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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

Monday, July 2, 2018

July Newsletter

NEXT EVENTS    Because of schedule conflicts, the next Coulee Region Sierra Club highway clean up has been rescheduled to Tuesday, July 17. We will meet at 6 p.m. at the water pumping station just northwest of the intersection of Gillette Street and River Valley Drive. Bags, gloves, and reflective vests will be provided. We have had great turnout recently. This makes things easier for everyone. For more info, contact Pat or Bobbie at 608 788-8831 or pbwilson AT

On Saturday, August 18, we’ll 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.” They helped form what is now known as Organic Valley, helped grow the Viroqua farmers’ market, and are long time members of Valley Stewardship Network and the Seed Savers Exchange. 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. The farm is out of production this year due partially to last year’s floods. We’ll observe flood damage along with natural marsh, woods, and grassland areas.

Details are still being finalized and will be available in the August newsletter and at our web page ( and our blog site or you can contact Pat at 608 788-8831 or pbwilson AT In the meantime, mark your calendar and consider car pooling with your neighbors. 

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. We’ll have a full description of the meeting agenda in our September newsletter.

ENVIRONMENTAL VOTER PROJECT Did you know that 20.1 million registered US voters identify climate change or other environmental issues as one of their top two priorities? However, only 10.1 million of these environmentalists voted in the 2016 presidential election which was decided by just 770,000 votes.

The sole purpose of the non-partisan non-profit Environmental Voters Project is to get these nonvoting environmentalists to the polls consistently! It’s described as, “a sophisticated Get Out The Vote campaign with canvassers, phone banks, text banks, and direct mail, all tailored specifically designed with messages specifically designed to get our identified environmentalists to vote.”

The group has an online environmental voter pledge that anyone can sign. Please consider signing and sharing the pledge with your contacts. Learn more at
Let’s get an army of green voters to the polls this year and every year!

[Reminder - the Wisconsin gubernatorial primary will be held on Tuesday, August 14. Absentee in person voting begins on Monday, July 30. More info about voting, registration, polling places, absentee voting at]

Seeking Coulee Region Sierra Club members to submit items for our newsletter and blog site! Email crsierraclub AT for details!

JUNE PICNIC  Thanks to those who attended our June 26 potluck picnic at Onalaska’s Rowe Park. Despite an iffy forecast, we enjoyed beautiful weather to accompany the good food and motivating conversations.

FAMILY FRIENDLY CANOE CAMPING TRIP JULY 14-15  This favorite kid-friendly paddling trip is offered to encourage young families, families with kids, and the young-at-
heart to join us on the water.We’ll take it slow, stop to play/explore as frequently as desired, cookout and sleep in tents on a sandbar and engage in creative outdoor play. All camping gear/food must fit in your boat. Contact: Kevin or Carol Olson at 608 963-2678, 608 356-8992, or olsonfam44 AT or Pat or Bobbie Wilson at 608-788-8831, 608 397-2531 or pbwilson AT Online details at

NEW BILL - FOSSIL FREE BY 2035   A bill introduced last fall - the OFF Act (Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act) is highlighted in a recent Food and Water Watch communication. The bill calls for a national transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035. It would end fossil fuel subsidies, place a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, ban the export of oil and gas, and call for an equitable transition for people who would be most impacted. The bill’s co-sponsors include 35 US Representatives (none from Wisconsin so far). This is an example of legislation that could make a major environmental impact
if a new environment friendly Congress is elected. For more info, see

THE FOXCONN CONTINUES   The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reports that owners
and employees from six of eight businesses chosen to construct a Racine Foxconn building contributed nearly $180,000 to Scott Walker’s campaigns between January 2010 and December 2017. So far the Walker administration and local governments have awarded Foxconn $4.5 BILLION in tax breaks, grants, worker training, highway changes, and other giveaways. More at

DNR ISSUES NEW MANURE RULES   Beginning July 1, manure spreading rules will change to address widespread water pollution. Unfortunately, the rules will only apply in a relatively few counties. Problems in southwest Wisconsin are not addressed in this limited
rule. As Midwest Environmental Advocates said in its June 27 news release, “For DNR to delay action until widespread contamination causes another public health crisis is both
unwise and irresponsible.” See the release at 

WILTON HEMLOCKS HIKE   On Saturday, July 14, the Mississippi Valley Conservancy
will host the first hike at the newly protected Wilton Hemlocks nature preserve! Hikers will meet at 25690 HWY 131 Wilton, WI at 10:00 a.m. to begin the hike. This is a Season's in the Coulee Region event sponsored by Gundersen Health System. For more information and detailed driving directions, please see the website

KARST GEOLOGY EXPLORATION   The Crawford Stewardship Project will host a family friendly Karst Geology Exploration outing on Saturday, July 28 beginning at 1 p.m. Meet at the Crawford County Highway Department, 21515 WI-27, Seneca. CSP is a non-profit headquartered in Gays Mills that works to protect the evironment of Crawford County and neighboring regions.

CONNECT WITH US online at,, or

Friday, June 29, 2018

New DNR CAFO rules

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 27, 2018
CONTACT: Sarah Geers, Staff Attorney, MEA, 608-251-5047 x 5,

Raj Shukla, Executive Director, River Alliance, 608-257-2424 x 115,

Mary Dougherty, President, SRWN, 651-253-9352,

MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced that its revised rules on livestock waste and runoff management will go into effect on July 1, 2018. Citizens and environmental groups worked for many years to pressure the state Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to put public health first in its regulation of livestock waste management. This rule represents modest improvements to protect families’ drinking water wells from contamination, but more needs to be done to protect drinking water.

“The drinking water quality crisis demands significant change in agricultural practices and groundwater protection,” said Midwest Environmental Advocates staff attorney Sarah Geers. “We hope that DNR will work with local land and water departments to ensure that this rule is implemented as quickly and effectively as possible. This rule represents incremental change in the right direction, but more is needed.”

Some of the most promising changes include:

  • prohibition on mechanical applications of manure on fields that have less than two feet of soil over bedrock or groundwater; 
  • prohibition on mechanical applications of manure on frozen or snow-covered ground on fields with less than five feet of soil over bedrock; and
  • requirement that manure applications leave a 250-foot setback from drinking water wells.

However, given the public health threat from drinking water contamination, we need DNR to do more. This rule applies to both large and small farmers, but we should be asking more of large, industrial concentrated animal feeding operations. We need them to do more in areas like Kewaunee County that are very vulnerable to groundwater pollution and that already have so many cows and too much manure.

Additionally, we are disappointed that DNR declined to apply these modest protections to other areas of the state, such as southwest Wisconsin and the central sands region, which are equally susceptible to groundwater contamination as the area covered by the rule. “DNR needs to comprehensively monitor water quality to measure for effectiveness of these rule changes and also study well contamination in central, southern and southwestern Wisconsin,” said River Alliance of Wisconsin executive director Raj Shukla. "For DNR to delay action until widespread contamination causes another public health crisis is both unwise and irresponsible.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Potluck TONIGHT!

Tonight, the Coulee Region Sierra Club will hold its annual summer potluck picnic starting at 6 p.m. at Onalaska's Rowe Park (Shelter #1). Hotdogs, utensils, and some beverages will be provided. Please bring some food to share with others. Everyone is welcome (you don't need to be a member).

This isn't a meeting and there won't be a program. It's a chance for those of us interested in the environment to come together, learn about what is happening locally to get people informed and involved, and what we can do together to ramp up local environmental action.

Nationally, the Sierra Club is encouraging municipalities and counties to commit to moving to 100 percent renewable energy - for city and community use - by 2050 or sooner. We will be working to encourage the City of La Crosse to make that Ready for 100 commitment soon and hope that example will help and encourage other communities in our area to make the move (as Madison and Eau Claire have already done in Wisconsin). There are many local and regional initiatives happening, too. This picnic will be a chance to share and connect (and eat great food and play horseshoes).

No RSVP needed. Tuesday, June 26 at 6 p.m. Shelther #1, Rowe Park (near the library) in Onalaska.

Sunday's La Crosse Tribune could have been called the environmental edition. From the front page to the features and letters, you could learn about how climate change is affecting us locally, how Winona is planning to replace its current fleet with electric vehiclesc to the continuing dangers and environmental disasters caused by our fossil fuel addiction.

Larry Sleznikow, of La Crosse Citizens' Climate Lobby, in his op ed, wrote about the importance of VOTING for those interested in the environment. Amazingly, a good chunk of people who say they are very concerned about the environment and climate change don't vote. "Voting amplifies our voice and along with other like-minded voters, becomes a shout that politicians will hear, pay attention to and act upon. We desperately need positive action by all levels of government to address climate change and environmental degradation. Resulting legislation should be bipartisan and well thought out using the best scientific information available. Denying or ignoring problems is not an option future generations can afford."

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ready for 100 - now more than ever

The CRSC Ready for 100 team is ready to take the next step toward helping Coulee Region communities commit to going 100% renewable by 2050 or sooner as nearly 100 US communities and counties (including the Wisconsin cities of Eau Claire and Madison) have done over the past couple of years.

The most recent reports on carbon emissions are not good. We have now surpassed 410 parts per million (350 ppm is the target for sustainability). The Trump administration is considering using cold war era rules to require subsidies of the fossil fuel industry, is preparing the path toward letting oil exploration leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and "quietly killed" the $10 million annual budget for NASA's carbon monitoring program. And Trump tariffs have reportedly shut down billions in new solar projects.

The R4100 local team wants the City of La Crosse and other communities to pledge to renewable energy. We are working on a presentation to educate community members about the issues and the initiative and to motivate them to contact their elected officials and push for a formal commitment. We will also help Coulee Region  Sierra Club members to start a Ready for 100 effort in their communities and possibly in Coulee Region counties as well.

If you would like to help create the presentation, please email us (crsierraclub at gmail)*. If you know of a community group where we could present (or if you would like to do or help with a presentation) please email. If you would like to contact your community leaders to get an initiative started or to help with the La Crosse initiative, please contact us.

*Next meeting week of June 11.

At a recent meeting Pope Francis held with fossil fuel industry executives, the choice was made clear. "Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.”

Bill McKibben, founder of, recently wrote,
"The biggest climate summit since Paris will happen this fall in California, but it may get lost amid season three of 'Unpatriotic Football Players' or what ever new provocation Trump dreams up. And that would be terrible, because this is time we’ll never get back. Even if a new president someday takes up climate seriously, the carbon we’re spewing now will still be in the atmosphere to haunt us over geological time. Time is the trouble."