Milwaukee, WI – The Fund for Lake Michigan announced today it will help pay for a comprehensive engineering study of the aging Horlick Dam on the Root River in Racine.
A study is needed after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources determined the 180-year-old dam no longer meets flood safety standards and must be repaired or removed by 2024.
“This dam study is crucial in determining the best way to protect Lake Michigan for future generations,” said Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave.
Delagrave noted the Fund for Lake Michigan has already been instrumental in helping improve the Root River and revitalizing Racine’s lakefront, which has brought national recognition and tourism to the area.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the Fund for its ongoing support,” he said.
Fund for Lake Michigan Executive Director Vicki Elkin said the dam study should help determine the possible cost savings and environmental benefits of potentially removing the dam, which was constructed before the Civil War.
“Taking out this outdated dam would allow the Root River to run freely into Lake Michigan and open up thousands of acres of native fish habitat,” she said. “We’re eager to see what the experts say.”
The dam study is one of 22 new grants totaling $1.6 million from the Fund for Lake Michigan. These grants will leverage an additional $5.3 million from federal, local, and private sources.
The latest round of grants includes funding for the City of Kenosha to make significant upgrades to Simmons Beach. The project will install native vegetation, sand dunes, and porous pavement in place of existing asphalt to reduce contaminated runoff into Lake Michigan.
“The City of Kenosha is grateful for this funding, which will enhance Kenosha’s most heavily used beach, at Simmons Island Park,” Mayor John Antaramian said. “We look forward to restoring the beach and improving water quality to protect our valuable natural resource, Lake Michigan.”
In addition, a grant to the Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum in Kenosha will restore wetlands on new land acquired by the nature sanctuary while also stabilizing four crumbling ravines along the South Branch of the Pike River.
“One goal of our grants is to immediately tackle the most urgent problems, which include reducing erosion and improving beaches,” said Elkin. “At the same time, we need to plan strategically and innovatively so these efforts have the greatest long-term impact. “
To date, the Fund has awarded 270 grants totaling over $18 million to non-profit organizations and local government agencies, who partner with the private sector on water quality improvement projects that promise broad social, economic and environmental returns.
Launched in 2011, the Fund for Lake Michigan supports investments throughout the Lake Michigan watershed that improve water quality, create jobs, raise real estate values, revive communities, clean waterfronts, support habitats and drive tourism.
Read the complete list of Fund for Lake Michigan grants.
The Fund for Lake Michigan, a private foundation based in Milwaukee, was established in 2011as part of an agreement between We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, WPPI Energy, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club to safeguard the lake and improve water quality in the region. The Fund supports efforts, particularly in southeast Wisconsin, that enhance the health of Lake Michigan and its shoreline and tributary river systems for the benefit of the people and communities that depend upon the system for water, recreation and commerce.