How Much Does Central Wisconsin Suck?
Today’s guest blog about the #4 Little Plover River- a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series- is from Sean Gifford who grew up along the river and is a member of Friends of the Little Plover River.
Last week our small river in Central Wisconsin, called the Little Plover River, was awarded a big title— the 4th Most Endangered River in all of America.
Plover is a quiet, beautiful town of about 12,000 people that was a great place to grow up as a kid. I remember swimming, canoing, and exploring the wildlife of the Little Plover River during the endless days of summer vacations. In the 1980’s, when I was 12 years old, everything seemed perfect. The A-Team was on television, the movie Top Gun had just been released, and I got to roast marshmallows down by the river on the weekends, listening to the frogs “ribbit” in the dark as my sister and I made s’mores.
Back then, we had no idea that our river was in trouble and we certainly wouldn’t have thought that nearly 20 years later, in 2005, sections of this once vibrant stream would completely dry up. Bone dry. We should have seen it coming.
The Little Plover River is surrounded by agricultural farms that are incredibly water thirsty, and since the 1980’s the number of irrigation wells has doubled, putting a massive strain on the limited water resources in the area. Of course, agriculture is a good thing (I enjoy potatoes as much as the next guy), but in our neck of the woods in Portage County we have a higher concentration of High Capacity Wells than anywhere else in the state. With such a large demand on our groundwater, it’s no surprise that our prized rivers and lakes are being sucked dry. Literally.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources can step in and implement a sensible water management strategy for the area. There’s enough water to go around if everyone takes their fair share. There’s enough water to irrigate agricultural crops, flush toilets, run the paper mill, and keep the Little Plover River flowing at its natural rate. If done properly, I bet there would even be enough water leftover for a garden-hose water-fight.
My 12 year old self would like that very much.
So please help save the Little Plover River for another 12 year old out there, and write to the head of the Department of Natural Resources right away.