HAZELHURST - For 125 years, one family owned hundreds of acres on the undeveloped shoreline of a crystal-clear lake in Oneida County.
But they don't anymore.
The descendants of the Yawkey family made state history with their land donation on Lake Katherine in Hazelhurst this fall.
"It's an exceptional gift, and just a truly remarkable gift to future generations by this family," said Bryan Pierce, the executive director of the Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT), which accepted the donation.
Now owned by the NWLT, most of the 430 acres around the east, south, and west sides of Lake Katherine are open to the public.
The land was owned for more than a century by the Yawkey Lumber Company. Cyrus Yawkey moved to Hazelhurst in 1889, and opened a sawmill four years later. He bought hundreds of acres of land around the lake. Most of it was never developed.
"It's just different, that's all. And it's lovely. It's lovely land," said Rob Hagge Jr., Yawkey's great-grandson.
Hagge grew up on the lake and still lives on the east side of Lake Katherine. He and four cousins, who inherited the land, decided to donate it to NWLT to keep it protected in perpetuity.
"The real thinking behind all of it was, what can be done to protect the lake?" Hagge said. "You don't get to pick your great-grandparents. We were just accidentally in a position where we could do this."
The donation includes 4.4 miles of undeveloped shoreline, the largest such donation to a land trust in state history.
"Lake Katherine is really a pretty spectacular lake," Pierce said. "The scenic value of this property is exceptional."
The name of the lake itself has a memorable story. It was originally called Brown Lake, a reference to the Brown family, which helped the city of Rhinelander grow in its early days.
But, according to Hagge, the name changed soon after his great-grandfather bought up land around the lake and opened the sawmill. A nephew of Yawkey was courting a woman named Katherine. He asked Yawkey to name the lake after her in an attempt to win her over.
The nephew's courtship failed, but the name stuck.
"I think almost anybody in their right mind would take a look at this lake and say, 'Anything other than Brown Lake would be an improvement,'" Hagge said with a laugh.
Publically-accessible areas of the new NWLT property include the tip of Tigertail Point, an esker-formed peninsula jutting into Lake Katherine.
"[People are] going to be able to enjoy it the same way that the family has enjoyed it over 125 years," Pierce said.
NWLT plans a formal dedication of the property next August, when all of Yawkey's descendants can gather.
MADISON, WI - Cigarette smoking rates have dropped since Wisconsin's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect 10 years ago.
In 2008, before the law passed, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes. By 2018, the rate had dropped to 16%. High school youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.
State cigarette taxes were also increased during this time period and contribute to this reduction.
"Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke," said DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. "We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it."
CRANDON - The Forest County Humane Society works around the clock to help animals find forever homes. But taking care of those animals during their stay doesn't just take a lot of time; it takes a lot of money, too.
The shelter got a helping hand, thanks to a $35,000 grant from the ASPCA. It's part of an initiative to help brick-and-mortar shelters improve their animals' quality of life.
Shelter director Angie Schaefer says that money paid for 20 new cat-condos, fencing for two new dog yards, and several other much-needed supplies.
"We're small, we're in a small community, so to raise that kind of money to get these items would have been quite a task. For them to step in and do that for us is amazing," said Schaefer.
Schaefer said the extra yards will allow dogs to spend more time outside and socialize with each other.
If you're interested in volunteering or donating to the humane society, visit its website for more information.
- The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.
With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - President Donald Trump will begin his Independence Day weekend on Friday with a patriotic display of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, an event expected to draw thousands where masks and social distancing aren't required as coronavirus cases spike across the country.
Trump is expected to speak at the event, which has issued 7,500 tickets to watch fireworks that he says will be a "display like few people have seen."
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