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.

Ariana Preciado, 7, and her brother Aidan, 4, are the fifth generation of their family to live in Carrollville. Their mother, Sarah Preciado, says the neighborhood has deteriorated since the factories shut down in the 1980s. Kate Golden/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Recession worsens brownfields backlog in Wisconsin

While the state has made some progress with the backlog in the past two decades, a “startling” number of plant closings during the recent recession has created “an entirely new generation of brownfields,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

An overview of the 400-acre plot of Preferred Sands mine in Blair, Wis., in Trempealeau County on June 20, 2012.

Wisconsin frac sand sites double

Frac sand fever has hit much of west-central Wisconsin, catching residents and local governments by surprise when demand for sand suddenly soared and permit applications began to pour in. The number of Wisconsin frac sand mining operations has more than doubled in the past year.

Wetlands bill eases development, but worries environmentalists

Republicans in the state Legislature have unveiled a long-awaited bill to revamp state wetlands policy. The proposal, the subject of a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report published in November, would make it easier for developers to infill wetlands in exchange for what’s known as “mitigation,” the creation of new wetlands.