WUWM: Environmental Reporting

The environmental beat is massive -  from covering threats to air and water, to sharing scientific research, to uncovering the individuals and groups working to create sustainable communities.

Although I (WUWM's environmental reporter Susan Bence) have reported on a variety of stories, I continue to think 'I need to dig deeper.' So, I'm turning to you to help make that happen.

Wisconsinites, what have you been wondering about when it comes the environment? Questions about conservation? Climate change? You ask and I'll report.

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Ways to Connect

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

After a decade leading Milwaukee's All Peoples Church, Pastor Steve Jerbi left for a post in California. In his parting sermon, he told his congregation: “When I think about the ministry we have done together, it has been a ministry of providence.”

Susan Bence

As Gov. Walker pushes for swift approval of the $3 billion Foxconn incentives package, Wednesday Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said his chamber is taking its time to go through it. Meanwhile, DNR secretary Cathy Stepp was in Milwaukee to promote the bill.

At the monthly meeting of the state's Natural Resources Board, Stepp wanted the board to know her agency is ready to work with Taiwanese company and that she’s excited about it.

Althouse

Dozens of people packed into a room at the State Capitol on Thursday for a public hearing on Foxconn’s plans to build a huge plant in southeastern Wisconsin. An Assembly committee heard testimony on a bill that would provide $3 billion in tax incentives for the Taiwanese company.

Susan Bence

As the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Wednesday announced it would not pursue a lawsuit to stop the City of Waukesha from drawing drinking water from Lake Michigan, other Great Lakes challenges are on the horizon.

The consortium of Great Lakes mayors – representing the U.S. and Canada - believes a balance must to struck to create thriving communities while protecting the Great Lakes.

Karlos Lomsky / fotolia

The Tuesday U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ruling protects wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

The ruling comes after years of debate, as well as decades of disagreements over the size and management of the wolf population.

In the early 1900s, Wisconsin instituted a bounty to keep the number of wolves down, in hopes of bolstering a dwindling deer population. By 1960, wolves were declared extirpated from Wisconsin.

Rachel Morello

Governor Scott Walker is floating a bill crafted to speed up the construction of Foxconn's facility in Wisconsin. Critics say the proposal puts environmental protections in a tailspin.

Susan Bence

Dogs are extremely good at sniffing things out. Mequon Nature Preserve decided to take advantage of  the canine skill and brought on Tilia, the first on-staff conservation dog in Wisconsin.

One of her trainers is Kathy Hatch. The day I visited, she had been busy hiding several plants amidst tall grasses outside the preserve.

Last Saturday, two dozen people gathered under the sizzling summer sun to play Water Story MKE.

It is the brainchild of Michael Timm, who teamed up with Reflo, a nonprofit dedicated to water sustainability to create the app.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Bees first began to creep into Charlie Koenen’s life in 2002. Today his previous careers in computer programming and consulting might as well belong to someone else altogether.

Koenen is a beevangelist through and through. “I never would have predicted the path, but the importance is really astonishing - a beehive when it’s operating. That’s the amazement I want to give everybody,” he says.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Alderman Tony Zielinski is concerned residents don’t fully understand both the risks and how they can protect themselves from lead exposure. His says his proposal would direct the Milwaukee Health Department to communicate more effectively – starting with the importance of water filters. Zielinski introduced the resolution at the Public Health and Safety Committee meeting Thursday.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Update, July 19: Tuesday's common council meeting did not result in a step toward resolution of the Sturgeon Bay waterfront debate.  The proposed compromise  was being discussed, when the mayor announced he had to leave.  The council voted to adjourn.

The DNR is expected to hold a public hearing next month. City leaders may wait for that process to play out before considering its next step.   Original post, July 18:

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Molecular biologist Michael Schläppi experimented with rice varieties from around the globe for five years - testing how they stood up to Wisconsin weather in miniature paddies he built on his rooftop lab on campus.

He settled on a short-grain variety from Russia.

Two years ago, he took the experiment to a farm field outside Port Washington.

CITY AS LIVING LABORATORY

The City of Milwaukee is putting the finishing touches on a water and land use plan to help guide the future of the harbor’s 1,000 water-edged acres. The idea is to combine a robust working function while also breathing vitality into areas where there currently is none.

Lots of ideas are floating around.

Enter a New-York based artist by the name of Mary Miss. She uses the environment in unexpected and artful ways to draw people to outdoor spaces.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The City of West Allis has been providing curbside recycling pickup for over two decades, but this week residents will find gleaming blue carts at their doorsteps. Up until, the city has used 30-gallon plastic bags.

West Allis is one of a handful of municipalities using the"bag" method.

Melissa Oberdorf remembers the days before West Allis trucks started hauling away recyclables. Her family members were early adopters.

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