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.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

For part of the year, a gravel road reaches a remote piece of Vilas County land.

But in the winter, a mile-long snowshoe is the only way in.

Snow decorated an evergreen forest as Trisha Moore and Troy Walters reached their destination and greeted Bob Martini, who owns the 31 acres of wilderness northeast of Eagle River.

Forty years ago, he built an eight-sided cabin here by hand.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Christmas today is highly commercialized, and American consumers are encouraged to shop for as much as they can buy during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It wasn’t always like this, and during the worst years of the Great Depression Christmas in Rhinelander was celebrated a little differently.

Image by Skeeze on Pixabay.com

Do you have a special holiday tradition that includes the outdoors? The Masked Biologist shares the history of the side hunt, and the Christmas Bird Count, in this week’s wildlife matters.

A Christmas Tree Story

Dec 21, 2019
Image by Jim Skibo

For decades, families in southern Wisconsin have enjoyed Christmas trees and wreaths produced on a farm in Langlade County. Many of those families know their decorations come from a different family—one of four generations held together by boughs, traditions, and laughter.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

People in Rhinelander and across the Northwoods want to know their water is clean, drinkable, and safe.

But that expectation has been muddied in the past year, with the discovery of elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Rhinelander’s municipal water supply.

The finding of PFAS, which has been linked to risk cancer, thyroid disease, and higher cholesterol, led Rhinelander to shut down two of its five city wells.

That’s left some people confused about where their water is coming from, how much is available, and if it’s safe.

Wisconsin Historical Society

World War II scrap metal drives were an integral part of how people on the home front experienced the war.  Much of the metal came from old automobiles, but where some of those old automobiles came from turned out to be quite a surprise.

With wide eyes and anticipation, many stare to the skies on the night of December 24th to watch for the outline of a tiny sleigh and eight flying reindeer. But, how did Santa first come about?

Ben Meyer/WXPR

On Tuesday, high school junior Mariah Freeman watched water drip through a filter she designed and constructed.

“We’re going to take the filter we’ve made, and we’re going to pour that water through it, and then retest the water in the new bottle,” Freeman explained.

Freeman and her classmates in Cheryl Esslinger’s Earth and Environmental Systems class at Rhinelander High School were simply trying to filter vinegar out of the water and balance its acidity.

Wisconsin Historical Society

In the early twentieth century, it was a risky undertaking to dream of a greenhouse and flower business in a northern logging and lumbering town like Rhinelander. Peter Philipp not only dreamed about it, he successfully built one of Rhinelander’s oldest downtown businesses.

Greg Matzke

Perhaps more than any other fish, northern Wisconsin identifies with the walleye.

But walleye populations in many local lakes have been struggling.            

Some are even at risk of disappearing completely, as the populations are no longer naturally reproducing.

Fisheries biologists have had to get creative to try to address the problem, and they’re doing it in different ways in different parts of the Northwoods.

The Minocqua chain is a prime example.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Another gun deer season has come and gone, and hunters are talking about the fall harvest. Harvest is a pastoral term that sounds odd when used in reference to hunting, so in this week’s Northwoods Moment in History, local historian Gary Entz explores usage of the term and where it comes from.

Image by engin akyurt on Pixabay.com

When you stay at a hotel, you can reuse dirty towels and sheets to help the hotel save water. In this week’s Wildlife Matters, the Masked Biologist ponders the value or need to voluntarily help hotels save water.

levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu

One of the nicknames given to soldiers in the First World War was “Sammy.”  During the holiday season of 1917, people in the Northwoods were encouraged to support the troops by becoming a “Sammy Backer.”  What was a Sammy Backer?

Image by stuffwithkids on Pixabay.com

Are you doing everything you can to keep toxic heavy metals away from your family and out of the environment? In this week’s Wildlife Matters the Masked Biologist takes aim at the use of lead ammunition.

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