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

Pleasant Valley Park is nestled along the Milwaukee River’s western shore in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood. Long ago, the 23-acre parcel was home to one of Milwaukee’s most popular beer gardens with restaurants, a band shell, steamboat docks and “extravagant” landscaping. Today, Pleasant Valley falls within the Milwaukee River Greenway.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The Kohler Company wants to create a world-class golf course adjacent to Wisconsin's Kohler-Andrae State Park. The proposed golf course along Lake Michigan would butt up against the northern edge of the park the Kohler family helped create in the 1960s.

If all goes as planned for Kohler, the 18-hole golf course would occupy 247 wooded acres already owned by the company. However, some neighbors aren't happy about the plan.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A special commission representing Canada and the United States released a report Tuesday morning about efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

The group, called the International Joint Commission or IJC, has been around for over a century and is tasked with preventing conflicts between the two countries over shared waters.

The Great Lakes swallows up a lot of the commission’s attention.

Lily Merritt

There’s something new on Milwaukee’s food scene. This isn't your typical vending machine - spewing out candy bars and chips, instead it serves up from-scratch meals.

Farmer’s Fridge is the brainchild of Chicago-based entrepreneur Luke Saunders. Within the sleek machine is a collection of colorful salads and snacks. And, selections shift with the seasons.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Update, November 20: The Public Safety and Health Committee approved the resolution without debate at its Monday morning meeting.

Update: After this story aired, the City of Milwaukee Health Department contacted WUWM to share this information about the department's lead education efforts:

Katie Gardiner

The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a plan to stop silver and bighead carp moving from the Mississippi River basin into the Great Lakes.

Cheryl Nenn with Milwaukee Riverkeeper calls the proposal a starting point, not a solution, because multiple aquatic invasive species are threatening both the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin.

Courtesy of Componex

Cal Couillard has been intrigued with solar energy since the 1970s. But, it wasn't until this year that he took the plunge, and had solar panels installed at his Edgerton-based business.  He also created a fund to help others "go solar."

Solar energy used to be expensive, Coulliard explains, and therefore, only people who wanted to be green jumped aboard. Now, he says, prices have dropped dramatically and it makes sense financially.

SunVest Solar, Inc.

Pewaukee-based developer Matt Neumann admits he might appear to be an unlikely advocate for solar energy. His political roots are deep, and conservative.

“When I got into solar, I found myself in the extreme minority of Republicans or conservatives who thought solar was a good idea. As a matter of fact, a lot of people thought I was crazy," Neumann explains. "Now we’re cost-competitive, and Republicans and Democrats agree that they want to do the right thing for the environment.”

Elvis Kennedy, flickr

Wisconsin's Senate took up key pieces of legislation Tuesday. Two of the most controversial bills are now headed for Gov. Walker's signature. One bill eases sulfide mining regulations, and the other opens up hunting to kids of any age.

Susan Bence

Update, November 3:

Although Democrats rallied against the bill designed to lift the nearly-20 year restrictions on sulfide mining, the Republican-dominated State Assembly prevailed with a 53-38 vote. Bill sponsor Rep. Rob Hutton of Brookfield folded in amendments that include halting mining if it is legally challenged; another to help ensure mining companies pay taxes.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Oak Creek had been on tap sell Waukesha Lake Michigan water to replace its contaminated well water. But Monday Waukesha announced that instead, it will purchase the supply from Milwaukee.

Before he toasted over glasses of water with Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly on Monday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett acknowledged the road to their agreement had been a bumpy one.

Quasimondo Physical Theatre

Writer Jeff Grygny has long been interested in how philosophy, culture, science, and spirituality intersect. His latest work, The Performance Ecology Project, factors in the natural world. The production is a collaboration of Quasimondo Physical Theatre and Cooperative Performance.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The parking lot outside Veterans Terrace in downtown Burlington was packed as the informational session started at 5 pm sharp. This was the third public information meeting for area residents and business owners hosted by Racine County.

I chatted with people who turned out, and heard mostly these sorts of comments:

“I’m excited for the Village of Mount Pleasant and for the whole region. This will be a big shot in the arm for this whole 5-county region here. A lot of people needs jobs,” Paul Maccari said.

“I think it’s huge feather in our cap,” Sharon Smolensy said.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

I first met Cole Compton four years ago, when he was a high school freshman. He had just started interning with a program called Teens Grow Greens, and was sharing his vision to sell terrariums with plants with fellow students.

“I loved the idea of having this living thing that I can almost make a home for. I can make this little environment of my own,” Compton says.

Milwaukee County Parks

Milwaukee County is home to 15,325 acres of parkland. There are 158 unique parks are rooted across the region – from Joseph Lichter Park in the north to Oakwood in the south; from tiny Pompeii Square nestled beneath a tangle of downtown freeway spurs to 626-acre Whitnall Park.

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