STAR LAKE - The Northern Highland American Legion State Forest covers more than 230,000 acres in northern Wisconsin. More than 70 percent of it is actively managed. That means it's eligible for some types of logging.
But about 10 percent of the forest has almost no management at all. Nature is allowed to run its course in those places. The Plum Lake Hemlock Forest in Vilas County is one of those places.
"This stand in particular originates from the early 1800s, probably from fire," said DNR Conservation Biologist Carly Lapin on a field trip last week. "It went through succession from aspen to pine and now to hemlock. We also see maple trees here, and yellow birch."
The field trip was organized by Science on Tap in Minocqua. Participants explored the hemlock forest, a designated State Natural Area. It was part of a larger tour of many forest management types in the Northwoods.
Passively managed forests like Plum Lake Hemlocks provide certain types of habitat for animals and plants.
"There's lots of coarse, woody debris, or trees that are down on the ground," Lapin said. "Those are important microhabitats for lots of species, especially salamanders and hemlock, for hemlock regeneration."
This story is part of a series of stories on the Science on Tap field trip. Each explores a different type of forest management in northern Wisconsin.
To learn more about Plum Lake Hemlock Forest State Natural Area, click the link below.
RHINELANDER - A former contracted janitor accused of sexually assaulting a Rhinelander student appears headed for a trial.
Stavros Iliopoulos appeared in Oneida County Court on Friday afternoon. Attorneys told Judge Michael Bloom they had not reached a plea deal. Bloom decided to schedule one final pre-trial conference for late August before a two-day jury trial was set for Sept. 4 and 5.
In late November, police said Iliopoulos, 65, took a girl into a dark closet and hugged, kissed, and touched her inappropriately at Northwoods Community Elementary School, a public charter school in Harshaw.
Iliopoulos worked for a contracted company, Victory Janitorial, at the time.
SEYMOUR, IND. - A chain-reaction crash in southern Indiana killed a Minocqua couple on Wednesday morning.
Glenn Cardelli and his wife, Kathryn, both 57 years old, were traveling in south an RV near Seymour, Ind., on Interstate 65. The RV was behind a semi and an SUV, both of which slowed due to highway maintenance.
Another semi failed to slow down behind the stalled traffic and crashed into the Cardellis' RV. The crash killed the couple and John Mumma, 67, an Illinois man driving the SUV.
The vehicles caught fire. Interstate 65 was closed for about eleven hours for cleanup and crash investigation.
All sorts of animals are affected by icy conditions. Some Northern Wisconsin owls dive INTO the snow to hunt small rodents. But recent freezing rain has formed an ice crust that owls can't break through. That means owls are beginning to starve.
Amanda Schirmer has been working at the Northwoods Wilderness Center for the past four years. She says that owls may hang around birdfeeders to prey on smaller birds. They may also be seen near roads.
LINCOLN CO. - The Lincoln Co. Sheriff's Office is calling a death east of Merrill on Thursday a homicide.
In a press release on Friday morning, the sheriff's office said a 77-year-old woman was found shot and killed around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. In the same home, a 78-year-old man was found critically injured from a gunshot wound.
It happened at a home on Range Line Road in the Town of Pine River.
The sheriff's office said it believes the shooting is isolated and the public is not in danger.
The Lincoln Co. Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Lab worked to process the scene.
WOODRUFF - Shoveling snow can hurt your back. But some may not know that staring at all that snow can hurt your eyes.
The term albedo tells us the amount of light that's either absorbed into the ground or reflected back up. On days like Friday, the snow pack will really make it look brighter out and boost the albedo amount. That's hard on the eyes.
Dr. Kirby Redman is an Optometrist in Woodruff. He says there are simple ways to protect your eyes from the sun's damaging rays.
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