WUWM: Environmental Reporting

Many of us are environmentally aware — many recycle, some conserve water, you might ride a bike to work. But we do face profound environmental challenges.

Help WUWM’s Environmental Reporter Susan Bence dig deeper into the issues you are most concerned about.

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Susan Bence

Starting Friday, people leading projects designed to preserve native plants and animals are meeting to report and share ideas. They're gathering at a nature preserve north of Port Washington.

It's kind of like a summit on steroids. Each presenter has 20 minutes to dazzle fellow conservationists with charts and graphs. But this is no laughing matter – habitat is dwindling, and so are species.

chalermchai / stock.adobe.com

The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservancy, fondly known as The Domes, is perhaps equal parts iconic and at risk. Like fellow Milwaukee County facilities, it is woefully in need of maintenance.

Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, whose district includes The Domes, is proposing a new source of revenue: growing hemp in one of the dome's greenhouses.

Susan Bence

More and more people appear concerned about the public health dangers posed by lead – especially to young children and pregnant women. Among the groups trying to move from conversation to action is the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County. The group convened a roundtable discussion Tuesday in West Allis.

Michael Kienitz

Award-winning photojournalist Michael Kienitz's career was sparked by the Vietnam War. The Madison, Wis. native and at the time UW-Madison student says he was struck by the contrast between the protesting he saw around him and how it was reported in newspapers. Kienitz picked up a camera and never put it down.

Susan Bence

Gov. Tony Evers' administration has been promoting action on climate change since his inauguration day in January. In Milwaukee Thursday, Evers took a step toward tangible action.

He announced the creation of a task force charged with coming up with recommendations to combat climate change.

Susan Bence

We Energies says it's time to increase its electric rates. But critics say customers will be paying more while the utility remains too reliant on polluting energy sources like coal.

Dmitry Naumov / stock.adobe.com

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) thinks it's come up with a good formula to better protect Americans from lead in drinking water, calling it a major and much-needed overhaul. Officials unveiled the proposal Thursday in Green Bay. But concern is already bubbling up among those who feel the EPA changes aren't stringent enough.

malp / stock.adobe.com

Driving down poverty and increasing wellness — these are among the critical challenges being tackled at the annual Summit on Poverty.

The two-day program is a collaboration between Marquette University and the Social Development Commission. It’s designed to foster creative conversations among community leaders, educators, and members of the community. 

Ellen Damschen

As habitats shrink and the climate changes, animals and plants are facing challenges across the globe.

But a group of scientists, including from UW-Madison, is finding signs of hope through a research project in South Carolina. They wanted to see if they could improve the odds for species by experimenting with the longleaf pine savanna in South Carolina.

Dwayne Sperber

Chuck Leavell plays keyboards with the Rolling Stones. But he’s also a passionate environmentalist and forester.

"There was a personal connection for me. Where does that wonderful thing that's given me so much joy and a great career come from? Of course, it comes from the resource of wood, as do many, many other musical instruments. Without wood there would be hardly any music, we'd just be singing acapella," Leavell explains.

Susan Bence

Milwaukee’s harbor district is evolving. On its northern edge plans are afoot for a hotel, apartment and office complex. When that happens, a decades’ long fixture will  probably disappear — Jerry's Dock.

There’s nothing pretty about the place. It’s tucked along the Milwaukee River, on the edge of its intersection with the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers, on their path to Lake Michigan.

Susan Bence

People around the world, including in Milwaukee, concerned about climate change will take part in the Global Climate Strike, which starts Friday.

Ahead of Friday's Milwaukee rally, a corner of the cavernous basement beneath a UWM art studio building is filled with clusters of people chatting, munching on pizza. But mostly, they’re focused on the work at hand. Among them is Nicholas Lampert.

"I was screen printing these patches that people will wear at the demonstration and on the back of jackets," Lampert says.

Engberg Anderson

Have you wondered what will become of the iconic Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, better known as The Domes, on Milwaukee’s near south side?

A task force hopes to convince county leaders and residents that both The Domes and the green space around it can be restored by building partnerships and raising funds.

Susan Bence

An estimated 1.7 million Wisconsinites rely on private wells for water. That includes the residents of Richfield, which is located northwest of Milwaukee in rural Washington County.

Richfield is trying to balance development with ensuring there is enough well water for all.

Susan Bence

There's been a lot of talk about Milwaukee efforts to shore up its childhood lead program and remove old lead pipes that feeds drinking water to tens of thousands of homes in the city.

Now, Milwaukee County hopes a proposed initiative will help risks found in foreclosed homes. 

The idea is to create a small, revolving loan fund to help county residents remove lead hazards — both paint and old lead service lines – when they buy a foreclosed home from the county.

Светлана Лазаренко / stock.adobe.com

PFAS may be foreign to many, but residents in Marinette, Wis., are living with the man-made contaminant.

PFAS is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of thousands of synthetic chemicals that don’t break down in the environment and bio-accumulate. That means they become concentrated inside the bodies of living things, like humans. PFAS are known as "forever" chemicals.

Jack Glover / UW-Milwaukee

Some cities are embracing the idea of edible urban forests. Food Forests have taken root in places like La Crosse, Wis., and Seattle, Wash.

Now, a Milwaukee advocate is trying to create a 2.2-acre version. Barbara Richards hasn't chosen one of the city's many empty lots, but one of its most popular areas – the Park East Corridor, just north of downtown.

Arlin Karnopp

Every four years Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) reviews what is called the Livestock Facility Siting Law. The law, and its rules, regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), including:

Susan Bence

You might assume Waukesha is installing massive pipes that will deliver Lake Michigan water to its residents. After all, the Great Lakes governors approved the city’s request three years ago. But Waukesha still needs the green light from Wisconsin environmental regulators.

READ: Waukesha Celebrates Great Lakes Compact Council Decision

Susan Bence

Updated Oct. 8 at 2:15 p.m. CT

The Kirtland’s warbler is officially coming off of the endangered species list. This success story comes as the Trump administration has proposed stripping protections built into that law.

Leah Qusba

Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order Friday declaring a goal of attaining 100% clean energy throughout Wisconsin by 2050. Evers also announced the formation of an Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy. The office would promote the development and use of clean energy across Wisconsin.

Lloyd DeGrane / for the Alliance for the Great Lakes

The potential impact of Asian carp on the Great Lakes has many people on edge. A new study draws attention to the threat Asian carp could pose to the Great Lakes.

While concern persists that the invasive fish could move from the Mississippi River Basin into Lake Michigan, questions remain whether the fish would find enough food to survive.

Susan Bence

Preston Cole is one step away from officially heading the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

While he awaits a State Senate vote on his assignment, the secretary-designee says there’s no time to waste when it comes to addressing Wisconsin’s drinking water concerns. Cole is optimistic solutions will be found. 

Momentum began when Gov. Tony Evers declared 2019 the year of clean drinking water.

Alesandra Tejeda

Plastic is difficult to escape. Many products are wrapped, sealed and mailed in some sort of plastic material.

And it can be difficult to know what to do with plastic bags, especially since curbside programs in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin don't accept plastic bags. However, they can be put in collection bins at some grocery stores and other businesses.

Leonid / stock.adobe.com

A pizza box, an old T-shirt, a burned-out lightbulb. This all goes into the trash bin, right?

Well, not quite.

Susan Bence

Updated on Aug. 19, at 12:55 p.m CT
UW-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences reports that We Energies has installed carbon filters on air handlers that serve the south wing of the school, which is where most people work. Filters weren’t installed in the north building, but the school will be monitoring whether odors are detected there.

ReFlo

The story of Starms Early Childhood isn't unique in Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Public Schools' building at 36th and Burleigh Streets is more than 100 years old and until recently, its playground was dominated by asphalt. 

But that’s about to change thanks to a green infrastructure project.

Lisa Misky can't wait. She's taught at Starms for 21 years. Over the years, she and her colleagues gradually added some green to the children's world. They put in a perennial garden bed in the front with the help of small grants.

Susan Bence

Mayor Tom Barrett says the city of Milwaukee is committed to fueling 25% of its energy needs with renewable sources by 2025, but climate change requires additional action. Earlier this month the city introduced its official Green Infrastructure Plan. It includes strategies to manage water resources and adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

adobestock_159864723

States across the Midwest have been individually grappling with how to control a fatal disease impacting deer. This week, twelve states, including Wisconsin, agreed to work together to control chronic wasting disease, or CWD.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hosted a two-day gathering in Madison that brought together state wildlife biologists, Wisconsin Tribal Nations' members, as well as state and federal conservation groups.

Together, they came up with these priorities:

Rita Flores Wiskowski

Over the last decade, Milwaukee County Parks has carried out 5,000 bird surveys and documented close to 370,000 birds throughout the system.

That work contributed to Milwaukee County Parks’ recent designation as an Important Bird Area (IBA). It is granted by a group called the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.

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