The mission of the Fund for Lake Michigan is to support efforts, and in particular those in southeastern 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. Since 2011, the Fund has awarded 240 grants totaling almost $16.5 million to non-profit organizations and local government agencies to improve the health of Lake Michigan. In January, the Fund approved the following 20 projects totaling $1,288,432 in grants that range from $20,000 to $250,000. These grants leverage $5,360,676 in federal, local, and private dollars.
Lake Michigan Coastline and Basin Wide Projects (north to south) ($449,462)
- University of Wisconsin-Green Bay – $58,850 to Construct a Coastal Wetland along the Green Bay shoreline. UWGB students and staff will design and install a shallow coastal wetland to naturally filter sediments and pollutants from a significant source of runoff from the campus. The additional 1.5 acres of coastal wetland will reduce the impact of runoff into Green Bay and provide additional habitat for wetland species.
- Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin – $100,000 to Reduce Water Pollution at Point Beach State Forest in Manitowoc County. New rain gardens and bio swales at Point Beach State Forest will reduce storm water runoff from the nature center and surrounding area. The result will be a cleaner, safer beach at this coastal state forest that attracts 400,000 visitors annually but has experienced frequent beach advisories and closures in recent years.
- City of Two Rivers – $74,500 to develop a preliminary design for Water Quality and Green Stormwater Infrastucture at a former factory site on the East Twin River between downtown and the harbor. The city will develop plans for stormwater management, public access, and riverfront green space for the 12-acre site.
- Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership, Inc. – $30,000 for LNRP’s Stewardship Fund. With support from the Fund, LNRP will offer mini-grants to local organizations for on-the-ground restoration and water quality projects.
- Milwaukee County Parks Department – $89,795 to Install an Innovative Disinfection System to Improve Water Quality at Bradford and South Shore Beaches. Milwaukee County will partner with Solar Water Works and the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences to install and monitor an emerging solar powered technology (PECO-photoelectrocatalytic oxidation) to disinfect stormwater before it enters Lake Michigan. If successful, this technology could be a cost-effective treatment system for beaches everywhere.
- Harbor District, Inc. (HDI) – $47,000 for Harbor District Waterway Improvements. This grant will support HDI’s ongoing efforts to revitalize and sustainably redevelop Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor by promoting habitat improvements, new recreational opportunities, green stormwater infrastructure, and an innovative “Trash Wheel” to remove garbage from the Kinnickinnic River before it enters the harbor.
- City of Racine Health Department – $48,167 for Habitat and Access Improvements at North Beach. The city will protect a large dune system on this nationally-recognized beach. North Beach has increased in popularity five-fold since the city began restoring the beach and investing in innovative water quality improvements in 2000.
Fox River Watershed ($70,000)
- Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District (GBMSD) – $70,000 for Agricultural Phosphorus and Sediment Reduction through Cover Crop Planting with New Technology. The Sewerage District will purchase an “interseeder” – a piece of farm equipment that allows farmers to plant more cover crops, which will significantly reduce spring runoff from bare fields. Spring runoff is the largest contributor of phosphorus and other nutrients to local waterways.
Milwaukee River Watershed (upstream to downstream) ($405,000)
- Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) – $250,000 to support Removal of the Estabrook Dam on the Milwaukee River. Our pledge is the first toward the long-awaited removal of the dam, which will reduce flood risks, increase recreational opportunities, enhance water quality and vastly improve habitat for Great Lakes fish. Our funds will not be released until demolition has begun.
- Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC) – $25,000 for Innovation Park at Century City, will enable NWSCDC continue its work with partners to develop a green infrastructure plan and site design for a strategically located vacant parcel within the 30th Street Corridor.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Inc. – $20,000 for a Green Infrastructure Planning Project at the Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club in Sherman Park. The Boys & Girls Clubs will work with Milwaukee County, neighborhood residents and other stakeholders to develop a green infrastructure plan for Sherman Park. Frequent flooding makes much of the park unsafe and unusable. A safe and welcoming park, along with programming provided by the Boys & Girls Clubs, is critical to this neighborhood.
- Urban Ecology Center, Inc. (UEC) – $30,000 for the Ephemeral Pond Project will help UEC convert a 0.4 acre parcel within Riverside Park and the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum into an ephemeral pond that will capture and treat runoff before it flows into the Milwaukee River and will create urban habitat for frogs and salamanders.
- Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) – $80,000 for Green Demonstration Project at the Milwaukee Public Museum will fund a high-profile green demonstration project with educational signage at the entrance of the MPM, one of the most visited institutions in the state. The project features an innovative storm water collection system that includes meandering porous pathways, native plantings, and vegetable gardens. The system can capture over 32,000 gallons of storm water on a rainy day.
Multiple Milwaukee Area Watersheds ($214,000)
- Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc. – $112,000 for Post-TMDL Planning for Watershed Restoration. Sweet Water will develop detailed subwatershed plans in the Milwaukee River Watershed to facilitate implementation of recently released TMDLs. Sweet Water will also pilot an evaluation and reporting mechanism in the Kinnickinnic and Menomonee Watersheds to track progress toward each river’s Watershed Restoration Plan.
- Milwaukee Riverkeeper – $52,000 to Monitoring Water Quality for the Milwaukee River Basin TMDL. Milwaukee Riverkeeper will expand its volunteer water quality monitoring program to help track progress toward the recently-released TMDLs.
- Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps – $25,000 for Engaging Urban Youth to Reduce Nonpoint Source Pollution Using Permeable Pavement Systems will help fund a project to train and credential 200 young adults from low income communities in porous pavement installation. Participants will help install an estimated 17,500 square feet of permeable pavers throughout the Milwaukee area, gaining invaluable job skills will directly improving water quality in the region.
- Reflo – $25,000 for Green Schools Consortium of Milwaukee will enable Reflo, a new 501(c)3 that provides free and low-cost professional design/build services for community-supported green infrastructure and water reuse projects, to work with two schools to create conceptual designs for green infrastructure.
Menomonee River Watershed ($25,000)
- Menomonee Valley Partners (MVP) – $25,000 for Brownfield Predevelopment for priority sites along the lower Menomonee River. MVP will begin a predevelopment process that will ultimately transform 40 acres along the Menomonee River on the eastern edge of the Valley. As part of this grant, MVP will work with partners to develop a conceptual site plan to maximize public access to the river, stormwater treatment, and economic development.
Root River Watershed ($84,970)
- Hunger Task Force, Inc. – $22,235 for Phase Two of the Root River Floodplain Restoration Project. Hunger Task Force, along with hundreds of volunteers, will continue its successful restoration of 75 acres of natural area along the Root River. Along with human volunteers, Hunger Task Force will use goats to manage invasive species on the site.
- Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network – $62,735 for the Root River – Colonial Park – Ravine Restoration Design will help advance three restoration efforts in the popular Colonial Park near downtown Racine including the replacement of ash trees with native trees and shrubs to prevent erosion, the restoration of a wetland in the historic floodplain and of a ravine that is causing significant sedimentation in the Root River.
Pike River Watershed ($70,000)
- Village of Mount Pleasant – $70,000 for the Pike River – Smolenski Park – Park Trails and Prairie Restoration will build on the model success of the eleven-phase, $5 million Pike River restoration project by reducing stormwater runoff from a 15-acre fallow field into the Bartlett Branch of the Pike River. The village will develop trails on the site and connect the property to Smolenski Park.