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.

Madeline Magee

By the middle of the century, the climate, the waters, and the species of northern Wisconsin could look like today’s southern Wisconsin.

That’s according to projections presented at a scientific conference last week.

In turn, climate change could force southern Wisconsin to look like states including Kansas and Virginia.

Jim Skibo

Each spring the hardwood forests of the Northwoods come alive with activity as the process of collecting maple sap begins. The people doing this work range from large commercial operations to single individuals tapping a few trees. As part of WXPR’s We Live Up Here series, we visited two very different operations before social distancing guidelines went into effect.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Are the Northwoods walleye you catch safe to eat, or do they have too much mercury?

The answer is tied to several factors, but new research shows a surprising variable might have the biggest effect.

The water level of the lake where you caught the fish could tell you more about its safety than anything else.

The realization of the connection started years ago, when lakes researcher Dr. Carl Watras found an interesting trend.

image by Skeeze on pixabay.com

When you hear the name Samson, what springs to mind – possibly a religious story, or maybe the name of a larger-than-life animal? The Masked Biologist says all of the above, and explores the humanization of animals in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Stormy Kromer Facebook

Instead of making its iconic Stormy Kromer hats, Ironwood-based Jacquart Fabrics is now making hospital masks and gowns.  Near Antigo, wildlife rehabilitators don’t have the luxury of staying away from work.  In this edition of We Live Up Here, we explore how COVID-19 has changed the landscape of businesses in our area.

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.

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