Northwoods Native Confirmed to Natural Resources BoardSubmitted: 05/07/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

LAONA - What should the rules be for wolf hunting in Wisconsin?

How can we deal with phosphorous runoff in state rivers?

Should we should be able to hunt in state parks?

Those are some of the big questions Wisconsin's Natural Resources Board deals with.

Now, a longtime scientist from a small Northwoods community will join the decision-makers.

Laona isn't typically a hotbed of state leaders.

But on Tuesday, Laona native Gary Zimmer joined a group with real power to shape how we interact with nature in our state.

All 33 state senators voted to confirm Zimmer to his new post on the seven-member Natural Resources Board.

His perspective should be a valuable addition to the group.

"Our Natural Resources Board is made up of a number of different individuals. I'm one of the few that has a scientific background on the board. There's folks with real estate or farming backgrounds, just a wide range of backgrounds, and that's really important to making good decisions out there," he says.

Zimmer has worked in Laona for the Ruffed Grouse Society for the last 13 years.

Before that, he spent 18 years with the U.S. Forest Service in the Northwoods.

He plans to make the interaction between forestry and wildlife management a focus of his as a new member of the board.

"The state forests, the county forests, and the state wildlife management areas are all forests that are certified. That shows the well-managed sustained-yield forests that we do have. Those forests are very, very important for wildlife management," he says.

Zimmer will sit down for his first meeting as an official board member two weeks from Tuesday.

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MERRILL - This weekend Northcentral Technical College hosted its fourth annual Fire and EMS University for firefighters across Wisconsin.

It provides training on firefighting and EMS techniques at the Public Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill.

In a simulation training exercise, firefighters have their hoods covering their face so they couldn't see anything when they entered a basement. They had to feel a fire hose and use teamwork to get around and save a dummy.

Firefighters from all over Wisconsin can come to the all-day event. They came to refresh their skills, teach and learn new techniques.

"We put out some classes that are very interesting and not run every day and if it applies to their department they'll send people," said Dean of the Public Safety Division of Northcentral Technical College Doug Jennings.

The school keeps adding other training tools as well. Just this year they added more training features, such as a simulator that allows law enforcement to practice driving trucks, squad cars and EMS vehicles.

On Saturday the students also trained with the aerial ladder.

"We are the only fire department in Lincoln County with an aerial ladder," said Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone. "And so most of our firefighters have to operate our aerial ladder. And so we felt this truck operation aerial ladder operations is a great class for them to come and see."

UST Fire Apparatus brought a new aerial ladder truck for the students to practice with, and teachers from southern Wisconsin and St. Louis, Mo., also came to help coach.

Firefighters say they want to constantly re-educate themselves.

"It's great to get the extra practice," said Dean Johnson from the Town of Wausau Fire Department.

Northcentral Technical College also offers semester schedule curricula for law enforcement and fire science. 

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MILWAUKEE - A published report says unauthorized improvements have been made to a footpath on state land that a donor to Gov. Scott Walker has been trying to buy.

A spokesman for business executive Elizabeth Uihlein acknowledged that workers at her adjoining property may have cleaned up the trail slightly.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Z18WU8 ) reports those who have seen the trail say the improvements are significant.

Uihlein is seeking to buy 1.75 acres along Rest Lake, where the footpath is located. But a tentative deal with the Department of Natural Resources was put on hold after critics raised questions.

A DNR spokesman says the agency inspected the site on Thursday and found an "established trail." He declined to say whether the department had talked to Uihlein or her representatives.

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MERRILL - Merrill residents might have heard a lot of music in town today.

Merrill High School hosted the Merrill Marching Invitational. Three high school marching bands took over the football field at Merrill High School Sunday.

Antigo, D.C. Everest, and Merrill high schools all showcased their musical creativity.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp that portrayed the lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. had a piece of history to share.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event featured a hay maze, horse-drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

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ACROSS WISCONSIN - Abbotsford 62, Thorp 6

Algoma 24, Sturgeon Bay 8

Almond-Bancroft 61, Tigerton/Marion 6

Amherst 56, Manawa 6

Antigo 42, Lakeland 28

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