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Conservation group hopes to turn Wildcat Falls into community forestSubmitted: 05/21/2018
Story By Katie Thoresen

Conservation group hopes to turn Wildcat Falls into community forest
WATERSMEET - With every species of insect Rachel Hovel finds, she gets a better picture of the water quality at Wildcat Falls near Watersmeet. 

"We're actually finding really good representation of the mayflies, the stone flies, caddisfly which are the three most sensitive, which is a great indication of good water quality," said Hovel. 

Hovel was one of about a dozen people that spent their Saturday searching, identifying, and cataloging all the different species of plant and animal life on the property.


 "We really just want to document what's here," said Northwoods Alliance conservation coordinator Casey Clark. 

Between the variety of species, the waterfall, and unique geological features, there's a lot to record and a lot worth protecting. 

"It's not any one of those things. It's sort of the synergistic combination of those things," said Partners in Forestry Director Joe Hovel. 

Joe Hovel was a large part of an effort to make Wildcat Falls public land. 

For a long time, Wildcat Falls was part of the Ottawa National Forest. 

In 2016, the Forest Service traded 240 acres around the falls for 420 acres near the Porcupine Mountains, despite several efforts from local conservation groups to stop the land swap.

But a new owner could mean new opportunities and access to the site as it becomes a community forest. 

Northwoods Alliance, a conservation group, plans to turn the 160 acres into a community forest, ensuring it will stay open to the public forever. 

"We just really see it as a valuable piece of public property. A property that people should be able to access and enjoy," said Clark. 

Clark hopes more people will take part in this forest's future.

"The community is really going to say, 'we want a trail of this type in this area' or 'we want this kind of access to this property,'" said Clark. 

He hopes that future will belong to the community for generations to come.
 
"We want to protect the land and protect the resources that are here for perpetuity," said Clark. 

The Northwoods Alliance is in the process of making the area a community forest. 

It still needs donations to make that happen. 

To get involved in the community forest or to learn more about Wildcats visit the Northwoods Alliance's website.


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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - A man died after a house fire in Rhinelander on Friday night.

According to a press release from the Rhinelander Police Department, Rhinelander police and firefighters responded to the fire at 320 Rose Street near Hodag Park around 7:30 p.m.  

Firefighters went inside the house soon after they arrived and found an unresponsive man on the floor.  Firefighters and paramedics tried to revive the man, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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RHINELANDER - Kids ran throughout the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander on Saturday for the third annual Harvest Hoedown.

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THREE LAKES - After 30 years, Dr. George Karling decided it's time to retire as the Three Lakes District Administrator.

He plans to leave after the school year ends, but the school board is already preparing to find his replacement.

Early next month, the Three Lakes School District will host two input sessions for the public.

Three Lakes residents can go to give their opinions on what they want in a replacement. 

Karling's decision to retire comes about a month after he faced criticism for allowing the district to be featured in a campaign ad for Gov. Scott Walker. 

People who can't make it can still send their thoughts to the Three Lakes Board of Education. People can submit comments by writing to:

Board of Education, Three Lakes School District
6930 West School St. 
Three Lakes, WI 54562 

or email: tr@threelakessd.k12.us.



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WOODRUFF - Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport hosted a fun-filled day for family and friends on Saturday.

This comes about five months after one of its helicopters crashed, killing three Spirit employees.

Regional manager Charles Kotke said those men were in mind today,

"Today is a day of bringing people together, as well as a celebration of our 25 year anniversary," said Kotke. "This team did an amazing job getting us back to caring for our patients and doing what we need to do to care of our community."

Flight paramedics showed off the aircrafts to people and the helicopter was a big hit.

"They definitely like to look at the aircrafts. See how we transport patients from point A to point B," said Northern Region Supervisor Ryan Short.

Next Saturday, Spirit is celebrating with more associates. The second part of the celebration will be in Stevens Point.

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RHINELANDER - A house fire in Rhinelander left one man dead Friday.

Emergency responders got the call around 7:30 p.m. for a home near Hodag Park.

Steve Smith heard a dispatch call over his step-sons radio about the fire at his neighbor's home on Rose Street.

"We walked out the front door and it was plain as day," said Smith. "The flames were rolling out of the front window."

At first, Smith wasn't sure if anyone was in the home. "There was a man they brought out," said Smith. "unfortunately, I heard he was deceased,"

Police Chief Lloyd Gauthier confirmed the victim was found dead on the scene.

"Life saving measures were done by the paramedics. Unfortunately, the male had passed away," said Gauthier. "At this point, it appears that it was due to something left on the stove."

Gauthier says more details about the victim will be released on Monday. 

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