Updated on 8/26: After watching Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area degrade for years, I posted a blog that got a lot of reaction. That was over a year ago. Here we are a year later and things are no better. Frankly, there is no good reason for not properly managing Pewit’s Nest and believe me, in the last year I’ve heard every “reason” in the book.
This year, I’m not going to go on and on about how Pewit’s Nest is overwhelmed. I won’t rat on about the cliff diving or the 4 rescue calls so far this year. (Now 5 as of 8/25) I won’t go on about the graffiti, the litter, the silt build-up, compression, the dead understory, downed trees, artificial erosion, rock stacking, glass beer bottles, loose dogs or even the fire pits. I’ll just say this.. There are ways to manage Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area and right now, it looks like full-on abdication.
But don’t take my word for it, the video above and the pictures below were from a pretty typical Monday morning at Pewits. (You can imagine the weekends.)
I’m happy to meet with anyone who has the power to actually affect change. Let’s talk. What don’t I understand? What are we missing here? I’ve got some low cost, low tech ideas for you. There are a lot of people in the community who are angry yes, but they are also willing to work with you to create real change. Heck, even these kids who are rock-diving would get it, if there was some kind of outreach. Listen, closing Pewit’s is just a cop-out. The point is to manage, not close the property. If you sincerely care about Pewit’s Nest, it is time to act.
UPDATE 8/26 – Yesterday, Just 3 days after this article was posted, there has been another rescue call at Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area. You can read the article here: Another Rescue call in the news.
The quick responses seem to be balanced between “You Can’t Fix Stupid”, “Shut it down” and the ever popular, “There are warning signs”. For at least 3 years now we’ve been told that those in charge are looking at solutions. It really shouldn’t take 3 years. So, here’s a jump start solution, I call a “Preservation Pass”.
The Preservation Pass would be implemented at any state natural area that becomes overused to the point of damaging the enviroment, causing injuries, etc. People wanting to visit Pewit’s Nest would be required to go to the Devil’s Lake State Park office and pick up a pass that is free to anyone with a Wisconsin State Park sticker. This pass is good for the day but (and this is important) it has to be returned when the visitor leaves Pewits. The number of passes issued would be equal to the number of available parking spaces. The idea is that if you have to pick up and return a pass to enter Pewit’s Nest SNA, it’s a hassle, which means a lot of people wouldn’t bother and the ones that do visit would be registered. This system would, if enforced, quickly control Pewits and allow the park hand out or communicate rules/expectations directly to each visitor when they pick up their pass. With a few tweaks I think a pass system would be cheap, fairly easy to manage and could be implemented within a few weeks. The system once tested at Pewit’s could be used for other SNAs as populations and visitor numbers continue to grow.
***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!).