Don’t Suck the Plover Dry
Today’s guest blog about the #4 Little Plover River- a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series- is from Barbara Gifford, a long-term local resident living near the river, and a member of Friends of the Little Plover River.
The Little Plover River is a historic, cold water trout stream where once, “Between 300 to 500 men and boys fished the Little Plover River when the season opened at midnight, last night” (Gazette April 15, 1896).
This is not the story being told today.
Today, the stories of the Little Plover are about a “river in peril” plagued with dry-ups and the dying of its native brook trout. The river’s very existence is threatened by uncontrolled, excessive pumping of groundwater. The groundwater that gives this river life also ensures the survival of other threatened Wisconsin lakes and rivers.
I have lived on the Little Plover River for 38 years. My children grew up on and in the river— discovering the many wonders of wildlife that rivers can provide. It is these youthful discoveries that bind us forever to the natural world.
The Little Plover is one of the most studied rivers in America. Since before the 1960’s, and without knowing but suspecting the cause, many researchers witnessed the decline of the river. In 1997, a report accurately predicted the historic dry-up of 2005, and identified the cause of the dry-ups. Although the cause became clear many years ago, we still continue unabated groundwater pumping.
The time has come to embrace the science, and establish an enforceable groundwater management plan for the Little Plover River and other rivers in Wisconsin plagued by excessive groundwater pumping.
I look at this river and wonder… will this be the final story of the Little Plover… in the end a lifeless, empty shadow of what once was?
Perhaps another chapter in this river’s story can still be written. The choice is yours.