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

Harris Lowell Byers grew up in Georgia loving science and agriculture. Today, he lives in Glendale, remediates brownfields, and is the father of two children. Byers says the scientist and dad in him wanted to find out how much lead might be making its way from the urban soils into vegetables; so he headed back to school to earn a PhD at UW-Milwaukee's geosciences department to try to come up with answers.

Susan Bence

The whole world seems to know about the Milwaukee mayor's statement this week.

Tom Barrett advised residents living in homes built before 1951 to install water filters to protect themselves from possible lead poisoning.

Barrett made the comment just after he took part in a panel discussion at Marquette University Law School. The topic was “Lead, Drinking Water, and Aging Infrastructure."

Susan Bence

Residents in Milwaukee may be growing their vegetables in soil tainted with lead, without knowing it. A handful of partners are working built awareness of this problem and reduce the risks.

Growing Healthy Soil for Healthy Communities, which includes such partners as Medical College of Wisconsin and the UW Department of Soil Science, is reaching out to residents on the north and south sides.

Avigail Becerra has become one of the program’s staunchest advocates.

MADISON WATER UTILITY

Mayor Tom Barrett made a surprise water announcement Wednesday saying anyone living in a home built before 1951 should install water filters to protect residents from possible lead poisoning.

He issued the advice while taking part in a public policy conference at Marquette University Law School.

TOOL: Do You Have Lead Pipes in Your Home?

Susan Bence

In this era of urban agriculture, Milwaukee is making a name for itself as a leader. At the same time, a group tuned into the dangers of lead in the soil wants to use the urban farming wave to inform families.

In Milwaukee, an estimated 10 percent of kids under age six have unhealthy levels of lead in their blood - levels that could cause permanent brain and nervous system disabilities.

A major culprit has been the lead-based paint used on houses decades ago. Those paint chips can also make their way into family gardens.

Michelle Maternowski

Milwaukee’s Lake Park is one of the most popular local Pokémon Go play areas. Crowds of people are lured to the handful of PokéStops, hoping to catch a rare pocket monster. The phenomenon intrigues some, and annoys others.

Susan Bence

9-year-old Raya El-Hajar had an exciting summer. She won the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Then, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Raya and 55 fellow chefs from around the country to the White House last month to celebrate their achievements.

The 5th annual challenge was designed to encourage 8 to 12 year olds to create an original, healthy, tasty and affordable lunch recipe. More than 1200 applications flowed in for review.

Susan Bence

As Kris McCoy sets up at the Saturday Mineral Point Market in Water Tower Park, she is surrounded by her artfully arranged wooden creations – a large buffet, numerous candle holders, decorative ladders, to name a few.

Mineral Point is home.

McCoy and her husband have lived here 23 years and raised their four children here.

Susan Bence

Although the Great Lakes governors approved Waukesha’s application, a coalition of Great Lakes mayors hopes to stop it.

This week, those who belong to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative announced that they would challenge the Compact Council’s decision.

UPDATE - After a long discussion Tuesday evening, the task force did not come to a concensus on whether to rehab or replace the footbridge.  Several groups are keenly interested in the bridge's future,  including the North Point Lighthouse Friends and Lake Park Friends.  The groups plan to review the proposed alternatives with their members.  The task force will consider those perspectives as the final selection is made.

Jarob Ortiz

A job of a lifetime began Monday for 33-year-old Jarob Ortiz, a coveted position he never imagined would be his. Ortiz has become the official photographer of the National Park Service, and during its centennial year.

"Each one of those interviews I spent about 7 days leading up to those things studying about 6 hours a night, just making sure I would be as good as I possibly could,” Ortiz says.

Susan Bence

Milwaukee is in a reflective mood, days after tragic events unfolded in the city’s Sherman Park neighborhood. Earlier this week, people quietly reflected in Alice’s Garden, a green oasis two miles southeast of the Sherman Park hot spot.

A circle more than 50 people – different sizes, ages and colors – stood together.  And, Monique Inez Liston led a solemn chant.

Susan Bence

Cole Compton is about to begin his senior year at Shorewood High School’s New Horizon Charter School.

WUWM's Susan bence met him a few years ago Weber’s, a greenhouse on Green Bay Ave off Capitol Drive. Compton was the youngest intern in the then fledgling after-school, paid internship program called Teens Grow Greens.

Susan Bence

At last count, Wisconsin was home to more than 230 different species of birds. Now, 1,000 surveyors are pooling data for across the state to see if those numbers are holding.

In the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II survey, bird experts aren’t counting the ones who simply stop over during migration, rather those that rely on Wisconsin's habitats to multiply.

Susan Bence

Vanessa Tobin has a very specific professional niche. She is Senior Technical Adviser for Water Supply, Sanitation and Water Resources Development for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) based in Baltimore Maryland.

Before joining CRS in 2012, Tobin worked extensively in the field for the United Nations and other organizations in places such as South Sudan and Nepal. Most recently she served as UNICEF’s Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation.

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