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NEWS STORIES

Take a Tour of the Oconto Marijuana Grow SiteSubmitted: 09/06/2012
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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RHINELANDER - Last week we saw one of the biggest drug busts in state history. Agents found millions of dollars in marijuana in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near the border of Oconto and Langlade Counties.

The Feds have given clearance for the media to trek out to the site. Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm was there today to bring you an inside look.

We headed into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to take a look at some of the sites where law enforcement cleared more than 8,000 marijuana plants last week.

A mile deep into the forest, we toured a few of the grow sites law enforcement raided last week. It's the third bust in three years; all reported by citizens. A fisherman spotted this one.

"There were marijuana plants six to eight feet tall right here," says Jeff Seefeldt, a Ranger with the US Forest Service.

In the last two busts the sites were fewer, and much larger. They were easier to see from far away. This one had 22 smaller sites. It wouldn't have been as easily seen from the air, so it seems the growers are paying attention. Add that to 1.5 million acres of forest land--- and few rangers to cover it-- it makes for a tough fight.

"People are going here, and going there, but still I can't cover 350,000 acres," says Seefeldt.

When asked if he thinks it's possible that there are sites just like this somewhere else, he said, "Very possible. I believe that."

Since people working on these large-scale don't typically leave, they end up in makeshift shelters like the one we saw on our trip. All the garbage that accumulates over the months they're here just ends up in big piles.

So why grow here in the Northwoods, where the growing season is so short?

"One of the reasons we think they're here is the abundant water supply. As you've seen with these sites we're right along a river. We have a lot of lakes and rivers in the Northwoods. It's really remote, it's easy to get away from people and not be found in these parts," says Suzanne Flory, a Public Affairs Officer for the US Forest Service.

What rangers most want people to know is it's dangerous to stick around if you stumble upon a grow site.

"If you see something unusual, especially from spring through summer when the growers would be on site, make sure you just leave real quietly. These people have been found to be armed and dangerous," says Flory.

Authorities say you don't need an up close look to know if something is wrong out there. When you're out in a remote area, and a large patch of land is cleared with other plants in their place, leave immediately and contact your local forestry department.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Audubon Report says climatic changes could hurt Northwoods birds by 2080Submitted: 09/19/2014

NORTHWOODS - Birds living in the Northwoods could be in serious danger.

A recent National Audubon Society report says climatic changes could threaten birds by the year 2080.

Scientists studied 588 bird species and more than half of those are facing trouble.

The study looks at the important climate needs each species requires to survive.

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Sentencing planned for attack on corrections officerSubmitted: 09/19/2014

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WAUSAU - A man convicted of attacking a jail officer in Marathon County will learn his sentence today.

22 year old Fredrick Morris pled no contest to agrivated battery and battery by a prisoner.

Prosecutors say Morris was the inmate who threw a punch which knocked a Marathon County jail officer unconscious.

The attack happened last year in March.

Julie Christensen was critically injured and admitted to the hospital.

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Human Service Center welcomes new executive directorSubmitted: 09/19/2014

RHINELANDER - A familiar face will lead a Northwoods organization dedicated to helping individuals and families.

Tamara Feest became Executive Director of the Human Service Center earlier this month.

The center is located in Rhinelander and serves Oneida, Vilas and Forest counties.

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Update: Body of missing boater found in Kenosha CountySubmitted: 09/19/2014

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KENOSHA - Update: 9/19/14 4:15pm

Sheriff's officials say the body of a missing fisherman has been recovered from a lake in Kenosha County.

Authorities say the body of 66-year-old John Spoor, of McHenry, Illinois, was found in about 7 feet of water Friday morning.

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Northwoods churches invite people in for Back to Church SundaySubmitted: 09/19/2014

RHINELANDER - Northwoods ministers want more people to go to church this Sunday. That's true every Sunday, but they're putting a special emphasis on this week.

Calvary Baptist Church in Rhinelander is one of many churches taking part in National Back to Church Sunday.

A vast majority of Americans believe in God,but a much smaller minority attend church on a regular basis.

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Fall color contest looking for best shots in NW WisconsinSubmitted: 09/19/2014

PRICE COUNTY - Fall could give you the chance to win some cash for your photography. Travel Northwest Wisconsin is looking for the best fall photos from the area.

The photos must come from areas in northwestern Wisconsin like Iron, Rusk and Sawyer County. Price County Director of Tourism Kathy Reinhard believes her area will offer good opportunities for photographers.

"It's just spectacular. It doesn't matter if you're on the trails doing silent sports, motorized sports, or if you prefer the water trails canoeing down the Flambeau River, you'll find beautiful color throughout the county."

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Child sex-related crimes send Rhinelander man to jailSubmitted: 09/19/2014

RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander man inappropriately touched a young girl this May.

The victim was younger than 10 years old.

Blaine Ciardo admitted his actions and apologized in Oneida County Court on Friday. But Ciardo will spend another year in jail. He has spent almost four months in jail so far.

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