I had never heard of Crivitz, Wisconsin until I was invited up to the Wildman Ranch to whitewater raft. I had heard of the Peshtigo River before, but never the town as I had never visited this section of Wisconsin before.
Crivitz is about fifty miles straight north of Green Bay just south of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan border. Outside of adventure travel, there is not a whole lot going on up there.
After I drove through the town I veered north and then west respectively on County A then County C. After departing Crivitz, there was hardly any commerce in the next 20 miles between the town and the river where I stayed. There were a few bars and a few houses and one gas station, but other than that it was pretty desolate.
Finally I hit the river. Suddenly at the bridge over the river a cluster of small businesses that cater to the river traffic sprung up. There were a few rafting companies, a couple of bars and grills, and a gas station.
I pulled into the Wildman Ranch and set up camp. I met some of the river guides and we talked about the river. I asked them how many people from Chicago come up and Nick mentioned that about 80% of the clientele came up from Chicago in the summer.
During my stay there was a group of 8 on a bachelor party weekend up from Wisconsin. We were talking about the river and the guides made the comment that the river put money in their pockets.
This is one of benefits of conservation that many people overlook. During the spotted owl controversy many years ago the loggers called the conservation element anti progressive and complained how it was threatening their livelihood.
This is the quandary between development and the environment. Is the short term economic benefit worth the destruction of outdoor ecosystems? Another variable to look at is the short term economic benefit of destroying the environment worth the long term loss of tourism and economic opportunities that are lost with the habitat.
Each year tourists from all over the Midwest come to Wisconsin to experience the many outdoor recreation opportunities. When they come up they spend money at bars, restaurants, hotels, and outdoor services. The people that make money from these ventures then spend their money locally and a small community has a vibrant economy thanks to adventure travel.
I recently saw a special on PBS about hummingbirds. The spatulatail hummingbird is rare exotic species on the verge of extinction in Peru. The local community took a stand and preserved their habitat and stopped development.
It was a wise move as the preserve they set up is a destination that worldwide birders come to see this threatened species. If they would have let the “progress” continue they would have lost out on this influx of tourism dollars and lost a very cool bird as well.
Next time that companies want to plow a forest or dam a river in the name of economic development, do not forget that there is money in the trees, the river, the animals, and the land.
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