Wisconsin’s cranberry is an unmistakable grab at the global pallet, and although at times victim to overproduction, the cranberry industry has explored new international markets to help protect its commercial vulnerability. In 2014, the USDA estimated that Wisconsin’s cranberry harvest of 5.39 million barrels (approximately 100L) accounted for 60% of our nation’s total production of 8.57 million barrels. Cranberries are grown on 21,000 acres across 20 counties in Wisconsin; the sand and peat marshes in northern and central Wisconsin create ideal growing conditions. Investment in this native family industry represents eco-friendly, economic growth with great potential. The cranberry is a signature Wisconsin product that we can all taste.
“The quality of life on a cranberry marsh is wonderful and it’s a wonderful place to raise a family and have that closeness of raising a product that is healthy for the consumer.” ~ Nodji Van Wychen, Owner, Wetherby Cranberry Company (whose favorite cranberry recipe is simply dipping a berry in melted caramel).
With roads in Wisconsin, the sharpness is directed to commerce more so than concern for safety in today’s era. Certain roads and bridges that weaken over time at some point are no longer able to sustain the same amount of weight as they could at the time of their construction. Commercial vehicles may need to take alternate routes to reach their destinations, which adds more time and expense due to increased shipping and fuel costs. The alarms of infrastructure maintenance and repair are gradually sounding across the nation, and have become a matter of political discourse and extrapolation on a federal level. What can be done to rebuild Wisconsin’s infrastructure? Roadways need to be redesigned for the future, not rebuilt using yesterday’s model. Now is the time to build highways with electric car charging stations. Although many electric vehicles will be needed to achieve widespread effectiveness, the batteries in the cars themselves are storage devices; when parked and plugged in, they become part of the grid. The storage of electricity is an investment worth pursuing, as it will allow for our electric vehicles to obtain the faculty known as V2G, or “vehicle-to-grid”. The electric cars become part of the grid. Unobtrusive. Environmentally sounder.
Wisconsin will begin consistently utilizing new types of paving. A proven technology being used in parts of the U.S.A. and Europe (in a variety of faculties) known as WMA (Warm Mix Asphalt), is a broad term for a variety of technologies that allow producers of HMA (Hot Mix Asphalt) pavement material to lower temperatures at which the material is mixed and placed on the road. WMA can: reduce paving costs, extend the paving season (by allowing for night paving), improve asphalt compaction, allow asphalt mix to be hauled longer distances, and also improve working conditions by reducing exposure to fuel emissions, fumes & odors.Some of these changes will not be completely realized in our lifetimes, but our children and grandchildren will start to reap the benefits of our foresight if we begin today.
The Gogebic Range is a mountainous region bearing a long vein of iron ore, located in the midst of Iron County, Wisconsin. This geological feature, and what came to surround it, is rich in Wisconsin’s cultural history. Many of the cities that grew up around these iron ore mining operations were certainly shaped by it. Hematite, like our fresh water lakes and rivers, is one of Wisconsin’s natural resources. However, the last hematite mining operation in Wisconsin ended in 1982 at Jackson County, due to depletion and environmental concerns.
As your Governor, I will work with other elected officials and Tribal leaders to balance the industrial needs of Wisconsin with our finite resources, to keep Wisconsin’s environment as guarded as possible.
Maple syrup is a natural resource, and a connection to our state’s history. In early Spring, sap begins to flow from many types of trees: Red & Silver Maples, Box Elders, Birch – although none as prized as the Sugar Maple. The Chippewa, Menominee & Winnebago Tribes of the Great Lakes Region awaited this time of year for centuries. The gathering of sap was a harvest of importance and celebration; these Tribes would move their people to the sugar camp (a concentrated group of Maple trees with area to sugar) to harvest the sap.
Native Americans traded maple syrup with the Settlers, eventually teaching them how to make it for themselves. Towns like Sugar Camp in Oneida County and Sugar Creek in Walworth County are areas where sap & syrup would reign in the economy. Sugar Lake, and the three Sugarbush Lakes are historically symbolic as well. Maple processing became a celebrated industry in Wisconsin in the 1800s, and still today, seasonal Maple syrup Pancake Breakfasts are held around the state. 1965 witnessed the foundation of The Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association, and small farming operations grew throughout the state, cultivating this sweet and healthy elixir.
In 2014, Wisconsin’s syrup crop was valued at about 3.2 million. Farmers are now expanding markets by producing maple sugar, maple cream, maple root beer, and sauces. It is safe to say that the harvesting and utilization of what is likely the oldest agriculture in American history is a small but significant industry in Wisconsin. Expanding syrup’s role in our economy while balancing it’s design alongside nature can lead to commercial growth linked to a needed tree repopulation effort. Sap-producing trees, planted to compensate for the dwindling Ash population, can allow this cottage industry to expand, creating a celebration of our state’s official tree that we all can attend.
“A sap run is the sweet goodbye of winter. It is the fruit of the equal marriage of the sun and the frost.” ~ John Burroughs
Deer matter to the hunter, the farmer, the Tribes, the forester, to those who take to the road. Hunting can be apolitical, and already brings Wisconsin together. The ungulate population in Wisconsin should be supported scientifically by the DNR, and not become the headliner in a theme park-style hunting range. Selling the hunt results in tall fences and thinned out herds; a dangerous step backwards from decades of effort by conservationists. Selling the hunt means selling the beauty of Wisconsin. We must surpress today’s quiet privatization of hunting, and revive the DNR, as a steward of Wisconsin’s eye-filling grace.
The White-Tailed Deer in Wisconsin was nearly wiped out in 1910, and concerns led to the “Deer Project” in 1940, with support from the Citizen’s Deer Committee, and chaired by Wisconsin Conservationist, Aldo Leopold. This project’s mission was threefold: document deer life history and movements, document habitat conditions, while placing emphasis on winter range conditions. The Deer Project emphasized the importance of making specific compositions of Aspen, Oak, and grassy openings (from forest) for the benefit of the deer. This project led to what we now know as hunting “seasons” to reduce the herd. This extensive endeavor would not have succeeded without collective, science-based wildlife management.
The federal government has been essential in restoring Wisconsin’s wildlife. In 1937, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as P-R funding) was created as an investment. Taxes from this Act applied to ammunition, firearms, bows & arrows, and sporting goods manufacturers. Funding then became available for wildlife research, restoration, public shooting range development, and endangered wildlife and wildlife health monitoring. The Wild Turkey, Elk, and Fisher were all extirpated by 1921. The Gray Wolf was declared extirpated in 1960. Wire-trapped animals were brought in to replace the vanquished inhabitants, and eventually each of these species has regained their presence amidst our state. Proof exists that sound government oversight working in tandem with science can succeed when it comes to protecting the environment. Today’s agenda seems to be transforming the Badger State’s rich heritage of hunting into a privatized industry, with continuing disregard for the real experience and the natural environment. In today’s Wisconsin, who is the true predator and who is the actual prey?.
Once completely wiped out in Wisconsin, the Gray Wolf (Canis Lupus) made its way back after being put on the Endangered Species List (ESL). With the recolonization of Gray Wolves, there was a concomitant rise in livestock predations, paving the way for its return to an unprotected species. Wolves generally avoid humans, and the chance of even encountering a wolf when camping in wolf country is rare. Nonetheless, when other sources of prey are not abound, the Grey Wolf may opt for an easier catch at a farm with cattle or livestock. The increase in the Gray Wolf population has brought on a newer, more defined set of stressors for Wisconsin’s livestock, cattle, and farmers alike, primarily in the Northwest where farms are located closer to the fringe of the forest. Utilizing these valid but one-sided concerns about the Gray Wolf enable a hidebound financial power play to gain revenue by exploiting it, without the foresight to see the consequences ahead. The main reason the wolf has been protected is because humans killed off most of their natural prey, including Caribou, Bison, and Elk. Tribes cite the cultural significance and their sense of brotherhood with the Gray Wolf. How many more species do we decimate before our rationale expires? This campaign keeps the native Gray Wolf on the ESL.
One of the most dangerous invasive species threatening Wisconsin and the rest of North America, is the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The EAB threatens the entire spectrum of Ash trees in North America. North-Central Wisconsin alone is the home of an estimated 770 million Ash trees that are threatened by this native of China. The loss of Ash trees from our ecosystem can result in larger numbers of invasive plants, effects on species that feed on Ash, and the potential for alteration in soil nutrients. What can be done? Wisconsin should rebuild it’s DNR, distribute information regarding outbreak areas and quarantines; this devastating insect should be part of Wisconsin’s public school curriculum, as Entomology joins the ranks of Gym, English, Algebra, etc. Attempts have been made to utilize biological control by introducing parasitoid species from China with mixed results. Wisconsin must begin planting other types of trees, like Elms, Maples, and Birches to enrich our forests, to provide balance in the absence of the Ash. Systemic pesticides can be effective for about one to three years depending on the product. Although trees that are cut down can be used for mulch, the EAB brings hefty financial challenges when it comes to large scale removal of trees in urban areas. Options exist to combat this highly destructive species, but Wisconsin must dedicate more resources to research ways and means to deter this danger.