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Author: WisContext

Bumble Bee Brigade tracks Wisconsin species one photo at a time

Wisconsin’s wild bees are a small but mighty part of the ecosystem for native plants and agriculture alike. And they’re in trouble. According to the Wisconsin Pollinator Plan issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Protection in April 2016, pollinator-dependent crops that include cranberries, apples, cherries and green beans account for over $55 million in annual production around the state. The value of these insect pollinators to native wild plants is harder to quantify. But environmental threats to native bumble bees, such as habitat loss, extreme weather and exposure to pesticides or pathogens, mean that many species...

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Wisconsin’s uneven population shift sees urban growth and rural losses

Just over half of Wisconsin’s counties experienced population growth over 2010-17, based on U.S. Census figures, with counties shaded aqua gaining residents and those shaded blue losing them. Most of the gains are in the central and southern parts of the state, while many rural areas have lost population. It is a time of profound change for Wisconsin’s population — where it is concentrated, where it is moving, which age groups and racial and ethnic origins it reflects, and what kinds of lives all residents are seeking to live. Demographers project that over the next several decades, Wisconsinites will...

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Decline of department stores in Milwaukee creates collateral damage

Bon-Ton’s bankruptcy means more than 200 of its stores around the U.S. are closing, including a dozen Boston Store and Younkers locations in Wisconsin, as well as corporate offices in Milwaukee. The Bon-Ton family of department stores is the most recent casualty in the decline of malls around the country. The number of malls built in the United States has grown stagnant over the last decade, and online retailers like Amazon have challenged their role as hubs for both shopping and social gathering. Bon-Ton’s bankruptcy and the impending closures of the stores it operates — under seven different names...

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Elderly patients at risk as Wisconsin’s healthcare workers burn out

As Wisconsin ages, and as its population of senior citizens grows, the health care workers who attend to them face growing risks of overwork and burnout. These factors are colliding to put nursing homes and other long-term care facilities around the state in a bind. While conventional wisdom is that health care is a growing industry that creates a wealth of opportunities for good jobs, the industry as a whole is facing worker shortages, and employees in Wisconsin’s residential and long-term care facilities are facing increasing levels of stress and fatigue, according to a report the Wisconsin Assisted Living...

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Domestic violence victims at risk under Wisconsin’s new Eviction Law

Wisconsin’s latest dispute over landlord-tenant relations has crucial implications for people enduring abusive relationships. The state’s regulations on rental housing have been transformed over the past decade, with a new law being enacted every legislative session since 2011. These changes reduce local governments’ power to regulate the rental properties, and generally give landlords more leverage over their tenants. Passed by the Republican-led state Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker, these laws have generally been supported by landlord interest groups. The latest round is no different. On April 16, 2018, Walker signed Act 317, which limits how long some...

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The students behind the “50 Miles More” March and its political impact

Milwaukee area high school students looked to the example of youth leaders from the Civil Rights Era in an effort to change national gun policies. One day after the nationwide March for Our Lives, which included more than a dozen demonstrations around Wisconsin, a group of about 40 students from more than a dozen schools started a 50-mile long trek from Madison to Speaker Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville in the state’s 1st Congressional District, which he has represented since 1999. The group, called 50 Miles More, is calling for comprehensive changes to gun policy as part of the...

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