Moral Monday: Discovering the Penokees

  • Penokees

EDITORS’ NOTE: “Moral Mondays” is a movement founded by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II to identify interconnected social and moral issues, and the people, movements, and organizations working to address these problems. “Moral Monday” is a weekly feature in Middle Wisconsin.

Moral Monday in the Penokees

By Joyce Luedke

An Open Letter to Senator Jerry Petrowski

After reading the book Discovering the Penokees by Joel Austin, Joyce sent a copy of the book and this letter to Senator Jerry Petrowski.

Dear Senator Petrowski:

Please share this book, Discovering the Penokees by Joel Austin, with your children and your grandchildren. The beauty and magnificence of the Penokee Hills is breathtaking. The wisdom in the book along with the graphs and information is a must-read. Take your grandchildren to the Penokee Hills to walk the trails, to breath the fresh air, to delight in the fresh water of the streams and lakes, to enjoy the solitude and peace of a pristine area of Northern Wisconsin before it is gone forever.

Tell them that you and your fellow Republicans voted to destroy the water, the air, the environment, and the people of the area. Tell them, with your vote, you willingly submitted the people to dust particles and asbestos that will be breathed into their lungs. Tell your grandchildren about the thousands of blasts that will shake the earth, the people, and the wildlife in the area. Tell them about the elderly grandmother in the area who has farmed there for over 50 years knowing that her livelihood will be destroyed. Tell them that a mining company, Gtac, wrote Act 1 that will change northern Wisconsin forever. Tell them you didn’t have the courage of Republican Dale Schultz to vote against your party and save northern Wisconsin from the boom and bust of an extraction economy.

When my husband heard that Act 1 passed, he said:  “I hope I die before the mine is built.” He roams the hills with his trusty dog, Millie, looking for the elusive grouse; he draws strength from the beauty and solitude. His connections with our mother, Mother Earth, sustain him.

People in northern Wisconsin are working to build a sustainable economy that uses the resources wisely and protects the environment. Over 100,000 people visited the Ice Caves around the Apostle Islands this past winter.  A sustainable economy and tourism is an attainable vision. Sadly, Republicans do not share the vision and will continue to weaken environmental laws and local control that is evidenced by Sen. Tom Tiffany’s bills.

There are no words to describe the sadness I feel knowing that a once pristine area, that John F. Kennedy enjoyed, quite possibly will be gone forever. I will take my grandchildren there, and we will “Discover the Penokees” together. I will tell them about the people who voted to destroy this pristine part of our once-proud state.


Joyce Luedke