local features

State of Michigan

A month ago, in a ballroom at a hotel conference center in a Madison suburb, social distancing wasn’t even in the vocabulary of most people.

The coronavirus wasn’t yet a threat to Wisconsin.  Hundreds of people packed into a convention to talk about, and hear about, a different threat to health--PFAS.

“It is the hot ticket issue right now,” conceded Bridget Kelly, the Wisconsin DNR’s Program Coordinator for Emerging Contaminants.

The topic is only growing hotter.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The issue of contaminated water is an ongoing topic of concern in the city of Rhinelander, but it isn’t a new problem. Historian Gary Entz tells the story of contamination issues in the past and how Rhinelander came to get its water from wells.

Jim Skibo

Badger Minerals, a subsidiary of a Canadian mining company, wants to begin exploratory testing in eastern Oneida County near the headwaters of the Wolf River. The area sits on an ancient volcanic deposit that often contains high concentrations of zinc, lead, copper, gold, and silver. Recently, a group met in Mole Lake, which sits a few miles from the site, to express their concerns over the proposed mining.

Forest County Potawatomi Tribal Member Nick Shepard began his speech by saying, “I’m here today in support of protecting the Wolf River, again.”

Image by Pascal Treichler on pixabay.com

As winter turns to spring, the Masked Biologist ties together constellations, spring, and the restoration of a wildlife species almost lost in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

At Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in Rhinelander last Sunday, pianos and voices paired for the song “Down to the River to Pray.”

It was the final hymn at Mass, and songs about prayers at the river were just one of the many references to faith and water at Catholic Masses across the country.

The Sunday Gospel, taken from John, Chapter 4, told of Jesus and a woman at a well.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The issue of nuclear waste generated by power plants in the United States always seems to be somebody else’s problem.  In this week’s Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz reminds us how it wasn’t so long ago that it could have been a problem for the Northwoods and could be again in the future.

Leprechauns

Mar 16, 2020
Image by BradyNancyJ from pixabay.com

Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here, so the Masked Biologist decided to make that holiday, and it’s creatures, the focus of this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Image by Jim Skibo

If you say the name, “Stormy Kromer,” most people in the northwoods will know that you are referring to the iconic wool cap with earflaps that dates back to the early 1900s. What you may not know is that the hat is made in Ironwood, Michigan by Jacquart Fabric Products, a company that even has Rhinelander connections.

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

On Tuesday, Scott Blado found good news as he dipped scientific instruments below the ice on the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir in Marathon County. 

“Right now, we’re seeing [a reading of] 10.9 dissolved oxygen, which is fantastic.  We couldn’t ask for anything better than that at this time of the year,” said Blado, an environmental specialist for the Wausau-based Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company (WVIC).

Blado tests multiple points on the reservoir every week, and on Tuesday, he saw a significant jump from the week before.

Baths For Lumberjacks

Mar 11, 2020
Wisconsin Historical Society

The ability to go on strike for better working conditions is a valuable tool, especially for industry workers in nineteenth century America. The question is, what is or isn’t worth going on strike for. Gary Entz tells the story of workers in a logging camp resisting new technologies.

Image by Jim Arnold

For this month’s Field Notes, Gretchen Gerrish of UW-Madison’s Trout Lake Station tells us of the life and death of leaves.

Image by seaq68 on pixabay.com

There may be few images that inspire thoughts of strength, courage, and independence more than that of the majestic bald eagle soaring in the blue sky. Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, there are poachers that shoot and injure these birds and leave them to die. The Masked Biologist focuses on this topic in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Since a 1940s dam on Sailor Creek near Fifield in Price County created a 200-acre recreational flowage, the Lobermeiers have considered it part of their home.

The S-shaped flowage is spotted with islands looking out at wooded shorelines, and for Dave Lobermeier, it’s a place of enjoyment.

But the Sailor Creek Flowage has also become the source of a decade of legal headaches.

USAF Public Domain

In this week’s Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz tells the story of a Northwoods soldier who declined recognition or honors for his selfless act, but is recognized today.

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

In the winter, snowshoes are the best way to navigate a swath of undeveloped, wooded, privately-owned land between Monico and Pelican Lake in Oneida County.  The simple forest roads that exist are snow-covered and unplowed.

In late January, Badger Minerals, a Michigan-based subsidiary of a Canadian company, announced plans to drill several holes on this tract, seeking to learn more about minerals under the snowy surface. 

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