In this second part of a two-part series on Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Summer Outreach Opportunities Program Scholars, we introduce six more scholars working on five projects.


What did you do this summer?

A seagull

A seagull enjoys summer at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee.
Photo credit: Wisconsin Sea Grant

It’s a question that, in the middle of August, might prompt panicked reexamination of how you spent the long, warm days of a fleeting season.

For Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Summer Outreach Opportunities Program scholars, the answers come easily.

This summer, 12 undergraduate students from across the country spent a jam-packed 10 weeks collaborating with outreach specialists on coastal and water resources projects across Wisconsin. Scholars conducted research, engaged kids and adults and shared the stories of Great Lakes science, all while working alongside mentors to explore careers and graduate education in the aquatic sciences.

Whether they wrangled fish in Green Bay or researched green infrastructure in Ashland, scholars have much to share about how they spent their summers. Here’s a snapshot of the final five projects in our series.


Project: Climate Change and Green Infrastructure

It’s summer in Ashland, Wisconsin, and summer scholar Alexander Wuethrich is already thinking about winter.

Alex Wuethrich

Summer scholar Alex Wuethrich. Photo credit: Alex Wuethrich

Wuethrich, a senior at Northland College majoring in climate science with a minor in physics, is working under the mentorship of Climate and Tourism Outreach Specialist Natalie Chin to research the ways the city of Ashland can use green infrastructure to absorb and slow the flow of stormwater into Lake Superior. He’s focusing on rainwater—but also snow.

Wuethrich explained that the city receives so much snow in winter that crews remove it from city streets and take it to a snow dump site. The current location makes it easy for polluted runoff to enter local waterways.

“Right now, [the site] is at the top of a ravine that leads into a river,” said Wuethrich. As the snow melts, water carries all the sediment, salt and pollutants picked up from city streets into the river, which leads to Lake Superior.

One option is constructing a wetland, which can slow down water and allow sediments to settle out. Wetland plants can also remove heavy metals. Said Wuethrich, “It’ll bring out a lot of those contaminants that we want to keep out of the water system.”

The city can also take measures to prevent pollutants from being on the street in the first place. Enter the street sweeper.

“Learning about how much of a difference [street sweeping] can make was a real eye-opener for me,” Wuethrich said. Working along sweeper routes for three days, he discovered they do more than just tidy up roads. “[Street sweepers] can also pick up heavy metals and other things from cars…like lead and copper that’ll naturally wear off.” Street sweepers also collect dust and sediment before rainwater washes them into the lake.

In addition to getting a crash course in public works, Wuethrich has been using GIS to map storm sewers and catchment basins in the city and developed educational materials on green infrastructure and how to maintain stormwater ponds in the city. He also created a list of trees that, if approved by the city council, would shape what trees can be planted along city streets. The list prioritizes salt- and drought-tolerant native species that could adapt to a warmer, climate-changed future.

The summer scholar experience has underlined that getting involved matters. Said Wuethrich, “It makes a big difference what your local administrators are doing.”


Project: Eat Wisconsin Fish

For Jojo Hunt and Crow Idnani, this was the summer of fish. Paired with Food-Fish Outreach Coordinator Sharon Moen and Aquaculture Outreach and Education Specialist Emma Hauser in Superior, Wisconsin, the scholars spent their summers immersed in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries across the state: visiting producers, learning about the industry and sharing what they’ve learned. Both scholars completed projects that seek to educate and connect consumers with fish caught or farmed in Wisconsin.

Jojo Hunt gives the thumbs up next to a large tank of fish

Jojo Hunt at the UW-Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility. Photo credit: Jojo Hunt

Hunt, a junior at the University of Denver majoring in GIS with minors in computer science and math, is updating the fish finder map on the Eat Wisconsin Fish website, which helps consumers find local businesses that raise or sell Wisconsin fish.

“The main goal of the map is to bring more attention and awareness to where [the businesses] are and what they do and hopefully break some of those stereotypes,” she said, pointing to the misconception that farm-raised fish is unsustainable.

Hunt is also experimenting with different map-making tools to feature profiles of the producers alongside the data. “I thought it’d be kind of nice to see those right under the map to make the points have a story,” said Hunt.

Crow Idnani at the UW-Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility

Crow Idnani at the UW-Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility. Photo credit: Crow Idnani

Idnani is also working to dispel myths about aquaculture by suggesting updates to A Consumer’s Guide for Wisconsin Farm-Raised Fish, a publication of the UW–Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (NADF) and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The current guide provides an overview of the aquaculture industry in Wisconsin but can get overly technical. Idnani, a sophomore at Cornell University majoring in environmental science with an eye toward science communication, is reviewing the guide through a consumer lens so that it is more useful for the general public.

A creative piece is in the works, too. Idnani is also writing an article tracing the life of an Atlantic salmon at NADF, from when the fish hatches to when it is harvested. Idnani, Hauser and Moen plan to pitch the story to a regional publication to get it in front of audiences outside the aquaculture industry.

From measuring and sorting Atlantic salmon at the NADF facility to preparing shore lunches and teaching kids about aquaculture, the scholars have—unsurprisingly—learned a lot about all things fish.

Said Idnani, “I never grilled a fish until coming here; I never handled a live fish until coming here. It’s been a lot of firsts, but I’ve enjoyed it.”


Projects: PFAS Bioaccumulation in Plants and Animals Associated with Aquatic Ecosystems

Assessing Aquatic Plant Management Tools for Invasive, Native and Nontarget Organisms in Lake Ecosystems

Britta McKinnon

Summer scholar Britta McKinnon. Photo credit: Britta McKinnon

Britta McKinnon and Heidi Wegehaupt spent their summers in lakes and labs working to paint a more complete picture of how contaminants enter and impact aquatic ecosystems. The scholars participated in two research projects: one focused on poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and the other on herbicides.

McKinnon, a junior at UW–Milwaukee majoring in aquatic sciences, focused primarily on PFAS. Under the direction of Emerging Contaminants Scientist Gavin Dehnert, she identified potential sources of PFAS in northern Wisconsin. McKinnon paid special attention to airports, which use PFAS-containing foams to extinguish fires, as well as landfills and papermills. She noted lakes that may be affected by contaminated runoff.

PFAS can persist in water for a long time. Sometimes called “forever chemicals,” they do not break down easily and can get taken up by plants and animals—and eventually humans—in a process known as bioaccumulation. McKinnon developed a series of factsheets explaining what PFAS are, how they enter and move through the environment and the concerns they pose for human health.

In sharing information with others, she learned a lot about PFAS herself. For example: PFAS are not one substance but many. “I had no idea that there are thousands of different types,” said McKinnon.

Herbicides, not PFAS, were the subject of Heidi Wegehaupt’s research this summer. Working with Dehnert and aquatic invasive outreach specialist Tim Campbell, Wegehaupt collected water and fish samples across three lakes in northern Wisconsin to determine how the herbicide 2,4-Dicholrophenoxyacetic acid affects nonnative Eurasian watermilfoil, the intended target, and nontarget aquatic organisms.

Said Wegehaupt, “Each waterbody has a unique ecological composition, meaning they all react to herbicides differently.”

Knowing how the herbicide affects nontarget species like fish will help lake associations make informed decisions about how to manage invasive species on their lake.

In collecting samples from different lakes, Wegehaupt, a senior at UW–Madison majoring in conservation biology with a certificate in environmental studies, learned she loved fieldwork.

“My favorite part of this experience so far has been spending time at the lakes we’re sampling and just taking the time to enjoy being outside. Getting to know the lakes we work on and talking with locals has been enlightening to my experience as a whole,” said Wegehaupt.

McKinnon, on the other hand, was excited about the lab work. In addition to her PFAS research, McKinnon helped the research team test the impacts of herbicides on fish scale growth. It reminded her of her favorite class, chemistry. Said McKinnon, “I found that I’m in love with the laboratory aspects.”

Neither scholar had previous experience in environmental toxicology but both used the summer to explore which aspects of the research process resonated with them.

Said Wegehaupt, “I still have one year left at UW, so hopefully this opportunity helps me form a path for the future.”


Project: Expanding Voices Heard in the Wisconsin Water Library

India-Bleu Niehoff helps children with an activity at the library.

India-Bleu Niehoff helps children with an activity at the library. Photo credit: Wisconsin Sea Grant

As a summer scholar with the Wisconsin Water Library at UW–Madison, India-Bleu Niehoff learned quickly that working at a small library means variety is routine.

“It’s a special academic library, which basically means you do everything,” said Niehoff.

There’s the minding of books, of course—over 35,000 about the Great Lakes and waters of Wisconsin—but then there’s the sharing of books through blog posts, book clubs and library programming across the state. Alongside Senior Special Librarian and Education Coordinator Anne Moser, Niehoff led lessons on shipwrecks and sturgeon and coached kids how to use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) constructed from clothes hangers.

A rising graduate student in library and information studies, Niehoff was game for it all.  

One of her projects was to help coordinate the fall edition of the Maadagindan! Start Reading! book club. A collaboration between Wisconsin Sea Grant, the Wisconsin Water Library and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Maadagindan! brings together parents and educators to discuss children’s books about Ojibwe culture and language. Meetings also feature an honored guest, usually the author, illustrator or a member of the Ojibwe community who speaks to the themes or importance of the book.

Niehoff researched and helped select the four books, all of which are written by Indigenous women authors. It was difficult to choose just four. As she learned, it’s easy to get lost down the dazzling rabbit hole of books.

“Once you start searching, you keep finding,” she said.

Niehoff also wrote blog posts for the Water Library’s Aqualog blog, the first of which centers on underrepresented groups in nature. The two-part post outlines resources about the history of racism in conservation as well as organizations working to make the outdoors accessible to everyone. The second post, currently under development, will feature resources about Indigenous women in STEM.

India-Bleu Niehoff leads an activity about Great Lakes shipwrecks

Niehoff leads an activity about Great Lakes shipwrecks. Photo credit: Wisconsin Sea Grant

Said Niehoff, “I’ve really enjoyed looking into stuff I’m passionate about and interested in and then accumulate it and make it something that’s available to other people.”

And let’s not forget about the shipwrecks and sturgeon. Niehoff and Moser travelled across the state, from Madison to Sheboygan to Eau Claire, delivering Great Lakes education programming for kids at local libraries. They read books, led kids in the Japanese art of gyotaku and printed fish on paper and played Great Lakes trivia. Watching Moser, Niehoff learned how to engage kids when reading aloud.

Everybody was learning something.

“Going to local communities and sharing this information [was] really enjoyable. Especially because it’s not just kids, it’s parents and whatever grown-up that’s with them,” said Niehoff.

The summer scholar experience allowed Niehoff to experience many different aspects of working at a library, from cataloguing books to leading kids in crafts. Struck by the breadth of the discipline, she’s got a lot to think about going into her first year of grad school.

Said Niehoff, “There are so many different directions you can go.”


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News Releases | Wisconsin Sea Grant

News Releases | Wisconsin Sea Grant

Jenna Mertz

Julia Noordyk’s rain garden in Green Bay, which is planted with cup plant, Canada anenome and black-eyed Susans. Image credit: Julia Noordyk, Wisconsin Sea Grant

When my family first moved to Green Bay, we were alarmed to find water streaming down the driveway to our front door during an intense rainstorm. Rather than engineering a pipe system to divert the water around the house, we transformed a traditional flower bed into a rain garden to intercept the runoff. By digging a trench and planting native flowers like astilbe, bee balm and butterfly weed, which thrive in wet and dry soil conditions, we were able to soak up 30% more water than a regular lawn.

Although Earth Day was last week, its goal of caring for the Earth still applies and many of us are turning our attention to summer gardening. Gardening has been shown to be good for our physical and mental wellbeing. This year, why not plant a garden that will also improve your community’s health? Rain gardens, bioswales and native plants are types of green infrastructure that help soak up spring snowmelt and rain before it enters our storm drains. But green infrastructure is not just for stormwater. These practices can also alleviate flooding, provide food for birds and butterflies, improve public safety and add beauty to our urban neighborhoods.

Julia Noordyk, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s water quality and coastal communities outreach specialist. Image credit: Wisconsin Sea Grant

Currently, 70% of Wisconsinites live in urban areas, with the majority in coastal counties along lakes Michigan or Superior. Over 1.6 million Wisconsin residents depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, industry, commercial uses and recreation. For the majority of coastal municipalities, like Green Bay, the stormwater and sanitary sewer systems are not connected. This means the stormwater from our roofs, roads, lawns, etc., is channeled directly into our rivers and lakes untreated.

Stormwater contains a slew of pollutants including heavy metals, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, oils and other toxic materials. It is the primary source of trash to the world’s rivers, lakes and oceans. Once in our waterways, these substances are taken up by fish and birds, causing reproductive problems and death. These pollutants are ending up inside us, too, through the air, our food, water and recreational activities. Children living near parking lots coated with coal tar-based sealants have a 38% increase in lifetime risk of cancer.  By choosing green infrastructure, we can protect our water resources and reduce our exposure to these harmful pollutants.

Green infrastructure is not as uncommon as you might think. HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in Green Bay has implemented a number of environmental initiatives that provide economic and health benefits as part of their commitment to have “reverence for the earth.” The hospital has a 22,000 square foot living roof planted with sedums (also known as stonecrops) that thrive in our region. In addition to absorbing rainwater, the vegetation insulates the building, significantly reducing heating and cooling costs. The green roof will also last two and half times longer (50-plus years) than a traditional one. The roof is treasured as a green space for patients and staff. In addition to the colorful sedums that blanket the rooftop, benches, tables and flowerpots provide an inviting space to relax and heal. The hospital is demonstrating that investments in the environment are an important healthcare strategy.

A large bioretention basin filters stormwater pollution from facilities and a parking lot at the Sisters of St. Francis Holy Cross, Green Bay. Image credit: Julia Noordyk, Wisconsin Sea Grant

Some might argue that traditional gray infrastructure–gutters, sewer pipes and storm drains–are cheaper than green infrastructure. However, most cost analyses do not account for the full life cycle costs or the co-benefits of green infrastructure. Cheaper does not always equal better, and by only using simple cost comparisons we miss out on the additional physical and mental health benefits that green infrastructure offers. Numerous studies have shown that greener communities promote more walking, playing and socializing. Others have demonstrated that neighborhood investments in green space and aesthetics lead to higher property values and lower crime rates. The addition of urban trees reduce the scorching summer heat given off from our buildings, pavement and roads, helping prevent heat-related illnesses and premature deaths. These are lost opportunity costs and we must start incorporating all benefits in our stormwater infrastructure cost-benefit analyses.

Green infrastructure is much more than stormwater management, it is an approach to improve our quality of life. My family’s rain garden not only stopped the flooding, it is a mecca for wildlife including butterflies and hummingbirds. To our amazement, the rain garden even provides food in the depths of winter for juncos and other seed-eating birds.

So, as you look ahead to summer, please consider how you can add green infrastructure to your garden to improve the health and beauty of our community.

A similar version to this story appeared in the Green Bay Press Gazette.


The post Green Infrastructure for Community Health first appeared on Wisconsin Sea Grant.

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Blog | Wisconsin Sea Grant

Blog | Wisconsin Sea Grant

Julia Noordyk

Sea Grant has had both a focus on and staff dedicated to the understanding and stewardship of the Green Bay watershed for nearly 50 years, dating back to when the Sea Grant Green Bay Subprogram was established on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus in the late 1970s.

Close-up of smiling woman with long blonde hair.

Julia Noordyk, water quality and coastal communities outreach specialist.

Julia Noordyk now fulfills this longstanding Sea Grant responsibility for the bay of Green Bay, which she termed “a pretty special place.” The bay itself spans 1,600 miles. It’s at the heart of the world’s largest freshwater estuary, laced with agriculture and manufacturing. It’s also a storied place where Indigenous people have lived for 10,000 years and where the first European to have come to what is now known as Wisconsin stepped off a boat in Green Bay onto Red Banks, roughly a mile from the city of Green Bay.

In her role as water quality and coastal communities outreach specialist Noordyk weaves the legacy of this commerce, agriculture and human interaction into contemporary conversations and actions.

Noordyk said she educates people about, “green infrastructure, really working through codes and ordinances to reduce barriers to implement green infrastructure.”

Her second priority is community flood resilience, with a focus on the East River, one of the only undammed rivers in northeastern Wisconsin. It’s a tributary of the Fox River, which flows to the bay and is high in nutrient and sediments. Reducing runoff through nature-based infrastructure protects surface waters from contaminants and can reduce East River flooding.

This is what Noordyk sees as an evolution in water quality approaches for what she likes to call the “fresh-tuary.” “Historically, the (Sea Grant) office was set up and really focused on the Fox River, the bay of Green Bay and water quality. A lot of that was driven by industrial pollution like PCBs and also agricultural runoff,” she said. “That’s been most of the work for last 50 years, which is awesome. Now, the PCB cleanup is over, and things are improving.”

She continued, “Agriculture runoff is still one of the biggest issues in our area for water quality, but what has been changing over the past couple decades is how we think about restoration more broadly.”

Noordyk said there’s been a movement to address water challenges that communities care about and connect those issues to water quality. Front and center, she pointed to flooding. “How can we help solve problems that have benefits to both water quality and flood mitigation?”

Answering her own rhetorical question, Noordyk said, “We have to give people hope with science and with working to solve these environmental issues.” That is her goal for the next 50 years of Sea Grant’s work in her region.

As for the future of the human dimensions of her work, Noordyk said, “A small piece of my efforts is working towards a more inclusive workforce, making connections with our First Nation communities and the bay of Green Bay.”

Noordyk hosted a graduate assistantship that supported an Indigenous-identifying student in exploring the Great Lakes. She said, “That person is really focused on helping make connections between restoration and projects with UW-Green Bay and First Nations. It’s to bring the voice back to the land from a First-Nation perspective.”


The post Julia Noordyk and celebrating an anniversary in a “pretty special place” first appeared on Wisconsin Sea Grant.

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Blog | Wisconsin Sea Grant

Blog | Wisconsin Sea Grant

Moira Harrington

Julia Noordyk, Sea Grant’s water quality and coastal communities specialist, was named a Lake Michigan Champion of Conservation in an awards ceremony Friday as part of the annual Lake Michigan Day event, held this year in Manitowoc. The Lake Michigan Stakeholders bestowed the award.

“I am humbled by this honor and know that any success would not have been possible without the inspiration and partnership of all of my excellent colleagues. I am also extremely grateful to the municipalities for their commitment in improving their communities through green infrastructure and look forward to continuing to support their visions,” Noordyk said.

Man and two women sitting outside looking at a laptop computer

Julia Noordyk (right) engages with colleagues, discussing coastal resilience concerns while sitting on the shore of Lake Michigan. Photo: Narayan Mahon

Noordyk has been with Sea Grant for more than nine years, coming from the Maine Coastal Program where she worked as a senior planner focused on outreach programs in offshore wind energy, water quality and coastal public access.

Now based in Green Bay, she has devoted herself to public engagement. Noordyk serves on the Green Bay Sustainability Commission. She said she counts among the most-rewarding actions in her time on the commission the support offered to city staff to build flood resilience, removal of green infrastructure barriers and the March 2, 2021, common council adoption of a resolution to value and protect local waters.

She is also co-leading the East River Collaborative, which is committed to building resilience in Brown County’s East River watershed. The area has seen repeated flooding. The collaborative is developing a hydrologic computer model to understand current and future flood risk; forming an East River Watershed Resilience Community of Practice; structuring a community-based watershed resilience framework that is establishing a vision, goals and near-term actions for building community capacity and flood resilience; and accelerating nature-based solutions designed to improve flood-resistance, water quality and quality of life.

The awarding organization also noted Noordyk’s leadership as the Wisconsin Clean Marina Program manager on clean marina protocols that both boost a marina’s bottom line and keep the waters cleaner. Example practices are reducing fuel spills, properly storing hazardous materials, capturing boat wash water and managing stormwater. Last year, Noordyk and partners added a marina resiliency checklist to the clean marina certification process. The self-assessment identifies risks, vulnerabilities and information gaps. It provides a blueprint for coastal communities and marinas to prioritize, plan and initiate enhancements to ensure marina resiliency to coastal hazards

Sea Grant’s Fisheries Specialist Titus Seilheimer said, “In my decade of working with Julia, she has been a constant inspiration for me. Every time I hear about what she is working on and the impacts that it is having, I think, ‘Wow, how can I be more like Julia?’ She is the definition of a Lake Michigan Champion.”

This is the sixth year champion awards have been given. In addition to Noordyk, other 2022 winners are the Glen Hills Youth Team, Bill Moren and Clean Farm Families of Ozaukee County, led by Andy Holschbach and Mike Paulus.

The Lake Michigan Stakeholders organization is made up of professionals in the fields of environmental management, academic research, education, community outreach, outdoor advocacy, agriculture and private industry. Its members collaborate to promote and celebrate the health and viability of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan basin through stewardship and education.

The post Noordyk named a Lake Michigan Champion of Conservation first appeared on Wisconsin Sea Grant.

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News Releases | Wisconsin Sea Grant

News Releases | Wisconsin Sea Grant

Moira Harrington

Great Lakes platform helps connect green investors with regional projects

By Kari Lydersen

This story was first published on the Energy News Network and was republished here with permission.

A two-year-old economic development partnership is helping to draw attention — and investment dollars — to sustainability projects in the Great Lakes region.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

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Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

Energy News Network

Michigan’s climate-ready future: wetland parks, less cement, roomy shores

What does Michigan’s future look like if we adequately prepare the state’s water resources for climate change? Goodbye to septics and shore-hugging homes. Hello to more diversified crops on Michigan farms.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

Bridge Michigan

Green Infrastructure: Cities around the Great Lakes plan for a changing future

Rain gardens, bioretention features, adaptable parks and more are popping up all around the region.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

Andrew Blok

In a concise and informative video released today, Wisconsin Sea Grant presents the science behind the effectiveness of green infrastructure—rain gardens or green roofs, for instance. Green infrastructure can turn down the heat and improve water quality and habitat by absorbing heavy rainfall and diverting it from a sewer system. The question is, what combination of curbside gardens, verdant roofs—or other approaches—packs the most punch.

The video explores the interplay between widespread green infrastructure, urban heat islands and rainfall. “You get this heat bubble around cities and that has some health consequences for people living in the cities,” said Steve Loheide, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of civil and environmental engineering. “It also affects the weather around the cities.”

In Milwaukee, for example, storms typically come from the west and hit the city where the temperature is warmed by lots of pavement and asphalt roofs. Then, that stormy warm air rises. What rushes into the void left by the warm air is water-laden air from over Lake Michigan, known as an urban sea breeze. This, said Dan Wright, “Turns it (the city) into a hotspot for thunderstorms that tend to cause urban flash flooding.” Wright is also a civil and environmental engineering professor on the Madison campus.

Loheide, Wright and other research team members Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Water Resources Science Policy Fellow Carolyn Voter and UW-Madison Ph.D. student Aaron Alexander are using models to gauge how a suite of one of the nation’s most ambitious green infrastructure plans, with numerous greening goals, might affect temperature and precipitation.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and city of Milwaukee plan to increase tree canopy, depave parking lots and schoolyards, and install green roofs, rain gardens and porous pavement.

Porous pavement in Milwaukee captures rainwater for infiltration versus running into surface waters or as untreated water into the sewer system. Photo by: Kevin Miyazaki.

Sea Grant Videographer Bonnie Willison spoke to the researchers over Zoom and toured Milwaukee’s green infrastructure sites with MMSD’s Bre Plier. “After hearing so much about the considerable benefits green infrastructure can bring to a city, it was great to be able to visit and get footage of these sites,” Willison said.

 Her favorite quote from all the conversations was an uplifting one from Voter, who said, “I really like this project because it feels very hopeful to me. It feels like we’re not just thinking, “Well, what’s going to happen when we have heavy rainfall.’ We’re thinking, ‘Can we change this? Can we take matters into our own hands and reduce our risk.’ ”

The post New video explores greening of Milwaukee to combat heat island and flooding first appeared on Wisconsin Sea Grant.

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News Releases – Wisconsin Sea Grant

News Releases – Wisconsin Sea Grant

Moira Harrington

Some cities are turning to natural infrastructure to deal with extreme rain events

Climate change in the Great Lakes region means more intense storms. Already some towns are finding they’re flooding where they never have before. One city in Michigan is finding the solution is nature.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

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Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

Michigan Radio

Cross-border Concerns: Biden administration a new opportunity for Canadian cooperation over Great Lakes

Great Lakes watchers were pleased that newly elected President Joe Biden’s first phone call to a foreign leader went to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, hoping the call signals the beginning of more harmonious relations in the basin.

The previous four years under Donald Trump had been rocky.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

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Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

Andrew Reeves

University gives St. Marys River clean, green boost

This article was republished here with permission from Great Lakes Echo.

By Taylor Haelterman, Great Lakes Echo

High school students, community groups and Lake Superior State University will use landscaping this summer to reduce pollution flowing into the St. Marys River.

The project recently received $250,000 from the United States Forest Service as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that protects Great Lakes drinking water and habitat.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

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Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Echo

Milwaukee Neighborhood Pushes Toward Climate Resilience

Over the last two decades, Milwaukee's Walnut Way neighborhood has gradually transformed from lifeless parcels to green space and become a model for others.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

WUWM-FM, Milwaukee Public Broadcasting

Barker’s Island in Superior looks different than it did a year ago. Construction on the island’s public beach rearranged and added structures to help improve water quality and provide a better experience for swimmers.

More changes are in store for the next two summers, all designed to reduce stormwater runoff and protect water quality in the Superior Bay and ultimately, Lake Superior.

Conceptual designs were recently completed for work at the Barker’s Island Marina and will be completed in 2020 for areas around Barker’s Island Inn, thanks to several grants and cooperation among the two businesses and Sea Grant programs in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, as well as the City of Superior, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, The Ohio State University, and the Wisconsin Marine Association.

Three projects at the marina will begin work this summer. Four others at the inn will begin in 2021. Here’s the rundown.

Barker’s Island Marina will be updated in 2020 with a stormwater wetland. The project will treat runoff from the service area and parking lot. Image by Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Barker’s Island Marina

A stormwater wetland will be created at Barker’s Island Marina in 2020 in an unused area along the coast to treat runoff from the service area and parking lot. Currently, runoff from these areas flows into a ditch and the harbor. As part of this, the marina will be graded and repaved to direct water toward the stormwater wetland. They will also install a boat wash station.

Julia Noordyk, water quality and coastal communities outreach specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant, explains the importance of boat wash stations. “Copper anti-fouling paints are used on the bottoms of boats. At the end of the season when they’re power-washed, it just all sloughs off. You have some heavy metals potentially going into the water body. Boat wash stations are a really great thing. They capture the water rather than having it just drain directly into the lake.”

The second area is the parking lot at the marina where boats are stored for winter. The lot currently features a stormwater pond that doesn’t function properly. It sometimes floods, putting people and boats at risk. The design team plans to install an underground pipe so the pond can drain properly, plus a forebay to capture sediment coming off the parking lot, which will improve water quality.

If enough funds are left after the first two fixes, the third will be to install a large cistern to catch water off the roof of the marina maintenance building, delaying its flow into the bay. The water could be used for rinsing tanks and other water supply needs by the marina.

These activities are supported by a grant designed to advance stormwater management at Great Lakes marinas through the Great Lakes Protection Fund. As part of this project, a tool is being developed that will help marina owners and operators choose the best green infrastructure projects for their operations. Barker’s Island Marina is one of three marinas in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio chosen to test the tool and install the green infrastructure practices. Researchers from The Ohio State University and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve will monitor the site before and after installation to record changes in water quality.

After completing the projects and adopting other best-management practices, Barker’s Island Marina will become a certified Clean Marina in the state of Wisconsin. The Clean Marina Program is designed to reduce pollution from marinas to protect Wisconsin’s waterways. Program staff conduct site visits to verify marina practices and provide training and technical support to marina and boatyard managers.

“I’m impressed by Barker’s Island Marina’s willingness to participate in this project and go through the certification process,” Noordyk said. “They understand that healthy water quality and a clean Lake Superior is crucial to their business plan.”

“It’s a unique opportunity to advance green infrastructure and help improve water quality at the marina, as well as improve its resiliency to coastal storms, and flooding,” said Todd Breiby, program coordinator with the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, which is partnering with Sea Grant on the Great Lakes Protection Fund grant. “We’re hoping what we learn on Barker’s Island can be transferred to other locations and marinas around the state.”

The marina sits on city land, so the city of Superior is also involved.

“There’s a lot of really good energy on Barker’s Island right now,” said Andrea Crouse, water resources program coordinator with the city. “We know that a lot of boaters spend time on the water because they love being around water, and they value programs like the Clean Marina Program. We expect this will be a draw for people who are out on sailboats or motorboats on the lake – knowing that they could dock at a place where there’s a clean marina certification and good practices is something that people feel good about.”

Barker’s Island Inn

The parking lot at Barker’s Island Inn will get a “green” makeover in 2021. Image by Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Crouse said the city was recently awarded a grant for just under $500,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes Program to improve stormwater storage and reduce runoff impacts on Barker’s Island, including a “green” parking lot around Barker’s Island Inn. Conceptual plans call for installing infiltration medians and pervious surfaces around the lot edges in 2021 to discourage water runoff, and planting native trees and shrubs.

“We’re also exploring dark-sky lighting options for the parking lot,” Crouse said. “We’re thinking not only about water quality, but about how we can keep this a safe and well-lit area for people using it, while minimizing the ambient light that’s shining up into the sky or being directed to places that are problematic for wildlife.”

Across the road from the lot is a sandy area used as a catamaran launch, however, it was never an official site. Crouse said the area is eroding, sending sediment into the harbor. Plans involve creating an official launch and installing grass paving, which is a grid of plastic that can withstand the weight of vehicles and heavy foot traffic. This will stabilize the shoreline and prevent soil compaction and erosion.

And that walking trail that currently dead-ends across from the inn? Crouse said it’s going to be expanded. “Most people like walking in a loop, so we’re going to lengthen the trail to go around the hotel property and allow walkers to extend their hike,” she said. The trail will be constructed with low-impact practices, possibly a porous asphalt.

The final of the areas slated for work in 2021 are the tennis courts behind the inn. “They are in rough shape right now,” said Crouse. “We’ll be talking with the inn to discuss whether they want to keep one of those courts or none of them . . . But we’ll be removing several of them, at least, and putting in a green playground area so there will be more room for children and families that are using the space, as well as folks that are using the marina.”

Crouse said the timing of the projects is fortunate. “…Knowing that these projects might be happening at a similar time will allow us to be really efficient with city effort and funds so we can design these as much as possible in tandem. It’s a huge benefit to the public for us to be able to coordinate these projects together.”

Original Article

News Releases – Wisconsin Sea Grant

News Releases – Wisconsin Sea Grant

Marie Zhuikov