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 - The Wisconsin Elections Commission has agreed to lift overseas ballot restrictions to avoid a legal battle.
The U.S. Department of Justice warned earlier this month that it's preparing to sue because Wisconsin law doesn't let temporary overseas voters to obtain ballots electronically or to submit downloadable back-up ballots in case they don't have time to return an official ballot.
Federal law allows all overseas voters to obtain ballots electronically and submit back-up ballots. Assembly Republicans passed a bill that would have aligned Wisconsin's statutes with the federal law but the measure died in April after Senate Republicans added language limiting special legislative elections.
MADISON - Wisconsin Elections Commission staff plan to hire a half-dozen new employees and upgrade software to bolster election security.
The commission received a $7 million federal grant in March to upgrade security after Russian actors tried to access a state Department of Workforce Development system before the 2016 election.
Staff told the commission Thursday that the Department of Administration has approved hiring six new four-year security positions, including an information technology project manager, an elections security trainer and a voting systems specialist.
MERRILL - Three years ago, Lincoln County got good news.
The federal government planned to spend $1.5 million to help give rural parts of the county broadband internet access. It was part of Frontier Communications' agreement to accept $283 million for broadband expansion nationwide.
But then, the contractors, equipment, and better internet were slow to arrive.
Now, Frontier is finally at work, but plenty of people are still waiting anxiously for their high-speed connection.
MERRILL - People on the west side of Merrill will need to put up with the sound of construction this summer. What was once an empty lot will now be the site of the Stonebridge Apartments. The apartments are a new source of affordable housing in Merrill and should be complete by the late summer.
When you're looking at Park Place apartments in Merrill, you might confuse the building with something else.
"I think Park Place looks like a 1970s dormitory at UW Madison," said Merrill Area Housing Authority Executive Director Paul Russell.
But a new apartment complex being built just across the street is going to offer a different look.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Rockfleet Broadcasting / Northland Television, Inc. and By Request Web Designs shall not be held responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, or misprints.