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.

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Ways to Connect

MADISON WATER UTILITY

Mayor Tom Barrett made a surprise water announcement Wednesday saying anyone living in a home built before 1951 should install water filters to protect residents from possible lead poisoning.

He issued the advice while taking part in a public policy conference at Marquette University Law School.

TOOL: Do You Have Lead Pipes in Your Home?

Susan Bence

In this era of urban agriculture, Milwaukee is making a name for itself as a leader. At the same time, a group tuned into the dangers of lead in the soil wants to use the urban farming wave to inform families.

In Milwaukee, an estimated 10 percent of kids under age six have unhealthy levels of lead in their blood - levels that could cause permanent brain and nervous system disabilities.

A major culprit has been the lead-based paint used on houses decades ago. Those paint chips can also make their way into family gardens.

Michelle Maternowski

Milwaukee’s Lake Park is one of the most popular local Pokémon Go play areas. Crowds of people are lured to the handful of PokéStops, hoping to catch a rare pocket monster. The phenomenon intrigues some, and annoys others.

Susan Bence

9-year-old Raya El-Hajar had an exciting summer. She won the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Then, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Raya and 55 fellow chefs from around the country to the White House last month to celebrate their achievements.

The 5th annual challenge was designed to encourage 8 to 12 year olds to create an original, healthy, tasty and affordable lunch recipe. More than 1200 applications flowed in for review.

Susan Bence

As Kris McCoy sets up at the Saturday Mineral Point Market in Water Tower Park, she is surrounded by her artfully arranged wooden creations – a large buffet, numerous candle holders, decorative ladders, to name a few.

Mineral Point is home.

McCoy and her husband have lived here 23 years and raised their four children here.

Susan Bence

Although the Great Lakes governors approved Waukesha’s application, a coalition of Great Lakes mayors hopes to stop it.

This week, those who belong to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative announced that they would challenge the Compact Council’s decision.

UPDATE - After a long discussion Tuesday evening, the task force did not come to a concensus on whether to rehab or replace the footbridge.  Several groups are keenly interested in the bridge's future,  including the North Point Lighthouse Friends and Lake Park Friends.  The groups plan to review the proposed alternatives with their members.  The task force will consider those perspectives as the final selection is made.

Jarob Ortiz

A job of a lifetime began Monday for 33-year-old Jarob Ortiz, a coveted position he never imagined would be his. Ortiz has become the official photographer of the National Park Service, and during its centennial year.

"Each one of those interviews I spent about 7 days leading up to those things studying about 6 hours a night, just making sure I would be as good as I possibly could,” Ortiz says.

Susan Bence

Milwaukee is in a reflective mood, days after tragic events unfolded in the city’s Sherman Park neighborhood. Earlier this week, people quietly reflected in Alice’s Garden, a green oasis two miles southeast of the Sherman Park hot spot.

A circle more than 50 people – different sizes, ages and colors – stood together.  And, Monique Inez Liston led a solemn chant.

Susan Bence

Cole Compton is about to begin his senior year at Shorewood High School’s New Horizon Charter School.

WUWM's Susan bence met him a few years ago Weber’s, a greenhouse on Green Bay Ave off Capitol Drive. Compton was the youngest intern in the then fledgling after-school, paid internship program called Teens Grow Greens.

Susan Bence

At last count, Wisconsin was home to more than 230 different species of birds. Now, 1,000 surveyors are pooling data for across the state to see if those numbers are holding.

In the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II survey, bird experts aren’t counting the ones who simply stop over during migration, rather those that rely on Wisconsin's habitats to multiply.

Susan Bence

Vanessa Tobin has a very specific professional niche. She is Senior Technical Adviser for Water Supply, Sanitation and Water Resources Development for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) based in Baltimore Maryland.

Before joining CRS in 2012, Tobin worked extensively in the field for the United Nations and other organizations in places such as South Sudan and Nepal. Most recently she served as UNICEF’s Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation.

Susan Bence

The center, in the midst of a major green makeover, resides west of Ashland and south of Bayfield and is nearly twenty years old.

With its sweeping 180 acres before him, US Forest Service program manager Jason Maloney beams as he watches a crew erecting the infrastructure to support four rows of solar panels - 100 kilowatts’ worth.

The work – and the effort to fund it - goes back ten years, to Maloney’s predecessor at the center.

Susan Bence

Special projects leader Tommy Richardson led WUWM's Susan Bence on a tour of Stockton Island. The experience proved to be as much an exploration of a major boardwalk project as it was demonstration of Richardson’s love for his job.

Richardson says he never dreamed he’d be working here. We’re on a Park Service boat, heading from a dock outside Bayfield to Stockton Island.

He grew up “near” but a world away from the Apostle Islands. Richardson's grandfather farmed outside Ashland; his dad worked at the local paper mill for 30 years.

Jodi Parins

Sixteen large dairy operations pepper Kewaunee’s county landscape – so do the fields on which they spread their manure. Today, more than 30% of Kewaunee County residents’ wells are contaminated.

The geology of the county allows manure to seep into the groundwater, and the situation finally resulted in action.

Resident Lynn Utesch served on workgroups, along with representatives from agencies, such as the EPA and state DNR.

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