Wisconsin Weekly: When blue-green algae comes back, NASA will track it

NASA tracks algae blooms; nature of human trafficking revealed; Illinois legalizes pot; foreigners own more farmland; and marine sanctuary for WI eyed

Of note: This week we highlight a story about NASA using its sophisticated technology to track potentially harmful and definitely nasty blue-green algae in Lake Michigan’s bay of Green Bay. Such an outbreak in Lake Erie forced residents of Toledo, Ohio to avoid tap water in 2014. That same year, Wisconsin Watch published Murky Waters, a series in collaboration with The Capital Times that explored the problem of algae plaguing Madison-area lakes.

And a bit of in-house news: We  are unveiling a new logo that reflects our dedication to bold investigative reporting. Check out the new logo and the story behind it here.

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NASA using satellite technology to track potentially harmful algae blooms

Wisconsin Public Radio — May 31, 2019

NASA is using its technology to track blue-green algae blooms around the world. Last year, NASA chose to work with NEW Water — the brand of the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District — to install a monitor in the lower Bay of Green Bay that can upload data to satellites and give scientists a chance to analyze it quickly.

Human trafficking is all over Wisconsin, but subtle. You might have seen victims and never known.

Sheboygan Press — June 3, 2019

If you type “human trafficking” into an image search on your computer, the pictures you will see are images of women and children shackled and for sale. But human trafficking in Wisconsin doesn’t look quite like this. It looks like the promise of a new career as a model. It looks like an expensive gift to your child from an acquaintance. It looks like drug addiction and the hope of something more. Earlier from Wisconsin Watch: Human trafficking in the Heartland

How Illinois became the first legislature to legalize marijuana sales

The Washington Post — June 4, 2019

Ten states have legalized recreational marijuana use, most through ballot initiatives. Last Friday, Illinois took things one step further, becoming the first state legislature to pass a bill legalizing the sale and possession of it. (In 2018, Vermont lawmakers legalized possession only.) The Illinois bill is notable for its attempts to wrap in significant criminal justice reform. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Marijuana advocates have hope but face hurdles as Wisconsin eyes legalization

As foreign investment in U.S. farmland grows, efforts to ban and limit the increase mount

Investigate Midwest — June 3, 2019

Foreign investors acquired at least 1.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land in 2016, the largest increase in more than a decade, according to a review by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting of the latest available federal data. The data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that foreign investors control at least 28.3 million acres, valued at $52.2 billion. That area is about the size of Ohio. The story includes a handy search tool to identify foreign land ownership in Wisconsin or elsewhere.

Sanctuaries in sight: The solo national marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes could be joined by three more

Great Lakes Now — June 3, 2019

Four of the five Great Lakes could boast national marine sanctuaries if current plans continue toward such federal protection. Currently, just Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron has the designation from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But the federal agency is considering proposals from Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan and Lake Erie for sanctuaries, which means NOAA would help protect and showcase each area’s shipwrecks, historical sites and marine life. In Wisconsin, the proposal stalled out over opposition by then-Gov. Scott Walker. Will Gov. Tony Evers revive it?

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