Local Features

In addition to the local news, WXPR Public Radio also likes to find stories that are outside the general news cycle... Listen below to stories about history, people, culture, art, and the environment in the Northwoods that go a little deeper than a traditional news story allows us to do. Here are all of the series we include in this podcast: Curious North, We Live Up Here, A Northwoods Moment in History, Field Notes, and Wildlife Matters.

These features are also available as a podcast by searching "WXPR Local Features" wherever you get your podcasts.

Pixabay.com

One of the surest signs of spring here in the Northwoods is the arrival of flocks of Canada geese. You may not have given it much thought, this year or any year, but Aldo Leopold did. 

I thought I heard geese honking recently. Above the din of the noisy road outside, and the noisy family inside, I strained my ears to make sure. One of my boys saw me concentrating, appearing puzzled. “I think I hear geese” I told him. He replied that he had heard geese the day before.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Population projections show our area is rapidly aging.

In 20 years, about a third of the population in the Northwoods will be age 65 or older.

That promises to put even more strain on employers seeking people to fill jobs, and many of those employers are already struggling to find enough workers.

But despite those trends, a new program in the School District of Rhinelander might help fill the gap for employers and their future workers.

Wikipedia Public Domain

Many talented people have lived in the Northwoods, and every now and again one of them achieves national fame.  One such person was Stanley Morner from the town of Prentice in Price County.  Although few people today recognize his name, in the 1940s under the stage name of Dennis Morgan, Stanley Morner was considered an    A-list star and one of Hollywood’s leading men. 

Ben Meyer/WXPR

On Wednesday afternoon, Zach Suchomel strategized with his four teammates in advance of a match of Smite, an online battle arena game.

He suggested characters to use and to block as part of the game, each calculation aimed to give Tomahawk High School a better chance to beat Two Rivers High School.

Suchomel is a junior at Tomahawk and one of the leaders of the school’s eSports team.

Wisconsin Historical Society

During the Second World War, raw materials were in high demand and difficult to obtain.  This made recycling of metal, rubber, and paper more important than ever.  Oneida County met its scrap collection goal but had to sacrifice an historic treasure to do it.  

Ben Meyer/WXPR

On Tuesday morning, Brendan Tuckey was putting the finishing touches on a germination incubator he built at his farm in Sugar Camp.

The chamber, about the size of a large locker, is heated to help vegetable seeds begin to sprout in the spring. It will get its first use in the coming weeks.

Tuckey and his wife Jenny own EverGood Farm, an organic vegetable farm serving the Northwoods.

Most years, they sell much of what they grow at local farmer’s markets. But as the pandemic spread last spring, they pulled the plug on that plan.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Today, travel in and out of the Northwoods can be accomplished by private automobile or airline.  In prior decades, people had multiple options for traveling, including that most mundane of all modes, the bus.  

Botanizing by Bike

Mar 16, 2021
Pixabay.com

As we move from winter toward spring, (a little sooner than I would have liked) I am getting excited to start biking around the Northwoods. I spend quite a bit of time road biking, which is not always compatible with one of my other favorite pastimes, looking for flowering plants. By early summer, my bike group and I will be logging 50 or more miles at a time, and there is plenty of Northwoods plant life to appreciate from a bike. We mostly ride on county and town roads out of town, so we aren’t likely to see the showy Forsythia, lilac or crab apples favored by homeowners.

Cody Russell, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Facebook

Different animals use different strategies to get through the winter. Some are more obvious than others. What about turtles? The Masked Biologist gives us a glimpse into their lives in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Recently a large snapping turtle garnered some attention on social media by doing what turtles do—swimming around slowly under water. What was a little unusual, at least for the photographer, is that the turtle swam right under where they were standing—there were a couple of inches of clear ice between them.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Nathan Nuszkiewicz’s paintbrush is a chainsaw.

His canvas is a tree or a massive wood slab.

On Monday, he was outside his Rhinelander home and shop, working on a woodcarving to go on a roof peak at a customer’s home.

“It’s going to be a whole scene, where we’ve got the trees and the sky and the clouds and the sunset in the middle, and then, through that, there’s going to be an actual six- to six-and-a-half foot eagle flying out over the trees,” he explained.

Nathan’s wife and business partner, Erica, watched nearby.

Pixabay.com

News is just coming to light about a momentous wildlife management event from last December. It involves a little black-footed ferret named Elizabeth Ann, who along with a horse named Kurt, inspired this week’s Wildlife Matters.

The National Archives and Records Administration

People interested in polar geography may know about the Eklund Islands in King George the Sixth Sound southwest of the Antarctic Peninsula.  What might be less commonly known is that the Eklund Islands in Antarctica are named for a Northwoods native.  

The southernmost continent of Antarctica is cold, inhospitable, and not the sort of place that most Northwoods residents think about when looking for adventure.  But for one Northwoods native, the chance to live and work in Antarctica was a dream come true.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Heather Berklund never envisioned herself as the Chief State Forester.

She had worked for the DNR forestry division for two decades in the Northwoods, but didn’t have her mind set on the top job.

“I would say it was never on my radar that I would ever be talking to you in this role or be in this position,” Berklund said on a recent interview, conducted while snowshoeing through the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest near Woodruff.

Wisconsin Historical Society

In the nineteenth century, people believed Wisconsin’s forests to be inexhaustible.  Lumber production proceeded at an unsustainable pace, but few cared as it was assumed that farming would naturally follow.  Successful farming never came on a large scale, and the damaged land needed repairing.  This is where the Trout Lake Nursery comes in.  

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