Natalie Jablonski

News and Features Contributor

Democratic lawmakers are speaking out against a proposal that would cut thousands of people from the Senior Care prescription drug coverage program.

Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal would require everyone enrolled in SeniorCare to instead apply for Medicare Part D. Only those not eligible could stick with Senior Care. 

Democratic State Senator Kathleen Vinehout says switching to Medicare Part D will mean higher costs for constituents. 

Buck Vaughn / The Conservation Fund

Two Republican legislators want to see major changes within the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. 

The organization was founded in the mid 1800s to sell millions of acres of school trust fund lands.  It now maintains a loan fund for municipal projects, with the interest going to pay for school libraries.  BCPL also owns and manages about a small amount of land, about 80-thousand acres for timber. 

The bidding process is open for contractors who want to build the first section of the Conover-Phelps bike trail.

Great Headwaters Trails President Jeff Currie says the more than three miles of trail should be built by this fall.

“They would have to do whatever clearing has to happen to get the trail ready; they would have to prepare the sub-base, although most of the trail is on railroad grade, so a lot of that sub-base is probably going to be okay.”

Members of the Menominee tribe plan to march to the state capitol from their reservation starting Friday to demand Governor Scott Walker meet with Menominee tribal chairman Gary Besaw. 

The tribe wants the governor to reconsider its proposal for a casino in Kenosha. 

Governor Scott Walker said last month he wouldn’t approve it, because it might cost the state too much money. A 2005 gaming compact promises to reimburse the Potawatomi tribe for losses that result from nearby gaming competition. 

Northwoods residents have a chance to learn more about the region’s weather patterns…thanks to an online course offered by the University of Wisconsin Madison.

It’s called a Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, and it’s free and open to anyone.  This month-long class focuses on Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region.

As UW Madison professor of Atmospheric Sciences Steve Ackerman explains, it will examine long term trends throughout the four seasons.

Buck Vaughn / The Conservation Fund

The state has acquired a conservation easement on almost 14,000 acres of forest in Iron County.

The Twin Lakes Legacy Forest is predominantly northern hardwood, with a mix of other forest types, which used to be owned by a paper company. 

As Conservation Fund Midwest Vice President Tom Duffus explains, it was most recently owned by a timber investment group in Brazil. 

“So we bought it from that organization to try and stop this trend of private forests becoming smaller and less viable for timber.” 

On the edge of Lake Superior, a 60-foot tower of man-made ice came tumbling down last week.

The ice sculpture was part of a public art project commissioned by the city of Superior, Wis., and the man behind the unusual sculpture is determined to make it rise again.

Two weeks ago, the ragged pillar of ice towered above Barker's Island. You could see it from the road driving into Superior.

"I think it's pretty impressive," says resident Alya Pfeil. "At first I thought it was just frozen ice, nothing to it. But it's actually quite impressive."

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The Oneida County Land and Records Committee will take more time to consider bid proposals for the Heal Creek property near Rhinelander.  The committee wants to give competing parties more time, in case of a compromise. 

About 50 people crowded a committee meeting room at the Oneida County Courthouse Tuesday, to weigh in on what to do with the 270-acre Heal Creek property.

The county is selling the land after plans to turn it into a business park stalled. 

Natalie Jablonski

The city of Rhinelander and the town of Crescent are trying to garner public support for a plan to develop recreational trails outside the city, by holding an open house at the site this weekend.  

Environmental groups are among those reacting to Governor Scott Walker’s proposed changes to the DNR Stewardship Program.

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funds are borrowed to purchase land for conservation and public use. 

Walker wants to freeze the program.  Instead, the state’s borrowing power will go into the transportation fund.

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Kerry Schuman thinks that’s a mistake.  She says the state’s ability purchase land for conservation is a huge value to the public.