local features

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No doubt we are in the middle of winter here in the Northwoods. At the same time, though, wildlife is looking forward to spring, and we can do some advance work to prepare for its arrival. The Masked Biologist shares some timely reminders in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau/Susan Hedman

Wisconsin is the home of its own conservation hall of fame, the home of the founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson, and the home of John Muir.

It was the first state in America to ban DDT.

“Wisconsin has had such a long tradition in the conservation area and protecting the environment,” said Susan Hedman, the former Great Lakes Region Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hedman says Wisconsin used to a leader in the field.  But now, it’s a leader in something else.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Few people today associate the Northwoods with pearl buttons, but for a short time, Rhinelander and other Northwoods towns along the Wisconsin River experienced an economic boom similar to that of a small gold rush. Gary Entz has the story in this weeks Northwoods Moment in History.

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In this month’s Field Notes, Susan Knight looks at the thin ice situation this year, and discusses why ice is so cool.

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We may have our share of challenges to face during Wisconsin winters, but at least we don’t have to deal with falling iguanas. That’s the topic the Masked Biologist chose for this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Image by Jim Skibo

As part of the We Live Up Here series, Jim Skibo visited with Raptor Education Group Director, Marge Gibson. She moved back to Antigo to be closer to family, research and write about birds. She and her late husband, Don, soon discovered, however, that the northwoods lacked a facility for bird rehabilitation. In 1990 they opened a facility that takes in about a 1000 injured birds per year along with providing many educational opportunities.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Michael Anderson uses a long bit on a drill to bust through the ice on Silver Lake in Eagle River.

“That would be a good depth for an ice castle right now,” Anderson says, measuring about 15 inches of ice.

That’s plenty for harvesting and forming into blocks for ice-castle building.

But there’s a problem.  A deep layer of slush on Silver Lake makes it inaccessible to the machines and trucks needed to transport ice blocks.

Without the ice blocks, there’s no ice castle downtown, and that means Anderson has to break the bad news to a lot of people.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Burlesque is a form of entertainment that has become synonymous with exotic dancers. What does burlesque, fishing and the Northwoods have in common? Gary Entz tells us in this week’s Northwoods Moment in History.

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“Did the groundhog see his shadow?” If you didn’t ask this question yourself, odds are someone you know, or heard, asked it yesterday or today. In this episode of Wildlife Matters, the Masked Biologist talks about groundhog day.

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

It’s not difficult for Norm Pestka to picture what used to be here.

After all, the land that’s now underwater was dry just a few months ago.

“It’s been fine here for years.  They lost 45 feet in one storm.  The beach was out there, literally,” Pestka said, motioning to a patch of Lake Superior now submerged.

Pestka is standing on private land just outside Ontonagon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Lake Superior stretches out before him.  It’s mostly open water, save for some ice, snow, and floating ice chunks near the shore.

The Sheriff and the Bank

Jan 29, 2020
Wisconsin Historical Society

In this week’s Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz tells the story of William Clawson, once a forest ranger, a county sheriff and finally, a bank robber.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Charlee Krueger finds her backpack and coat, and her mother Renee scrapes ice from the windshield of their car.  By 7 a.m., they’re ready to go.

Charlee is a second grader at Maple Grove Elementary School in the Merrill Area Public School District.

She’s one of just 80 students enrolled in the far-flung school about 15 miles from the city.  She could be one of the final 80 to attend school there, as Merrill contemplates closing it before next year.

White Lake Ice Fishing

Jan 24, 2020
Image by Jim Skibo

A winter ritual in the northwoods is ice fishing. This time of year, anglers take to the lakes for pan fish, northern pike, and the prized walleye pike. Jim Skibo met up with some hardy anglers on White Lake to learn more about this cold weather sport.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

The waters of the Biron Flowage are no more than ten feet from the porch of Mike Spranger’s second home.

“This is the reason we bought it,” he said.  “The water is right there.”

The 1,500-square-foot house is just ten minutes from Spranger’s main residence in Wisconsin Rapids.  He and his wife bought it in 2015, mainly as a refuge for their four grandchildren, who took to the water 

immediately.

Gypsies in the Northwoods

Jan 22, 2020

In this week’s Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz talks about who the Romani people are and tells of their history in the Northwoods.

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