Parfrey’s Glen Trail Ends

Parfrey’s Glen Trail Ends

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.

Norman Carter Fasset Sign - Parfrey's Glen

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.

More Photos

** 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.

, ,

11 comments

  1. Elizabeth

    I have not visited since 2014… How terribly sad to hear that this beautiful place is being neglected, and is unprotected. I recently visited a state park in Iowa: free admission, beautifully maintained. It was obvious to me that public land management/stewardship is still a priority there. I wonder if we can recapture that ethic here, or is it too late? 😔

  2. Joseph Salemi

    I will respect the apolitical nature of this well informed website. But this makes it hard to find words that express the concepts at work. I can start by saying that those at the top offer no value on a national or local level for the following and this is detrimental to a state like Wisconsin: “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).”
    They have mistakenly surplanted caring for these core issues in favor of motorcycles, ATVs, rockets and the like. The assumption appears to be that moving away from core issues of environment will bring revenue while the core issues are a cost center.


    1. Author
      derrick

      Yes, while politics certainly play a part, and make the job harder for the employees and staff caught in the middle, my gut feeling is that folks who care, find a way. What I’m really trying to do is send a wake up call, that caring for these places needs to go on, even when your employers or the political powers of the moment make it hard. You can’t just point fingers, or blame budgets or staffing issues.. You can’t just toss your hands up.. If you care, you’ll find a way.. You’ll organize volunteers, you’ll hunt down donations, you’ll do it yourself if you have to.. It takes inspired leadership who takes their parks/lands/etc.. personally. That’s a 24/7 thing.. Knowing the property is in good hands, we’re inspired to fight with them to get more support politically..

  3. barbara gilson

    we went on this trail a couple years ago and it was just a wonderful place. I am glad I got to enjoy it before it became the way they say it is now. This is just terrible. I have beautiful pictures from our hike that dayl this is just a sad sad story

  4. Kelley

    What god giveth, The DNR Taketh Away. Curious why there are still security gates on the Merrimac side of the Badger Munition Plant. Perhaps the DNR is doing a study in the bunkers that still rest there in open view. Or maybe it’s a landing place for the helicopters that echo thru the forest every night. DNR or DOD, that’s a good question. Something from a local to ponder about. I’m very local, 500 yards from the boundary. Why mess with trails, when secret installations make so much more money..


    1. Author
      derrick

      Well, mostly since the flood in 1993.. There were some repairs since then, but really, it was never the same. 2008 just added to the damage.

  5. Scot Wiesner

    As a physically disabled person, I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to see the beauty of Parfrey’s Glen myself but as a bit of a naturalist, I’m happy that the DNR is leaving it to go back to it’s natural state, making it more difficult for some people to damage it’s fragile ecosystem. We all know that too many of the wrong people getting into places like this and tend to ruin it by leaving their plastic bottles or damaging fragile plants that can’t recover. I’d much rather give up my ability to see these places and know that the people that really care about them and are willing to be gentle with them when visiting are hopefully the only ones willing to visit.
    We’ve ruined enough of our wild places by making them more accessible. Haven’t we?


    1. Author
      derrick

      Good thought, but I don’t think you have a clear idea of what is actually happening. A sign is posted, but many, many people walk around it. In fact, these are the ones most likely to leave garbage and destroy the land. The sign only keeps a small number of very law-abiding folks out. Everyone else just goes past. Sometimes without good infrastructure and regular patrols a place gets more damaged not less, this is the issue with Parfrey’s Glen.


    1. Author
      derrick

      Well, a dedicated volunteer group would help fill the gaps for sure. I think this will be part of the solution.. If you’d like to help contact Sue at the nature center and we can keep you in the loop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *