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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources surveys the state's waterways to track everything from fish populations to mussels, as well as overall water quality. Here, DNR technicians Justin Haglund, right, and Aaron Nolan collect live brook trout from Ash Creek in April 2013 in a long-term study on the spread of gill lice.

Wisconsin DNR mulls dissolving science bureau

Internal correspondence obtained by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism confirms discussions about the possible dismantling of the bureau and a reorganization that would move researchers into other agency divisions.
Critics, both inside and outside the agency, say such a reorganization would rob the state of impartial science that should guide critical natural resource management decisions.

Agriculture contributes nearly half of the phosphorus pollution that causes Green Bay's annually recurring dead zone, where the water lacks oxygen to support life.

Farmers vow to reduce phosphorus, bane of Green Bay

Despite fish kills, toxic algae blooms, unsafe beaches and an annual dead zone in the Lake Michigan bay sparking concern across the region, the level of phosphorus loading has changed little over the past two decades, and even gone up in the past couple of years. “I’m part of the problem,” said John Pagel of Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, one of the largest farms in Wisconsin, at a summit hosted by U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble in Green Bay. “But I’m also part of the solution.”

April Barker

Your Right to Know: Openness laws could use an update

Updating Wisconsin’s open records law could help clarify the obligations of public officials with respect to emails and other records that exist in electronic form. But it is critical that any updates be guided by the law’s stated and essential purpose: to provide the greatest possible oversight of the actions of government.

For March 31, 2015 column

Deer disease keeps worsening in Wisconsin, as predicted

Thirteen years after CWD was first discovered in Wisconsin, a state wildlife expert says many hunters “just want things to go back to normal.” That’s not likely to happen. A far more plausible scenario is that the disease will continue to spread, infecting and killing deer, until the number of animals available for hunters is seriously depleted.

Wisconsin Capitol

You’re invited: Sign up now for Midwest Watchdog Workshop and Wisconsin Watchdog Awards

Journalists, students and the public are invited for an innovative workshop at the University of Wisconsin-Madison focusing on investigative reporting techniques to hold the powerful accountable. The event will be held April 8 and 9 at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. It is being presented by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Investigative Reporters and Editors.