State ready for energy research lab

This column by Tom Stills, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, ran in the Stevens Point Journal:

A joint proposal was filed Feb. 1 by the UW System, UW-Madison and Michigan State University to open a federal energy research lab in Madison. Molly Jahn, dean of the UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has described the proposal as a strong fit with faculty, staff and student projects related to bio-energy. Those projects are taking place in disciplines that encompass biology, agriculture, engineering, natural resources and the social sciences. . . .
It will be months before the next phase of the federal selection process begins, but the collaborative effort should merit a hard look in Washington. If Wisconsin is successful, it could mean several hundred jobs and tens of millions of dollars within five years.

Kirkwood Jumps the Shark?

Kathryn Reed:

Those who skied Kirkwood 20 or more years ago found a typical day lodge with a cafeteria and slow lifts. It was the mountain people came for. They still come for it, only now they don’t have to make the 40-mile trek into South Lake Tahoe to spend the night.

Off Highway 88 where Alpine, Amador and El Dorado counties meet, the Kirkwood Valley is growing up. Whether it grows with grace will be decided in the next few years.

Even with all the hammering and sawing, Kirkwood remains laid-back — and growth has come relatively slowly. Ten years ago, the first phase of the village opened with 19 condominiums. The resort installed its first high-speed quad chairlift in 2001, with its second in operation last ski season. Dining choices are still sparse, but more diverse. Pretentiousness is unheard of. The 2000 Census tallies Kirkwood’s population at 96 and Tim Cohee, president of Kirkwood Mountain Realty, says full-time residents still number fewer than 100.

I was one of those people who skied Kirkwood years ago. A Squaw Valley ski visit always included Jaguars and Mercedes-Benz (Oh Lord, Won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz), while a fun outing to Kirkwood found the Jeep / 4-Runner crowd enjoying the mountain. It is nice to stay on the mountain, but miles of condos in the valley certainly changes the alpine views.

Edgewood College first college accepted into Green Tier program

From a media release issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

MADISON – Edgewood College of Madison is now the first college or university in Wisconsin to be accepted into the Department of Natural Resources’ Green Tier program. Edgewood joins the statewide program that encourages institutions and businesses to go beyond current rules and regulations to reduce their impact on the environment. . . .
Recent environmental accomplishments at Edgewood include the renovation of the Mazzuchelli Biological Station, for which the contractor, J.H. Findorff & Son, was awarded the 2005 Environmental Excellence Award given by the Association of General Contractors (AGC) for their work. A new residence hall, currently under construction on the Edgewood campus, has been designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification as a Green Building. The campus also has several rain gardens designed to capture large volumes of runoff from the campus, largely from campus parking lots, and is active in numerous other environmental and conservation activities.

Sustainability workshop, Akumal, Mex, Nov. 6 -12

Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) will offer a sustainability workshop, November 6 – 12, in Akumal, Mexico.
I began volunteering for CEA in 2000, and Akumal is as close to paradise as I’ve ever experienced. Located 60 miles south of Cancun, the shallow, crystal-clear water and sandy beach of Akumal Bay define tropical perfection. Shops for renting snorkel and dive gear are right on the beach. The small, but stunning, Tulum ruins hug the sea 10 minutes south of Akumal, and the jungles hide many, many small sites that you can visit on your own or with a guide. Additionally, local guides can lead exceptional nature walks, and CEA staff give entertaining and educational presentations nightly.
The course will cover alternative technologies for the production of energy, the treatment of wastewater, and the disposal of solid waste. The course will be taught in Spanish, though nearly all of the instructors and students will be bilingual. See more details at
Contact Ed Blume ( for more details on Akumal and tips on how to get there as cheaply as possible.



“Life consists with wildness….The most alive is the wildest…In Wildness is the preservation of the World.” Henry David Thoreau

“There are certain things that cannot be enjoyed by everybody. If everybody tries to enjoy them, nobody gets any pleasure out of them.” Robert Marshall

“Hunting partakes directly in Nature’s sacrament — transcending a vacuous voyeur to a guiding guardian.” James A. Schneider

“Everybody knows, for example, that the autumn landscape in the north woods is the land, plus a red maple, plus a ruffed grouse. In terms of conventional physics, the grouse represents only a millionth of either the mass or the energy of an acre. Yet subtract the grouse and the whole thing is dead. An enormous amount of some kind of motive power has been lost.” Aldo Leopold

“The sweetest hunts are stolen. To steal a hunt, either go far into the wilderness where no one has been, or else find some undiscovered place under everybody’s nose.” A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

“Remember that with large corporations and rich individuals gobbling up property to keep everyone out and conservancies, big government and its agencies devouring land through purchase and eminent domain condemnations to let everyone or no one in, there must be places preserved for “everyman/everywoman” plus one human companion to use unbothered by his/her brethren.” James A. Schneider

“Perhaps the hunter is the greatest friend of animals hunted, not excepting the Humane Society.” Henry David Thoreau

Jim Schneider, a UW Grad and Drexel Burnham Lambert alum is behind MaHunt intellectually and financially.

Techniques of Environmental Action in Small Towns

Edward Tufte:

For many years, I’ve been occasionally involved in local political action to maintain and extend open space land in Connecticut. Here are a few things I’ve learned.
1. In land development, money doesn’t talk, it screams. There is enormous money to be made in building and land development; developers are focused, persistent, experienced, and well-financed. In the long run, the best way to save open space is to buy the land and turn it over to the Town or perhaps a land trust (with extremely detailed and thorough legal restrictions on permitted activities). It is possible to tie projects up with legalities, hearings, and politics–but even if you win one year, there might well be some other developer with a bright idea for the land next year. Thus try to start an open-space acquisition program by the town; in my experience, voters tend to favor funding for open-space acquisition (often exceeding approval rates for school budgets, roads, sewers,and narrow interest-group proposals such as skateparks, tax benefits for malls and sports teams, etc.).

2. Many towns (that is, their taxpayers) provide substantial subsidies, direct and indirect, for land development by funding the necessary infrastructure (water, roads, sewers, loans, tax subsidies). Pro-development politicians can it “investment;” others might call it “welfare socialism for rich developers.” At any rate, it is funded by taxpayers. Priorities can be challenged, and development subsidies can be diverted to open space acquisition. It may well be that the local politicians are pro-development but often the voters are less so; thus try to move decisions about priorities to the electorate (and the taxpayers). In general, the broader the decision-making arena, the more likely pro-environmental campaigns will succeed. A slogan for open-space acquisition might be “They’re not making any more land; let’s save it now.” Why not use tax dollars for open space rather than taxpayer-subsidized real estate development? Should all those tax dollars help out needy developers?

Interesting read.

A Discussion of Madison & Milwaukee

Marc Eisen:

adison and Milwaukee are two distinct cities with radically different histories. Yet there are telltale signs that the same trends — economic, social, political and educational — that have rocked and weakened Milwaukee over the past 50 years are beginning to show themselves in Madison.

That’s the topic of discussion at the Isthmus “Pint and Policy” Forum scheduled for Thursday evening, Sept. 14, at the Club Majestic: Can Madison Avoid Milwaukee’s Problems?

World’s Largest Oil Field in…. Colorado

Robert Collier:

Underneath the high, scrub-covered rangeland of northwest Colorado is the world’s biggest oil field. Getting the oil out of the ground, however, is one of the world’s biggest headaches.

The area’s deposits of oil shale are believed to be larger than all the oil reserves of the Middle East. But past attempts to get at this oil locked in tarry rock have cost billions of dollars and raised the prospect of strip-mining large areas of the Rocky Mountain West.

Now, as the federal government makes another push to develop oil shale, Shell and other companies say they have developed techniques that may extract this treasure with much less environmental impact.

What goes around, comes around. The Western Slope oil shale project collapsed in the mid 1980’s – creating a deep Colorado recession.