflaws and who can call the official Ski Patrol at any moment.
        The volunteer information people are generally old guys who benefit by skiing for free and the comeraderie of like minded friends. The Yellow jackets are young student types who are seasonal workers paid minimum wage and ski free of charge.

        Perhaps the WDNR could employ a similar system as seen in municipalities and private industry where less trained patrollers could be used to check in campers, have a uniformed presence on that north beach, talk to folks and who are a link to actual rangers available to swoop in when things look fishy. This way, rangers are freed up to have a presence in places where problems are expected and are deployed to hotspots when needed. And this way, these patrollers can witness scofflaws, can see when car loads of kids are arriving and call in before the coolers are emptied and before buckets of illegal fish are taken. And in this way, full fledged rangers can walk onto a scene where they already know something has happened by showing up at the scene of the crime instead of themselves patrolling and troubleshooting.
        The way it is now, I feel like there is nowhere to turn when I see trouble brewing and junk expanding.
        But I digress.


        1. Author
          derrick

          Joseph,

          You are so right! Volunteers, Friends group members, etc. can certainly help with traffic management. They can also act as dosents and guides within popular areas. I’ve seen great use of these caring folks at National Parks as well. This is a discussion I’ve been part of many times. Still it takes the powers that be, park administrators and friends groups to get moving on these ideas and turn them into working systems. My hope is that these discussions can initiate changes.

      1. GKBeth

        BStein,
        There have been several thoughtful and worthwhile suggested solutions given in these comments. I disagree with the comment made by BStein. The problems of staff shortages and insufficient educational tools for visitors on the proper conduct in our state parks and state natural areas started years before Scott Walker became governor. If we are going to make comments on this worthwhile discussion please let us state the truth and not allow it to evolve into a political discussion.

        1. Joseph Salemi

          GKBeth,
          Because this is about proper municipal planning, infrastructure and allocation of resources and manpower, environmental concerns will always be political by nature. Infact, the road was built in a way that does not protect the environment and infact adequate resources have not been deployed in a way to address overuse and misuse of DNR properties here and elsewhere in the state when compared to allocations in the past.
          These areas are kept as they are wholly by political process which will either protect or ignore the problem. Unfortunately, what we see right now is a government ignorant of the problems that it had previously addressed in ways that preserved our natural resources as a priority with full consideration of the impact its policy actually has upon the environment including its people and not only its budget.

          1. GKBeth

            Joseph Salemi,
            I appreciate and agree with your comments. I understand the political process is unavoidable. In my previous comment I was trying to protect this comment feature of this wonderful website from blaming one individual which can lead to arguments and does not solve the problem. Our state government is more than one man, therefore whatever good or bad happens it had more than one hand making it happen. I appreciate all of your comments on this subject because you have given constructive criticism along with suggestions to help correct it. I have seen similar problems as those you have shared in several of your comments. I am very disappointed with our state AND federal governments’ inadequate and/or total lack of protection of state and federal lands. I am frustrated with “budget cuts”, “abuse of the environment at state lands”, or “ignorance” being used by the governments to justify why they allow these problems to continue. Another of my fears is they will close these beautiful places to public access. Years ago (maybe ten yrs ago) my husband and I would drive our car or truck and park closer to the creeks, streams and lakes in some of the state lands (ex: Mirror Lake SP, Dell Creek Wildlife Areas that includes creeks of Dell, Hulburt, etc.) . We were and still are not physically able to walk long distances. Then the DNR closed those old abandoned field and driveway roads to the public’s licensed highway vehicles. We have not been back to those beautiful areas since the roads closed. We read that many of the northern WI state and national forest land’s old logging roads have been permanently closed to highway licensed cars and trucks. Now only ATVs are allowed to drive on them. In the past we enjoyed driving on them to look at the flora and fauna. We would not drive on them fast or when muddy. I agree there needs to be frequent monitoring of the state natural areas either with regularly scheduled volunteers that can call on an official to come to the site to stop and apprehend the violator along with the warden checking the area more often. But the warden might not have the time to do this. If not that then there must be some way not thought of yet that is effective, efficient and low-costing.

          2. Joe salemi

            Hi GKBeth,
            You are correct to protect this fine forum from becoming one of those silly political arguement platforms and now I better understand your previous comment.
            I had not considered the real possibility of park and other public land closures. It seems fundamentally incorrect to close byways to cars but leave them open to ATVs and such. The initial thought is that trucks were causing more damage than ATVs but when considered in light of other State level decisions concerning the environment, it appears that trucks are excluded for the expressed purpose of allowing ATVs and environmental damage was therefore not the initial concern of the WDNR.
            But this is speculation on my part and is a bit far afield of Derricks original post here except to say that priorities are misplaced away from the environment by the State. And to say that these misplaced priorities are simply because of budgetary concerns falls way short when so many simple solutions like trained volunteers, community policing, etc remain undone.

        2. Barb Steinhorst

          Thank you for your suggestion. This is truly a matter of opinion, and this is what comments are. Aren’t they?

          1. Barb Steinhorst

            I am not worried about offending Scott Walker, I am worried about how our beautiful land and resources are being handled by people, whomever is in control, people who obviously don’t care about it enough to realize how important it is to the rest of the population. Defense of Scott Walker is the worst political reply there could be. Stay with the main focus….protection of these natural places at all cost.

  6. Cheri LE MOINE

    Very sad. I have taken very beautiful pictures over the years, but now the single trails are wider n hard mud packed n yes the wild flowers n plants are not as plentiful n trash n burnt fires are left behind. Sad to see the changes happening to a beautiful place I went two-three days a week just to sit on the rock ledge n enjoy the birds sing n ducks come down the stream n youngsters enjoy the waterhole. Lets hope someone opens their eyes very soon before its too late n we loose a beautiful place God has given us.

  7. Rick Eilertson

    Thanks Derrick! I think you bring up a lot of great points.

    As an fyi, here’s the web page showing the DOT contacts for the US 12/Baraboo Bypass Project: http://projects.511wi.gov/us12corridor/contact_us/. The Skillet Creek section is the “South Section”. Members of the Baraboo River Canoe Club (BRCC) have been in touch with DOT and Lunda regarding concerns we’ve had about the temporary portage set up at the US 12/Baraboo Bypass bridge over the Baraboo River and both DOT and Lunda have been very responsive to our concerns/suggestions. The DNR contacts I’ve been in touch with on this project are Andy Barta and Jean Unmuth and both have been fairly responsive as well.

    Since this is a new construction project, the sediment reduction performance standards are fairly high (e.g. 80% Total Suspended Solids reduction required as compared to the No Controls scenario). DOT designers often use distributed, linear practices like vegetated swales to meet the sediment reduction performance standards and these practices typically aren’t as easy to spot as large regional wet detention ponds. They also typically go in towards the end of the construction phase after grading is nearing completion, rather than upfront like the silt fence perimeter control that is shown in your photos.

    BRCC Members conducted monthly citizen-based stream monitoring on Skillet Creek at County Road W just below Pewit’s Nest in 2013 and 2015 and the data is available publicly on DNR’s Surface Water Data Viewer. I performed the May-October 2015 monitoring and was surprised at how clear the water stayed throughout the 6 months that I sampled the site, despite the construction work upstream and a couple fairly extreme precipitation events.

    I would expect the DOT and/or DNR would be willing to provide the Stormwater Management Report for the project if you ask them. I’d be happy to help review the report once you receive it, if you’d like.

    Thank you for highlighting these concerns!

    Sincerely,

    Rick Eilertson


    1. Author
      derrick

      Hi Rick,

      Thank you! And thanks for the contact info. I’m glad your organization is acting as a watchdog here. I’ll defer to you of course regarding the science here. If you feel confident in the work, I feel better personally (well, a bit!) I realize that most folks are acting with the best intentions in this project. I certainly expect that long term water quality monitoring will be in place in Pewit’s Nest.

      On the other hand 200 years of progress has taught us that things are always perfectly alright until there not. Given the DNR’s seeming lack of interest in managing Pewit’s Nest up to this point, it’s hard to visualize the same department heavily scrutinizing the water quality in the same natural area where people are free to dive off cliffs, toss trash and have campfires… 🙂 But then, it’s a crazy world!

      Thanks again for the solid information!


    2. Author
      derrick

      I have the Storm Water Management Plan available and can email it to you if you like. There is no mention of Pewit’s Nest in the plan, while Green Valley’s Pond and the Baraboo River do get special note.

  8. Devil's Lake Guy

    Rick Eilertson’s info is exactly what this forum needs. It should be an inspiration to many that they themselves can take action, not just make observations.
    My belief, as well as my official message to those locals who truly care……….SPEAK UP, say something.
    As far as individuals acting like idiots in our beautiful areas …..If you see people disrespecting the land, call them out on it.
    Don’t be afraid, be proud.
    Most people will react in an embarrassed nature and hopefully then change their ways. I have always had success with this.
    Most adults are like children, if they are not taught how to act appropriately…..they won’t.


    1. Author
      derrick

      I agree to speaking up & taking actions… (Thus the blog…) in appropriate situations. However, we don’t want folks “speaking up” out there getting into it with other visitors. Sometimes in our society a simple comment quickly escalates into violence. This again is why foot patrols are so important. A ranger, warden, or other “official” staff can speak up with the authority to be taken seriously and the ability to keep the situation from escalating.

      1. Devils Lake Guy

        If you assume that it’s too intimidating to simply engage in constructive, polite conversation with people and wish to pawn off all responsibility to “officials”, well don’t be surprised if it gets you nowhere.
        And to the guy who suggests “calling 911” ……….. HILARIOUS.
        Come on fellas, common sense and a backbone will get you much further than you think.

        1. Joseph Salemi

          Plenty of backbone here. Common sense brings complaints to officials. Anyone who would advise in these matters would agree to call law enforcement to enforce the law because it is too difficult to present such matters to scofflaws in a way that is taken as calm and caring as is suggested. True feelings come out too fast when the message is conflicted with simply saying; “Awe come on guys, can u turn that music down, pick up your garbage and throw those dinks back.”
          What generally happens is the complaint sounds like; “HAVE A BACK BONE AND AS FOR THE GUY WHO WOULD CALL POLICE…..HILARIOUS.” This sort of message is conflicted and necessarily sounds uncivil and people, especially scofflaws, take it as confrontation which is precisely what it is. Therefore, it is best to leave things to more level heads which is the personally mature and responsible thing to do because, as we can see here, it is just too hard to keep a civil tongue.
          To add perspective, i could tell a story of how these three drunken tattoos had to be disarmed of their KBAR two years ago on an otherwise peaceful island on the Wisconsin under similar circumstance. I keep it between the seats now and still, i continue to advise against such hillarity when at all possible as is required in civil society.
          Just take picture of license plates, the damage, the people and call the cops. The. Make sure to follow up with an official complaint in writing at the appropriate office. Follow that report with inquiry as to actions taken. Testify if you can. Speak up, be safe.

          1. Devil's Lake Guy

            Your view makes me sad for the future.
            Advising people to always fear each other is more counterproductive than you think.
            Confrontation is NOT exactly what it is. It’s communication, which is what society is certainly lacking.
            You make so many assumptions that you miss the point.

            MSC’s “Pewitt’s Troll” is a GREAT example of how it can be done, safely and productively.
            They get it.

          2. Joseph Salemi

            You are quite correct on all counts. Still, it is advisable to not approach lawbreakers on your own. It is best to get pictures of license plates and to call law enforcement. It has become quite rare that people can just talk these things through as we could in the not so distant past when civility was the norm and fear not so sad and real.

    2. MSC

      I just tell them the Pewitt’s Troll will find them ! (seriously…great ice breaker and when you can tell them the history…sometimes it gets their attention!)

      You didn’t know there was a troll ? He lives under the larger waterfall….look carefully – he’s there…sometimes !

      I say this in jest in a way, but yes, this is how I approach the kids….and yes, it is all of our responsibilities to talk to each other on the trails, etc. We need to be concerned about how our beautiful area will stay beautiful. It’s what brings many here to stay. It’s what brings many here to visit.

      Sometimes, though, just talking to others in the preserve/s trails, – it’s not quite enough.

      The DNR cut the budgets and the staffing of the rangers. This area is under the jurisdiction of Devil’s Lake, however, if there aren’t enough rangers to patrol the area, there just aren’t.

  9. Joseph Salemi

    Take pictures, get license plate numbers, call 911. It is not wise to take matters into your hands. Not only are you exposed to the risk of violence but your acts, no matter how righteous, can be turned against you in the law.
    The law is not kind to confrontation. Be careful.

    And too, if there is no law enforcement available to police areas where violations are known to occur, any confrontation while in these areas leaves you completely unprotected. Remember, part of the complaint is that there is no protection in these crowded areas.
    In fact, one of the flaws in the proposal to use official volunteers is that they would only be prepared to do certain things as wisdom would advise against using volunteers to actually confront those who ignore common courtesy and law. These are the exact individuals who will take exception to even the best intentions and approach.
    Call 911, file a report and follow up to see what was done.

  10. Kyle Meise

    There is been a lot of good conversation here on this blog. My family has owned and operated the Green Valley Campground upstream of skillet Creek for years now. Ever since the beginning discussions on this highway 12 bypass we have been battling the DNR and DOT about their actions involving skillet creek and our large pond. We now after a 10 yr struggle and many voices heard have realized sometimes you just can’t win. Our campground is being bombarded with heavy equipment ripping apart the beautiful landscape and tearing down trees. The spring fed pond which feeds skillet creek has become the fore mentioned retention pond for runoff and pollutants killing off most the fish and wildlife that called it home. We will continue to push back but the overwhelming population increases mean expanding cities and growing highways. I could vent all day about these issues but I’ll stop now. Just know we can help sustain by teaching our friends and family respect for these natural landmarks, and actually getting out and volunteering, or just taking a garbage bag with to collect trash as you walk the trails, anything is better than nothing at all, lead by example; and next time you see a donations box don’t just walk by because just a $25 park sticker won’t get a uniformed foot patrol at every park and trail system!


    1. Author
      derrick

      Thanks for your comments. I feel for you. I was just reviewing the Stormwater Management Report from the DOT and it says pretty clearly that NO water runoff was to enter your pond.

  11. KC

    With higher water volumes caused by runoff this sure to make for more injuries. Fast moving high flows will wash logs and debris down into the pool in PN gorge. I’m not condoning people cliff jumping into gorge, rather observing that it happens. With the water now brown and muddy there will be no way to know what has washed down unto the pool. Someone will jump and land on a hidden log. This could happen anyways, but it will happen more often.

  12. Micah Otto

    Hey there Derrick,

    I am a college student in Minnesota and planned on writing a research paper concerning Pewit’s Nest and the imminent dangers it faces. I was interested in gathering more information from reputable sources. If you could be of any assistance, I would greatly appreciate if you sent me an email to the address ottoml@mlc-wels.net – Thank You!

  13. msc

    PW as well as other SNA are suffering. As a former park ranger, I can advise that the most important areas of patrol were the “main” areas; i.e. the state parks. The SNA were “as staffing is available” and it simply, in the peak season, wasn’t always an availability. It continues to get worse, and will do so. State Park Rangers are fully certified law enforcement officers and can and do give citations; unfortunately, they just can’t get everywhere. The internet “spreads” the word and little local spots become attractions to all. Pros and cons. Yesterday, a group of kids were swimming in PN. Lots of people trampling everywhere. I told them the legend of the troll, and asked if they had seen it …(with a chuckle, yes). Mom got angry at me for frightening her kids. (Not my intent.) Any change in the surrounding areas (as scheduled) is sure to have affects on the beautiful land; it is not just the “people” at the SNA, but all around environment that will also affect it. “Friends of SNA” might help … or to raise awareness, but it does take people to do this; and we all know time is valuable to all. As a local, if I see an “error” I will mention it; it’s the best we can do under the circumstances (and tell the troll legend – smile.) Not everyone takes it well, but sometimes education is what is needed. And – reminders. Maybe more signage ? Just thoughts put forth.

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