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Rhinelander scientists study forest drought impactsSubmitted: 08/28/2015
RHINELANDER - We expect trees on our property to suffer when it gets very dry, but for tree health, drought severity may not be as important as another factor. Researchers for the U.S. Forest Service have been studying the impacts of drought on trees across the Midwest, including the Northwoods. One ecologist at the Northern Research Station in Rhinelander found surprising results.

"It was the length of drought that was more important than determining the severity," explained Northern Research Station Ecologist Dr. Eric Gustafson. "Trees have the ability to survive droughts by drawing on their energy reserves, and when the drought is long, those energy reserves get depleted."

Data from the research goes into computer models that help predict future forest health. Scientists also noticed that aspens and birch trees are most at risk during drought in the Northwoods. The overall research helps forest managers create healthier forests.

"So we can use those to help managers or to ask questions about what management strategies might be able to produce forests that have the most resilience to drought in terms of the species that are there," said Gustafson.

Results of the study will lead to more research into managing forests.

Story By: Matt Brooks

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 LOCAL NEWS

EAGLE RIVER - You may know the derby track in Eagle River for its snowmobiling championships every winter. This weekend it welcomes some different outdoor vehicles.

On Friday, the AMSOIL Eagle River Derbytrack will host its first World Championship UTV & ATV Derby.

Derbytrack workers said it took about 300 truck loads of dirt and sand to get this track ready.

The weekend will be a lot like the snowmobile derby with qualifiers, final rounds and a championship race.

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MERRILL - A local technical college wants to make sure first responders get all the training they need.

That's why NTC in Merrill wanted a rail car.

First responders can use the car to learn how to handle derailments and crashes.

NTC leaders think Merrill is a good place for the rail car.

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WAUSAU - Police think a Wausau man used a baby to protect himself from the SWAT team during a standoff Wednesday night. It happened on the 100 block of South 7th Street.

Neighbors told police the man had a gun and was inside of a home with a woman and an eight-month-old baby.

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WAUSAU - Prosecutors want to prove a Stevens Point man put many people in danger by allegedly taking part in a shootout last month.

Brian Fisher, 35, was in court Thursday. He faces multiple felony counts of recklessly endangering safety and one count of having a gun as a convicted felon.

Police say Fisher shot his gun at 36-year-old Morgan Sykes on July 8th at It's Our Clubhouse bar. They say they used video from a surveillance camera to identify Fisher in the shooting.

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MERRILL - A new first aid kit will help Merrill's K-9 unit stay safe.

It was a donation, and all they needed to do was post a picture on Facebook.

The kit was donated through the We Ride to Provide organization.

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MINOCQUA - Too many times, Minocqua-area fishing guide Greg Bohn has heard the stories of tragedy.

A parent on Wisconsin waters jumps in to try to rescue their child, who is in the water without a life jacket. But the parent, also not wearing a personal floatation device (PFD), drowns, even if the child survives.

It happened in July on Shawano Lake in Shawano County, and on Minocqua Lake a few years ago.

"Accidents can happen in seconds, and there's total chaos and emergency," Bohn says while touring Minocqua Lake on his fishing boat.

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WAUSAU - Wausau police say a man used a baby as a shield when he surrendered to tactical officers following a standoff.

Authorities say police were called to a house Wednesday night on a report of a domestic disturbance. They found a man and woman who were wanted on felony warrants. Capt. Matt Barnes says police had been looking for the couple in order to check on the welfare of an 8-month-old child.

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