Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places
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Ben Strege  
#1 Posted : Sunday, August 30, 2020 1:53:10 PM(UTC)

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Was thanked: 161 time(s) in 141 post(s)

I received this email today with a plea for help from the Friends of Sylvania Wilderness:

Dear Friends of the Sylvania Wilderness,

The Friends of Sylvania have invested significant time and resources to keep motor boats from entering the Crooked Lake portion of the Sylvania Wilderness, from one bay which is outside of the wilderness.  Due to conservative judges and weak USFS litigation we lost and some motor boats continue to disturb the wilderness.  We pushed this case as high as the US Supreme Court.  (For some background on this situation please see two references at the end of this email.) 

We do have other approaches to attempting to protect the wilderness and wilderness qualities.  Some private individuals have seen the significant value of the Sylvania Wilderness and prohibited motor boat use from all their properties on Crooked Lake.  Here is an appeal from one of our allies to protect the Sylvania Wilderness:


I am emailing you to make you aware of a new threat to the Sylvania  Wilderness Area and ask for your help.

As you know, some property owners on the north shore of Crooked Lake have the right to use gas motors within the wilderness boundary. This is about to get much worse- [name redacted] who recently inherited [address redacted] has applied for special approval from the Watersmeet Planning Commission to turn his cabin into a short-term rental commercial business for 6 guests. (It was lived in by 1 full time resident.)  This rental includes 2 gas motorboats (noisy 2 stroke engines) and the ability for guests to bring their own motorized watercraft (jet skis? larger boats? Tubing?).

If approved, gas motorboat usage on Crooked Lake will significantly increase; and with it the inevitable increase in invasive species. Also, if approved, this will set precedent for commercial use of all the cabins on Crooked Lake. Can you imagine what this will look like? Vacationers packing small cabins bringing in multiple gas watercraft from other lakes with other aquatic invasives...

We REALLY NEED to flood the Township Office with letters opposing the Dobson request.
The Planning Commission is made up of businessmen who want to see more tourism in the area and don’t seem to appreciate the wilderness. I think the best talking points in the letter need to address their mindset and could include the following ideas:
*you travel to Watersmeet to enjoy the peace and quiet of Sylvania 
*how far you come and for how many years
*you don’t like the amount of gas motors already on Crooked Lake and if there’s any increase, you will go somewhere else 
*the area already has plenty of places for motorboat users but this is the only place for silent sports enthusiasts. Don’t they want both forms of tourism?
*businesses you patronize while there $$
*safety- any stories regarding closeness of motorboats in the channel, going fast after dusk, high water waves, canoes and kayaks not having lights, no policing of the lake 
*spread of Eurasian Milfoil and other invasive species brought in by outside boats and spread by additional traffic- only treatment in wilderness is hand pulling
*there’s already commercial rental available for 40+ people, plus the drive in campground, and backcountry sites.

Those are my thoughts. 

PLEASE write a letter with these points or anything you think of. We need to win this!

Send letters to:
Watersmeet Township Planning Commission Members
PO Box 306
N4689 1st Street
Watersmeet, MI. 49969

If you’d like to talk about this, give us a call

Jill and Tim Schmidt
Sylvania Wilderness Cabins


We urge you to write a letter to the Watersmeet Township Planning Commission Members. Since they are meeting on Sept 6, 2020 to make decisions, please write soon so your letter is recognized. Please add this talking additional point if you like, when you write your letter:

"In addition to causing a significant noise issue in the wilderness, gas motors seriously degrade water and air quality."

Please send your letters (real letter is better than email) to the address at the bottom of the above appeal and also copy that letter to the 2 USFS administrators at the addresses below.  It is useful to note at bottom of each letter, all those copied so others see we are serious about this.

Feel free to share your letter with others and encourage those not on my list to write and help.

Anthony Holland
Ottawa National Forest
Watersmeet District Office
E23979 US 2 East
Watersmeet, MI 49969

Darla Lenz
Ottawa National Forest
Supervisor's Office
E6248 US HWY 2
Ironwood, MI 49938

Please help us protect the Sylvania Wilderness and also please keep yourselves safe in these challenging time,

Friends of Sylvania

Edited by user Sunday, August 30, 2020 2:13:20 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Ben Strege  
#2 Posted : Sunday, August 30, 2020 2:03:25 PM(UTC)

Thanks: 96 times
Was thanked: 161 time(s) in 141 post(s)

I noticed that the sender of the first email is a resort owner. I looked into their resort, and they "cater to the silent sports enthusiasts or anyone seeking to experience the scenic beauty, wildlife and serenity of a still wild Northwoods" ( They do not allow motorboats at their resort. I first wanted to see if they were just trying to squash some competition, which it might be a little bit of that, but mostly I think it is two people concerned with keeping the wilderness wild.

Sylvania has a history similar to the Boundary Waters, in that it was a struggle to get it protected as a wilderness ( As we all know, the struggle to keep the wilderness wild never really ends. The Boundary Waters, being the most visited wilderness in the United States, has a lot of advocates. Sylvania is much smaller, and it does not have as many people to fight for it. However, I think it is just as important to protect these small wilderness areas as it is to protect my beloved Boundary Waters.

For those of you that have visited Sylvania and enjoyed its beauty and serenity, I urge you to help out the Friends of Sylvania Wilderness. Right now they need people to defend their wilderness.

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