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Energy & Environment

Exploring Wisconsin’s wild lakes at this week’s Science on Tap Minocqua


Wisconsin is home to 15,000 lakes. But fewer and fewer of them can still be considered “wild”.

Naturalist and author John Bates has spent the last few years exploring and documenting Wisconsin’s Wild Lakes.

Bates is no stranger to the lakes and forests of the Northwoods.

The naturalist and author has written several books about the changing of seasons, old-growth forest, and all other matter of the natural world around us.

His latest book dives into places that were largely unknown to him until late: Wisconsin’s wild lakes.

“I’m always mindful of the old statement to ‘Put yourself in the way of grace.’ Putting yourself in the wild places like these particular lakes is a way of putting yourself in the way of grace. For me it was an endeavor personally to be a part of these unique sites,” said Bates.

For five years, Bates searched out and paddled the last wild lakes in the state. He defines wild lakes as 30 acres or more that are completely surrounded by public land.

“Some were remarkably beautiful, more so than you might have anticipated this from a written description. Some were, frankly, less enthralling than what I had hoped. That’s such a subjective viewpoint on my part because I visited these lakes one time during one day and days vary,” he said.

Bates turned his endeavor into a guidebook called Wisconsin’s Wild Lakes: A Guide to the Last Undeveloped Natural Lakes.

He’ll be talking all about his adventures at Wednesday’s Science on Tap Minocqua.

Bates hopes the talk and the book inspire the drive the protect these wild places.

“I’m a firm believer in we only protect what we love. One way to fall in love with this world is to visit these wild places, the few that we have left, and experience them for yourself,” said Bates. “Experience is the best teacher and hopefully people will fall in love with these places and protect what’s already here and maybe advocate for the DNR and the US Forest Service to purchase more of these wild lakes so we can have more to enjoy well into the future.”

Science on Tap starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Oakfire Pizza in Minocqua.

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