ONEIDA COUNTY - The Oneida County Public Health Department worked hard over the past year. They wanted to improve their standing against other counties in Wisconsin. Counties across the state were ranked on the annual University of Wisconsin Population Health rankings.
The rankings help counties understand how healthy residents are and how long they will live. Oneida County ranked 50th of out 72 counties this year. Last year they were ranked 57.
"We have coalitions that work really hard on areas such as alcohol abuse drug abuse," says Linda Conlon, Oneida County Public Health Director. "We have a coalition that works on chronic disease prevention so we're out there getting the message out."
Despite the jump in the rankings there's also room for improvements.
"Some of the areas that we are not succeeding in is adult smoking, we're above the state rate for the percentage of adults that smoke," says Conlon. "We've also seen an increase in adult obesity and we have seen an increase in unemployment and children in living in poverty."
Other counties in the Northwoods struggled. Langlade County was 52nd. Vilas County was 54th. Lincoln County was 58th, and Forest County was 68th.
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."
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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