IMPORTANT UPDATE

VILAS COUNTY HIGHWAY COMMITTEE MEETING

TO ADDRESS RUSTIC ROAD

PLACE: Highway Department Conference Rm

2104 N. Railroad St. (Hwy 45N), Eagle River, Wisconsin 54521

DATE: Tuesday, October 18, 2022

TIME: 9:00 A.M.

The Vilas County Highway Committee is meeting at 9:00 am on October 18, 2022. One of the agenda items for this meeting is to receive an update on the status of the Rustic Road 60. As reported in previous updates, the Joint Committee reached agreement on substantially all substantive issues relating to vegetation management, repair and improvement of Rustic Road 60 with a couple of minor exceptions. A draft Rustic Road 60 Highway Management Plan (the “Plan”) was drafted by the representatives of Save our Rustic Road on the Joint Committee and is believed to reflect the substantive agreements reached with County Representatives on the Joint Committee who were present at the meetings of the Joint Committee, with only minor exceptions on a couple of open issues. A draft of the Plan was submitted to the Highway Commissioner (Troy Schalinske) for his review and comments roughly one month ago. No comments or input was received. Based on a discussion with Troy Schalinske, it is believed that the Highway Committee will discuss the Plan at Tuesday’s meeting.

We urge all residents interested in the status of Rustic Road 60 to attend Tuesday’s meeting and convey to the Highway Committee the importance of the adoption of the Plan by the Highway Committee.



RUSTIC ROAD 60 HIGHWAY MANAGEMENT PLAN

INTRODUCTION

This Rustic Road Management Plan (the “Plan”) provides guidelines for ongoing vegetation management, road repair and road improvements on Rustic Road 60. The management plan is the result of a joint and cooperative effort amongst the Save our Rustic Road group, other members of the local community, the Vilas County Highway Department (the “Highway Department”) and County officials (collectively, the “Joint Committee”). In developing the Plan, the Joint Committee considered the legal protections of Rustic Roads under Wisconsin law, public safety issues and operational considerations of the Highway Department.

a. Not an Ordinary Road - Rustic Road 60, a 12-mile segment of CTH K between Boulder Junction and Star Lake is the only road designated by the State of Wisconsin as a Rustic Road in Vilas County and one of 120 in the entire State. Rustic Road 60 winds its way through the Northern Highlands State Forest and features tree tunnels, spectacular views of area lakes and historic sites that provide a snapshot into the past.

It features numerous historical sites that allow you to travel back in time to the way the Northwoods used to be. Remnants of the areas logging industry roots abound. A replica Star Lake Train Depot captures the spirit of the Hiawatha train that once rolled through town. The Frederickson’s Minnow Shop gives a glimpse of the days of fishermen from the resort era. Ballard Lake along Highway K is the original home of the Hodag, a monstrous creature that attracted scientists from the Smithsonian to investigate. Further down the road is the home of Aqualand, a musky-themed amusement park from the 1950s. A favorite of locals and a draw for tourists, Rustic Road 60 has been featured in books, magazines and television programs.

b. Legal Protections of Rustic Roads - Wisconsin law takes a protective approach to Rustic Roads.Section 83.42 (1) of the Wisconsin Statute states the purpose of the Rustic Road System:

In order to create and preserve rustic and scenic roads for vehicular, bicycle . . . and pedestrian travel in unhurried, quiet and leisurely enjoyment; to protect and preserve recreational driving, culture, beauty, trees, vegetation and wildlife by establishing protective standards of rustic road design, access, speed, maintenance and identification, which will promote a continuous system of rustic roads and scenic easements for the public health and welfare; a state system of rustic roads is created.

Although the Highway Department is responsible for maintaining Rustic Road 60 and protecting the safety of the public, Wisconsin law requires it to preserve the rustic qualities of the road:

Trans-RR Section 1.08. “A rustic road shall receive the level of maintenance necessary for public travel by auto, bicycle or hiking for recreational enjoyment, while still preserving the rustic qualities of the route.

In addition, necessary road improvements may be made but shall not disturb the rustic characteristics for which the road was designated. [1] Road improvements are also required to be kept as narrow as possible to retain the rustic charm of the road as well as keeping the driver’s speed lower."[2] It also provides that the "improvements shall be kept to a minimum to avoid disturbance of vegetation . . ." However, the Rustic Roads Code authorizes the Highway Department to trim or remove branches, shrubs and even whole trees “where necessary for safety or protection of the traveling public.”

PURPOSE

The guidelines for road repair, road improvement and vegetation management reflected in the Plan were developed by the Joint Committee for the express purpose of providing a safe road for the traveling public while still preserving the rustic characteristics for which the road was designated. The Joint Committee feels that the Plan fully addresses public safety needs while preserving the rustic characteristics of Rustic Road 60. The Plan provides a roadmap for vegetation management, road repair and road improvement on Rustic Road 60 that will ensure future generations can safely enjoy the rustic charm of this special road.


1. ROAD MAINTENANCE GUIDELINES

a. Routine Road Repairs – The Highway Department can fill potholes, repair the road edge, maintain existing gravel shoulders, repair existing drainage curbs, and make other minor road repairs on the Rustic Road segment of CTH K periodically as needed without advance notification of the members of the Joint Committee. For road repairs that would (i) expand the road pavement, (ii) increase the size of the gravel shoulder, and (iii) involve excavating or contouring the ground adjacent to the road or gravel shoulder, the Highway Department shall provide advance written notice to the members of the Joint Committee and consult with the Joint Committee before commencing such a repair.

b. Other Road Repairs – The Highway Commissioner will provide advance notice to the members of the Joint Committee a reasonable time before work commences unless safety concerns warrant an expedited response and prevent advance notification. In such exigent circumstances, the Highway Commissioner will provide notice to the Joint Committee as quickly as reasonably possible.

2. ROAD IMPROVEMENTS

a. Advance Notification - The Highway Commissioner will notify the members of the Joint Committee of any road improvement projects that would impact the Rustic Road in the earliest possible stages of planning. Notification should occur before Highway Committee or Board of Supervisors approval is sought or before the retention of engineers, architects or contractors.

b. Regular Consultation and Information Updates - The Highway Department will keep the Joint Committee informed, seek their input of and consult with the Joint Committee on important developments on a road improvement project as it progresses.

c. Permissible Road Improvements – All road improvements to the Rustic Road will comply with the requirements of Wisconsin law, specifically Section 83.42 of Wisconsin Statutes and the Rustic Roads Code.

d. Restricted Road Improvements

· Expansion of the Pavement – The pavement of the Rustic Road shall not be widened beyond its existing 22’ width.

· Expansion of Gravel Shoulders – The existing gravel shoulders shall not be expanded beyond their existing width and in no case beyond 3-feet wide.

· Paved Shoulders – The shoulders of Rustic Road 60 are currently gravel and the Highway Department shall not cause the shoulders to be paved.

· Recontouring of the Land Adjacent to the Roadbed or Gravel Shoulders – The Highway Department shall not cause the land adjacent to the Roadbed or gravel shoulders to be regraded or contoured.

3. VEGETATION MANAGEMENT GUIDELINES

a. Mowing – The Highway Department shall mow the grass, weeds and brush along the Rustic Road using only its normal mowing equipment and at a frequency consistent with that applied to other County Highways. The Highway Department will not mow vegetation beyond six feet from the edge of the pavement. Mowing can commence at any time convenient to the Highway Department.

b. Brushing

· Brushing - Brushing involves the removal of small trees and bushes within the Brushing Zone (as defined below) and the removal of branches or limbs that currently extend into the Brushing Zone or are expected to grow into the Brushing Zone before the next scheduled brushing (e.g., approximately every three years).

· Brushing Zone – The Brushing Zone means the applicable of the following: (i) Rustic Road 60 from CTH N to Old K means the three-dimensional area that begins at a point six feet from the edge of the pavement on one side of the road, extends six feet past the edge of the pavement on the other side of the road and extends upward to twenty feet above the pavement, and (ii) Rustic Road 60 from Old K to CTH M means the three-dimensional area that begins at a point 12 feet from the edge of the pavement on one side of the road, extends 12 feet past the edge of the pavement on the other side of the road and extends upward to twenty feet above the pavement

· Brushing Best Practices – The Highway Department will ensure that it follows best practices in conducting brushing operations, including (i) using a sharp blade on its Volvo machine to prevent the shattering and ripping of branches that are removed, (ii) having at least one additional Highway Department personnel directing traffic around the brushing operation, (iii) taking care to prevent the damage to adjacent trees and vegetation, and (iv) [OTHER BEST PRACTICES].

· Brushing Timing – The Highway Department completed the brushing of Rustic Road 60 from CTH N to the Boulder Junction town line (the “Plum Lake Segment”) in the winter 2021/spring 2022. The Highway Department may commence the brushing of the Boulder Junction segment of the Rustic Road (starting at the Boulder Junction town line to CTH M) in accordance with the requirements of the Plan after the Plan has been approved by the Highway Committee of the Vilas County Board of Supervisors.

c. Tree Removal – The Joint Committee has agreed upon the specific trees to be removed from along Rustic Road 60 on a tree-by-tree basis. GPS coordinates for each tree to be removed have been collected and are displayed on the Google Map accessible through the following link:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1bCampOEc6ZSNUVupIbaRG_dqFAzzJF4&usp=sharing

A sample section of the Google Map of the Rustic Road showing trees identified for removal is shown below:

THIS MAP WILL BE REPLACED IN THE FINAL. VERSION OF THE PLAN WITH A MAP SEGMENT THAT ONLY SHOWS THE TREES SELECTED FOR REMOVAL.

Removing the selected trees satisfactorily addresses the Highway Department’s concerns for ensuring public safety and enhancing operational efficiencies for road maintenance and snow removal. It also addresses the local community’s concerns for preserving the rustic characteristics of Rustic Road 60. In determining which trees should be removed, the following factors were considered:

  • Public safety

  • Distance from the edge of the pavement

  • Tree species

  • Location of the tree (Straight-Away or Curve) and visibility

  • Size of the tree

  • Impact on the tree canopy

A total of XX trees have been selected for removal (the “Selected Trees”). INSERT BULLETED DATA ON TREES TO BE REMOVED.

          • Timing of Tree Removal – The Selected Trees will be removed shortly before the Repavement Project commences, which is not expected to occur until 2025.

          • Marking of Trees – Before the Highway Department (or its contractor) commences tree removal, the Save our Rustic Road and local community members of the Joint Committee will mark the Selected Trees to clearly identify the trees for removal. The Highway Department will only remove the Selected Trees marked and agreed upon for removal.

          • Advance Notice of Commencement of Removal of Selected Trees – The Highway Department will provide the members of the Joint Committee with advance notice before the commencement of operations to remove the Selected Trees.

          • Monitoring of Removal of Selected Trees – The Highway Department will provide the Save our Rustic Road and local community members of the Joint Committee with periodic updates on where cutting will take place and the status of tree cutting so that Save our Rustic Road can monitor tree cutting and removal and adherence by the Highway Department with the Plan.

          • Safety Hazard ExceptionsAdditional trees beyond the Selected Trees may periodically be removed if they create a safety hazard, which includes dead or diseased trees or if the tree for other reasons creates a significant objective safety hazard.

          • No Other Trees may be Removed – Other than the Selected Trees and trees qualifying for the Safety Hazard Exception, the Highway Department shall not remove or cut down any other trees.


4. JOINT COMMITTEE - The Joint Committee consists of four County representatives and four representatives of the Save our Rustic Road group and the local community. In the Joint Committee’s June 27, July 18, August 23 meetings, the Joint Committee made substantial progress towards establishing the standards to be incorporated into the written guidelines for vegetation management, road repair and road improvement for Rustic Road 60. At its September _ meeting,

a. Current Composition – The following individuals are the current members of the Joint Committee:

County Representatives:

  • Willy Otterpohl (Chair of the Highway Committee and a member of the Board of Supervisors)

  • Mike MacKenzie (Board of Supervisors member)

  • Troy Schalinske (Highway Commissioner)

  • Chad Keranen (County Forester)

Save our Rustic Road and Local Community Representatives:

  • Dick Govier

  • Joe Heitz

  • Mark Marzion

  • Doug Scott

b. Changes in Representatives on the Joint Committee: The County may change its representatives on the Joint Committee, but the current Highway Commissioner and County Forester shall always be a member. Save our Rustic Road and the remaining local community members of the Joint Committee shall identify a replacement member to represent Save our Rustic Road and the local community.




[1] Section 1.09 of the Trans-RR Code (the “Rustic Roads Code”).

[2] Section 1.09 of the Rustic Roads Code




Trees within 6' of edge of pavement that are identified for removal under the Rustic Road 60 Management Plan are marked with a red flag. Trees within 6' of edge of pavement that will not be removed under the Plan are marked with a green flag.


1. Save our Rustic Road Informational Meetings –Save our Rustic Road hosted two informational meetings on Sunday, August 21st and Thursday, August 25th.

  • Both meetings were well attended

  • Current status of negotiations, open issues, timeline and the process going forward were discussed.

  • Attendees provided input and feedback on the progress being made

2. Current Status of Joint Committee Discussions after August 23rd Meeting

  • Tree Tunnels and CanopiesThey remain safe, but some trees will need to be removed

  • No road expansionThe pavement will not be widened.

  • No paved shouldersNo paved shoulders will be added, but there will be up to 3’ gravel shoulders where it already exists.

  • Mowing – No mowing beyond 6’ from the pavement edge for all segments of the Rustic Road except from Old K to CTH M, which is still under discussion.

  • Brushing – No brushing beyond 6’ from the pavement edge for all segments of the Rustic Road , except (i) safety exception to remove branches that extend over the road and could be hit by large trucks, and (ii) the road segment from Old K to CTH M which is still under discussion.

  • Trees to be Removed

      • The County representatives on the Joint Committee discussed limiting tree removal to only those trees closer than 6’ from the edge of the pavement (a total of 82 trees).

      • Save our Rustic Road marked all trees on the Rustic Road within 6’ of the pavement edge with blue surveyor’s ribbons so that the community can see the impact of the CSave our Rustic Road and the other local representatives are negotiating to try and save additional trees.

      • Save Our Rustic Roads and local community representatives collected the following data on each of the 82 trees within 6’ of the pavement edge on the Rustic Road:

            • GPS coordinates

            • the precise distance from the road edge

            • estimated tree diameter

            • tree species

            • whether the tree was located on a straight-away or a curve.


  • Trees to be Removed

      • The County representatives on the Joint Committee discussed limiting tree removal to only those trees closer than 6’ from the edge of the pavement (a total of 82 trees).

      • Save our Rustic Road marked all trees on the Rustic Road within 6’ of the pavement edge with blue surveyor’s ribbons so that the community can see the impact of the CSave our Rustic Road and the other local representatives are negotiating to try and save additional trees.

      • Save Our Rustic Roads and local community representatives collected the following data on each of the 82 trees within 6’ of the pavement edge on the Rustic Road:

            • GPS coordinates

            • the precise distance from the road edge

            • estimated tree diameter

            • tree species

  • whether the tree was located on a straight-away or a curve.Time Frame

      • Mowing of Rustic Road

      • Joint Committee reaches agreement on all open issues

      • Finalization of Rustic Road Management Plan and approval by Vilas County Highway Committee

      • Brushing of the segment of the Rustic Road from the Boulder Junction town line to CTH M

      • Trees will not be removed until shortly before the road is repaved in 2025

3. Compromise Approach is Necessary – Save our Rustic Road believes that there are very few trees that truly need to be cut down for safety reasons. From our perspective, most of the trees have been in place for decades without incident. There is very little traffic on the road and even less during the winter. However, the Highway Department and County members of the Joint Committee have a different perspective. We are engaged in a negotiation with the County members of the Joint Committee to find a compromise position that everyone can accept. The end result will not be something either side finds ideal. From the Save our Rustic Road perspective, it is a far better solution than the removal of several thousand trees as originally contemplated by the County.

NOT ON THE RUSTIC ROAD!!!

Join us this evening at the Boulder Junction Community Center at 7pm to hear an update in regards to the negotiations with the Vilas County Highway Department re: Rustic Road 60.

Thank you for supporting Save Our Rustic Road this last week. Your letters and emails were taken seriously

The County Board of Supervisors voted NO on allowing ATVs on County Highways in the Plum Lake area.

Note: SORR is neutral on ATVs in general. However, we do NOT support allowing ATVs on a Rustic Road that is narrow and curvy, by design.

Thanks goes to all of our supporters for all the emails and letters you sent the County on this important vote.


Please join us at these Rustic Road Status Update meeting(s) to learn important information about the future of our Rustic Road.

At the meeting, we will discuss:

  • Status of road repair, road improvement and vegetation management guidelines being established with the County Highway Department addressing:

        • Preservation of tree tunnels and tree canopy

        • Tree-free zone and tree removal guidelines

        • Brushing guidelines

        • Road shoulder

  • Restoration of sections of the Rustic Road

  • Recent road repairs performed by the County Highway Department

  • Expected timeline for brushing to recommence and tree removal and repaving of road to begin


We are looking forward to getting feedback from the community. Please join us!

PS- Willie Otterpohl (County Board of Supervisor and Chair of Highway Committee) and Troy Schalinske (Highway Commissioner) have been invited to both meetings.


SAVE OUR RUSTIC ROAD!

7/7/22 Update-

Road Maintenance on Highway K:

There are two projects that the Highway Department is implementing that will impact the Rustic Road in a positive way.

1) Pothole Repair - There is a severely potholed sections of CTH K by Lost Canoe that the Highway Department is planning to resurface with asphalt. They will not be widening the road or cutting trees. They will merely be repairing problematic sections of the road by laying down new asphalt over the top of the existing potholed road bed, approximately a total of 2,800 feet. As disclosed in my most recent update, the Highway Department currently intends to resurface the Rustic Road in its entirety in 2025, without widening the road, without adding 3’ paved shoulders or creating a 10’clear zone. The current project is just a temporary fix to improve the road until the road gets completely resurfaced in 2025.

7/12/22 Update: Highway Commissioner Troy Schalinske advised me yesterday that the Highway Department would be cutting butt joints for the 2 sections by Lost Canoe Lake yesterday. Paving is scheduled for today and Wednesday, weather dependent.

2) Curbs to Improve Drainage on CTH K in Star Lake Area - The Highway Department is evaluating options for improving drainage in several hilly areas of the Town of Star Lake (between CTH “N” and Stillwaters). Rainwater has washed out shoulders and accumulated in these areas creating puddles on the road, which is a safety concern. The Highway Department is considering options for improving drainage by adding additional asphalt curbs (NOT CONCRETE) that will help direct the water off the road to stop this puddling and blend in with the asphalt. This will be similar to the existing asphalt curbs that the Highway Dept. added many years ago. This is not a surprise. Troy gave us a heads about this project after the May 27th meeting. He also told the Rustic Road Committee members about it at the June 28th meeting.

7/3/22 UPDATE ON INITIAL RUSTIC ROAD COMMITTEE MEETING

Continued Progress Made in Meeting with County Officials

On June 28th, Dick Govier, Joe Heitz, and Doug Scott, of the Rustic Road Road Maintenance Committee, met with County officials as a follow-up to our May meetings. Although we have not crossed the finish line, we continue to make important progress. The purpose of the meeting was to continue discussions on establishing ground rules and a written process for vegetation maintenance, road maintenance and road improvements on the Rustic Road 60 (the “Plan”).

Doug Scott, of Save our Rustic Road, commented that “I am very encouraged. “Great Progress is being made as we work out the details of the Plan. The community is working towards a relationship with the Highway Department that is open, transparent, and based on mutual trust.”

The following bullets summarize the current status of our agreement with the Highway Department on various issues relating to the Rustic Road:

  • No Paved Shoulder At the June 28th meeting, the Highway Department said it had abandoned its plan to add a 3’ wide paved shoulder to both sides of the highway for the entire length of the Rustic Road.However, Troy Schalinske did point out that he could only speak for the Highway Department and not for the Highway Committee of the Vilas County Board of Supervisors. He also shared that he envisioned widening the road slightly around some curves to prevent drivers from driving off the pavement.

  • Tree Tunnels and Canopies remain SafeThe tree tunnels and canopies are still safe. The Highway Department has not changed its position and no longer intends to eliminate the tree tunnels or canopies!

  • No Ten Foot Clear Zone The Highway Department no longer plans to implement a 10 foot-wide “clear” or “tree-free” zone.

  • Community Involvement in Trees Selected for Cutting - The Highway Department and community representatives have scheduled a date in July to walk the Rustic Road together and discuss the specific trees that may need to be removed for safety reasons. During the discussion at the meeting, it was reported that about a dozen trees were so close to the road edge that they had been struck by the snowplow this winter. There was general agreement that these trees may need to be removed. During the road walk, the community representatives and the county officials will assess whether additional trees are considered a safety hazard and whether their removal is necessary.

  • Brushing Clean-up – The Highway Department indicated that in late Fall/Winter this year it would clean-up the mess created by last Winter’s brushing operation. The community representatives had concerns about whether the cleanup could damage smaller intact long-lived trees amongst the stumps and whether the clean-up would further damage trees representing future generation canopy trees.

  • Speed Limit Reduction – The group discussed the benefits that a reduced speed limit on sections of the Rustic Road might provide. Troy Schalinske discussed how a road’s speed limit impacts the recommended highway design guidelines applicable to a normal road under the State’s Facilities Development Manual. He also described the process by which a speed limit reduction could be implemented.

  • Brushing Postponed - Brushing will not commence for the Boulder Junction section of the Rustic Road until the Plan is finalized. There was an extended discussion of the scope, nature and extent of brushing that was contemplated. There was general agreement that the scope of the brushing would be substantially reduced from what occurred this Winter.

  • No Plan for Straightening Road - There is no plan to straighten any existing curve in the Rustic Road.

Bike Trails Committee - During the meeting, Troy Schalinske shared that Libby Scott is forming a Bike Trail Committee that is exploring establishing a bicycle trail that will link Sayner, Star Lake and Boulder Junction. The Committee is exploring the feasibility of various routes that would include town roads and old railroad grades on State Forest land. Such a route would reduce bicycle traffic on the Rustic Road. The Bike Trail Committee is comprised of individuals that have experience designing and financing bike trails.

6/1/22 UPDATE ON MEETINGS WITH COUNTY OFFICIALS


Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we had some positive meetings with the Highway Commissioner, members of the Board of Supervisors, members of the Highway Committee and the Vice-Chair of the State’s Rustic Road Board over the last couple of days. Your efforts in getting the word out, sending emails, writing letters, making phone calls, authoring letters to the editor and posting banners and signs are paying off. Our message came through loud and clear! THANK YOU!!!

Although we have not crossed the finish line, we have made important progress. However, lots of specifics still need to be worked out. The Highway Department and local officials all want to work with us and begin building back a relationship of trust! Here’s the bottom line of what came out of our meetings:

  • Community Involvement - Troy Schalinske (Highway Commissioner) and Willie Otterpohl (Highway Committee Chair) agreed to work with community representatives to establish ground rules and a written process for vegetation maintenance, road maintenance and road improvements on the Rustic Road (the “Plan”). We would like to have a written agreement to carry the approach into the future. At this point, they resisted committing to a written agreement.

  • Brushing Postponed - Brushing will not resume until the Plan is finalized.

  • Some Trees Need Cutting - The County Forester, Deputy Chair of the Rustic Road Program, Board of Supervisors Chair and Highway Commissioner all indicated that some trees would need to be cut down for safety reasons. Specifically, trees to be cut would include dead trees, trees with low hanging branches that could interfere with large trucks and buses and trees that created a safety hazard because of their close proximity to the road, particularly on a corner.

  • Canopies are Safe - Troy Schalinske indicated that the Highway Department NO LONGER intends to eliminate the tree tunnels or canopies! The tree tunnels and canopies are SAFE!

  • Community Involvement in Trees Selected for Cutting - The Highway Department will mark trees recommended to be cut down, walk the road with the community representatives, and obtain input from the community representatives on the marked trees.

  • No Plan for Straightening Road - There is no plan to straighten any existing curve in the road.

  • Regrets over Brushing - Everyone regretted the impacts of this winter’s brushing operation; however, it was explained that the most severely impacted section near White Birch Village was necessary because of a cluster of dead trees. Sue Glovier also commented that the mess left behind by recent logging operations compounded the issue.

  • Reducing Speed Limit would Enhance Safety - As a means of enhancing safety, reducing the speed limit on some sections of the road was discussed, but no decision made.

  • Paved Shoulder Remains an Open Issue - There was a long discussion about the paved shoulder. The Rustic Road Board member suggested that the road qualified for shared use status (no paved shoulders) because of its low traffic volumes but also said that having a paved shoulder on one side of the road was a possibility. However, the County Highway Department did not commit to any of these approaches and is still considering its options.

  • Clean-up Deferred until Plan Agreed Upon - Clean-up of the mess created by the brushing this winter will be deferred until the Plan is agreed upon. Troy Schalinske indicated that winter snow banks impeded their ability to cut the brush and trees at ground level. There was a discussion of different approaches/tools to be used to clean up the mess, but no decision was made.

We are encouraged by the commitments made at this meeting. The Highway Department has reviewed and agrees with my summary of the meeting detailed in the bullets above. However, there are a number of important issues that are still open and undecided. We should know in the next few weeks whether things are working out as positively as I am hoping. In the meantime, I would suggest that we initiate a temporary cease-fire and suspend our letters, emails and phone calls to local and state officials and suspend our media publicity efforts. This would be a sign of good faith as we move into efforts to resolve the open issues and develop the Plan. If we do not make the progress we desire, we can reinitiate our government and media outreach efforts in full, aided by the funding that the GO FUND ME campaign is raising!

Thanks again for all that you have done and are doing to SAVE OUR RUSTIC ROAD!

  • The only Rustic Road in Vilas County is being threatened!

  • Thousands of trees will be cut down under the Vilas County Highway Department’s plan to widen Highway K

  • All trees within 13 feet of the white line on both sides of the road will be cut down

  • A 3 feet-wide paved shoulder will be added.

  • Highway K's tree tunnels will be permanently destroyed

  • The County Plan does not attempt to preserve the Rustic qualities as required by Wisconsin law - nor have they provided any public notice or held public meetings before launching these changes.

  • The bad news: They have already started cutting the trees down. We need to act now to save the character of the road.

  • Help us save this Northwood’s treasure!

        • Press Here to Email your local officials:

            • Vilas County Highway Board

            • Vilas County Board of Supervisors

            • City, County and State representatives

            • the media to bring attention to this issue, and

            • the Rustic Roads Commission

        • Spread the word! Tell your friends about the Highway Department's plans.

        • Visit the "Save Our Rustic Road" Facebook page


Vilas County Highway Department Plans-
plus extensive tree cutting through out the Right of Way to eliminate the Canopy.

Super brushing (trimming) of the Rustic Road

New Tree Free Zone on both sides of the Road.

Sensitive area of the Road to be brushed later this summer.