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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Coming soon!

Tomorrow (Thursday), Michael Vickerman of ReNew Wisconsin will do a presentation before the La Crosse Sustainability Commission on municipalities partnering with utilities to install solar on government buildings. This is a very exciting development. The Sustainable La Crosse Commission meetings are open to the public. If you are available on Thursday (tomorrow) between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. you are encouraged to attend! The Commission will also discuss possible goals for 2018 in the area of alternative (to the single occupant fossil fueled vehicle) transportation and waste management. The meetings are held in the fifth floor conference room, City Hall, 400 La Crosse Street.

On Saturday, the Coulee Region Sierra Club co-sponsors, with the Citizens Climate Lobby of La Crosse and the La Crosse Public Library, Coulee Region Climate Change Stories beginning at 1 p.m. in the library auditorium (basement). Here's a link to the Facebook event.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Zombie bill alert

From John Muir Chapter:

A zombie has risen.  SB 789 is identical to SB 660 from last session.  This bill would allow any riparian on a navigable water affected by a man-made impoundment to dredge up to 50 cubic yards of material without any permit at all.   There is a hearing now on the bill this Thursday at 10 am in the Capitol room 201 Southeast.

If any of you can make it to the hearing and at least register against the bill, that would help. Read the Sierra Club's statement.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


First - WE NEED YOU! to TAKE A STAND FOR CLEAN CARS! On TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, the Clean Cars Campaign will hold a press event at La Crosse City Hall at 11:30 a.m. The event will publicize the importance of maintaining strong fuel efficiency standards in the United States where the transportation sector is responsible for the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions. The Trump administration is considering rolling back these important standards. Weakening the standards will have a negative impact on our state's environment and economy as well as the household budgets of most Wisconsin citizens. (Read more about why this is important in our February newsletter and at the Clean Cars Campaign page.) IF YOU CAN COME TO SUPPORT THIS EFFORT AND HOLD A SIGN (provided) and STAND FOR CLEAN CARS, please come to La Crosse City Hall at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, February 20. We need a good crowd to show how important this issue is. If you plan to attend, please complete this form so we can have an idea of our numbers. Questions? Please email crsierraclub at gmail.

Next, on Saturday, Feburary 17, the Coulee Region Sierra Club, Citizens Climate Lobby - La Crosse, and the La Crosse Public Library, are sponsoring  Coulee Region Climate Change Stories - how climate change is affecting real people's lives - beginning at 1 p.m. at the La Crosse Public Library.  If you might be interested in hosting a similar event in your community, please email crsierraclub at gmail and we can connect you with event organizers.

Also, remember - the spring primary is on February 20, but  in many municipalities, you may vote ABSENTEE IN PERSON from NOW through Friday, February 16. Contact your clerk for details. There is an important WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT PRIMARY on the ballot and there may be local primaries, too, if needed. Here's is one of many recent issues where the make up of our state's supreme court can help or hurt efforts to protect the environment, reduce use of fossil fuels, end dangerous and polluting industrial practices. Please inform yourself and vote. For details about how and where to vote, what's on your ballot and more, visit

Supreme court candidates:  Tim Burns, Rebecca Dallett, and Michael Screnock. You may also want to check on the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's Follow the Money campaign finance database.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February 2018 Newsletter

Clean Cars Campaign in La Crosse in February  The Clean Cars Campaign will hold a press event in La Crosse this February to bring attention to the Trump administration’s plan to roll back CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. We will post information about the event (date, time, location) when details are finalized. If you can attend and show support for maintaining tough
mearningful standards, please do. Organizers will discuss the benefits of clean car standards and recognize those groups and politicians who have helped forward higher standards. Several local leaders will attend along with environmentalists and citizens interested in sustainability.

Current targets for light duty vehicles, established in 2011, require 2021 models to average at least 41 miles per gallon and 2025 models to average 49.7 mpg. Not only do these standards help reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions (which now make up the majority of emissions produced in the United States) but higher efficiency standards mean cost savings for drivers. The Union of Concerned Scientists has a fact sheet on environmental and economic benefits of strong fuel efficiency standards at

The Clean Cars Campaign is co-sponsored by several national organizations including the Sierra Club. For more information please visit

February 3 Progresstival     The Coulee Region Sierra Club will join dozens of other organizations working on issues of sustainability, equity, fairnes, and future vision at the 2018 Progresstival.

The event at the Concordia Ballroom, 1129 La Crosse Street, will begin at 2 p.m. with an “activist fair,” where organizations will share their programs, initiatives, and needs. Learn how to join, help, and push a variety of issues. New this year, mini-workshops will help attendees learn about the organizing volunteers, local issues, and reasons to get involved.

Keynote speaker, Paul Cienfuegos, will talk about the importance of People Power. As a national leader and in the Community Rights movement, Cienfuegos believes “we the people” must exercise our right to pass laws to protect our communities’ health and welfare. (Cienfuegos will also present an Intro to Community Rights workshop on Sunday, Feb. 4 - see

The event is open to all. Donations at the door will help pay for the event. After 5 p.m. those wishing to keep networking will meet at The Brickhouse (pub food available). See

2018 Grant Recipients     Congratulations to our two Environmental Education grant recipients for the 2018 school year - St. Rose Catholic School in Cuba City and Sparta Area School District School
Forest program! We look forward to hearing about your projects this summer and fall. These Coulee Region Sierra Club environmental education grants are made possible by a grant from the Paul E. Stry Foundation. Thanks to that organization for allowing the Coulee Region Sierra Club to help spread knowledge and love of nature.

Help us include EVERYONE     We are still seeking Coulee Region Sierra Club members who can help keep our club informed about actions, events, issues, and opportunities around the region. Can you email a report about an upcoming program in your area? Could you send some photos of an event?
Would you like to write a column about environmental issues in your community? We are also looking for opportunities to connect members from all around the region. If you can help, please email crsierraclub at gmail.

Next meeting - Tuesday, March 27     Our next Coulee Region Sierra Club meeting will feature a talk on From Copper to Conservation in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park by Margot Higgins. Margot has lived and conducted research in Wrangell-St.Elias Park for the last decade. Having graduated from the Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Program at UC Berkeley in 2015, she is currently a lecturer in the Environmental Studies Program at UWL. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us!

Climate Action Fair March 3     Now more than ever, every individual needs to take action for a healthy climate future. At the March 3 Climate Action Fair, hosted by the Coulee Region Climate Alliance, information will be available about ways individuals can make positive changes in their own lives and homes and in their work places and communities. The event will take place at the First Congregational Church, Losey Blvd and Main Street in La Crosse from 1 to 4 p.m.

More than 200 attend industrial ag conference     The Coulee Region Sierra Club was happy to join with many other state and regional organizations to sponsor an important conference on the increasing industrialization of rural Wisconsin. The January 20 event in Boscobel was attended by more than 200 people. As keynote speaker, Dr. John Ikerd pointed out, replacing family farms and small businesses with poorly regulated industries that handle toxic waste brings the problems previously associated with inner cities to rural CAFO communities.

Many perspectives and ideas were offered by speakers and conference attendees in hopes that people educating themselves, their neighbors, and their elected officials can defend against the negative impact of this rural colonization by multinational industries.

The John Muir Chapter Sierra Club Water Team will include CAFOs in their work for 2018. Last year’s JMC Sierra Club white paper on CAFOs is available online at

If you missed the conference or would like to learn more about the issues, you can find links to video of the event, speakers’ contact information and event organizers at the event page:,

Vote starting February 5     The first statewide elections of 2018 will be held on Tuesday, February 20. On the ballot will be three contenders for a seat on the state’s Supreme Court. The top two vote getters in this primary will advance to the April 3 general election. In addition, county, municipal, and other local primaries will be decided.

It is now possible for many Wisconsin voters to register or begin or change their voter registration online. And, in most municipalities, voters may cast “absentee in person” ballots at their clerk’s office starting on Monday, February 5 where they can also register if needed. Absentee in person voting is available in most La Crosse municipalities Monday through Friday until Friday, February 16. Hours vary - contact your clerk for details.

Full information about voting including how to and where to register, where to vote, and what’s on your ballot is available online at This site will also tell you what documents you need to provide when registering to vote. If you don’t use the internet, please call your municipal clerk.

Voters will need to provide some form of approved ID when they vote absentee in person or at the polls on February 20. For most, that’s a Wisconsin driver’s license or Wisconsin ID card, but there are
several other approved documents. For a full list, visit Note - if you do not have a driver’s license, you may get a FREE state photo ID card for voting at the Department of Motor
Vehicles. tells how.

Sierra Club Actions     Courts Deny Federal Agency’s Hail Mary on Fracked Gas Pipeline - Sabal Trail Pipeline May be Shut Down On January 31, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a request from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to revisit a case
that established greenhouse gas emissions as a crucial component of analyzing the impacts of gas pipelines. The landmark decision from last year forced FERC to consider the future environmental effects of burning gas when deciding whether or not to approve the construction of gas pipelines. This ruling could mean that the Sabal Trail Pipeline must cease operations until a thorough and
complete review of its overall impact is completed.

Sierra Club joins suit against Trump’s plan to shrink national monuments In December, the Sierra Club joined several other environmental groups to sue Donald Trump claiming that he does not have the authority to reduce the size of national monuments. A separate suit was filed by five Native American tribes. However, the Trump proclamation takes effect on February 2 and at 6 a.m. on that date, private citizens and companies will be allowed to stake claims for hard rock mining. Many outlets report that the move to shrink the monuments came after lobbying by uranium mining companies. A new ANTIQUITIES Act was introduced in the US Senate on January 30 to re-protect these unique treasures.

Friday, January 26, 2018

CAFOs and Lead

First, NOT in the news, at least not in La Crosse, last weekend's Industrial Ag in the Driftless conference. Even though citizens in the local market (La Crosse and Vernon counties) have several CAFO challenges and even though the conference was live streamed, nothing.

But you can view the speakers and Q&A session online at  and WDRT, 91.9 FM in Viroqua, will broadcast parts of the conference on Sunday, January 28 starting at noon.

The John Muir Chapter Sierra Club Water Team has chosen CAFOs and the dangers they pose to the environment and rural communities as one of it's top priorities for 2018.


Congratulations to the John Muir Chapter! The Lead Bill (Senate Bill 48/Assembly Bill 78) backed by the state Sierra Club has been signed into law. Read the summer 2017 Water White Paper on the problems of lead contamination in Wisconsin.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Please attend today's important regional conference on the challenges of Industrial Ag in the Driftless. Sponsored by a host of state and regional organizations (including Coulee Region Sierra Club), the event will educate,  motivate,  and activate.

Those who attend in person will have a chance to network and collaborate with others to learn what local communities can do to protect against rural colonization by the multinational ag industry.

If you are not able to attend physically,  part of the event will be live streamed and then available online.

For more information,  please visit the event page at

Sunday, December 31, 2017

January newsletter

“CAFOs generate large quantities of manure, both liquid and solid. The bacteria, phosphorous, nitrates and other substances in manure can contaminate water supplies. The management and disposal of this manure is the source of many of the problems that can arise from one of these facilities. To put the amount of manure generated in context, a dairy CAFO with 2,500 cows generates the same amount of waste as a city of 410,000 residents. Unlike cities, however, CAFOs do not treat the sewage they produce.” - from CAFOS: A Threat to Water in Wisconsin, John Muir Chapter Sierra Club, June 2017 (

Please join us at this important regional conference organized by individuals and organizations concerned about the size and number of industrial agricultural operations moving into the sensitive Driftless region. If you can, please print and post flyers, share the FB event, share on Twitter
or other social media, organize a carpool. With former Wisconsin DNR Secretary Kathy Stepp soon to head the regional EPA office, clearly communities need to become more creative, more organized, more determined, and more self-reliant to protect our environment.

Save the date! Tuesday, March 27 Our next Coulee Region Sierra Club meeting will feature a talk on From Copper to Conservation in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park by Margot Higgins. Margot has lived and conducted research in Wrangell-St.Elias Park for the last decade. Having graduated from the Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Program at UC Berkeley in 2015, she is currently a lecturer in the Environmental Studies Program at UWL. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us!

Outings   The John Muir Chapter hosts some amazing outings every year. Some are so popular that it doesn’t hurt to reserve a space well in advance. Annual favorites locally include Black and Kickapoo River trips. Watch the calendar for new outings, too (

These summer events are on the calendar now:
  • July 12-15 Women’s Namekagon Canoe & Camp
  • July 27-August 5 Women’s Quetico Canoe/ Portage
  • August 3-12 Anglers’ Quetico Canoe/ Portage
  • August 31-September 9 Paddlers’ Quetico Canoe/ Portage
Here’s a photo of participants in last September’s outing on the Kickapoo River (view the video at Thanks to John Sullivan for producing this video and sharing it with us.

Enviro Education Grants  There’s still time to apply for 2018 Environmental Education grants of up to $200. to help make sure
students learn about our environment. The application for 2018 grants is available at Teachers and organizations who work with
elementary and middle school children in the Coulee Region (Crawford, Grant, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Trempealeau, and Vernon county) may apply. Deadline is January 5, 2018

CR Sierra Club Board  Your 2018 Coulee Region Sierra Club Board members will be Kathy Allen, Bill Katra, Maureen Kinney, George Nygaard, Avery Van Gaard, Cathy Van Maren, and Pat Wilson. Thanks to those who voted. If you have suggestions for 2018 programs, projects, events, or activities, please feel free to contact the board at crsierraclub at gmail.

Thank you Barb and Don Frank for hosting our December 19 Winter Gathering!

Looking back, looking forward. The Coulee Region Sierra Club was active during 2017 both in hosting events and actions and providing opportunities for members and friends to experience the outdoors. In 2018 we will continue to seek ways to include more members in events held around the region.

* The Coulee Region Group joined many other La Crosse area organizations in opposing a new highway through the La Crosse River marsh. At the end of the year, the state DOT dropped its effort to construct a new road.
* Our March 2017 program included Mayor Tim Kabat, along with Professors Chuck Lee and James Longhurst (UWL History Department) discussing The City of La Crosse Transportation Vision - A Plan of Action.
* We continued road cleanups on River Valley Drive, the Coulee Region Group’s adopted highway, with two cleanups this year and a darned good try at holding a third (twice defeated by inclement weather!)

* Coulee Region Group members attended April Conservation Congress meetings to talk about and vote on policies from water quality and DNR permitting processes to frac sand and other mining policies.
* Our members commented on proposed DNR changes and some attended Conservation Lobby Day in March
* Our club joined with other organizations to host a screening of the film, SUSTAINABLE, as a fundraiser for Midwest Environmental Advocates

Water Quality
* Coulee Region Sierra Club members joined others in Madison on February 8 for Citizen Water Lobby Day hosted by the Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network. Attendees networked, heard from speakers, and visited with their state representatives and senators.
* In March the Club held a well-attended media event at the Myrick Park Center to highlight World Water Day and local and state water quality issues.
* In October, the club hosted a water quality forum in Town of Holland to discuss contamination issues in north La Crosse County. We were fortunate that local officials volunteered as panelists for the event.

Environmental Education
* The Coulee Region Group supported and had a booth at the Progresstival in January, the Coulee Region Climate Alliance Climate Action Fair in March, the La Crosse Earth Fair in April, and the Open Streets event in September.
* We continued our environmental grant program, providing three grants totaling $600 to elementary and middle schools in Holmen, La Crosse, and Cuba City. These grants support environmental education projects in the schools.
* At our September meeting, we heard from Judson Steinbach of Coulee Region Ecoscapes

Climate Change/Renewable Energy/Sustainability
* Our club screened the film DISOBEDIENCE: The Rise of the Fossil Fuel Resistance
* We sponsored a tour of the sustainable features of the new UWL Student Union
* At our March meeting we welcomed members of UWL’s Students for Sustainability

Green Spaces
* The Coulee Region Group co-sponsored a canoe outing on the Black River in July and on the Kickapoo River in September.
* The Coulee Region Group is represented by Pat Wilson on the La Crosse Park Department Environmental Leadership Forum.

Coming in 2018 Local and global environmental challenges will continue into 2018. How can each Sierra Club member get more active to strengthen our protection of our natural resources, public lands, and clean air and water. We are still seeking club members from around the Coulee Region to help report on issues and events and to help bring the Sierra Club to local events. If you would like to help - by reporting on local happenings or volunteering to table at a local event (for example, the January 20 event in Boscobel), please contact us at crsierraclub at gmail.