In late April of 1977, we found out, rather accidentally, that Wisconsin Public Service was intending to sell roughly 1,000 acres of land, on both sides of the Wisconsin River, to a real estate developer. Within a few weeks, this unfriendly plan had been scuttled, due to a combination of local citizen outrage and the timely political intervention of State Sen. Kevin Shibilski, who shoehorned the sale in the direction of the DNR.
Hence we now have the Bill Cross Wildlife Area, public land which both protects an extensive stretch of Wisconsin River shoreline between Grandfather Dam and Bill Cross Rapids and provides recreational opportunities for hikers, hunters, fisherman, bird watchers, snowmobilers, horse riders, skiers and snowshoers.
Right now there is the opportunity to preserve more Wisconsin River shoreline in its natural state. If WPS were a good environmental citizen, with a long-view of ecological coherence in the Northwoods, it would see to it that this land is kept in the public domain. As local citizens, it’s our responsibility to remind WPS what its duty is. WPS, lest we forget, is a regulated utility operating explicitly in the public interest.
It’s time to do in 2005 what we did as a community in 1997. Let’s put the undeveloped pristine shoreline behind Alexander Dam in public trust. It’s necessary, it’s needed, and it’s time.
WPS – are you with us or against us?
Mark Mehlos, DDS