People fish at Reno Bottoms, a wildlife area in the backwaters of the Mississippi River, on July 18, 2023. (Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
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Wisconsin Weekly is a roundup of the week’s top headlines from around the state by Wisconsin Watch and other trusted news outlets.

  • A Wausau news outlet faces hefty legal bills after being unsuccessfully sued
  • Climate change is threatening ecosystems throughout the Great Lakes region
  • Wisconsin’s gerrymandered districts could be struck down for being too cheesy
  • Remembering a Wisconsin trailblazer

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Report on Anti-Gay Slur Could Put Local News Site Out of Business

The New York Times — Aug. 15, 2023

The Wausau Pilot & Review faces $150,000 in legal bills in the aftermath of a now-state senator suing the outlet for reporting on his comments at a 2021 county board meeting. Sen. Cory Tomczyk, R-Mosinee, denies using the derogatory term that the news outlet reported three eyewitnesses corroborated. A court tossed out Tomczyk’s lawsuit, which is under appeal, but politicians are increasingly using the tactic to shut down the free press.

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Billy Reiter-Marolf (left), wildlife biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Andy Meier, forester for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Bruce Henry, forest ecologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service walk through “the boneyard” at Reno Bottoms, a wildlife area in the backwaters of the Mississippi River on July 18, 2023. (Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Mississippi River’s floodplain forests are dying. The race is on to bring them back.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — Aug. 10, 2023

High water is taking its toll on the forested areas along the Upper Mississippi River Floodplain, which has already lost half its forested land due to development and agricultural land use.

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Lawsuit targets Wisconsin legislative districts resembling Swiss cheese

The Associated Press — Aug. 14, 2023

One of the arguments put forth in a new lawsuit challenging the state’s gerrymandered legislative districts could allow Wisconsin’s liberal Supreme Court to strike down the maps without considering the skewed partisan makeup of the Legislature. The lawsuit notes 55 of the state’s 99 Assembly districts and 21 of the state’s 33 Senate districts include areas that are not physically contiguous to the rest of the district.


Commission won’t tell Wisconsin’s top elections official whether to appear at reappointment hearing

The Associated Press — Aug. 16, 2023

Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe will have to decide for herself whether to testify before a Senate committee on her reappointment. The reappointment is in dispute after Republican lawmakers threatened to fire her and Democratic commissioners refused to recommend her reappointment in order to allow her to continue serving without being subject to a Senate confirmation.

In Memoriam

Native American leader and trailblazer Ada Deer dies at 88

Wisconsin State Journal — Aug. 16, 2023

The first woman to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The first Native American woman to run for Congress from Wisconsin. The first Menominee citizen to graduate from UW-Madison. Ada Deer was remembered for a lifetime of achievements and advocacy on behalf of Native Americans.

Has Wisconsin been decided by less than 1 percentage point in four of the last six presidential elections? (YES)
Has college tuition increased four times the rate of inflation since Ronald Reagan was president? (NO)
Has nearly one in five Americans lost a family member to gun violence? (YES)

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Kiran Saini joined Wisconsin Watch in January 2023. She graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit with a bachelor’s degree in online journalism, where she was a member of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity. Prior to joining the Center, Saini was an audience development manager at the Detroit Free Press where she oversaw audience work for 15 newspapers across Michigan. Saini is passionate about championing diversity in newsrooms and increasing accessibility to news coverage.