RHINELANDER - The USDA Forest Service's restoration efforts on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to address severe damage from a July 2019 storm have reestablished access to many roads, trails and campgrounds.
The windstorm swept through northern Wisconsin on July 19, 2019. On the Lakewood-Laona Ranger District, the storm impacted roughly 1,230 miles of road and 2,000 miles of trail and led to the closure of three developed campgrounds and multiple dispersed camping sites.
Work to restore access to recreation sites began immediately after the storm. Forest Service crews, timber sale contracts and other contracts made it possible to open about 900 miles of roads that were previously impassable due to fallen trees. Over 400 miles of motorized trails were reopened with the help of volunteers, contractors and Forest Service crews. The Forest coordinated with counties and snowmobile clubs to clear the remaining snowmobile trails.
Approximately 40 miles of non-motorized trails have been opened, including some cross-country ski and mountain bike trails. These trails were prioritized last fall in anticipation of the winter recreation season. The remaining non-motorized trails are still closed, including 11 miles in the Jones Spring area and the 18-mile Popple Ridge horse trails. The storm hit these areas especially hard. Salvage logging in the area will help with some of the reopening. The remainder will be opened by trail crews or possibly by additional contract work, but this may not take place until the end of the 2021 field season or later.
Most developed recreation sites in the Lakewood area were closed directly after the storm. Forest Service crews were able to reopen the majority of those sites before the 2019 Labor Day weekend. Boot Lake Campground is the only developed recreation site still closed due to storm damage. Cleanup operations are ongoing, and the campground is expected to open during the 2020 camping season.
"The teamwork and effort that went into reopening recreation sites and trails before the Labor Day holiday was really impressive," said District Ranger Mike Brown.
Most dispersed (i.e., undeveloped) camping sites are currently open. Exceptions include Fanny Lake, Jesse Lake, Perch Lake, Spruce Lake, Trickle Creek, Wayne King and Wischer Lake, which should be open later this summer.
"It took staff from across the Forest, trail partners and coordination with towns and Oconto County government to make these restoration efforts successful," said Brown. "How we all worked together to get things back open really shows the strength of our community and partners."
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."
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.
NORTHWOODS - Wisconsin's lakes have a lot to offer their visitors. But some, like aquatic invasive species, are unwelcome due to the damage they can cause to native ecosystems.
There's a growing effort to prevent, contain, and control the spread of these aquatic invasive species, especially this holiday weekend. As part of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, volunteers will be stationed across popular boat landings, doing inspections and educating boaters on how to properly clean their boats.
"Any type of holiday weekend, especially the fourth of July when there's a lot more boat traffic, there's an emphasis on getting more awareness out there," said DNR recreation warden Justin Bender.
Aside from volunteers, most boat landings also have information posted on aquatic invasive species and the laws regarding boat cleaning. Citations for not properly cleaning your boats typically run $200-300.
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."
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