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Shores of Lake Michigan

The Fund for Lake Michigan is focused on making a profound impact on the health of Lake Michigan and its communities. We are here to help ensure the Lake continues to be both an economic powerhouse and an environmental treasure to the citizens of Wisconsin and the Midwest.

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan FFLM from Milwaukee

North Beach

Approximately 200,000 visitors come to North Beach every year for special events or just to have fun! Dr. Julie Kinzelman shows us how North Beach went from a biologically unsound area to a thriving beach voted one of the best in the country by several top periodicals. Julie got grants as an undergraduate student studying beach pollution. She wanted to go further with her studies and so got advanced degrees -- while at the same time working full time. She got her PhD from the UK and began to think about beaches as a social necessity. Citizens need the recreational beaches for social happiness. Looking at Racine's North Beach, she thought it was time to clean it up and give it back to the community.With the Iron Man Race as the backdrop, So how'd she do it? Grooming, Storm water management to help improve water quality by way of aesthetically pleasing sand dunes. Adjustments to the bacteria in the sand via routine grooming and much much more!

Submitted by Julie Kinzelman from Racine

Discovery World

Over the last 10 years, we have made strong progress in promoting Milwaukee as a center for global freshwater innovation. Others around the world have taken note of the world-class efforts underway here. As that work continues, it is more crucial than ever before that our citizens recognize the importance of sustaining and preserving the Great Lakes. The future prosperity of Milwaukee, and other cities located in the Great Lakes Basin, is directly related to how well we steward and sustain our most precious and vital natural resource. Discovery World is extremely proud to partner with the Fund for Lake Michigan to create an educational laboratory that provides tools for our community and our region to better understand and more appropriately utilize our freshwater assets. This educational workspace will allow us to teach future generations the importance of sustainability and ensure the Great Lakes continue to offer both economic opportunity and life-sustaining freshwater for generations to come. Young people in our community are coming to understand and appreciate that their healthy personal and economic future is connected with the health of Lake Michigan and our Great Lakes. With help from the Fund for Lake Michigan, Discovery World is educating them today and inspiring them to envision where they can take us in the future.

Submitted by Joel Brennan from Milwaukee

Bradford Beach, Milwaukee

Every year, my family spends a week on Lake Michigan, near Sheboygan. It all started 4 years ago, one Mother’s Day, when our plan to go to the Milwaukee Zoo derailed because of the incredibly long lines of cars and people waiting to get in. We went to Bradford Beach instead and had the most amazing day. The sun was warm, the sky was blue, and the water crystal clear and cold. The boys ran, splashed, built sand castles, and even swam in their clothes in the cold water. We picnicked on the rocks, looking out over the calm lake. It was the best Mother’s Day ever. Now we meet up with my parents and brother every summer and enjoy Lake Michigan together. My east coast family has declared it better than the ocean! We walk the beach, roast marshmallows over a fire, kayak on calm days when you can see every fish swimming below, stand in awe of the surf in stormy weather, swim in the chilly water and build monstrous sand castles. We all treasure those days as some of the best we spend together. For us, Lake Michigan is a form of family glue. It binds us to each other and cements the bonds between us, even though we live a thousand miles apart the rest of the year. There is nothing more valuable than that.

Submitted by Emily Green from Madison

Ridges Sanctuary

Anyone living along Lake Michigan rapidly develops respect for its environmental significance, but The Ridges quite literally would not exist without the lake. Even our name is derived from the undulating ridges and swales created by its fluctuating levels over the last 1100 years. Surprisingly, it was not this dramatic landscape that led to the founding of Wisconsin’s first land trust. What did? As it turns out, two little lighthouses were pivotal in sparking the county’s earliest conservation effort. The Baileys Harbor Range Lights were built in 1869 to guide ships to safe harbor, a development critical to shipping trade on the Lake Michigan side of the Door Peninsula. Back then, the town was the county seat and a bustling logging center, its livelihood dependent on exporting lumber across the Great Lakes. The addition of the lighthouses made Baileys Harbor the only harbor of safe refuge north of Milwaukee. When the Bureau of Lighthouses deeded acreage around the Lights to the Door County Park Commission in 1934, the commissioners decided to use the land for a trailer park. Among those outraged by the decision were a handful of individuals who valued the rare orchids growing there. Led by botanist Albert Fuller, they formed The Ridges Sanctuary in 1937 to stop the development and preserve the unique terrain. Today The Ridges maintains the iconic Range Lights and protects 1600 acres of one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the state.

Submitted by Judy Drew from Baileys Harbor

Riveredge Sanctuary

Holding a lake sturgeon fingerling, it’s nearly impossible not to feel the tremendous weight of both past and future in your hands. Sturgeon were swimming at the time of the dinosaurs and served as a vital food source and species of great cultural importance to many Native American tribes. These six inch hatchlings can ultimately grow up to 200 pounds and live over 100 years. It’s entirely possible the fish in front of you might one day be swimming in the same lake as your great grandchildren. Riveredge Nature Center is working with the Wisconsin DNR to ensure this species will be around for generations to come. Overfishing, pollution and the building of dams decimated this once abundant species to only a few thousand left in Lake Michigan. As part of an innovative project to restore this species to Wisconsin’s waterways, sturgeon eggs and fingerlings are raised in Milwaukee River water at a streamside rearing facility on Riveredge property from day one. There, they receive daily care and feeding from a dedicated team of community volunteers. At our yearly Sturgeon Fest celebration, thousands of people come to celebrate the fish and help us release them into Lake Michigan. Watching the look of joy on a child’s face as they place the sturgeon in the water, or the laughter coming from a bride and groom in full wedding gear on the docks, you see the real lesson of this project: coming together to protect and enhance our local waters is not only possible; it can be a blast.

Submitted by Matt Gaboury from Saukville

Petrifying Springs State Park

Petrifying Springs has always been my favorite park. It has such a unique, special flavor, the way it’s laid out with the park following the river, the old WPA-built buildings and one of the last old-growth forests in southern Wisconsin. It has so much history and so many stories… But it was degraded for years. People only paid attention when there were huge piles of soap suds in the river, or when flooding closed the park and left us with tons of debris to clean up. It seemed like the biggest thing I needed to do was to get the restoration work started on the public’s section of this river, but for years I didn’t have the authority to do anything. Finally, when I became the park director, I was able to partner with the County Executive and that is when we were able to make things happen. We started by removing the old dam and restoring the central section of river, the bridge and the road. And since the restoration, park visitors have more than doubled! In addition, when the construction crew was working on the bridge, they witnessed the return of the salmon migration. Salmon swam upstream for the first time in more than 75 years. They were thrilled to be part of that. Our time here is limited and I’m grateful to have been part of helping restore and protect this special place for all to enjoy.

Submitted by Jonathan Rudie from Kenosha

Rotary Centennial Arboretum

The Rotary Club of Milwaukee (RCM) cares deeply about Milwaukee, as well as its valuable natural resources, such as water. Healing the rivers that flow into the Great Lakes is an essential component of a plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of our region. RCM first became involved with our waterways when we co-founded the River Revitalization Foundation, a land trust, with Kiwanis, more than 25 year ago. Most recently, and under leadership of the Urban Ecology Center, RCM and its partners—the River Revitalization Foundation, the Milwaukee Urban Rivers Foundation, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the County and the City—developed the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum as the gateway to the Milwaukee Greenway on abandoned post-industrial land. The Arboretum opened on September 28, 2013 to commemorate the Club’s 100th anniversary.

Submitted by Mary McCormick from Milwaukee

Schlitz Audubon

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is Milwaukee’s comprehensive nature center. Our trails take visitors through 185-acre forests, wetlands, restored prairies, ravines, bluffs and the Lake Michigan shoreline. From students discovering geology rocks in the sand to birders enjoying the flurry of activity due to our location along a migratory flyway, being on Lake Michigan uniquely sets us apart as a nature center. This Great Lake impacts the work we undertake, the educational opportunities we provide, and the health of our surrounding community.

Submitted by Nancy Quinn from Milwaukee

Bradford Beach

My wife and I planned to leave Milwaukee as soon as we could. We'd received scholarships to attend graduate school at Marquette University that were too good to pass up, but assured our families in Portland, Oregon, that after graduation we'd promptly be moving back west. We've long since graduated, but Lake Michigan has kept us here. As millennials, we want to be a part of the economic renaissance in Milwaukee around water technology and the vibrant neighborhoods and parks that are blossoming along the shores of it's rivers. Magical water moments are uniquely common here, like late last spring when I picked our son up from school and 10 minutes later (on bikes!) we had arrived at a stunning beach to enjoy yet another simple game of bury dad's feet in the sand.

Submitted by Nate Conroy from Milwaukee

Newport S.P.

I first encountered Newport S.P., on the tip of the Door Peninsula, when searching for a camping site with my husband and sister over 25 years ago. At Peninsula S.P., where we had no luck, they told us there were 3 sites available at Newport. We high-tailed it there, not realizing that those 3 sites were each more than a mile from the parking lot, and so unlikely to be claimed by others. We were totally unprepared for hauling gear and food and water through the woods, but even more unprepared for the awe-inspiring beauty of our own private rock beach, with a view over Lake Michigan to Spider Island, a view achieved after walking on paths of pine needles and sand, amidst a forest of green ferns and mossy rocks. The utter calm, quiet and serenity of this treasured spot descend immediately, and you feel like you've never left for the hectic world outside. We've biked and walked the paths, dunked ourselves in the - brisk! - water, lain in a field of forget-me-nots so blue as to rival a clear fall sky, fought off voracious porcupines and cooked up some most delicious dinners here, creating memories that sustain us between visits. I've found myself so in need of a Newport visit that I've driven up when I had just one night to spend - a journey more than worth the effort. True to its name, I feel reNEWed after every stay.

Submitted by Karen Bassler from Madison

Menomonee River in the City of Milwaukee

Our friends at the Urban Ecology Center - Menomonee Valley Branch, Glenna Holstein and Jeff Veglahn, were out on a bird walk in late November 2015 and noticed some chew marks on a couple trees on the north side of the Menomonee River adjacent to Three Bridges Park. Clearly, the marks were made by an "urban" beaver! The revitalization of the Menomonee River Valley from 15 years ago to today has been remarkable and part of that transformation is due to the Fund for Lake Michigan and their assistance in riverbank restoration.

Submitted by Dave Misky from Milwaukee

Milwaukee River Watershed

In Southeast Wisconsin, native fish need to move between Lake Michigan or larger rivers to tributary streams and wetland areas to reach critical spawning habitat. However, human activities can directly or indirectly result in impediments to aquatic life passage that reduce the connectivity and biological productivity of our watersheds. Impediments can include dams, improperly placed road and stream crossing culverts, debris jams, and invasive vegetation. Removing or remediating these impediments for improved habitat connectivity directly supports the sustainability and/or population recovery for remnant desirable, native, and/or threatened or endangered species. In 2012, the Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department was awarded a FFLM grant to inventory impediments on 8 project streams, prioritize and complete select impediment removal or remediation projects for the maximum ecological benefit, and conduct larval fish monitoring to determine the effectiveness of the fish passage projects. The Department’s “Ozaukee Fish Passage Program” (Program) has completed 8 removal or remediation projects supported by the FFLM funding, reconnecting 2.8 stream miles, 126 acres of floodplain and wetland habitat, and documenting over 850 individual fish at the project sites. To date, the Program has completed 286 impediment removal or remediation projects, reconnecting 132 miles of instream habtat and thousands of acres of wetland habitat.

Submitted by Matt Aho from Port Washington

Ozaukee County

Aquatic organism passage impediments have reduced, or in some cases eliminated, the abundance and sustainability of many native fish populations, particularly for potamodromous populations that migrate between the Great Lakes and their tributary watersheds. The Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department (Department) Fish Passage Program (Program) has released an education and outreach video funded by a WDNR River Protection Planning grant, on the importance of aquatic connectivity in the Great Lakes Basin. This video covers general fish passage concepts is designed for a wide variety of audiences. The video is being distributed to hundreds of schools, non-profit groups, angling groups, federal, state, and local government entities, and other partners across the Great Lakes Basin, including Canadian providences. The Ulao and Kaul Creek Habitat Restoration Project, partially funded by a 2013 FFLM grant, is one of the featured sites in the video.

Submitted by Matt Aho from Port Washington

Turtle Park

Turtle Park, once a three-acre plot of rubble and invasive reed canary grass on the Milwaukee River’s west bank, now draws people in and serves as a prized link in Milwaukee’s emerging urban riverside park system. In 2013, when the River Revitalization Foundation shared its vision of the spot as a kayak and canoe launch, fishing hole, native perennial garden, and wildlife observation point, the Fund for Lake Michigan contributed $248,960 to restore its 650 feet of shoreline. This has permanently reduced polluted runoff into the River. Today, Turtle Park is a model of urban habitat renewal and hands-on learning, hosting a greenhouse, a demonstration garden, school groups, and workers from Americorps and Milwaukee’s Earn and Learn program. Marcell McCoy, Turtle Park Restoration Field Assistant said “It was amazing to see this plan come through and have such positive results. My favorite thing about Turtle Park is being part of the ongoing improvement. Day after day, I see people fish, hike and bike, and just slow down and breathe here. The process and our enjoyment has been steady as a turtle, and it continues.” Bike paths and pedestrian bridges connect Turtle Park visitors to parks along both the east and west banks of the Milwaukee River, including the Urban Ecology Center and the new Rotary Centennial Arboretum.

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

Tippe Rooftop Garden

Storm water management is bearing fruit on the rooftop of Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church (Tippe) in the Bay View neighborhood. Seeds of community support, including $20,000 from the FFLM, have helped establish one of Wisconsin's first "working" rooftop gardens. Community members, many of whom are homeless, tend the garden. The result, in the summer of 2015, was 1,500 pounds of produce donated to the Bayview Community Center’s Food Pantry. In collaboration with the Pantry, gardeners harvest and distribute the produce and run cooking demos and taste testings. In a monthly casserole class, participants prepare a healthy meal to take home. “It’s exciting to see it evolve into a family event,” says Pastor Karen Hagen. “The garden is also a teaching ground for our summer camps. Our flat roof, once the bane of our existence, has enabled us to wed our gardens with our ministry for low income children and the homeless!” Additional funding has allowed Tippe to divert stormwater from its roof into an underground cistern that feeds a rooftop irrigation system. “As long as it rains, we don’t have to turn on the tap to garden.” The ingenious system is a model for similar ones throughout the watershed. With ongoing financial support, Tippe purchases seeds, hires staff, and provides stipends to the homeless gardeners, some of whom have used Tippe as a reference to find work. “It continues to be life giving” says Hagen. "Please join us in empowering the future health of so many!"

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

Three Bridges Park, Milwaukee

Once an abandoned rail yard and dumping ground, Three Bridges Park in Milwaukee’s industrialized Menomonee River Valley has become a living model of collaboration between communities, businesses, engineers, and scientists. “Countless organizations and people have been involved, so this is really a testament to what people can do together,” says Corey Zetts, Executive Director of the Menomonee Valley Partners. In 2012 the Fund For Lake Michigan contributed $74,875 to help reduce erosion, treat contaminated runoff, and improve water quality and habitat along the Park’s 2,600-foot-long stretch of the Menomonee River. After the success of this initial investment, in 2014 the Fund contributed another $40,000 to establish native vegetation in the restored area and implement water quality, floristic, and soil monitoring to inform future management strategies. This has kept an estimated 25 tons per year of contaminated sediment from entering the Menomonee River. Today, this park in the heart of the City has two miles of trails, three bridges, fishing, paddling, community gardens, and native landscaping featuring hills built of recycled refuse from the old Marquette Interchange. The Urban Ecology Center Menomonee Valley Branch, a model of green building at the southwest tip of the park, anchors the park to educational efforts. Eleven (and counting) public schools participate in the Center’s Neighborhood Environmental Education Project. Photo credit: Eddee Daniel

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

Fish Creek, Door County

I got interested in geology rather late in life and on one trip to Fish Creek, I discovered a sheer limestone bluff behind the White Gull Inn. Then I learned that the whole peninsula was part of the Niagara escarpment, the same formation that caused Niagara Falls. I'm sure they tried to teach me that in the classroom but it had more impact to discover it myself.

Submitted by Virginia Coburn from Whitewater

Tippe Rooftop Garden

Hi, thought you'd like a current photo of the rooftop. The pattypan squash are 4 feet high and 8 inches deep!

Submitted by Christine Walker from South milwaukee

North Bank Trail, Menonomee Valley

I discovered the new North Bank Trail by chance last week. Although slated to be completed in the fall, the project appears to be pretty far along already. Formerly one of the “wildest” sections of river in the Menomonee Valley, the riverbank had been severely eroded and the river’s edge virtually inaccessible. The most striking feature of the new North Bank is the re-contoured slope and burlap-encased terraces. Situated across the river from Three Bridges Park, the new trail connects the existing park bike trail with the Hank Aaron State Trail in Stormwater Park. The North Bank is not officially part of a named park. The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee owns the land (as well as Three Bridges Park). In addition to providing the trail link, the project serves two other purposes: bank stabilization is intended to limit erosion and keep soil from sloughing into the river. It also provides public access to the water via two stone staircases that anchor each end of the trail. The $1.4 million project has an alphabet soup of funders, including WisDOT, CMAQ, EPA, GLRI, MMSD, and the Fund for Lake Michigan, as well as some matching funds from the City of Milwaukee. If you need proof of the healing effect of time on such a managed landscape just go across the bridge to Three Bridges Park. Read the whole story here: http://urbanwilderness-eddee.blogspot.com/2016/07/north-bank-trail-nears-completion-in.html Photo by Eddee Daniel

Submitted by Eddee Daniel from Milwaukee

Kohler-Andrea State Park

Growing up in Tennessee, "lake" usually meant a reservoir, but I've experienced the joys of oceanside beaches all over the world. Nothing prepared me for the Fresh Coast that I encountered at Kohler-Andrae State Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. It made our first camping trip with our young children delightful. We tumbled down dunes, buried ourselves in white sand, constructed beach stone and driftwood sculptures, listened to the duet of seagulls and lapping waves, and cooled our toes in Lake Michigan's waters. We returned home on Sunday a bit sad we couldn't stay longer but with that glow and fresh perspective you have after a wonderful trip to a faraway place (even though Kohler-Andrae is just an easy two-hour drive from home). We're already planning our Summer 2017 visit.

Submitted by Alexander Faris from Madison

Port Exploreum, Port Washington

The Lake Michigan Table at Port Washington’s Port Exploreum museum puts the Lake at learners’ fingertips, year round. At this interactive exhibit, users can explore current weather conditions throughout the Lake, including wind speeds, cloud cover, ice cover, and air temperatures; track the movement of freighters and ferries in real time; map out points of interest; and search for actual shipwrecks. This educational tool for taking in the Lake’s history, limnology, meteorology, and geography was funded in part with a $50,000 grant from the FFLM. The Lake Michigan Table’s appeal spans generations and draws visitors to the Exploreum and other Port Washington sites. “This is a great spot! After your visit to the museum, don’t forget to stop at the children's park that sits on a bluff overlooking the Lake,” says Jamie Miller of Madison, who loves to visit the Port Exploreum with her two young children.

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

Walk from Kalamazoo to Saint Joseph and Benton Harbor, looking at Wolf Lake, the fish hatchery, and Lake Michigan

This was a beautiful walk, some of the trails were easy to follow. I made a lot of photos, and posted them to a flickr.com account. These are still slowly being edited, and when they are, the rights become non-profit creative commons, so that my whole family can use them. A few are public domain photos. Yes, I'm doing more observing Lake Michigan, and have developed a fierce interest in moving forward with it. After decades of frustration with Lake Erie, it is great to be able to have earned the right to study a Lake that is moving forwards in bioremediation. There is a vast history of this Lake, and it would be nice if everyone would see how keeping Lake Michigan beautiful benefits everyone, financially, emotionally, visually, etc...

Submitted by Angie J Gray from Niagara Falls

Racine, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties

In a Racine classroom, employees of the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps (CCC) prepare to tackle opportunity areas along the Milwaukee River, the Root River, and the lakefront, where the work of human hands helps improve the health of Lake Michigan. This workforce’s mission is to “leverage resources among Great Lakes communities to train and educate disadvantaged populations for credentials that close the skills gap, improve water quality, build habitat . . . and make the region more competitive in the global economy.” (https://www.facebook.com/GLCCCWI/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf) Under a grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan, the CCC is removing invasive species in a chain of 9 federal islands in the Milwaukee River estuary and monitoring water quality at beaches that show promise as potential swimming areas. The CCC is also installing permeable pavement systems that filter pollutants and minimize stormwater management costs. These installations, one of which is seen in the photo here, serve to train a regional workforce of installers and as demonstration sites for an innovative, effective, and thrifty alternative to conventional pavement.

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

Menominee River

If you’re a sturgeon looking for entertainment, you won’t be disappointed by what you find on the Menominee River, which forms part of the border between Northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Here, sturgeon can ride newly-constructed water slides and fish elevators that aren’t just for fun--they’re for survival. The construction of dams along the Menominee River in the 19th and 20th centuries impeded water flow and in some cases presented physical barriers to the sturgeon reaching historic spawning and rearing habitat. Populations of this magical fish dwindled. Finding a solution required bringing together biologists, engineers, industrial stakeholders, conservationists, and other Wisconsinites who love their fisheries and their natural resources. Thanks to this expansive, multi-year project that the River Alliance of Wisconsin is carrying out with support from the US EPA, the Great Lakes Restoration Project, local partners, the Fund for Lake Michigan, and others, sturgeon can once again make the upstream journey along the Menominee River to critical habitat. The Fund is helping to further this project with an equipment and supplies grant so that River Alliance can fully build out the sturgeon monitoring system of radio telemetry and video photography that will enable fish biologists to evaluate and tweak the fish passage devices. With other habitat renewal efforts underway in the Lake Michigan watershed, the sturgeon population is gradually increasing.

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

Crescent Beach

Friends of Crescent Beach (FOCB) in partnership with the Algoma Area Chamber of Commerce, presented the 2nd annual Soar on the Shore kiting event on August 20th. While Mother Nature chose to put on a stormy display of her own that day, once the sky cleared kites of all sizes and shapes again appeared in the sky over Crescent Beach thanks to the Wisconsin Kiters Club. New this year was a DJ to provide musical accompaniment for kite performances, a kite candy drop for kids, and food and refreshments. A successful raffle will provide funding for future beach improvements. Children also made their own kites from kits provided by FOCB. In addition, a beach mosaic activity was added to the event. Participants enjoyed creating beach stone masterpieces using the plentiful red, black and white beach stones. Soar on the Shore was a fun, family friendly day that supported FOCB’s goal to promote the enjoyment of Crescent Beach.

Submitted by Catherine Pabich from Algoma

Hunger Task Force Farm and Fish Hatchery

Hunger Task Force places great focus on environmental conservation and restoration initiatives in order to enhance and preserve our Farm land for future generations. Thanks to the generosity and leadership of the Fund for Lake Michigan, Hunger Task Force Farm launched the Root River Floodplain Restoration project in December of 2015. The project has been successful at restoring 13 acres of The Farm’s natural areas surrounding the Root River Floodplain. Among the project's successes, Hunger Task Force staff and volunteers have controlled and removed a remarkable amount of invasive species to date. In Spring, Summer, and Fall 2016, manual (pull and bag), chemical (foliar treatments), and mechanical (skid steer brush mowing) methods were used to control and remove garlic mustard, Dame’s rocket, teasel, wild parsnip, purple loosestrife, Canada thistle, and burdock on over 45 acres. In addition, Wetland Monitoring was a success for the third year in a row. As in years past, we trapped a variety of invertebrates and collected data for better insight into their health and wellbeing. A Fall 2016 Burn plan has been approved by the Franklin Fire Department. We will monitor the 9-acre burn site for potential challenges including heavy fall rains and large standing pools of water. Thanks to the thoughtful leadership of the FFLM, the Hunger Task Force Farm will continue to restore our natural areas, leading to clean waterways and vibrant communities.

Submitted by Adam Romanak from Franklin

Wehr Nature Center, Milwaukee County

This photo was from a workday at the Wehr Nature Center. Over the course of several days, students from Indian Community School, Milwaukee New School For Community Services, Ronald Reagan High School - Milwaukee, and Forest Park Middle School planted over 200 trees! Milwaukee County Parks is undertaking an effort to remove invasive species in ten sites within the Lake Michigan watershed and replace them with native plants and trees. The project, called “A Collaborative Effort to Restore Urban Green Spaces Through Expanded Community-based Stewardship," is yielding enhanced wildlife habitat, more beautiful urban spaces, and a natural and extremely cost-effective system for capturing and filtering pollutants before they reach the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan. It's a hands-on learning experience, with local high school and college students providing much of the sweat. Projects that combine restoration, education, and community revitalization are a fantastic investment!

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

Monarch Trail, Wauwatosa

Thanks to Friends of the Monarch Trail (FOMT), one of the monarch butterflies' historical resting spots in the southeastern part of the state has grown even more inviting in recent years. In 2016, FOMT with help from the Fund for Lake Michigan, restored wetlands, streams, and open prairie on a 14-acre parcel nestled between I-41 and a new housing development. Meanwhile FOMT partnered with Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District - MMSD to create a natural drainage system that captures over 90,000 gallons of storm water each time it rains. The tenacious and resourceful FOMT has leveraged other sources of funding and countless volunteers to support monarchs while improving water quality. During peak migration this past fall, hundreds of people visited the Monarch Trail to witness the miraculous presence of the delicate yet mighty monarchs in southeastern Wisconsin. We look forward to continued successes and more beautiful butterflies in years to come.

Submitted by Fund for Lake Michigan from Milwaukee

Petrifying Springs Park / UW-Parkside

This steelhead smolt changed my life. On a whim, I was fly-fishing for a lonely bluegill or bass on the main branch of the Pike River in Somers. Instead, I caught an outlier and there were many others rising. These fish are not stocked in the upper reaches of the Pike River. After a few clean ups of some debris jams, in years earlier, that were blocking fish passage, it was evident - anything is possible. Today, as Executive Director of Root-Pike WIN, I devote every day to restoring the Root-Pike Basin. One moment changed my life. Each day we can change the watersheds. From impaired and ignored to improved and involved, cleaner water and thriving habitats are possible.

Submitted by Dave Giordano from Somers

Sheridan park beach

This beach in Cudahy is a hidden gem. Waves crashing, cobbles rolling, sea glass hunting. It's my place to find solice while walking with my dog. Love!

Submitted by Carrie Bristoll-Groll from Cudahy

14th & North Ave, Milwaukee

This photo is of our 2nd annual pumpkin giveaway at the 2015-built Sunshine Park, 1 of 20 parks and orchards built by the City's HOME GR/OWN initiative and its partners across Milwaukee's North Side. These new green spaces, many with stormwater management features, were built with generous funding from the Fund for Lake Michigan as part of the Community Development Alliance. Sunshine Park, for example, has a high profile rain garden. Stormwater management, protecting against climate threats and community peacemaking, all in one cozy pocket park!

Submitted by Tim McCollow from Milwaukee

North Point, Sheboygan

I fond memories of Smelt fishing in the Spring at North Point in Sheboygan. Sometimes there were so many fish in the net that it couldn't be lifted out of the water! One person would hold the net while the other scooped the fish out of the net. We stopped smelting when the Smelt population declined in the early seventies. We wore waders and would walk out to an underwater depression in the rock. We would catch more fish than anyone around us by using that hole.

Submitted by Jim Mohr from Sheboygan

Mequon, Ozaukee County

Wisconsin Wetlands Association is bringing a host of partners together to transform Mequon's future and protect Wisconsin's precious waters. The City of Mequon, Ozaukee County, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Mequon Nature Preserve, Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, and Wisconsin Wetlands Association are working together as the Mequon Preservation Partners. The partnership is working with local leaders and private landowners to help the community use wetlands to achieve their clean water and flood protection goals. As rapid urbanization occurs in this community north of Milwaukee, we're strategically identifying the wetlands and open spaces most in need of protection before they are lost forever. Landowners and local community leaders are working with us to protect and restore these areas. This project brings together Wisconsin Wetlands Association's My Healthy Wetland and local government outreach efforts and will be a model for other communities throughout the Lake Michigan basin and Wisconsin. The project also connects with the work of other partners already underway. Everyone values clean water. Our work in Mequon will help keep the city's water clean for future generation. The impacts of our work will ripple downstream as well.

Submitted by Katie Beilfuss from Madison

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