April 17, 2014

DNR officials urge caution during fire season

DNR fire danger map

DNR fire danger map

Wisconsin’s first widespread risk of severe fire weather is moving into the southern portion of Wisconsin, according to DNR Wildland Fire Specialist Catherine Koele. Carelessness or inattentiveness are two big causes of much larger fires. “Any time you introduce fire to the outdoors, whether it be through debris burning, smoking, camp fires, equipment that causes sparks. You’re placing the wildland at risk, as well as people and property.”

The warmer weather has many people getting outside to clean up their yards from piles of leaves, brush and pine needles, but the DNR will suspend burning permits in some west-and south-central counties through Thursday. Koele suggests that property owners who’ve already burned yard debris should double check to make certain the remains are 100 percent cold. Rising temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds threaten to reignite smoldering embers.

Humans cause 98 percent of wildfires. “Those are fires that we have the ability to prevent, and it’s really important to know that’s your responsibility — it’s all our responsibilities. Any time a fire occurs it places people and our fire fighters at risk.”

Officials ask everyone to delay burning debris until conditions improve, and be careful with cigarette butts. Spring is Wisconsin’s most active wildland fire season. So far in 2014, there have been 61 wildland fires which have burned 227 acres.

The National Weather Service forecast predicts temperatures in the mid 60s with 20 to 25 percent relative humidity into Thursday. A cold front toting rain showers is expected to pass through the region on Friday. Look for Smokey Bear fire danger signs to read “High” to “Very High.” Residents are strongly advised to check with the local authorities for additional burning restrictions.

Check for fire conditions and burn permit restrictions daily at this DNR site.

Baldwin joins fight over product names (AUDIO)

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

The European Union wants to block the use of region-specific names on a variety of products not directly produced in those areas. The move could force changes on a long list of items made in Wisconsin, such as staples like Parmesan cheese, Bavarian beer, and even bratwurst.

The EU argues allowing those geographic indicators to be used on products made outside of a specific location weakens the name, although U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin contends that those terms have become so common that most consumers associate them with a specific type of product, not where they were made. The Wisconsin Democrat says that “frankly…some of our Wisconsin processors are making better forms of those products than the home countries.”

AUDIO: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (1:11)

Baldwin and a group of bipartisan lawmakers are calling on the US Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies to stand up for American businesses and resist all efforts to strip products of the region-specific names. She worries it could result in widespread confusion among consumers and make it difficult to market American-made products around the world.

KFIZ’s Bob Nelson contributed to this report.

Alice in Dairyland finalists named

A total of six women will compete to hold the title of Alice in Dairyland for the next year.

State officials named the finalists last week for the jobs that serves as a state-employed ambassador for Wisconsin’s food and agricultural industries. The winner will be selected during three days of finals May 15 through 17 in Clark County and will replace current Alice in Dairyland Kristin Olson for a one year term.

The finalists are Allyson Binversie of Manitowoc, who’s pursuing a master’s degree at Gonzaga in clinical mental health counseling; Zoey Brooks of Waupaca, who will graduate this spring from U-W Madison with a degree in animal science; Katie Dogs of Watertown, the public relations manager at Didion Milling; Kristin Klossner of New Glarus, a substitute teacher mainly in special education; Melissa Ploeckelman of Stetsonville, an agricultural teacher and FFA advisor in the Colby school district; and Whitney Rathke of Fredonia, a graduate student at Concordia and an elementary after-school educator in Beaver Dam.

Dead animals on Iowa County farm

Authorities in Iowa County are investigating after dead and malnourished animals were found on a farm. Authorities found ten cows and a hog dead on the farm in the Town of Arena, while 28 cows were taken from the farm. Investigators got an anonymous tip that the animals were not being fed properly.

Iowa County Sheriff Steve Michek doesn’t believe it was intentional neglect. ”It appears to be one of those cases where they maybe just couldn’t get through the winter with the feed stock that they had for animals, and got into a situation where they felt they weren’t going to get anything from the animals if they sold them,” Michek said.

Michek said the couple renting the farm has been cooperative. He urged others in a similar situation seek help, either from family or friends, or the humane society. The couple also operates a horse boarding operation. Investigators said all of the horses are well cared for, and that operation will not be affected.


Conditions dry in much of Wisconsin

droughtDespite a winter that featured what most people would consider to be plenty of snow, conditions in parts of Wisconsin are already dry with spring just underway. New data released this week by the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that approximately 44% of Wisconsin – in the south, central and western portions of the state – is experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions.

“The overall drying trend was most notable across central Missouri and southeastern Wisconsin, where moderate drought and abnormal dryness were expanded,” according to the portion of the updated National Drought Summary dealing with the Midwest. Southeastern Wisconsin has received less than 50 percent of normal precipitation over the past 90 days, the report said.