local features

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Did you know that right now there is a restriction on which areas you are able to run your dog off-leash? The Masked Biologist does, and he shares it with us in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

As the crow flies, Wildcat Falls near Watersmeet and the Upper Wisconsin River Legacy Forest near Land O’Lakes are only 15 miles apart, on opposite sides of the Michigan-Wisconsin border.

But in some ways, these protected places couldn’t be more different.

From one, water flows north to Lake Superior. From the other, it flows south, eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.

Huge old-growth trees dominate the area near Wildcat Falls, while a young forest supporting threatened species is common near the Upper Wisconsin River.

But they do have one thing in common.

With many people currently out of work, some economists are comparing current unemployment levels with that of the Great Depression years. So far, however, the social safety net has held, and suffering is not yet at 1930s levels. Historian Gary Entz has the story of Rhinelander’s Hoovervilles.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Badger Minerals plans to begin drilling in eastern Oneida County in less than a month, according to documents filed with the county.

The mining exploration company’s plans were just approved by the DNR, the final hurdle to commence exploratory drilling.

The firm told Oneida County 24-hour-a-day drilling near the Wolf River will begin on June 1.

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For this month’s Field Notes, Susan Knight talks about the elegant , but short-lived mayflies common in our lakes and streams.

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Fire season is in full swing here in the Northwoods, as the Masked Biologist will share in this week’s Wildlife Matters.


Since Gov. Evers mandated the closure of schools on Mar. 13, educators have been scrambling to teach remotely. In the Northwoods, the level of instruction varies considerably based primarily on the availability of high-speed internet in the households of students.

Wisconsin Historical Society

James Randi is one of the most famous living magicians in the United States today. In his late career he has become famous for debunking fraudulent paranormal claims, but in his youth, he was an escape artist. Back in 1959, the Amazing Randi thrilled Northwoods residents with his feats of daring. Historian Gary Entz has the story in this weeks Northwoods Moment in History.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

A WXPR investigation has found over a seven-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the City of Rhinelander spread almost 400 tons of sewage sludge at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport. 

Later, the city built two municipal water wells near the place where some of the sludge was spread. Last year, those wells were found to have high levels of PFAS, a chemical with known health risks.

Now, a nationally-recognized expert on PFAS and sludge says the contamination in the city’s water could have come from sludge spread three decades ago.


More than 150,000 Wisconsin homes, businesses, schools, and daycares get their water through lead pipes, according to data newly compiled by the Environmental Defense Fund.

Consuming even small amounts of lead can lead to behavioral, learning, and cognitive problems in children.

Furthermore, for 300,000 water lines, Wisconsin cities don’t even know what the pipes are made of.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The current Covid-19 crisis is a difficult experience for everyone, but not the first time something like this has happened. The Influenza Epidemic that started in 1918 and lasted into 1920 can be instructive for what is going on now. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

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An unfamiliar sound can be frightening; an unknown sound when you are in the dark woods can be terrifying. In this week’s Wildlife Matters the Masked Biologist shares some experiences and explains why sound identification can be challenging.


If this were a normal spring, people would be starting to travel to the Northwoods to enjoy the outdoors. The state, however, is encouraging people to stay in their own communities and avoid travel for recreation. But for those of us who live up here, the Northwoods offers hundreds of miles of biking trails and country roads that make great cycling routes.

Jamee Peters, vice president of the Langlade Area Mountain Bike Association (LAMBA) describes the type of trails available in eastern Langlade County.

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

On Wednesday, a mining exploration company got a step closer to drilling into the earth near the Wolf River in Oneida County.

The county’s Planning and Development committee unanimously approved a permit for Badger Minerals to drill up to ten exploration holes on a private plot of land.

The company wants to find out if the area could be a good place for a metallic mine.

But, if it wasn’t clear before, public backlash demonstrated there’s plenty of opposition in the Northwoods.

Muscular Christianity is a philosophical interpretation of Christianity that centers on the moral and physical beauty of athleticism. It has had many proponents over the years, but few as colorful as the Reverend Frederick Wedge. Historian Gary Entz has the story.