MANITOWISH WATERS - Farmers and anyone who hates mosquitos should be VERY thankful for bats. The journal ‘Science' estimates they provide US farmers with 3.7 billion dollars in pest control.
In nearby states though a fungal infection called White Nose Syndrome is killing them by the thousands. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working on a plan for our bat population, but first they have to find them.
Bats are small, hard to see, and mostly silent to the human ear. However, with special sonar equipment we can hear them, and track them. The DNR wants to use this technology to study Wisconsin's four bat species most at risk.
"Those are the hibernating bats and those are the bats that are susceptible to White Nose Syndrome because it is a cold loving fungus that attacks and gets the bats during hibernation," said Licia Johnson with the North Lakeland Discovery Center, "Some do leave the state and go down to Illinois to hibernate where there has been White Nose Syndrome found in caves."
North Lakeland Discover Center has trained 80 volunteers so far to use sonar equipment to track bats. All the information they gather goes to the DNR's database.
"If we ever were to have an issue with our bat population, white nose syndrome infecting our bats and getting a large amount we would know baseline information of how many bats we had where they were located throughout the state, so if there ever was a reintroduction program necessary they would have that information."
For more information about the North Lakeland Discovery Center or the bat monitoring program, click the links below.
RHINELANDER - Hodag Park received a sizable donation Thursday morning. New sand was dropped off to help the Rhinelander Parks Department grow the beach back to its original shape.
There were thousands of pounds of sand dropped off and spread out. There was a high need for this because of all the rain we've had this season.
"It was getting in pretty poor shape and washing out more and more, but this year especially, it just seems like we've lost a lot of sand. So now we're going to shape it up nicely and hopefully it'll last the year," said Rhinelander Parks Director, Jeremy Biolo.
All of that sand was donated and delivered by a company in Rhinelander.
"Musson Brothers, Inc. donated all the sand and they said we could help ourselves to as much as we want, which is unbelievable because this beach really needed some work," said Biolo. "Every little bit like that helps our community out and it improves the community. It's awesome that the Musson Brothers stepped up and would do that for us."
CONOVER - June 22 makes it the 14th day of rainfall for us this month, and it's not been very convenient.
People all over northcentral Wisconsin have had to deal with storm damage or flooding in some way.
Pioneer Lake in Conover has had a particularly tough time with flooding not only because of the rain, but also because of a dam upstream.
"We've got 20 piers here, and they're floating away, they're underwater," said Maple View Resort and Campground Owner Tony Osiecki. "I've never seen it like this in fifty years."
Osiecki blames the deluge of rain we've gotten in the past few weeks for the flooding in his resort. But he and many others on the lake also blame a dam upstream.
It's located on the southwest side of South Twin Lake in Phelps. It's owned by Wausau-based Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company, and it's meant to maintain the levels of the Twin Lakes. Peter Hansen, the company's Vice President of Operation, admits they are releasing a lot of water--because they are federally required to.
"We are releasing an amount of water that is more than the 500-year rain event," Hansen said. "That means the rain that we've had, according to our calculations, is only supposed to happen every 500 years...We're doing everything within our federal license to lower the water level on Twin."
Downstream of the dam is the Twin River, which flows into Pioneer Lake. Hansen says the company is not responsible for what happens downstream.
That leaves some people frustrated
"[People] have been calling wanting to know what we're doing about the water and what they've got to do to fix it," said Pioneer Lake Association President Terry Wright. "If it's affecting us we have to have somebody we can call to change it."
In the meantime, Osiecki deals with the flooding.
"Move everything back a bit and try to get someone to close the dam and compromise," Osiecki said.
Hansen says the company has been able to cut back on the water release in the past few days, but with more rain in the forecast, that might change. He says Pioneer Lake does not have a controlled structure to help with the lake's water levels.
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