Wisconsin’s First Lady Walks Penokee Area, Greeted By Protesters And Snake


Wisconsin’s first lady, Tonette Walker, took her “Walker Walk” to far northern Wisconsin Monday.

The outing included a trek near the proposed iron ore open pit mine.

Copper Falls State Park offers deep gorges, ancient lava flows, steep waterfalls and Monday, a handful of protesters. They met Tonette Walker, wife of Gov. Scott Walker, with signs, including one that read “Welcome to Copper Falls. Mining would destroy it,” and “Penokee Hills and Bad River Watershed at risk.”

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Protesters kept it low-key, hoping to educate Wisconsin’s first lady. She says she hopes any mine would be safe and environmentally sound.

Then she got an eyeful of Copper Falls.

“I’ve never seen anything in Wisconsin like that. I’ve seen a couple of waterfalls, now, on a few of the walks I’ve been on, but nothing like this. The color of the water and the cliffs. Oh, it was just beautiful.”

The steep hike covered nearly two miles. Walker says it seemed like it was straight up the whole way. Built during the Great Depression by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, which gave jobs to unemployed young men and women, Copper Falls is known for its camping, trails, and wildlife. Walker says she saw some of that wildlife, including a snake.

“Someone grabbed it, but some of the people didn’t like that, so they immediately dropped it. (laughs) We moved on.”

Next stop is Madeline Island in the Apostle Islands chain, and then, on Wednesday, to Hayward and a two mile hike along the trail head of the American Birkebeiner course.