The Wisconsin Bike Fed Council of Advocates held its third meeting of 2023 on September 7th, hearing an update on the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail from Brook Waalen, and from the Bike Fed’s very own Marybeth McGinnis and Jake Newborn on Milwaukee’s National Avenue project and complete streets policy.
In January of 2021, Friends of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail, led by Council of Advocates guest speaker Brook Waalen, filed a lawsuit against Polk County and the Department of Natural Resources after the government entities agreed to amend a 2019 master plan for the trail to allow winter snowmobilers and horseback riders, with pedestrians and cross-country skiers to be accommodated elsewhere. In late July 2023, a judge ruled that Polk County’s previous decision to remove non-motorized users from the trail was “without merit” and the previous ruling was overturned. However, in the six weeks following the latest decision, Polk County announced they would be appealing the decision, throwing the fate of the Stower Seven Lakes Trail into the unknown yet again. Brook came to speak to the Council to break down the lengthy history and saga of the Stower Seven Lakes Trail lawsuit, providing expertise and advice on how to handle these issues of trail control and usage. To learn more about the Stower Seven Lakes Trail and lawsuit, please view our recent article from August highlighting this issue.
Bike Fed employees Mary McGinnis and Jake Newborn attended the Council meeting to provide a brief update on the National Avenue complete-streets project in Milwaukee, and to illustrate the pathway for more complete streets advocacy for projects across the state. To learn more about the National Avenue Project, please read our latest update on our website here. To learn more about complete streets policy, please view our complete streets resources page here.
Regarding the Stower Seven Lakes lawsuit, the Bike Fed has heard from a handful of advocates and project leads like guest speaker Brook Waalen, about various control and usage disputes happening across the state regarding state trails in particular. The Bike Fed would like to create a list of these instances to create a web of individuals with experience in these situations, as well as monitor how often this is happening. If you are someone or know someone who has dealt with this sort of a situation, please take a few minutes to fill out our new Google Form so we can accurately track this issue. Thank you!
Interested in Joining the Council?
Since the Council of Advocates was first introduced at the start of 2022, our membership has continued to grow, with 58 counties now represented. While this is great progress, our vision is to have a member from each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties – if you’re interested in advancing cycling and trails initiatives in Wisconsin and from a county that does not currently have representation, please see which counties are still needed by viewing our recent article here.
If you are interested in joining the Council of Advocates, or have any Council-related questions, please contact our Government Affairs Manager, Collin Mead, at firstname.lastname@example.org.