Governor Scott Walker in the news

Just heard Wisconsin Public Radio news this morning about tourism in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker will promote tourism with money devoted to tourism. He plans to spend $11 million in 2011 and over $13 million in 2012. The Governor mentioned that putting money towards tourism will lead to 250,000 jobs. Governor Walker stated that people living in Illinois and Minnesota are more likely to come to Wisconsin instead of planning cross-country vacation trips. This is one area that the Governor is protecting; and I must say that being an executive director of a nonprofit environmental education organization this is good news because we implemented a Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI.  Shell Lake is ready to invite visitors to our fair city.

There is always two sides to a story. I am concerned that the Governor is keeping money for recreation on the upbeat at the same time that he slices through the Social Programs that are the core of human dignity services that protect the old, infirmed, single adults and disabled. Health care provider organizations and social workers have worked hard over the past few years to ensure that all Wisconsin residents are treated with respect in the area of health care. Many of these special angels of mercy believe in having medical insurance for the poor and the uninsured. As a senior, I know the Budget Repair Bill may take away SeniorCare prescription coverage. This is an affordable plan.  How will seniors be able to afford medicine without a wonderful program such as SeniorCare?

I did hear from Senator Jauch today via email with excerpts as follows: “This is an historic moment. We didn’t plan for it, but citizens have seized the opportunity to protect the values, traditions and rights that make Wisconsin special. I stand by my decision to leave Wisconsin to go to the Land of Lincoln to protect these values. When history records our time I wish to be on the right side of protecting workers and not on the wrong side of eliminating workers’ rights.

I hope that the Governor and the Republicans will soon realize that their obligation is to listen to the overwhelming majority of the citizens of our wonderful state and not adhere to the rigid ideologues who don’t care about good government in our state.

Wisconsin policies have always been a beacon to the rest of the nation. It is my hope that we can find a resolution that protects worker rights and taxpayer and preserves collective bargaining. Such an agreement can lead to unity instead of division and enable us to then work together to improve our economy and move Wisconsin forward.”

Bob Jauch
State Senator

Victorian and Contemporary Needle Work in Wisconsin

Ann Veronia (Ronnie) Hohos
Ann Veronia (Ronnie) Hohos

A Madison Magazine featured this online article about needle work in Wisconsin. I find this interesting because my sister Ann Veronica (Ronnie) Hohos noted the outstanding needle work she saw while visiting me in Washburn County this past summer. We went to the Spooner Fair and Ronnie saw a display of handwork there. She ought to know, Ronnie is a master needle woman herself.

Here is the link for the article at

Flight of the Monarch by Mary Bergin, Wisconsin Trails, March/April 2010

Wisconsin Trails, Madison, WI. Flight of the Monarch, pg. 28-29. March/April 2010.

Butterfly barameter reveals much about our planet’s health

Split-rail fencing, prairie grass, benches, footpaths: Most people see little else on a half-acre patch of city-owned land in downtown Shell Lake in Washburn County. Mary Ellen Ryall, a master gardener, notices much more. She sees the natural world at work to foster the health and bolster the population of one species: the Monarch butterfly. No other butterfly in the world travels farther for its annual migration, up to 3,000 miles, typically between Canada and Mexico.

The flight literally represents the journey of a lifetime. The winged beauties rarely live more than nine months, and environmental factors threaten that lifespan. “The population appears to be declining and habitat loss is suspected as having a role in the decline,” says Monarch Watch, a nonprofit network devoted to the pretty insect. Global warming also may be a factor.

Although not an endangered species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1983 classified the Monarch’s migration as “an endangered biological phenomenon.” Ann Swengel of Baraboo, a butterfly researcher and surveyor, is among those who have documented the Monarch’s habits and vulnerabilities.

Millions of these butterflies winter in Oyamel fir forests, west of Mexico City, but increased logging threatens their well-being. Fewer trees mean less protection from weather extremes. Throughout the migratory route, pesticides contaminate the butterfly’s water and food – especially milkweed, classified in some areas as a weed that can be eradicated. The milkweed is vital to the Monarch at all stages of its life: the females lay their eggs on the underside of milkwood leaves, the caterpillars eat the plant’s leaves and the adult butterfly feeds on milkweed nectar.

So Ryall and others in Happy Tonics, a conservation group, have put together an outdoor classroom – a Monarch-friendly habitat within a restored prairie in Shell Lake. After getting the city to lift its ban on milkweed, Happy Tonics began selling milkweed seeds so that people could grow their own Monarch habitats. The efforts of the group have earned praise from Citizens for a Scenic Wisconsin. “Local people took what used to be an industrial, railroad area and beautified it,” notes Charley Weeth, CSW executive director. “It was little more than sand and weeds.”

“We have created an environment of sustainability,” Ryall says. Another Monarch habitat is in the works on state-owned property on the south side of Shell Lake. “We see the big picture and this butterfly is teaching us,” she explains. “A great majority of Monarchs are near agricultural areas – poison the land with pesticides, and you poison the Monarchs.” Too much fuss about one creature? Hardly, she says, because of the web of interdependence between species.

“Biodiversity attracts lots of species including deer, ducks and an occasional bear” to the habitat, Ryall explains. “Can you imagine? Right there next to Highway 63.”

Mary Bergin is a freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin