Tag Archives: public land

In Praise of Bike Trails

Elroy Sparta Trail Oct 2015In this part of Wisconsin, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by many types of public land: county forests, ruggedly beautiful state parks, a huge national wildlife refuge, and more. But the public lands that I use most often are those strangely unnatural avenues for exploring the natural world: rails-to-trail bike paths.

The phenomenon of converting abandoned rail beds to recreational paths has spread across the continent, but it started right here with the former Chicago and North Western Railroad line that became the Elroy-Sparta Trail in 1965. Continue reading

Scouting the Marsh

Otter tracks on the ice.

Otter tracks on the ice.

In Sauk County, where Highway 33 follows the Baraboo River down a gentle incline toward the Wisconsin River, there’s a large wetland that I’ve often admired, especially on fine days when the water glistens in the sun. But whenever I’m driving down Highway 33, I’m on my way to…someplace. So I never stop.

Today, when the temperature rose toward thirty degrees and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, I said to my husband, Mark, “Let’s take a walk.” Continue reading

Public Lands

Before I had the good luck – and the good sense – to marry a wildlife biologist, I never knew there were so many places where a person might take a walk.

Sure, I knew of a few state parks and faraway national parks. But in Lake Mills, if I wanted to be alone with the red-winged blackbirds, I settled for walking the gravel shoulder of Faville Road, where cars only occasionally zoomed by at 55 mph, and only one farm dog regularly chased me.

If I had looked at a county map, I might have seen several irregularly shaped green blobs within an easy drive of my home: Continue reading