Pledger column about local lake stirs criticism

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Brian Christianson
Monday, November 5, 2007

Outdoor columnist D.S. Pledger gave his Milton neighbor and their band of Koshkonong bird-watchers a sloppy wet kiss with his recent, “Koshkonong group stays focused on its mission” (Page 10B, Oct. 28). Pledger looked no farther than the end of his road for the only source his column relied upon, Linn Duesterbeck.

Duesterbeck, Pledger’s neighbor, owns among the largest acreage of wetlands on Lake Koshkonong. He’s fanatical about ducks and delusional about the effects of a 7.2-inch water level increase for Koshkonong. Despite binders of scientific evidence proving otherwise, Duesterbeck maintains that the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District will flood his wetlands.

By promoting false impressions about who does what on Koshkonong, Pledger has been caught with his agenda exposed. The wetlands were riprapped because the lake district sponsored Wetland Protection Grants totaling roughly $100,000. Without that “free money,” does anyone believe wetland shorelines would be armored today?

Pledger continues by implying that his neighbor’s do-gooder diligence has protected the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid. This sounds all too familiar. A local wetlands club founded by Duesterbeck claimed the lake district would flood and drown this plant in a recent DNR hearing. However, the DNR was forced to pull this testimony when the lake district discovered an illegal dyke was blocking drainage and threatening the orchid.

Failing to recognize the multiple missions of the lake district cheapens the collective sincerity and financial investment of 4,000 parcel owners who have economic stakes in Lake Koshkonong’s ecological health. Protecting our area’s wetlands occupies an equal priority with requesting a nominal water level increase and improving the fish hatchery.

Duesterbeck may fancy himself one, but real hydrology experts have documented regrowth of Koshkonong wetlands behind properly installed riprap. In laymen’s terms, Mother Nature raises lake levels nearly every spring before receding waters deposit sediment that is trapped behind the rock. The sediment accumulates, providing new habitat.

Pledger allows neighbor Duesterbeck to invent his own reality. When asked via e-mail why he would not explore the validity of his column by fact-checking with a third party such as the lake district, Pledger replied had he known of the existence of the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District, “I certainly could have checked it out, but I was going on information which I had no reason to feel was suspect. I assume that when I interview someone they are giving me the facts.”

OK, Pledger may not be a real reporter with journalism-school credentials and a responsibility to ethics, but he does receive compensation for his columns, so he should be obliged to put forth more effort than an Internet blogger.

Why not Google Lake Koshkonong? The RKLD Web site pops up. Wikipedia also links to our site. A quick Google search discovered D.S. Pledger also sells columns to Traditional Bowhunter magazine, plays viola for a local community ensemble and his first initial stands for Duncan.

What about reading past lake district articles in the newspaper that hosts your column?

“I don’t subscribe to The Janesville Gazette.” said Pledger’s last e-mail.

Brian Christianson lives in Fulton Township and is chairman of the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District. He can be reached at www.RKLD,org.

Last updated: 9:39 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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