Self-proclaimed “River Rat” addresses crowd


The Mirror reporter

River Rat, keynote speaker, story teller and author Kenny Salwey spoke to University Wisconsin- Stevens Point and Wisconsin River Academy students on Nov 10 and 11 about conservation, respect for the land, and morals and values.

Salwey has lived off the land in Whitman Swamp along the Mississippi River a little south of Buffalo City, Wisconsin for 28 years. For all of his life he has had a love and respect for the natural world and has learned to become a fellow traveler in the circle of life.

Living off the land and being connected with nature has affected Salwey for the better. “It has made me realize that life has become more complicated since those 28 years. I never felt poor because I had all these outdoor experiences,” Salwey said.

Salwey has seen many changes to the environment from point source pollution and bad land management practices to the passing of new regulations, laws, departments and organizations to protect our natural environment

Salwey has dedicated his life to give back to the land by speaking to and teaching younger generations a love and respect for the natural world and how to manage and conserve our natural resources. “Education is the key if you don’t know about something how can you love and respect something,” Salwey said.

“Younger people are going to have to carry the ball. If I didn’t believe in you young folks I would just quit but there’s hope. Every generation is better than the one before, they’re more environmental aware,” Salwey said.

Conservation and management of the land was one of many topics shared with the students. The biggest problem to our environment is “we don’t take it serious, if we don’t all will be lost. Human resources follow the natural resources. We need to take care of the environment and our resources first, and not worrying about ourselves. When we purchase land we purchase a privilege,” Salwey said.

He said the worst form of killing is “blacktop and cement, development is the worst form of killing, it’s forever. There have to be limits there have to be green places. The reserves, parks, farmlands we have to have these things. We have to get a handle on world population. Water is not an infinite supply; it cannot go on forever.” Salwey said. “We have to conserve our resources.”

Salwey emphasized that “attitude and values” are necessary in conserving the natural world. “We cannot believe we belong to the artificial world; we belong to the natural world. We have to remain connected to the natural world,” Salwey said.

“Don’t give up, do something, believe in yourself.”

The presentation was sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Extensions Lakes Program and the Wisconsin Center of Wildlife.