It is no surprise why Scott Spoolman was able to gather such a large crowd to hear him speak about the topic of his latest book. The language in "Wisconsin State Parks: Extraordinary Stories of Geology and Natural History," is filled with knowledge and reverence of 28 state parks and natural areas in the Wisconsin, and that enthusiasm carried over to his June 4 discussion at the Frank B. Koller Memorial Library in Manitowish Waters.
Spoolman engaged the crowd with information about past volcanoes, seas and glacial activity in the Wisconsin area during prehistoric times. While Spoolman read some passages from his book, much of the talk was in regards to how he personally has been affected by wandering through the state parks of Wisconsin and what people should look for as they explore for themselves.
When asked by a member of the audience which was his favorite park, personally, Spoolman responded with a very democratic response.
"It's a bit like picking your favorite child. Each park has its own personality and its own great traits about it. I've come to love each of the parks and I have a story to share about nearly everyone of them" Spoolman said. "If I were pressed, though, I'd have to say Copper Falls State Park. Partly, because it is where I grew up and it is where I have spent a lot time. It is a stunningly beautiful park where you really feel like you've walked back a million years in time. It has a fascinating geological story."
Copper Falls State Park is in Ashland County near Mellen and features a large segment of the Bad River.
Spoolman also mentioned some of the lesser-visited state parks, such as Newport State Park in the Door Peninsula or Wildcat Mountain in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin have many uncovered wonders that are worth visiting. He is of the opinion that much of the natural beauty in the state is a little off the beaten path.
"We have an extraordinary collection of state parks and I hope we'll be able to preserve them," he said.
Many questions from the audience were directed at the impact man has had on these natural resources that Spoolman holds so dearly. Although concerned by the negative detriments activities such as mining and improperly-managed foresting can have on these state parks, Spoolman said the power and determination that the natural world has to overcome obstacles and setbacks gives him confidence that these parks will be able to be viewed in their current state by humankind for many future generations.
"At this point, all the parks are safe from political involvement and mining. It's hard to know exactly what will happen in the future, but there is so much love for these state parks and enough people who want to keep them the way they are," he said. "One of the reasons I wrote my book is to convey my sense of the beauty and the incredible amount of time it took - the complex processes. I'm sure everyone in this room has a sense of reverence for the state parks and a great respect for them. I hope I can inspire some admiration for the natural settings here in Wisconsin."
Spoolman had another presentation at the Minocqua Public Library on Tuesday, June 5. Find "Wisconsin State Parks: Extraordinary Stories of Geology and Natural History" at many local and national book retailers.