Update: As of Mid-August 2016 the historic Parfrey’s Glen sign has been smashed by a fallen tree. The “Trail Ends” sign that this post was based on, has been stolen. (for a second time..) I’m told that there will be some clean-up coming soon.
The continued lack of care and general maintenance of the once premiere Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area stands out more than the beautiful glen and waterfall…. that the trail no longer leads to.
Let’s face it, it’s appalling. The idea that someone would post an “End of Trail” sign right at the start of Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area’s main attractions and honestly think this will somehow absolve them of care or responsibility is just absurd. I mean, they don’t honestly think anyone who made the trip is actually going to stop at the sign do they?? Well, the lack of a good trail does keep a lot of folks out who used to enjoy the glen but can’t manage the rough, rocky terrain these days.
But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the real issue is that no one has the time or interest in maintaining a quasi-safe path or removing fallen trees. Maybe they simply forgot what Parfrey’s Glen used to be. Maybe, they are burnt-out and over-worked. Maybe they are disillusioned and phoning it in.
Check out the image above. Through the brush along the trail you can still make out the sign. A sign that years ago, was prominent along the trail. The sign tells visitors why Parfrey’s Glen was important. Amazing metaphor isn’t it!? It’s as if subconsciously, they feel that if sign gets lost behind brush and fallen trees, no one will know that people used to care or that there was a reason beyond “beauty” that the glen was protected. Everyone will forget that Parfrey’s Glen, Wisconsin’s first state natural area, used to be a point of pride for Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake & our community.
Let’s remember.. from the DNR’s website “The moss-covered walls are moist from seepage, cool and shaded. As a result, they support a flora more typical of northern Wisconsin with yellow birch, mountain maple, and red elder and several rare plant species, including the federally threatened northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense) and state-threatened round stemmed false foxglove (Agalinus gattingeri). Other rare species are cliff goldenrod (Solidago sciaphila), and two state-threatened birds, the cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea) and Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens). Parfrey’s Glen Creek, a fast, cold, hardwater stream flows through the gorge and harbors a very diverse insect fauna including a rare species of diving beetle (Agabus confusus) and a rare caddisfly (Limnephilus rossi).”
Parfrey’s Glen is not just another bit of unnecessary state owned land. It has value, both environmentally and as a tourism destination.
So let’s be fair. The SNA is still beautiful. The first section of the natural area is still maintained. The bit where it’s easy. Heck, you can even read that sign better, if you duck under the fallen tree and walk around the brush pile! But these days once you enter the woods about half-way along, “volunteer trails” head off in all directions and the brush stacks up along the trails nearly as much as the stacks of rocks. People ignore the signs that are no real barrier and no one makes an effort to pretend they actually care anyway. They just posted a couple signs, dusted off their hands and walked way.
Sometimes I wonder if the the whole park system shouldn’t be handed over to the Department of Tourism. These natural places and attractions need to be managed by people who understand the importance of being a good steward, a good host & just maintaining a clean establishment. It’s the enviroment yes, but here in our part of the state, it’s also good business.
At this moment in time, it feels like the people who are supposed to care have lost their sense of pride… or even worse, just given up.
** And of course, my crazy opinions are my own and often caused by too many hours of isolation in the deep dark woods. My posts certainly don’t represent the opinions of the Wisconsin DNR or any other group, organization or book club.