Milwaukee WI – The Fund for Lake Michigan has made another round of innovative and collaborative investments in Wisconsin’s future.
Twenty projects -- totaling $1.25 million in grants and leveraging an additional $5.36 million in federal, local and private dollars -- will help build and educate Wisconsin’s workforce, support diverse communities, and strengthen economies throughout the state while improving Lake Michigan water quality.
“Our targeted investments pay dividends by reducing flooding, improving beach quality, boosting local economies and safeguarding Lake Michigan, a source of drinking water for millions," said Vicki Elkin, Executive Director of the Fund for Lake Michigan. "Whether working in rural areas or in the heart of our cities the Fund helps Wisconsin in countless ways."
In Milwaukee, a high-profile outdoor exhibit will transform the main entrance of the Milwaukee Public Museum into a hub for learning about solar energy, storm water management, and sustainable infrastructure. The project features an innovative storm water collection system that includes meandering "porous" pathways, native plantings, and pollinator gardens. This system can take in over 32,000 gallons of storm water on a rainy day.
"This project will allow us to replace an underutilized outdoor space with an educational, entertaining, and beautiful welcome to the museum," said Hillary Olson, Vice President of Audience and Community Engagement. “With over 500,000 visitors per year, MPM is one of the most visited institutions in Wisconsin. We’re thrilled to add this outdoor exhibit for museum visitors and passers-by alike.” Construction will begin later this year.
The Fund is also sponsoring a plan to reduce flooding around the Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club in Sherman Park. Frequent flooding makes much of the park unusable during heavy rains. The goal of the plan is to make the park safer and more welcoming while increasing opportunities for community gatherings, recreation and environmental education.
“Together with the Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation, & Culture and GRAEF, we will assess environmental needs and gather community feedback to improve storm water management, water safety issues, and neighborhood involvement in the park,” said Vincent Lyles, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
Along the lakefront, a grant to Milwaukee County Parks Department will improve water quality and make conditions safer for swimmers at Bradford and South Shore beaches. With support from the Fund, the county will invest in a cutting-edge, solar-powered water disinfection system that uses sunlight to treat storm water at outfalls along the lake. This end-of-pipe technology can kill bacteria, such as E.Coli, and other contaminants that pose health risks and can lead to beach closures.
Further south in Franklin, a grant to the Hunger Task Force will support restoration efforts at "The Farm," which produces fresh fruits and vegetables for distribution to needy families in southeast Wisconsin.
"We take environmental stewardship very seriously since the connection between clean water and healthy foods obviously runs deep," said Farm Director Matt King.
To that end, The Farm is using a herd of goats to help control invasive species along the banks of the Root River. Nearly a third of the 208 acres of property at The Farm falls within the river corridor.
"Our goats provide a natural and cost-effective way to get rid of nuisance plants like honeysuckle, buckthorn and garlic mustard," said King. "They'll eat just about anything green."
The riverbanks will be replanted with deep-rooted native plants to help slow erosion and runoff into the Root River.
Read the complete list of Fund for Lake Michigan grants.
The Fund for Lake Michigan was established in 2011 as part of an agreement between We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, WPPI Energy, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club. The Fund supports a variety of projects to help Lake Michigan and its tributaries -- including beach improvements, habitat restoration, shoreline enhancements and run off control. To date, the Fund has awarded $16.5 million in grants designed to boost recreation, protect the environment and spur economic development in the Milwaukee area and Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan coast.