It's always a pleasure to be on the opposite side of any environmental position taken by your newspapers. Your editorial board has been on the wrong side of most environmental issues over the past few decades. Often you are at odds with what's best for our lake-based economy and the people who flock to our area to enjoy our aquatic treasures. It's likely these editorials will continue along with the many errors they contain (for example your assertion that only 2 percent of the area is developed when many lakeshores like Crescent, Minocqua, and Pelican are 70 to 90 percent developed). Therefore, I challenge you to commit to an act of journalism and print both sides of the issue.
We ask that you run a series of 20 short essays on lake quality issues which were written by community leaders, elected officials, scientists, and lake leaders from the area. Fine local newspapers like the Vilas County News Review, have already published many of these essays. Let the readers decide if we are "environmental radicals ... millionaire environmental elitists, and ... radical aestheticists" or, if we actually represent the feelings of the majority who live, work, visit, invest, and retire in our lake-rich area.
OCLRA (Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association) has represented dozens of lake associations representing thousands of shoreland owners as its members and the clear majority are not "millionaire environmental elites." We also speak on the behalf of the people who will never own lakeshore property but are passionate lake lovers and users. We are very concerned with lake users who haven't been born yet but will inherit our mistakes if we're not careful.
Keep exercising your editorial voice (which I know you will do) but give equal space to what we believe is the majority opinion and we'll see who sounds more reasonable. The "elites" can live, recreate and invest anywhere they want. Ask yourself what happens to our economy if they decide local governments are failing to protect their lake investment and go elsewhere. Over 75 percent of Oneida County's assessed valuation is from shorelands and over 75 percent is owned by nonresidents.
"The Regulator ...",
"... environmental extremist ...", and " ...environmental nutcase ..." (all your terms)
In his letter, Mr. Martini make two errors that must be factually corrected.
For one thing, he says we erred by saying "that only 2 percent of the area" is developed. What we actually said was that less than 2 percent of our watersheds are developed, and our statement is factually correct. According to the DNR's own 2010 State Forest Assessment Report, "over 85 percent of Wisconsin watersheds are likely to be in very healthy condition with less than 2 percent of the watershed area in impervious surfaces. ... Overall impervious surfaces cover 1.5 percent of Wisconsin's land area."
That report shows no watershed in northern Wisconsin with more than 2 percent IS coverage.
We also do not deny that some individual lakes are heavily developed, nor did we say they weren't. That is the case with Lake Minocqua, as Mr. Martini pointed out.
However, the important point - and the reason for our statistic - is that water quality degrades from development at the watershed level, not at the individual lake level, when IS coverage reaches about 8-10 percent. That's why Minocqua Lake has good water quality even though it is more than 70 percent developed - the watershed is not more than 2 percent covered by IS. We stand by the Our View.
We also reject the suggestion that we do not give "equal space to what we believe is the majority opinion" in Mr. Martini's request for 20 short essays to be published. In fact, a board member of the OCLRA, Ted Rulseh, has published - and still does- a weekly column in The Lakeland Times for almost four years,"The Lake Where You Live."
That's almost 200 short essays of equal space, far more than 20. Nonetheless, we are happy to publish the 20 essays, and indeed more, as he proposes.