Cranberry growers and other farmers say they fear crop damage if the state goes through with a plan to release a small elk herd in Jackson County. Returning a native species to the area is a sign of environmental health, said Ritchie Brown, Department of Natural Resources manager for the nation in central Wisconsin. "It's the same reason we like the wolf recovery. It's an inspiration to everybody when you get to see them rather than seeing them in a pen or zoo." Farmers would not be eligible for state reimbursement to cover crop damage caused by elk because the animal is not hunted in the state. The state Department of Natural Resources proposed releasing 35 wild elk into the eastern part of the county and allowing the herd to grow by the hundreds. In 1994, 25 elk were released near Clam Lake in northern Wisconsin. The herd has grown to an estimated 80 animals with few conflicts with foresters, farmers or tourists, officials report. If the department recommends the plan after the May comment period, the proposal would go to the Natural Resources Board for consideration.
Perrier is taking plans for a bottling plant outside Wisconsin, but not for good which is why opponents said they'll keep up their fight against bottling spring water in Adams County. The nation earlier filed suit against the Department of Natural Resources in connection with the proposed bottling plant. Water Keepers of Wisconsin sued Perrier and has not decided if it will drop it. Connecticut-based Perrier Group of America wanted to build a $100 million plant at Big Spring in New Haven, but company officials announced May 10 they have now settled on a site in Michigan. But, the company has not terminated its rights to the Adams County land and is still conducting pump tests required by DNR-issued well permits. Perrier can't dig the wells until the tests are complete and the state have set a pumping rate that won't harm the environment. Concerned Citizens of Newport want a judge to tell DNR to revoke those permits and order further environmental study of the proposed wells. If the market for bottled water keeps growing, the company would need a second bottling plant in the Midwest in the next five to seven years and Big Spring would be the most logical spot, a company spokeswoman said.