South Carolina Shooting, Great Lakes Bike Path, Birth Rate Increase Reflects Buoyant Economy

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Wednesday night a young white man opened fire on a prayer meeting at a historical black church in Charleston, South Carolina, an act that is being called a hate crime. We talk to a hate crime expert about the motivations for that kind of violence. Then, a Wisconsin native has come up with plan to build the longest bike path in the world around the Great Lakes. Our guest describes the plan and tells us why it’s a real possibility. We also look at the latest population figures that show an the rebounding economy’s positive effect on birth rates.

Featured in this Show

  • The Case For A Hiking Trail Around All 5 Great Lakes

    An environmental law professor has proposed creating a new 10,000-mile, binational hiking trail between the U.S. and Canada along the shores of all five Great Lakes.

    Melissa Scanlan, director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School, said she came up with the idea while hiking the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. She said her proposed trail would help bring people into closer contact with the lakeshore and allow them to appreciate the scenic beauty of the region.

    “We have a lot of fragmented trail efforts around the Great Lakes already,” said Scanlan, a former Wisconsinite. “My proposal is to link those together into a cohesive whole so that we can start to focus the public attention to the Great Lakes as a region and use that as a way to attract tourism.”

    The fate of the trail, said Scanlan, might rest on how state courts interpret the public trust doctrine, a principle that some land access should be preserved and maintained by the government for public use. The law would essentially trump some private property claims along the shoreline.

    The public trust doctrine was recognized before Wisconsin and other midwestern states established statehood under the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. It states that “navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highways and forever free.”

    Wisconsin went on to adopt the provision under Article 9, Section 1 of the state constitution in 1848.

    Scanlan said there is at least one legal ruling that may serve as precedent for the trail. In 2005, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in Glass v. Goeckel that the public has the right to walk along the shores of Michigan’s Great Lakes up to the “ordinary high water mark.”

    According to Freshwater Future, a nonprofit conservation organization concerned with the Great Lakes watershed, the court ruled that “because walking along the lakeshore is inherent in the exercise of traditionally protected public rights of fishing, hunting, and navigation, our public trust doctrine permits pedestrian use of our Great Lakes, up to and including the land below the ordinary high water mark.”

    “Michigan is the only state that has addressed that specific issue,” Scanlan said. “So it’s uncertain how other states will determine it. But certainly (Michigan) is the state that has the most coastline and it recognizes the public trust right to walk along the beaches.”

    Beyond the legal complications, Scanlan said in order for the trail to move forward, someone needs to step up to coordinate the planning.

    “We need our modern-day Gaylord Nelson,” she said. “I think that person has to emerge. I’m confident that there will be a coalition that emerges to support this.”

  • Hate Crime Expert Responds To South Carolina Black Church Shooting

    A young white man opened fire on a prayer group Wednesday night at the historical black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He sat with the group for almost an hour before drawing his gun and killing nine people.

    A witness quoted the man as saying “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen called the shooting a hate crime and state and federal officials have opened a hate crime investigation into the attack.

    The shooting suspect was arrested Thursday morning during a traffic stop in North Carolina. His Facebook page shows a picture of him wearing a jacket with white supremacist symbols on it.

  • Building A Hiking Trail–Around All Of The Great Lakes

    A guest makes the case for building a new, record-breaking hiking trail–along the entire shorelines of all the Great Lakes.

  • Bounce In Birth Rate Reflects Brighter Brighter Economic Times

    One effect of the post-recession economic uptick is a rise in the number of births nationally. According to CDC data released Wednesday U.S. births increased by 1.4 percent last year – the first in six years. It seems couples who had put off having children for financial reasons, may now consider adding to their families. Is America and Wisconsin going to see a “baby bump” in the near future?

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Melissa Scanlan Guest
  • Phyllis Gerstenfeld Guest
  • Kenneth Johnson Guest
  • David Egan-Robertson Guest