MINOCQUA - Fishing tourism puts money in many pocketbooks in the Northwoods. For those who depend on that revenue lowered walleye bag limits are a big concern.
Both the DNR and local Chippewa tribes say they want a better agreement when it comes to walleye and managing resources. Until that happens though, towns that depend on fishing tourism could take a hit.
The links between the lakes and the economy are complicated to say the least. Still for fishing guides like Russ and Jake Smith of Minocqua, the conditions of the lakes and the populations of fish have a clear economic impact.
"I can remember when all the motels were full,” said Russ Smith, “And all the bait shops were very busy… restaurants. It's a snowballing effect. It affects everybody when the fish population and the bag limits are down and people go other places."
The science of caring for fisheries is much more complicated. Life would be easy if the lakes held an unlimited number of walleye. But DNR fisheries expert John Kubisiak knows those desires can't always be met.
"You can make some changes and some tweaks to it, and you can change which species is dominant in a lake, if you push hard enough, but the basic parameters, the basic ability of a lake to sustain fish populations is finite. It's not unlimited.”
Kubisiak says lake ecosystems change. There are dozens of reasons why: weather patterns, temperatures, quality of vegetation, number and balance of other predatory fish, shoreline development, and the introduction of non-native species all have an affect.
Economies can change though, and the people of the Northwoods are resilient.
For guides like the Smiths, walleye aren't their only target. "Pike, perch, crappie, musky, and small mouth bass, and sometimes we take some real little kids out for bluegill and panfish too," says Jack Smith.
MADISON - A Wisconsin Rapids woman will spend three years on probation for threatening to kill a federal administrative law judge.
51-year-old Norma Prince was sentenced Thursday. Prince pleaded guilty in December.
Prosecutors say the incident happened Jan. 31, 2013, when Prince appeared at a Social Security disability benefits hearing in Wausau.
Administrative Law Judge Thomas Sanzi was presiding over the hearing by teleconference from Madison. Prosecutors say Prince became upset and threatened to shoot Sanzi and cut off his head. The hearing was halted and Prince was escorted from the courtroom.
Prince's husband told a federal agent that his wife had bought two .22-caliber rifles about a month before the disability hearing.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said Prince's mental health issues can be controlled through medication and supervision.
ROTHSCHILD - Wisconsin farms play a key role in our economy, but today's farm owners aren't getting any younger.
One apprentice program hopes to change that.
The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program is building and preparing the next generation of farmers. It gives young farmers hands-on training and a path to a career in dairy farming.
"There's a lot of farms that are going to be transitioned and transferred in the next decade or so, and what we really need is somebody to be able to take these farms over," says program director Joe Tomandl. "We don't have that training program in place, and that's what the dairy grazing apprenticeship is about."
A recent government census of American agriculture found the average age of a farmer is 58 years old. Leaders believe the apprentice program has already seen success with new farmers over the past few years.
"We have a number of new producers just in the last four years in Marathon and Lincoln counties now running their own dairy farms using managed grazing techniques," says Paul Daigle of the Marathon County Conservation, Planning, & Zoning Department. "It's still a struggle no matter what, but it offers a profitable way to get into farming today."
Cattle farmers met at the 20th Annual Winter Grazing Conference today in Rothschild.
RHINELANDER - If you never met Monica Bartishofski, you would have loved her smile.
“Oh it was contagious, you couldn’t not smile when Monica greeted you into the store,” says Patti Pazera, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
These are the aisles Monica used to walk during her days bagging groceries for the people of Rhinelander.
“You always knew if it was going on close to 1:00 in the afternoon, and we would go here comes Monica and we’d always just see her bright smiling face,” says Anne Cline, Rhinelander Trigs Employee. “She’d come and visit us before her shift and she just enjoyed coming down and seeing us girls.”
Monica was killed in a car accident on Valentines Day.
“It was Valentines Day when she had her accident,” says Cline.
“At first it didn’t hit me you know it didn’t comprehend and then I’m checking out a customer and of course we’re busy and the tears start coming down,”says Christa Stolzman, Rhinelander Trigs Employee.
“We all just stood there in shock and the day stopped for a bit,” says Cline.
“I had to apologize to my customers because I had tears in my eyes and I said I’m sorry I don’t mean to be crying but we just lost Monica and I tell you what, a lot of those customers couldn’t believe it and they teared up with me,” says Stolzman.
“After her accident customers were all coming up saying how they missed her smile that it always made even if they were having a bad day it made it a good day whenever they came in and saw Monica,” says Pazera.
Monica’s coworkers decided to raise money in memory of Monica. They sold carnations for donations and raised over $2,700 toward Special Olympics.
Monica Bartishofski worked here inside the Rhinelander Trigs for 17 years but it was her commitment to the special Olympics that coworkers, friends, and family will remember most.
“You could call her Monica “Special Olympics” Bartishofski,” says Tony Bartishofski, Monica’s dad. “She always had a good time bowling. She was really outgoing, bubbly.”
Monica lived life to the fullest.
“You just remember her with her smiling face, her laugh was just you know a great laugh that she had and just bright eyed always happy to be at work,” says Stolzman. “So I think that would be a good way of remembering her.”
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