Letter to the Editor: May 3, 2023
Letter to the Editor published in the May 3, 2023 issue of the Tomahawk Leader.
Pelican River Forest
On April 18, 2023, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee voted to kill funding for the largest land conservation project in Wisconsin history. This is heartbreaking, especially since it was done during the week of Earth Day.
In spite of this vote, hope is not lost. There are many people working earnestly to keep this purchase alive.
The vote was not surprising. Mary Felzkowski stated during a “listening session” in Rhinelander that she was not changing her mind about the acquisition of conservation easements in the Pelican River Forest. These easements will protect nearly 70,000 acres of working forest in Oneida, Forest, and Langlade Counties. It is at the headwaters of the Wolf and Pelican Rivers, and straddles the mid continental divide between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Watersheds. This acquisition conserves our forest habitat and drinking water, maintains our robust forestry and tourism industries, and preserves this land for recreation, with ATV/UTV trails, snowmobile trails, hiking, biking, and snowshoeing trails as well as hunting opportunities.
It will preserve this forest and these waterways for our children and grandchildren for perpetuity with money from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Federal Forest Legacy Program, and the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.
Senator Felzkowski incorrectly asserted that this purchase would take land off of the tax rolls. The land is privately owned, and taxed. She also used fear tactics to convince the public that this is a bad idea, stating that vital emergency services would be curtailed because of a false loss of local tax money. The truth is that local governments are tax starved because the state has lowered the amount of funding it provides for municipalities during Ms. Felzkowski’s tenure in the legislature.
Green Light Metals, a Canadian mining company, has applied for permits to do core sampling on the land adjacent to the Pelican River Forest. On their website, Green Light Metals expresses their desire to make northern Wisconsin into a metallic sulfide strip mining district.
The acquisition of the Pelican River Forest will reflect the results of the 2018 referendum, in which sulfide mining was defeated in Oneida County by 62%. Mary Felzkowski has been vocal about her support for sulfide strip mining in northern Wisconsin, in direct opposition of her constituents.
This isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats, it isn’t about liberals versus conservatives, it isn’t about tree hugging hippies versus hunters and outdoorsmen. It is about life – our lives, the lives of our neighbors, the wildlife, and the life of our beautiful forests. It is about the gift of our naturally clean air and water. It is about protection – protecting the forests, and in turn, protecting ourselves, our children, and grandchildren.
Please let the legacy we leave behind be that of life and not destruction, nature instead of devastation, health instead of disease.
For more information, please contact www.pelicanriver.org.
In addition, it is not too late to call or write to your state legislators regarding preservation of the Pelican River Forest.