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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Triennial Water Standards Review

from Crawford Stewardship Project:

Triennial State Water Standards Review


Where should state environmental officials focus their efforts to protect surface water quality over the next three years? 
The Wisconsin DNR is currently reviewing state water quality standards and is asking the public for your input on a list of five water quality standards topics proposed as priorities for protecting Wisconsin's lakes, rivers, streams, and springs.

The draft of the current Triennial State Review can be found here on the DNR website

You can download the pdf file and rank topic priorities in the document and send them to Marcia Willhite (contact below), the deadline is January 25th.

And/or you can simply send your comments directly to Marcia, the deadline is October 5th.  

Marcia Willhite by email,  phone (608-267-7425) or by mail to Wisconsin DNR - WT/3, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

A public hearing will be held on September 21, 2018 from 10:00 to 11:00 AM. This hearing is for citizens to comment on or ask questions about the topics presented. Anyone who would like to participate is invited to join online through a webinar using the link posted on the DNR’s triennial standards review Web page, or in person at the DNR’s Madison office at 101 S. Webster St, Madison, in Room G27 in after signing in at the visitor’s desk.

CSP recommends that commenters note that nitrogen/nitrate criteria pollution needs to be highly prioritized (right now it is in"Group D" where "barriers to criteria development currently exist".) There are many scientific studies and expansive knowledge of the dangers and effects of nitrogen pollution in our waters. It is all too common that nitrate pollution, often from agricultural runoff and manure spreading and spills, is degrading our water quality all over the state.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

La Crosse Mayor Launches Home Energy Challenge

New Program Offers Incentives to Property Owners Who Make Energy Efficiency Improvements
La Crosse homeowners who want to save on energy bills this winter and increase the comfort of their homes now have up to $4,100 in incentives available to them, depending on the variables explained in the fact sheet attached. Mayor Tim Kabat is launching the Home Energy Challenge, which gives the first 100 households who sign up the ability to receive incentives to cover a portion of the costs of making their homes more energy-efficient through insulation and air sealing.
The launch event is taking place at the home of Casey and Sonja Meehan, who chose to make home energy improvements themselves and are encouraging other homeowners to do the same. Casey and Sonja moved to La Crosse in the summer of 2014. They loved the idea of being able to walk, bike, or bus to work, the proximity to all the amenities downtown and on local college campuses, and the potential to be part of a close-knit neighborhood. One detractor was the poor energy efficiency of the older 1920s home that they purchased, but quickly realized that was something they could fix.
“Our home still had the original insulation in the attic, so it was really cold in the winter. After we had the work done, we noticed right away that the temperature in the house was way more comfortable. In addition to making our house more livable, we knew that the improvements were going to save us money in the long run as we wouldn’t be using as much heat.  We also felt it was simply the right thing to do from an environmental standpoint,” said Casey.
For the Mayor, launching this initiative is also about La Crosse residents coming together to make the City one of the most sustainable communities in Wisconsin. “If we accomplish our goal of 100 homes, the City would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 290 metrics tons per year, the equivalent of 317,676 pounds of coal burned or taking 62 vehicles off the road. That’s a really great investment in our community and our planet,” said Mayor Tim Kabat.
At the launch event, the Mayor will be joined by the City’s partners in the Home Energy Challenge- Xcel Energy and Focus on Energy. In addition, several local employers will be present who will be encouraging their employees to participate in the challenge.
For more information on the incentives being offered and more details about the program, go to

Thursday, September 6, 2018

September 8 - RISE FOR CLIMATE!

Please join the Coulee Region Sierra Club and other local and regional organizations and leaders at the Rise for Climate event at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 8 in La Crosse's Riverside Park near the big fountain. 

Rise for Climate is a global day of action to end the era of fossil fuels. This event is one of thouands being held around the world to demand our local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that puts people and justice before profits. No more stalling, no more delays: it’s time for a fast and fair transition to 100% renewable energy for all. Read more about it at 

The list of speakers below includes 
  • Coulee Region Group Vice Chair Kathy Allen talking about the Sierra Club's Ready for 100 campaign and the Sierra Club's endorsements in the upcoming elections: 
  • Ho-Chunk Nation Member Bill Greendeer to talk about holding leaders in  responsible for the well-being of existing and next generations (Seven Generations principle) and also the ethical idea of the Rights of Nature 
  • Organizer Janette Dean to welcome everyone and explain why environmental policy is the fastest way we can protect our planet 
  • Member of La Crosse's Hmoob/Hmong Community to share Hmoob environmental concepts that apply to climate protection
  • UWL Professor Paul Reyerson to speak on the latest global and national climate science and impacts 
  • Sustainability Institute's Casey Meehan to speak on Midwestern state impacts & some of the many opportunities and benefits of sustainability 
  • Speaker to share the city and county's emissions reductions progress as part of their Sustainability Indicators and related goals 
  • Coulee Region Sierra Club Vice Chair Kathy Allen to share their candidate endorsements and to share CRSC's Ready for 100 effort (100% renewables by 2050 or sooner) 
  • Ken Tschumper, Former Minnesota State Representative to talk about MN's clean energy legislation and MN's 2018 Candidates 
  • La Crosse Democrats spokesperson Avery Van Gaard to read a climate-related statement from WI Gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers & WI Rep. Jill Billings 
  • Charles (Chuck) Davis, Sr. of Tomah - Oglala Lakota, of the Oceti Sakowin (speaker and main musician as we begin to sing, dance and chant in circles)
We hope to see you there! 
Pat Wilson

Friday, August 31, 2018

September Newsletter

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 at 7 p.m. "Sustainability Indicators for the City and County of La Crosse" with Anders Olson, Sustainability Analytics co-sponsored by UWL Environmental Studies 3314 Student Union, UWL  In 2009 the La Crosse County Board and La Crosse Common Council adopted the City of La Crosse & La Crosse County Strategic Plan for Sustainability. The plan identified several sustainability indicators which would be monitored on a regular basis including governmental energy, fuel, and water use; paper and green product purchasing; transportation; solid waste and more. Anders Olson,
Sustainability Analytics of La Crosse, will discusss the outcomes of the most recent, 2017, indicators report. (Read the report at We’ll also hear updates on other Sierra Club programs. Everyone is welcome. You don’t need to be a member to attend. 

This meeting is co-sponored by UWL’s Environmental Studies Department and will be in Room 3314 of the UWL Student Union. Park RIGHT NEXT TO THE UNION in Lot 12 (Cleary Center lot - East Ave & La Crosse St) or in the ramp (levels 1-3) where you will pay 25 cents per quarter hour until 7 pm (after 7 pm no charge for short term parking). The
#4 bus stops near the union hourly ( and the Union is accessible by foot and bicycle. The Student Union is #35 on the campus map at and you can view floor plans of the building at If you need more information or directions, please email

Sierra Club Endorses Candidates  Before each election, our volunteer-powered Political
Committee evaluates candidates’ voting records and commitments to conservation. The Political Committee program may include federal, state, and local government races, as well as ballot measures, and shall be conducted in compliance with applicable law and in accordance with the Club's electoral compliance guidelines.

The John Muir Chapter has endorsed Tony Evers for Governor, Tammy Baldwin for US Senate, and six candidates for Congress including Ron Kind who currently represents the Coulee Region group district. Additionally, the Chapter has endorsed candidates in state Senate and Assembly races. The full list of endorsements is in the news release:

The fall election will be Tuesday, November 6, but voters in many municipalities will be able to vote absentee in person at their clerk’s office as soon as ballots are ready. In La Crosse, “early voting” will begin on Monday, October 15. More about voting, registering, finding your polling place, etc. is at

September 2 - Open Streets   Join the Coulee Region Sierra Club and other local organizations and businesses at the 2nd annual Open Streets event, Sunday, September 2 from noon to 5 p.m. Several blocks of downtown streets will be closed to cars leaving space for art, music, crafts, sales, activities, food, play, dancing, yoga, demonstrations, pets, conversations, and fun. Find the CRSC table on Main Street in front of Burns Park. More details at

September 8 - Climate Rally   Rise for Climate is a global day of action to end the era of
fossil fuels. Join the CRSC and other local and regional organizations and leaders at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 8 in Riverside Park near the big fountain. This event is one of thouands being held around the world to demand our local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that puts people and justice before profits. No more stalling, no more delays: it’s time for a fast and fair transition to 100% renewable energy for all. Read more
about it at

Coulee Region Sierra Club Environmental Education Grants   Two schools received environmental education grants in January. Here are reports about what was accomplished with the grant money. Applications for 2019 grants will be available in December.
First of all, thank you so very much for the grant money, The students and I learned and visually experienced so much. The students were so excited to receive the butterfly eggs in the mail. Little did they know that was just the beginning. Soon after we transferred the eggs to the little cups with the provided food the eggs grew into fat caterpillars, the students loved to lay on the floor and watch. Soon they became boring (to the eye) larvae, but then it happened one by one - the butterflies emerged. We had 26 out of the 33 hatch. Pre-K and 7th grade students planted butterfly bushes and prepared outdoor food. Then release day came! We hope to have eggs on our plants next year to start the cycle over. Thank you, Cheri Oglesby, Pre-K Teacher St. Rose, Cuba City, WI

On May 10, 265 5th graders from Meadowview Elementary School in Sparta visited the Sparta School Forest for a day of environmental learning. Students were divided into groups and visited several learning stations throughout the day. Thank you for helping fund our transportation request to get us to this amazing outdoor learning center. Stations included: wood craft - Mr. Cook and
students use a saw buck and single-person cross cut saw to “put up” wood for the wood pile. This station is located next to the Aldo Leopold Shack—an exact replica of the one located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Students learned about Aldo, Phenology, and took part in simple wood craft. At other stations, students practiced nature crafts, drawing, and writing. Sparta High School Nature Club
participants helped lead some of the learning stations. Because of your donation, four busloads of kids made it to the woods!! Another group, Junior English, came the next day and were able to do so because of your generous gift!! As an educator and the coordinator of the Sparta School Forest, I thank you for providing our students with this wonderful opportunity! Respectfully from the woods, Joe Cook, Sustainability Coordinator Sparta Area School District  

Please help your club   We’re looking for helpers to make sure our club is connected. If you would like to help by posting about local environmental events and issues at our blog, submitting information for our monthly newsletter, please send your information to subject: NEWS. Also, please consider running for the board this fall. More details will be available in our November newsletter. Please help your club! We are also seeking someone to be our group’s
representative to the John Muir chapter executive committee. Our current rep is not able to continue because of other commitments. The executive committee works on strategic planning for the chapter and communication with the state’s groups and the national Sierra Club. Meetings are held six times per year (there’s an online option). The CR board will review applications until this volunteer position is filled. Read about current members at this link
contact. If you are interested in serving on this important committee, please email for more information or call Pat at 608 788-8831. If you would like to join the state water or transportation teams, please email for details.

Black River Canoe Camping   The July 14-15 kid-focused Black River canoe camping trip turned out to be a delightful trip, with a great group of active, adventurous kids and adults! The warm weather inspired lots of water play and swimming. We climbed a waterfall. We saw live clams, an immature eagle, a water snake, lots of frogs, butterflies and more. Oh yes, and we experienced our share of mosquitoes and flies. The water was a bit lower than desired, but we were lucky that the predicted storms never materialized.

September 11 - Foxconn Town Hall   Wisconsin Legislative Democrats are hosting a series of
Town Hall meetings around the state to discuss the economic and environmental issues arising from the state’s Foxconn deal. One of the Town Hall meetings will be held at Onalaska High School from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11. For more information, please contact the office of State Senator, Jennifer Shilling at 608 266-5490 or

Ready for 100   This fall, the Coulee Region Sierra Club Ready for 100 team will kick off an initiative to pass a Ready for 100 ordinance in the City of La Crosse by the end of the year. The mayor has already signed as a Ready for 100 Mayor. The City, through its partnership with the county on theLa Crosse Sustainability Commission has already acknowledged the importance of reducing our carbon footprint, and, through its 25 by 25 (see pledge, commited to reducing fossil fuel consumption and increasing energy derived from renewable sources. A Ready for 100 resolution, is the next logical as the full consequences of catastrophic global warming are becoming the new normal. Follow developments at, to learn how you can
help move this important initiative forward in the coming weeks.

Chrysalis Farm Tour   Ten Coulee Region Group members experienced what it’s like to live in an earth friendly way and show a true love of the land, when they toured Marcia Halligan and Steven
Adams’ Chrysalis Farm on August 28. Marcia gave us a tour of the small organic farm she and Steven have lived on since 1985. Their beautiful and efficient house uses whole tree construction with wood and stone coming primarily from their farm. They use straw bales for insulation in walls and roof for energy efficiency, and have photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. They farmed
with horses until one of the horses died recently. With the horse gone and with floods from their fork of the Kickapoo River flooding their land more often, they’re cutting back on farming, though they still have a garden where they grow heirloom vegetables. Marcia and Steven were gracious hosts, and Marcia ended the visit by reading some excerpts from her book about life on the farm, “Hidden in the 13th Moon.” Those who carpooled from La Crosse were fortunate to be able to ride in Kathy Allen’s Chevy Bolt all-electric car. It’s a very quiet car of the future.

Solar for Good   Solar for Good, a project of RENEW Wisconsin, provides assistance and grants to non profits who install new solar systems. One 2018 recipient, Kevala Retreat in Norwalk (, will host an open house on Sept. 29 at 11 a.m. to celebrate the completion of their installation which produces more than twice as much electricity as the center uses. Applications for 2019 Solar for Good grants will open on October 1. See for details.

Seeking volunteer who could help produce the online-only newsletter in October and provide newsletter back up as needed. Email

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Reminder and news!

Just a reminder that our club will host a tour of Chrysalis, an organic farm near Viroqua, on Saturday, August 18 beginning at 2 pm. Read more details in our August newsletter.

Registration is now open for October's national EcoChallenge. You may sign up as and individual, team or business. More details at

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August Newsletter

August 18 - TOUR CHRYSALIS FARM near Viroqua  Join us on the afternoon of Saturday, August 18 as we visit and tour Chrysalis, the organic farm of Marcia Halligan and Steven Adams, on the west fork of the Kickapoo River near Viroqua. Marcia and Steven have farmed the land since 1985 and the farm is described in her book, “Hidden in the 13th Moon.” Their house, built in 2005 with local architect Roald Gundersen (described in this Mother Earth Living article) uses whole trees, straw bales, local wood and stone, recycled materials, and solar panels along with other sustainable and ecologically friendly materials and techniques.

Our visit will begin at 2:00 p.m. The farm is at S4001 River Rd, Viroqua. “From La Crosse, take Hwy 14/61 through Westby, then turn left unto County Y. **Follow Y through Avalanche, cross the bridge and turn right onto S. After the West Fork Campgrounds below River Road will be the next possible place to turn right. It's not a crossroads, just a lane. The lane crosses a big bridge, passes a CAFO to cross a little bridge and ends at our farm.” Coming from the south, go through Viroqua on 14/61 and turn right onto County Y. Follow directions from ** above. From the east, drive to Avalanche and follow the directions above. La Crosse area carpoolers: meet at 1:00 p.m. at the Shopko South on Mormon Coulee Road. If you have questions, please contact Pat at 608 788-8831 or pbwilson AT Dress for the weather and for walking outdoors. The walking tour will include flood damage that’s kept the farm out of production this year, marsh areas, woods, river, and fields. We’ll also have a house tour, and Marcia will read a bit from her book and answer questions. It should be a great tour. Please come and bring your friends!

OPEN STREETS IN LA CROSSE SEPTEMBER 2   The City of La Crosse will host its second annual OPEN STREETS event on Sunday, September 2 from noon to 5 p.m. La Crosse Open Streets is a partnership between the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation and Explore La Crosse with support from Downtown Mainstreet, Inc, the City of La Crosse and the La Crosse City Vision Foundation. The Coulee Region Sierra Club is also a sponsor. Cars will be blocked from the route - Main Street from Eighth Street to Fifth Avenue South, Fifth Avenue from Main Street to King Street, and King to Fourth - leaving space for businesses and organizations to set up exhibits, activities, sales, educational booths, music, food, and more. The Sierra Club table will include info about the Ready for 100 initiative, a tree scavenger hunt, and much more. WE ARE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO HELP TABLE! Please email crsierraclub at gmail if you can help. You can read more
about the event (including how to sign up for booth space) at

VOTE!    On August 14, Wisconsin voters will choose candidates to run in the November statewide elections for governor, lieutenant governor, and more. If you are concerned about the direction our state is taking, now is the time to vote for candidates who can make changes. The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters’ Field Guide to Taking Back Wisconsin may be useful. Read it at

Environmental voters must get educated, get active, and VOTE. You may be able to vote “absentee in person” from now through August 10. Contact your clerk for details.. You may request an absentee ballot through August 9.  Or vote at your polling place on Tuesday, August 14. For details and more information, For information about who is running, see

COMING IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER   Our Tuesday, September 25 meeting will include a presentation on the Sustainability Indicators for the City and County of La Crosse by Anders Olson, Sustainability Analytics. This meeting will start at 7:00 p.m. and is co-hosted by the UWL Environmental Studies Department  and will be held in room 3314 of the UW La Crosse Student Union (near the corner of East Avenue and La Crosse Street). Parking is available on the street near but off campus for free. On campus parking is also available and the Union is easy to reach by bicycle and via the #4 MTU bus. More details will be in our September newsletter.

On Tuesday, October 16, the Coulee Region Sierra Club will host a special program about its solar panel group buy program featuring a representativ from SunVest, the Pewaukee firm partnering with the Sierra Club on this statewide initiative. The program will be at the Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House, 8th and Main, and will begin at 6:30 p.m. More details next month.  Read more about the group buy program at

HELP!   We have several opportunities for Coulee Region Sierra Club members to step up and help keep our club strong. If you can volunteer for one or more of these openings, please email crsierraclub at gmail or contact Pat at 608 788-8831.

Soon we will seek new members for the COULEE REGION GROUP BOARD. Elections will be held in December, but now is the time to consider it. If you have some time and interest in keeping our club active locally, please think about running for the board later this year!

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE:  Avery Van Gaard will be stepping away from her role as our group’s representative to the John Muir chapter executive committee because she has too much other stuff going on. The executive committee  works on strategic planning for the chapter and communication with the state’s groups and the national Sierra Club. Meetings are held six times per year (there’s an online option). The CR board will review applications until this volunteer position is filled. Read about current members at this link. 

STATE WATER TEAM: The state water team meets monthly online (via conference call) to discuss water access, protection, and quality issues around the state and what the John Muir Chapter can and should do to highlight and work to improve issues.

COULEE REGION GROUP HELPERS: If you could send an email every once in a while about an event or issue happening in your corner of the Coulee Region, it would be very helpful. Our group covers a large region (from Black River Falls down to the Illinois border) and it’s hard to keep up with everything. Please consider sending news to keep fellow members informed and involved. If you would like to post articles and news at our blog ( please let us know! 

CLEAN WATER ACT TRAINING   As a result of the lack of enforcement of water pollution from the DNR, Sierra Club's legal Chair, Dennis Grzezinski and Water Team are hosting a training on Clean Water Act enforcement. Not only could this lead to direct enforcement (through legal or other means) of our water laws and stop pollution, but it also sends a message that citizens are watching and won't let pollution happen, even if the DNR is not enforcing our laws. 

The training will be held on August 6 or 7 in Green Bay and specifically targets monitoring large point (factories, municipal sewage treatment plants, etc) sources 

Topics covered:

  • How to find/get pollution reports etc, including specific reports we have an inkling would be helpful 
  • How to read and summarize them, what to look for, etc
  • How to get and identify updated information (like steps that may have been taken, etc.)
  • IF there is a potential problem, what steps for a citizen lawsuit looks like
If interested, email elizabeth.ward at

SAY NO TO PLASTIC GROUP FORMS   A new group is forming in La Crosse county to help infom people about the environmental and economic problems with single use plastics - straws, bags, bottled water, dishes, cups and more - and encourage alternatives. Our world is being buried in plastic waste. Huge islands of the stuff circulate in our oceans, plastics break down and kill wildlife, plastics need fossil fuels for manufacture and transportation, recycling only catches a small fraction of single use plastics (and China will soon drastically cut the amount of plastic it accepts for recycling). That leaves landfills which are finite expensive facilities. We can do better and we must do better. If you are interested in joining the group, email cathyvanmaren at

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Highway clean up Tuesday

Please join members of the Coulee Region Sierra Club on Tuesday as we clean up River Valley Drive. We'll meet at 6 p.m. at the city pumping station just northwest of the intersection of Gillette Street and River Valley Drive.

Bags, reflective vests, and gloves will be provided. Please dress for the weather. When we have lots of people it doesn't take very long.

River Valley Drive is not the only thing needing clean up!

Elections are coming - August 14 for the gubernatorial primary (and other partisan offices) - and on November 6 we will vote for US Senator, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer and other offices.

If you like the way things are going, then do nothing.

If you think things need to get cleaned up, please do your research and plan to vote and help others vote. Plan to choose and support a candidate - donate if you can, sign up to canvass or phone bank, get a yard sign.

Check out these great resources:

And if you are not yet registered, need to re-register with a new name or address, want to know what's on your ballot, where or when to vote, or anything else, check out