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Recent Stories

Researchers warn of health and environmental concerns surrounding livestock farms

File photo.

By Kate Golden
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Six leading researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health are warning northeastern Wisconsin rural residents that over-application of manure at intensive livestock operations could cause them a host of health problems and damage the environment. The authors, all at the school’s Center for a Livable Future, cited dozens of studies, including one 2005 article suggesting that 71 percent of Wisconsin dairy farms generate more manure than needed by the cropland where it’s applied. A growing body of evidence has implicated the generation and management of manure from intensive livestock operations in the spread of infectious disease (including antibiotic-resistant strains), the introduction of microbial and chemical contaminants into ground and surface waters, impacts to air quality, and the wide range of adverse health, social, ecological and economic outcomes that result from these events, according to the March 27 letter. The letter was requested by Kewaunee CARES, a Kewaunee County water quality advocacy group that has criticized the intensity and oversight of large dairies in the area. The county is in northeastern Wisconsin, which has some of the densest livestock farming in the state. Continue Reading →

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Fracking sand mines credited for fluctuating property values

The processing plant and rail loading facility visible from inside the mine gates is tucked into a hill, hiding most of the building from the highway and subdivision to the north. The company has 1,039 acres permitted for mining and has taken steps to reduce impacts on neighbors. Photo: Alison Dirr.

By Alison Dirr
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Perry Schmitt describes himself as pro-mining but blames the frac sand mine across the highway from his home for driving down the asking price by more than $25,000, to $189,000. His neighbors made out better. Kari Curran and her husband sold 130 acres for $1.5 million to a company affiliated with Unimin Mining Corp., operator of the mine. The property was previously valued at about $225,000. “It was kind of bittersweet,” Curran said. Continue Reading →

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Virus found in Wisconsin trout

Trout swim in a viewing pond at the Nevin Hatchery in Fitchburg near Madison, where some fish tested positive for cutthroat trout virus. Photo: Rory Linnane, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

State natural resource officials are wondering how a mysterious virus found its way to Wisconsin trout and what it will mean for the health of aquatic life.

Despite the uncertainty, state authorities confirm that they released 270,000 brown trout this year from hatcheries where fish tested positive for the cutthroat trout virus. An additional 160,000 had already been released last year before officials got the test results. Continue Reading →

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