It looks like the Town of Bayview board in Bayfield County, near Washburn, WI, has given the thumbs up on the proposed Houghton Falls park. This forward thinking decision is 180 degrees opposite from the knucklehead proposal by the Town of Baraboo board, on the other end of the State of Wisconsin, to discourage the creation and maintenance of more land for the public to use and enjoy.
We had the opportunity to snowshoe the area of the proposed new park over the New Years weekend and it is most definitely park worthy. Its a fairly deep sandstone ravine that has a couple of nice waterfalls and flows into the lake near Houghton Point. The vegetation includes some fine white cedar and hemlock, which are becoming rarer due to overbrowsing by the deer. Check out the images. It will make a nice little park and, as you can see from the article in the Ashland Daily Press, there seems to be a lot of popular support, one town board member nonwithstanding, for more public land and access in the area.
On the south end of the state, the Town of Baraboo board is trying to penalize the Nature Conservancy because an expensive rescue needed to take place on their land in Baxter's Hollow. The concept in a nutshell, is that the town board, already aggravated because this land isn't in the tax base at full value, wants to charge tax exempt landowners for 'unusual costs' in response to local emergencies on their land. I could type a lovely tirade on this theory, ripping it a new orifice on a number of levels, but our buddy Derrick, right in the midst of Baraboo controversy, has already done so in a fine post. We can only hope this wrong headed attempt to extort a few bucks from the Nature Conservancy goes nowhere. Like Mr. Mayoleth, I'm a big fan of personal responsibility. I also believe that more land with public access, as opposed to more land owned by the public, is an excellent way to provide people with outdoor opportunities. The one large benefit is that the Nature Conservancy doesn't routinely put out logging or mining contracts to achieve that wasteland look that US Forest Service must think someone enjoys.
I don't want to infer that town boards in northern Wisconsin are superior in foresight and altruistic tendencies to those in the south. One only need look at the Town of Russell board and their rubber stamping of the Shadow Wood Landing project to disprove that theory. Still, Houghton Falls park will be a nice little gem amongst the state, county, and national park lands in the area. It should be intimate, quiet, and appealing to the seeker of solitude, a commodity that is in very short supply these days.