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.


Ways to Connect

Tim Fraley

The Environmental Protection Agency laid out a proposed rule Tuesday that it says ends confusion about waterways that fall under federal clean water protection. But critics say the measure would strip streams and wetlands of needed protections.

Debate over how deep U.S. water regulations should wade isn't new. The most recent clash came when the Obama administration spearheaded something called the Waters of the United States.

Susan Bence

It’s no secret that U.S. environmental standards are shifting. President Donald Trump has been candid in his resolve to ease regulations. And in early December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to revise air pollution rules.

The American Lung Association in Wisconsin is among the groups concerned about where the changes could lead.

READ: The State Of Wisconsin's Air

Susan Bence

City leaders are trying to do some long-term planning for its southwest corner, which is called the Life Sciences District. Although it’s dominated by a bustling medical complex, the attention of many has been on a small parcel, known by its fans as Sanctuary Woods.

Susan Bence

A small satellite, called Venus, launched by Israel's and France's space agencies is capturing images of green spaces around the world to learn whether they show signs of global climate change. One of those splotches of green is UW-Milwaukee’s Downer Woods, an 11.1-acre natural area on the northwest corner of campus.

Scientists have been studying the wood's trees for years, tracking how they're affected by the climate. But ecologist Alison Donnelly's focus is closer to the ground: shrubs.

Susan Bence

The Milwaukee Health Department is trying to lift a heavy cloud of mismanagement and community mistrust that lingers months after residents learned the agency failed to follow up with families of children who had been poisoned.

Jeanette Kowalik, who replaced long-time Health Commissioner Bevan Baker, is about 12 weeks into a huge overhaul of the agency.

Aaron Asis

All of us are connected to water. And there's a new public art project that gives Milwaukeeans a chance to tell their water stories.

New York-based artist Mary Miss spearheaded the idea. She stepped into the Wisconsin scene in the 1990s when she was asked to contribute to the creation of Milwaukee’s Riverwalk, designed to help connect people to the Milwaukee River. Today, Miss wants to draw more residents to their water.


Right now the gray wolf is federally protected in Wisconsin. But a bill making its way through Congress aims to lift that protection here and throughout the lower 48 states.

Some people view the gray wolf as an important part of a functioning ecosystem. Others consider wolves a looming threat.

In the early 1900s, a bounty system was created in Wisconsin to drive down the number of wolves. By 1960, there wasn’t a wolf to be found on the state’s landscape.

In 1974, the newly-enacted Endangered Species Act took the gray wolf under its protective wing.

Courtesy of Kari Lydersen

As Milwaukee writer Dan Egan’s recent book made clear, the past and future of the Great Lakes are a complicated equation. Humans have had a significant impact on the watershed and the ecosystem in both negative and positive ways.

Susan Bence

Before the cold snapped us from summer to fall weather in late October, four people were busily tending a tree laden with ripe, red apples. It was the Glean Team at work on the Milwaukee VA Medical Center grounds.

Matt Rudman with Groundwork Milwaukee is coordinating its inaugural season.

Susan Bence

The Kohler company is keen to create a world-class golf course along Lake Michigan. But the project has faced obstacles. Critics fear the 18-hole course bordering Kohler-Andre State Park will impact a unique sand dune-wetland system.

An organization called the Friends of the Black River Forest formed to try to put a stop to the project.

Susan Bence

There’s a striking illustration of the old and the new in downtown Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Bucks’ new $524 million arena, the Fiserv Forum, stands next to the team’s former home, the Bradley Center. 

Work has been underway to salvage pieces of the Bradley Center before it's demolished. The work is part of a growing trend to deconstruct and reuse, rather than landfill.

Susan Bence

Climate change is dominating some voters' concerns, including 16 Alverno College students who've been exploring the global issue in an elective course taught by biology professor Chris Young.

He describes this batch of students as the most engaged and eager to discuss the complexities of climate change of any class over the years. Yet, many told him they hadn’t heard about the gravity of climate change before taking his class.

Tony Smith

Issues like taxes and education have been dominating political ads and campaigns. But climate change is on many people’s minds, too, especially with a recent report that says climate change will soon have dire consequences if humans fail to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. And a dozen teens in the Milwaukee area are stepping up to push for climate change action.

For nearly 25 years, the urban farming nonprofit Growing Power taught kids and adults on Milwaukee’s northwest side to grow and consume local food. The project was the brainchild of Will Allen, who earned international recognition and a MacArthur genius award for his work.

But a year ago, Growing Power buckled under a shroud of debt and legal action. The board of directors voted to dissolve the nonprofit.

While issues surrounding Growing Power continue to be sorted out, Allen continues growing on the grounds of the former nonprofit. 

Robert Karp

For decades, farming and Wisconsin were practically synonymous. But its landscape is changing. Farmers older than 65 far outnumber those younger than 35, and it can be difficult for younger people who want to go into farming to find suitable land.

Monarch Farms Project aims to shift those trends. It pairs farmers in search of land with investors who rent the parcels at an affordable rate. As part of the deal, some land must be set aside for pollinators, particularly Monarch butterflies.