July 21st, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

THE HEALTH OF OUR LAKES IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE

 

They are starting to call us names.  Rep. Adam Jarchow calls us “radical left wing extremists” on WPR.  His partner, Sen. Tom Tiffany, is accusing us on TV of Gestapo style intrusions on private property doing “sweeps”.  The sweeps he refers to are looking for invasive species in the water, which apparently neither of these legislators understands belongs to the public.  Both of these statements are just simply untrue.

It is a sign that we are starting to make an impression as we struggle to recover the rights that they ripped away with their attack last year on local control of our lakes.  It is also a measure of their level of disrespect for lake resident volunteers as citizens, constituents and stewards of our lakes.   We are the lake association members who have selflessly volunteered to care for our lakes and protect them from harm.  We are your neighbors, or your customers, or your friends.  We come from all walks of life and political parties.  Our work is non-partisan because the health of our lakes is not a political issue.

 The privilege of living on a lake carries extra responsibilities.  Prime among them is a commitment to do nothing on our property that could negatively affect the water we live next to, that is co-owned by every citizen, and our neighbors.  Our lake associations take on many responsibilities including invasive species, habitat projects, shoreland restoration, water quality and chemistry monitoring.  The list goes on and on – I could fill a page with our efforts.  None of them deserve a political label, because the health of our lakes is not a political issue.

Our lakes and rivers, our shorelands and ground water, are the greatest asset of our state and belong to the people.  They are the foundation of our tax base and our economy in the north.  In my home county of Vilas, riparian property pays 77% of the cost of county government.  You may not know this but tourism increased more than ONE BILLION dollars last year – not many sectors of our economy can match that number.  The waters deserve protection for reasons of economics as well as preserving our natural gifts for our kids.

We have one goal:  to maintain healthy lakes for the people, for our economy and for the kids and grandchildren of every citizen, all the owners of our lakes.   Private property rights include the rights to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our families.  If one of my “rights” damages my neighbor or my states’ waters, it ceases to be a right, and becomes a responsibility for me to fix.

Sen. Tiffany and Rep. Jarchow are hiding behind a curtain they call “private property rights”.  It’s a disguise.  Don’t be fooled by that.

 

John Richter, Sayner