Restoring an Island Habitat in Wisconsin

by Leila Fletcher, age 16

Plum and Pilot Islands, two small islands off the Door County coast had been apparently fading into the background of local people's daily lives for decades. However, in 2007 with the creation of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands, a non-profit formed by local citizens, the fortunes of the islands began to change.

These islands have been important navigational reference points for ships from the sea-lanes putting into ports such as Milwaukee and Chicago for hundreds of years. [Read More]

Wisconsin Utilities Invest in
Alternative Energy

by Christy Zheng, age 15

The future is getting brighter for wind and solar energy in the Midwest. Two Madison-based power companies, Alliant Energy Corporation and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), have recently invested in clean energy sources that will affect thousands of customers across the Midwest.

Alliant and MGE are investing in wind and solar energy, respectively. Wisconsin Public Service of Green Bay will also invest in solar energy alongside MGE. [Read More]

Madison College Builds Largest Rooftop Solar Array in Wisconsin

by Kadjata Bah, age 13

Set to begin summer of 2018, Madison Area Technical College will be adding a new feature to their campus. The largest rooftop solar system in Wisconsin will be implemented on top of the main Truax Campus building. Through a cooperation between Madison Gas and Electric, the program will bring alternative energy sources and new education opportunities to the Madison community.

Last year, Madison College was presented with a grant from MG&E to install a 1,400-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. This project will convert sunlight into usable electricity. Behind this partnership is the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE), which supports two-year college renewable energy programs. [Read More]

Milwaukee's Lead Pipe
Problems Continue

by Deney Li, age 16

The Milwaukee Health Department has faced scorn in the past about their cursory disregard of the city’s lead poisoning problem. It is estimated that 70,000 homes in Milwaukee currently have lead service lines. That number represents about 46% of all residences.

High exposure to lead causes severe development deficiencies in infants and toddlers. Although health risks are less likely for adults, lead can also cause headaches, stomach pain, and behavioral problems. [Read More]

Proud to Support Academic Achievement in Wisconsin
What are snakeheads? A snakehead is an invasive fish with a cylindrical shape and sharp teeth. An invasive species is a non-native organism that can harm an ecosystem. Snakeheads are separated into two genera: parachanna and channa. They are native to various parts of Africa and Asia; however, in 2002, the northern snakehead was caught in a Maryland pond. This immediately gained national attention and indicated that snakeheads were reproducing around the Maryland-Virginia area as well as in other states such as Wisconsin, Maine, Florida, as well as along the east and west coasts. [read more...]
Crazy worms are taking over our forest floors, and we’ve got to do something about them. [read more...]
American Martens are one of Wisconsin's rarest endangered species. They are small in size and look very similar to fellow members of the weasel family. In fact, they often get confused with Fishers and Stone Martens who also live in Wisconsin. American Martens are slowly disappearing; this is a problem on the rise that needs to be addressed. [read more...]
Wetlands are a major factor in Wisconsin's ecology; however, we are treating our environment so badly that we are causing wetland loss at alarming rates. It has taken the state thousands of years to form approximately ten million acres of wetlands, but it has taken less than 200 years for humans to ruin these vital landforms. [read more...]
In April, two adult gorillas died at the Milwaukee County Zoo in Southeastern Wisconsin. Investigators recently determined that their cause of death was an E. Coli contamination in drinking water. [read more...]
The city of Waukesha, west of Milwaukee, faces water problems. In the 1980's, Waukesha had to stop drawing water from a 2,200 foot-deep aquifer that paralleled Lake Michigan. This overused aquifer had quickly rising levels of radium and sodium in the water being pumped to the surface. The city decided to open a treatment plant to remove the radium which can potentially cause cancer of the bone, liver, or breast. The idea to extract water from Lake Michigan was proposed. [read more...]
Two chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflurooctane sulfonate (PFOS), have been found in groundwater near Marinette, Wisconsin. Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources is currently working on setting new parameters for acceptable levels of these chemicals in drinking water. PFOA and PFOS have been used since the 1950’s to make non-stick cookware, carpet cleaner, and stain repellant. [read more...]
Wisconsin is struggling with lead poisoning among children; however, children lead-poisoning cases are opening in Milwaukee. A troubling report reveals that Milwaukee's lead-poisoning prevention program has not been taking the most basic of steps to protect its youth. [read more...]
Plum and Pilot Islands, two small islands off the Door County coast had been apparently fading into the background of local people's daily lives for decades. However, in 2007 with the creation of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands, a non-profit formed by local citizens, the fortunes of the islands began to change. [read more...]
A recent emerald ash borer outbreak has affected thousands of trees across Wisconsin. Many of the infected Ash trees need to be cut down. Madison Community Foundation recently helped launch a project to bring life back into the dead trees. [read more...]
The future is getting brighter for wind and solar energy in the Midwest. Two Madison-based power companies, Alliant Energy Corporation and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), have recently invested in clean energy sources that will affect thousands of customers across the Midwest. [read more...]
Set to begin summer of 2018, Madison Area Technical College will be adding a new feature to their campus. The largest rooftop solar system in Wisconsin will be implemented on top of the main Truax Campus building. Through a cooperation between Madison Gas and Electric, the program will bring alternative energy sources and new education opportunities to the Madison community. [read more...]
The Milwaukee Health Department has faced scorn in the past about their cursory disregard of the city’s lead poisoning problem. It is estimated that 70,000 homes in Milwaukee currently have lead service lines. That number represents about 46% of all residences. [read more...]
On a chilly and cloudy morning, we took a trip to Lake Farm County Park, a section of the Capital Springs Recreation Area, to take a tour of the property and the new Lower Yahara River Trail. The Lower River Trail includes a new boardwalk bridge that stretches over Lake Waubesa, connecting Madison to McFarland. The total distance of the trail is 2.5 miles, and the bridge itself is an impressive mile long. The boardwalk bridge is fully accessible and features fishing piers and scenic outlooks. At the end of the bridge, the tranquility of McDaniel Park awaited us. [read more...]
Dane County recently acquired interest in 130 acres of land along the Yahara River near the Cherokee Marsh, north of Madison, for $1.5 million. Improving lake water quality and offering new recreational opportunities, this expansion of the Cherokee Marsh Natural Area Resource could benefit the Madison community. [read more...]
Tensions are rising as lawmakers, environmentalists, local residents and sponsoring companies continue to debate plans for the new Cardinal-Hickory-Creek transmission line. Although project advocates boast the proposed project will provide low-cost and renewable energy, the line poses potential health risks for residents of southern Wisconsin and threatens the surrounding environment. [read more...]
El sendero del río Yahara, Yahara River Trail que es parte del sistema de parques del condado de Dane, continúa avanzando y expandiéndose. El sendero conecta el parque McDaniel en McFarland con el sendero Capital City Trail en Madison, y con la red de senderos recreativos en la parte sureste del condado de Dane. [read more...]
The Yahara River Trail, part of the Dane County park system, continues to move forward and expand. The trail connects McDaniel Park in McFarland with the Capital City Trail in Madison. It also connects local recreational trail systems with the southeastern part of Dane County. [read more...]
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), recently predicted that the Great Lakes water levels will rise again this spring for the fifth year in a row. [read more...]
After the Flint, Michigan water contamination crisis that left Flint residents without clean water for months, Wisconsin is taking steps to help homeowners pay for lead water pipe replacements. [read more...]
A plan to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes is in hot water. Recent plans to protect the lakes is meeting opposition from both the Trump administration and some Great Lakes states, despite the support of environmentalists. [read more...]
Just south of Madison, there is a problem with Rock County’s wells. Contaminated water is posing a serious threat to the health of those who live there. The culprit—nitrate. [read more...]
Controversy and concern over lead pipes and safe drinking water is exploding in Milwaukee. New reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and elsewhere show city leaders knew about the situation at least three years ago and delayed taking action. Now citizens and a concerned public are calling lead contamination in the city a “public health crisis.” [read more...]
In 1998, the aquifer (a reservoir of water located deep underground) under the Madison area dropped to 130 feet, an all time low since when experts began monitoring water levels in the 1930’s. This worried many experts. [read more...]
The Wisconsin Conservation Corps was a work program aimed at helping public or tribal lands in the state. The program employed more than 11,000 young people during a 20-year run, until it ended. It was eliminated in 2003 by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle and GOP lawmakers due to a 3.2 million dollar budget deficit faced by the state. [read more...]
Por primera vez, la división de parques del condado de Dane ha desarrollado una encuesta como un esfuerzo añadido para obtener aportes de los ciudadanos en su Plan para Parques y Espacios abiertos. Cada cinco años la división de parques actualiza su plan, pero este año realizará una encuesta para los habitantes del condado de Dane tanto en inglés como en español. Los resultados obtenidos de la encuesta serán considerados para diseñar el plan para el periodo de 2018-2023. [read more...]
The sound of a buzzing bee is seemingly a simple sound we hear on the average summer day, a sound we often pay no mind. But for bees, buzzing has a vast importance. [read more...]
Last Thursday, I paid a visit to the Jenni and Kyle Preserve, a Dane County Park with a positive mission. Specially designed for people with disabilities, the park is fully accessible to ensure a fun outdoor experience for all. [read more...]
Mary Kolar, District 1 Supervisor and member of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission, and I recently sat down with James Mills discuss local water issues. He spoke articulately and passionately about his work, the environment, and his perspective on water. [read more...]
In an effort to reach underserved young people and diversify their pool of applicants, Edgewood College recently created a program that would encourage diversity among its college students. To learn more about this program—the “Edgewood College Math Precollege Program”—Simpson Street Free Press reporters interviewed Steven Post, professor of Mathematics at Edgewood. [read more...]
Recently, a sandbox was installed at the Henry Vilas Zoo. But it’s not just any sandbox. It is an Augmented Reality (AR) sandbox that simulates topographic features and water systems to teach people about watersheds. The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department and the Henry Vilas Zoo partnered to construct this educational model for all ages to view. A watershed is a piece of land that drains precipitation into a body of water. The exhibit at Vilas will help citizens of Madison understand how watersheds work. The model also aims to make viewers more aware of where water goes when it runs off their yards and driveways into storm drains, lakes, and streams. [read more...]
Wisconsin will face $7 billion in wastewater infrastructure and drinking water needs over the next 20 years, according to a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. [read more...]
Michelle Richardson came into our office with a smile on her face and a map in her hand. She is the GIS Analyst at the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department. We spent the morning discussing her career, personal life, and experiences working at the department. She was very kind and conversational, asking us about our school and lives. [read more...]
Over the years, invasive species have made a home in the Mississippi River. But it seems that the Asian carp has yet again found its way into a Chicago waterway that is nine miles from Lake Michigan. It was caught below T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam by a commercial fisherman working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. This is not the first time an Asian carp has snuck through the three electrical barriers, which are located in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. In 2010, a bighead carp was caught in Lake Calumet. [read more...]
Last Tuesday, we sat down with Seth Ebel, a thirty-something civil engineer at the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department. He has the air of a pragmatic idealist: passionate and motivated, yet down-to-earth and committed. [read more...]
A tiny creature is making a big splash in Dane County. The New Zealand mud snail was detected for the second time in the area, and officials are becoming concerned about the invasive mollusk. First discovered three years ago in Black Earth Creek, the snail was recently sighted in Badger Mill Creek in Verona. [read more...]
Gray wolves, a mighty canidae species that roam the vast territories of North America, are currently facing an uncertain future. In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDOI) removed the federal protections for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. They argued that the roughly 6,000 wolves that lived in the region constituted a large enough population for the species not to need protection. With federal protections lifted, states took on the responsibility of managing wolf protections and hunting laws. States such as Minnesota and Wisconsin immediately authorized hunting. In the hunting season immediately following the lifted regulations, hunters in these two states killed a combined total of 530 wolves. The same season, Michigan legislature voted to authorize wolf hunting, beginning the following fall. [read more...]
Milwaukee residents are concerned that lead may be poisoning their water. According to a 2014 report, over eight percent of children tested in the city had blood levels at or above the level indicating lead poisoning. This figure is significantly higher than it is for individuals in Flint, Michigan. An increasing number of Milwaukee citizens are concerned that not enough has been done to address this issue. [read more...]
Solar power has taken Wisconsin by storm. In 2015, the state’s installed solar capacity grew by 94 percent and powered more than 3,800 homes. As demand for solar panels has risen, so have associated costs. Recent changes to large-scale energy company’s billing provisions, like We Energies, have made solar power much more expensive. [read more...]
A recent discovery from a Dane County study found that targeting residual sludge might be the key to mitigating phosphorus pollution in the waterways of southern Wisconsin. This has spurred immediate action by the county, and a new plan by Dane County Executive, Joe Parisi may make waves in Wisconsin environmental efforts. [read more...]
Since the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the issue of lead-contaminated water and lead pipes has gained renewed attention. Since then, many states, including Wisconsin, have taken action to replace the lead water pipes still in use by schools, homes, businesses and other facilities. [read more...]
Wisconsin has a long running history with timber wolves, also known as gray wolves. Since 1960, their population has varied significantly. [read more...]