Time for a new National Lakeshore?
For a long time now, I have wondered why northern Door County and the Grand Traverse Islands all the way up to Michigan's Garden Peninsula never became a National Park or Lakeshore like Sleep Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks, Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands. For a long time, I have wondered if a push for the creation of such a wilderness area could ever succeed. And for a long time, the fact that so little of the area was publicly owned made me doubt it.
When I read that the Luber family had so generously gifted their land on St. Martin Island to the Nature Conservancy I couldn't believe it! How noble and incredible a thing! And it made me think: Maybe now is the time for us to start talking about a National Lakeshore here. Even if nothing comes of it, doesn't the idea warrant some discussion?
The benefits would be enormous. Millions of people travel to the Apostle Islands each year simply because it's a National Lakeshore (especially sailors and sea kayakers, who tend to be wealthy, with plenty of discretionary income). Moreover, those visitors aren't just from the Midwest; they're from all over the country - and the world.
Just imagine: a big, green mark on our little peninsula in every road map of the United States; vastly increased media coverage; name recognition in nearly every household in the country. Think of the economic growth this kind exposure would create!
The presence of a National Lakeshore would improve our chances for National Scenic Byway status on 42/57. It would ensure greater historic preservation of our lighthouses, shipwrecks and archeological sites. It would attract younger families and individuals to the area. It would bring more federal money back home.
And consider this: It would be a giant win for the environment, too! The addition of other islands in the Grand Traverse chain would protect even more land from development - in perpetuity. The vast majority of the National Lakeshore could be given Wilderness Status, meaning that there would be no development of any kind, aside from a few back-country campsites. Wildlife would thrive!
Imagine people from all over this country coming here to sail or sea kayak or even ferry from the tip of Door County all the way up to the Garden Peninsula and back. Imagine being able to explore that wilderness yourself, with your family, just like the old French Voyageurs used to do on their travels to and from Mackinac Island.
I understand that this idea is not without controversy for the land owners and currently managed public places it would affect, but I believe it would be a great thing for our county, for our neighbor to the north, for our state and for our nation. It would preserve, protect and provide public access to one of the most beautiful places in the world - the Grand Traverse Islands - for us, for nature and for all time.
John H. Bacon
Gov. Walker as P.T. Barnum
Mr. Walker has boosted Wisconsin into the headlines once again all over the country. The Sunday New York Times (Dec. 1) devoted a third of its editorials to Gov. Walker's minions on the Voting Rights Act. I presume he is following the advice attributed to P. T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey circus fame: "I don't care what you say about me, just spell my name right." This follows along with Walker's recently published book.
The Wisconsin Voting Rights law, now on hold, is recognized as among the strictest in the country. It requires a voter to present a government-issued photo ID such as a driver's license or passport.
Challengers are suing under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which survived the Supreme Court's recent ruling and prohibits state and local government from imposing "voting qualifications or prerequisite to voting" that has a racially discriminating effect. The test is whether a law causes minority voters to have "less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process".
A political scientist testified that it is likely that more than 63,000 residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin do not have the required photo ID, and that black residents are 40 percent more likely not to have such documents. Additionally, one third of those without a photo ID do not have the required birth certificate which is needed to start the ID process.
For those living on a fixed income (or poverty), even the $20 to get a copy of a birth certificate can be unaffordable. Thus it is no different, in practice, than a poll tax which has been declared unconstitutional in state elections since 1964. As previous and typical in voter ID cases, the state presented virtually no evidence of voter fraud. One election official testified he could not refer to a single case of identity fraud anywhere in Wisconsin during his three decades of service to the state.
State voter ID laws vary in their particulars, but clearly the underlying purpose is to prevent eligible voters from voting. Such laws are "now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention" Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals 7th Circuit wrote in a memoir. He said recently that he had been wrong to uphold an Indiana voter ID law in 2007. He may have a chance for a "do-over" as whichever way the trial court rules, the losing side is sure to appeal to the 7th Circuit.
P.T. Barnum's quote has been upheld by the Republicans. Our Governor can be proud - Wisconsin was never misspelled.
Garrett U. Cohn