Henry Vilas Zoo Partners With Dane County to Open Augmented Reality Sandbox

by Kadjata Bah, age 12

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 residents of Madison to understand how watersheds work and where water goes when it runs off their yards and driveways. In urban areas, this water runs off into storm drains that empty directly into local lakes and streams, carrying with it any nutrients or pollutants it picks up along the way. [Read More]

A Conversation With Seth Ebel: Idealist and Engineer

by Kadjata Bah & Sylvan Bachhuber, age 12 & 17

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.

Born and raised nearby in Jefferson, Wisconsin, Ebel spent his childhood exploring the Wisconsin wilderness. An avid football player, he received a scholarship to play for Michigan Technological University where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering. In his free time he loves hunting, fishing, and spending time with his wife and three kids. [Read More]

Invasive Asian Carp Threaten the Great Lakes

by Cynthia Avila

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.

The electric barrier system, which is run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was designed to prevent invasive species, such as the Asian Carp, from entering and reaching the Great Lakes. The silver carp, which is one of the four types of Asian carp, weighed around eight pounds and measured 28 inches long. The silver carp was sent to Southern Illinois University where biologists will determine its origin. [Read More]

Local Journalist James Mills Shares His Perspective on Water in Dane County

by Sylvan Bachhuber, age 17

James Mills arrived at the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department office with a jump in his step. He was wearing a bright colored button-down and a small shell around his neck, both which complimented his cheerful, easy-going demeanor.

Mills is a freelance journalist and media producer based in Madison. He writes about environmental conservation and diversity in public land management. He recently published The Adventure Gap, a book that chronicles the first all African-American ascent of Denali. He also founded the Joy Trip Project, which is a news-gathering and reporting organization that focuses on outdoor recreation and environmental conservation. The Joy Trip Project publishes online content and a podcast on sustainable living. [Read More]

Proud to Support Academic Achievement in Wisconsin
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...]