In Wausau, Baldwin pushes for conservation fund renewalSubmitted: 09/11/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

In Wausau, Baldwin pushes for conservation fund renewal
WAUSAU - A national conservation group keeps an up-to-the-second counter on its website.

As of Tuesday, it reads 19 days left until the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund expires.

That means hundreds of millions of dollars are at risk of disappearing from projects for parks, trails, rivers, and forests.

The fund takes money from federal oil and gas leases in the ocean and gives it to conservation projects. It needs congressional approval to continue before it expires at the end of the month.

"Without the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we would really be struggling in terms of maintaining those traditions and bringing them to the next generation," said said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) on Tuesday.

Baldwin talked with sportsmen at a roundtable in Wausau.

She's confident Congress will act to renew the fund by the end of the year. But she worries it might miss the September 30 deadline, which would leave a gap in conservation funding.

"We just want to make sure that those funds are perpetually available for making sure that there's public access to public lands and that we protect our natural resources and wildlife habitats," Baldwin said.

Outdoor spaces can have an economic impact, too.

William Koepke told Baldwin about his small business in Stevens Point, called Rekt. He relies on quality natural spaces for outdoor athletic coaching.

"Rekt is looking to bridge the gap between traditional health and fitness training, strength and conditioning, along with all of our wonderful outdoor spaces," Koepke said.

Koepke supports reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

He needs outdoor resources for his business. But he's also fighting for them for his dad, who survived a heart attack two years ago. Koepke's father is an avid outdoorsman.

"Show me another 56-year-old post-heart attack that's doing that kind of work," he said. "It's because of these public lands, these waterways, this access that we have that gave him the reason to kind of get back in the saddle and keep pushing."

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MADISON - An investigation has found that as many as 10 students and staff reported that they were sexually harassed by the husband of former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper.

Kopper resigned in December after her husband, Alan "Pete" Hill, was banned from campus. The university released its 18-page investigative report and about 850 pages of attachments on Friday in response to an Associated Press open records request.

UW spokesman Mark Pitsch said in a statement that President Ray Cross advised Kopper to resign after he was briefed on findings of the report in mid-December. Pitsch says: "The report speaks for itself."

The investigation found no evidence that Kopper knew about or facilitated the actions of her husband, even though his behavior was "pervasive and well-known."

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MADISON - A new report says Wisconsin has seen a steep decline in net migration of families with children who could help replace the state's aging workforce.

The Wisconsin Counties Association's research arm, Forward Analytics, recently released a study that raises concerns about migration patterns. The report says Wisconsin doesn't have enough young people to take over jobs from retiring baby boomers in the coming 10 to 15 years.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that migration of children dropped below 10,000 from 2010 to 2015. Before 2010, Wisconsin added 40,000 children from outside the state over a five-year period.

Wisconsin's birthrate has also declined to its lowest in four decades.

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NEWBOLD - If it's Saturday, it's training day for the Newbold Fire Department in Oneida County. 

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PINE LAKE - One person went to the St. Mary's Hospital in Rhinelander with non-life threatening injuries Saturday morning after a one vehicle accident on County Road W near Bozile Road.

The driver was reported to be outside of the vehicle which was on fire before firefighters arrived.

Emergency crews remained on the scene for about one hour.

The Pink Lake Fire Department responded after being dispatched at 3:30 a.m.

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MADISON - Wisconsin's youngest lawmaker is much like your typical 19-year-old who binge-watches Netflix, goes out to movies, and eats out with friends.

But Democratic Rep. Kalan Haywood doesn't have a lot of free time these days. The Milwaukee teenager's days in the Legislature tend to be jam-packed. He dashes from committee hearings to office meetings with lobbyists and at the end of the day still has homework to worry about.

Haywood is a sophomore at Cardinal Stritch University, where he's pursuing a degree in business administration.

Haywood is one of three lawmakers nationally who were 19 when they were elected to legislatures in November. The others are in West Virginia and New Hampshire.

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RHINELANDER - Guitar strings lose their rich sound whether they're being played or just sitting in an attic. The Northland Music Center gave their customers a fresh set Saturday for free to celebrate Earth Day a little early. 

Co-owner Will Roffers had a busy Saturday morning.

"I would say we're probably in the twenties at this point an hour and a half in," said Roffers working on a guitar inside Northland Music Center in Rhinelander.

He and his co-workers have been re-stringing guitars and recycling the old strings.

It's part of string company D'Addario's international effort to keep highly-recyclable metal guitar strings out of the landfill. 

"The amount of strings that go in the garbage is phenomenal so this is really taking a dent out of that," said Roffers.

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RHINELANDER - Whether you like a fruity wine, a hoppy beer, or something a little different, you were likely able to find it at the ninth annual Hodag Hops & Vines event in Rhinelander Saturday. The event brings in wineries and microbreweries from around Wisconsin and nearby states.

Executive director of the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce Lauren Sackett said it's a great opportunity for locals to try new flavors.

"There's always a new beer or wine. [People] can come and check out what they might have for their new summer flavor," said Sackett.

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