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November 11, 2019

Dean hall/lakeland times

Environmental activists gathered Friday, Sept. 20 for a climate change rally at Torpy Park in Minocqua.
Dean hall/lakeland times

Environmental activists gathered Friday, Sept. 20 for a climate change rally at Torpy Park in Minocqua.
9/24/2019 7:30:00 AM
Environmental activists gather for climate change rally in Minocqua
Kayla Houp
Of the Lakeland Times

Environmental activists across the world protested for climate change Friday, Sept. 20, and the rally was brought to local level as Northwoods environmental groups gathered at Torpy Park in Minocqua to support the effort.

"A lot of the things that we love in the Northwoods are in danger," former director of environmental studies at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh David Barnhill said. "Our forests are being imperiled by climate change, our winters, our beautiful winters with ice and snow is being imperiled, our summer tourism is being imperiled."

Barnhill listed more examples, from infrastructure damaged by heavy rains and floods to impacts on local fish and wildlife.

Barnhill believes as the climate continues to change these impacts will continue to grow and have adverse effects on the Northwoods.

Barnhill retired in 2015 and serves as co-chair of Our Wisconsin of the Northwoods, one of the local environmental groups present at Friday's rally.

Barnhill said the organization started in order to educate the public about climate change and bolster interest.

"The organization is that we're learning about climate change. There's more things every day coming out from science about climate change, and we're educating the public," Barnhill said. "I grew up in family where learning was really, really important, and now it's even more important because the very livability of the planet is on the line."

Other speakers at the event expressed similar concerns from repercussions of the use of fossil fuels to how other large corporations and industries impact the environment.

Local speakers at the event included Rhinelander High School student Maile Llanos, natural resource scientist Pam McVety, retired Department of Resources scientist Tom Jerow, Rita Webb, and pastor Erin Kerby of St. Matthias Episcopal Church.

"We have viable solutions and the technology to do something now. What we don't have is the leadership," McVety said.

McVety called for people to take action by campaigning and voting for candidates who seek to address climate change issues.

Jerow spoke to how Wisconsin had also been seeing the implication of climate change, from extreme changes in temperature to extreme flooding in some parts of the state.

Though many of the calls to action involved large-scale industries, Barnhill said there are steps local advocates can take on a personal level to reduce their carbon footprint, such as driving less and using less gasoline.

"But we really have to have a system change," Barnhill said. "We really have to have those in power who are going to take seriously global warming and are going to pass strong climate legislation. We can do all the individual good deeds that we can, and we're not gonna really attack the problem."

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at

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