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Friday, August 2, 2019

August newsletter

Summer visit to the home of Nick Nichols, Tuesday, August 27, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nick Nichols, La Crosse County’s Sustainability Coordinator, has invited Coulee Region Sierra Club members and friends to visit his home and see how he lives the sustainable life 24/7. Nick will show us his solar system, his garden, and other renewable systems and hacks. The visit will be from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 27. If you’d like to participate, please complete this form ( OR call Cathy at 608-315-2693 no later than August 26 at noon. We will also try to facilitate ride sharing. This is your chance to see what one family can do and ask questions about how to do it!

Ready for 100 La Crosse!  The Coulee Region Sierra Club is happy to announce that the La Crosse City Council passed a resolution committing the community of La Crosse to transitioning to 100% renewable energy and zero percent carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. More details will be in our September newsletter. The Sustainable La Crosse Commission hopes to pass a similar resolution at the county level soon. Email if your community would like to start a similar initiative and check out the resources available at You will learn about the Mayors for 100 initiative and how to start your own Ready for 100 campaign using tools and resources available from Sierra Club, partner organizations, and the others who have made the pledge.

Gundersen’s Sparta Clinic achieves “energy independence” The US Green Building Council Wisconsin has honored the Gundersen Clinic in Sparta with a Transformation Leadership
Award for the clinic’s successful sustainability practices. The Sparta clinic met its “energy independence” goal before it was even a year old by producing more renewable energy than it consumes. The clinic’s HVAC system uses geothermal wells, they have a variety of monitoring systems in place to conserve energy, the building is well insulated, and there is a 100kW solar array on the roof. In addition those who work at the clinic maintain an “energy-conscious attitude while
working in the building,” according to Alan Eber, Manager of Facility Operations at Gundersen. Gundersen Health System has been a leader in energy efficiency and energy independence. Read more at

Fennimore solar garden completed As reported by, a new 18-acre solar garden in Fennimore is the largest solar array in Wisconsin. The project started as a collaboration between Organic Valley, OneEnergy Renewables, and participating communities but was purchased by BluEarth Renewables, a Canadian based company. It is one project in the Butter Solar portfolio which also includes arrays in Argyle, Cashton, Cumberland, Elroy, and New Lisbon. With completion of this project, Fennimore will be getting about 40 percent of its energy from wind and solar, surpassing their 20% renewable energy by 2020 goal. The Butter Portfolio energy will directly serve the local communities where projects are sited.

Black River family canoe trip  Fine weather and a wonderful group of children and parents made this year’s family-friendly canoe trip on the Black River a delight. We’ll have more about the trip in our September newsletter. Upcoming Sierra Club water outings include a five day trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (September 5-10) and a day trip on the
Kickapoo (September 15). For more trips and information, see

Thank you, cleanup vols!  Thanks to the seven volunteers to showed up for our July
16 highway cleanup effort along River Valley Drive in La Crosse. Some volunteers cooled off at Rudy’s after the activity. Our next cleanup will be in October. 

Public transit open house  The Coulee Region Sierra Club partnered with La Crosse
Area Transit Advocates and the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation to host a Love Our Transit Open House in La Crosse on July 10. Similar events were held around the state to collect public transit riders’ and drivers’ stories and highlight the importance of public
transportation in providing independence to the thousands of Wisconsinites who don’t or can’t drive private vehicles. In La Crosse, we were also able to talk about the role public transportation can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. New “clean diesel” buses this year and electric buses next year will improve efficiency and reduce fuel and maintenace costs.

Inspiring Sustainability awards  The Sustainability Institute at Western Technical College
in La Crosse will present two Inspiring Sustainability awards at a September 24 program. Superior Fresh, a leading aquaponics facility in Northfield, and Kahya Fox, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity La Crosse will be recognized by La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. with a cash bar. Mayor Kabat will speak at 5:00 and will present the awards at 5:20. To register (free) visit

Wetlands videos  The Wisconsin Wetlands Association has   produced a series of short videos on state wetlands. They are free, downloadable, and useful for programs, classroom use, or just sharing with friends and family. Access the videos at

Mississippi Valley Conservancy  MVC is offering several hikes and volunteer opportunities in the Coulee Region during August.
* August 3 - Encouraging Biodiversity Field Day at Tunnelville Cliffs State Natural Area
* August 9, 16, 30 - Love the Bluffs Volunteer Days
* August 10 - Forest Bathing in La Crosse
* August 21 - Volunteer for the Wild at Tunnelville Cliffs
Visit the MVC site for more information:

Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP)  The USDA’s Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP) works through rural energy providers to provide low interest, long term loans to help rural families and businesses reduce energy costs and consumption. Loans may be used for
weatherization; Energy Star appliances; HVAC and other systems updates; motors, blowers, boilers, dryers, and process related equipment; on- or off-grid renewable energy installations; irrigation or water and waste disposal systems; replacement of manufactured homes; lighting improvement; building envelope improvements; and other activities and investments directly related to energy efficiency implementation. The loans will reduce upfront costs and it is hoped that cost savings will offset the loan costs. Wisconsin Citizen Action urges rural residents to push their electric co-ops to apply for the program by the September 30 deadline. Learn more about RESP at and sign the Citizen Action petition at

September electric vehicle charging workshop  Get on the fuel efficiency fast track: trends, planning considerations, and funding resources is a workshop for those considering a charging station or electric vehicle fleet. It will be presented on Wednesday, September
11 at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Industry experts from Argonne National Laboratory, Wisconsin Clean Cities, and RENEW Wisconsin will discuss EV trends, planning considerations, purchasing, resources, and regulatory and legislative policy. Continental breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon EV ride and drive event are included in the $39 registration fee. Find info and registration details at

Crawford County CAFO news  An expansion of a CAFO owned by Pork Producers AV Roth of Crawford County is currently under consideration. The CAFO would be sited along the Kickapoo River. The Crawford Stewardship Project is coordinating studies, education, and outreach. They note that, “The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates 47% of Wisconsin wells already do not meet health standards.” In this so-called “year of clean water,” it has been disappointing to see that the Wisconsin DNR’s CAFO permitting policies do not seem to have changed.A special meeting of the Marietta Town board will be held on Monday, August 5 at 7 p.m. to discuss and vote on a proposed one year moratorium at the Marietta Town Hall, 45550 Maple Ridge Road, Boscobel. Contact Forest Jahnke, (608-632-2183), for more information and to get involved.

CAFO siting rules  The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will hold public hearings around the state on ATCP-51 CAFO/livestock siting rule updates. According to Wisconsin Farmers Union, “The livestock siting rule determines standards and procedures for local governments to permit new or expanding large livestock
facilities.” While the law says the rule must be reviewed every four years, it has not been revised since 2006. A strong showing of farmers, rural residents, and engaged citizens will help defend necessary rule changes. The Farmers Union will host a conference call on August 6 at 6 pm to help organizations and citizens prepare for the ATCP-51 hearings. The call-in number is 800-582-3014 and the passcode is 96772278#. The only Coulee Region area public hearing will be on Wednesday, September 4 between 1 and 4 p.m. and 5 to
8 p.m. at Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, 3060 South Kinney Coulee Road, Onalaska. You may also comment online, by email, and by mail.Get information about proposed updates, details about the process and all public hearings, and learn how to
comment at Read more about CAFOs’ impacts on the environment and public health at

Sustainable business help  The Sustainability Institute at Western Technical College
in La Crosse has offered its MPower program for the past several years to help area agencies,programs, and businesses save money and energy, reduce waste, and become more sustainable. A redesigned program will begin this fall. See

On Thursday, August 15, Dr. Crispin Pierce, UW Eau Claire, and his students and interns will present a program on Particulate Air Quality Around Wisconsin Frac Sand Mines at the Skyline Golf Course, 612 North 11th Street, Black River Falls. The program begins at 5:30 p.m. and includes a presentation on particulate air monitoring and one on Public Lab and Project Outreach Sand Sentinel materials. “The act of mining and processing sand for
hydraulic fracturing generates particulate matter that becomes airborne. Our aim is to quantify the risk of ambient exposure to the airborne particulates around the industrial silica sand operations so that communities and decisionmakers can be well-informed of their air quality.” Refreshments will be served at this free event.

Invasive plant species  Our area has hordes of invasive plants. Some grow so rapidly, they can be a greater threat to native species than logging, mining, or chemicals. Eradicating them takes a lot of work, and doing it wrong can make things worse by spreading seeds or stimulating root growth. Common invaders here now include buckthorn, Japanese knotweed (resembling bamboo), Asian mulberry, Asian honeysuckle, wild parsnip, garlic mustard, crown vetch, purple loosestrife, leafy spurge, giant hogweed, Amur Corktree, and more.
Even if you don’t have the energy to pull them, it’s helpful to recognize and report them, to prevent spreading them and to avoid the dangerous ones like giant hogweed (which may produce large, painful blisters after contact).
Crawford County CAFO news

Read more about invasive species at the DNR’s website: which also offers A Field Guide to Terrestrial Invasive Plants in Wisconsin as a mail order book and a .pdf download. Wisconsin First Detector Network, part of the UW - Division of Extension, is a citizen science network that empowers people to take action against invasive species. County or municipal departments or community organizations may offer invasive species training and work days. Check with your county extension office.

The Mississippi Valley Conservancy schedules workdays throughout the year. An October 19 event at Trempealeau Lakes includes work on invasive species. Sign up at - Dave Ziemann, La Crosse

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Debate watch & public hearings

A local debate watch with Sunrise Movement will be held at Piggy's Restaurant on Tuesday, July 30 at 7 p.m.

At 6 p.m. on July 30, the La Crosse City Council's Judiciary and Administration committee will take up a new solar spring ordinance and will also discuss s permit sought by Mayo Health to demolish houses for a parking lot. If you are interested in holding the city to its carbon drawdown commitment, you may attend the meeting and register or speak on the issues.

A special meeting of the Marietta Town board on Monday, August 5 at 7 p.m. will be held to discuss a CAFO siting moratorium. The meeting will be at 45550 Maple Ridge Road, Boscobel. For more details, contact

On September 4 in Onalaska, the Department of Ag, Trade, and Consumer Protection, will hold a public hearing at Stoney Creek Hotel (3060 South Kinney Coulee Drive, Onalaska) to get comments about proposed updates to CAFO/livestock siting rules. The hearings will be 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Learn more, including other ways to submit comments, at

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Corps of Engineers public meetings

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District will be hosting public scoping meetings next week, July 22-24, to gather input on the Upper Mississippi River Master Plan. Please share this information with those in your organization ir community. It is important to have direct input to ensure interests are considered in this plan.

The three meetings are:

Monday, July 22 – 4-7 p.m. –County Administration Building - Veterans Conference Room, 225 N. Beaumont Rd., Prairie du Chien 

Tuesday, July 23 – 4-7 p.m. – Onalaska Library - Meeting Room B, 741 Oak Ave. S, Onalaska

Wednesday, July 24 – 4-7 p.m. – Red Wing Public Library, 225 East Ave., Red Wing, Minnesota

The format of during these meetings will be an open house in which the public will have the opportunity to provide official comments.

St. Paul District is updating the Upper Mississippi River Master Plan which is a strategic land use and recreation management document that will guide the District’s comprehensive management and development of natural, recreational, and cultural resources of the Upper Mississippi River basin for years to come. The master plan, while conceptual in nature, will serve as the vision for both environmental stewardship and recreation as the Corps continues to serve the public in the 21st  century.

In addition to the public scoping meetings, comments concerning the scope of the study may aslo be submitted to: District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, ATTN: Regional Planning and Environment Division North, 180 Fifth Street East, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-1638. Comments can also be submitted via

Additional information can be viewed online at:

We look forward to hearing from you and those within your organization/community.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

Celebrate 100% Tuesday

Mayor Kabat, Council Members, Sustainable La Crosse Commission, Local Community Members Announce Ready for 100 Sustainability Goals for La Crosse
Goal of carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy by 2050

WHO: Mayor Kabat, Barb Jannsen, local leaders to be announced

WHEN: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at 1 p.m.

WHERE:  City Hall Lobby, 400 La Crosse St., La Crosse

WHAT:  The La Crosse Common Council unanimously passed a resolution setting sustainability goals for transitioning to carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy by 2050.  

This media event is to celebrate that action.  Co-sponsors of this resolution Barb Jannsen and Justice Weaver will explain the local need for addressing this global crisis.  Mayor Kabat, who previously signed to join Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, will explain some of the actions the city has already taken to begin the process.

With the passage of this resolution, La Crosse becomes the fifth “Ready for 100” city in Wisconsin, joining more than 100 cities across the country in this Sierra Club sponsored initiative to begin addressing climate change at the local level.  

The La Crosse resolution originated from the Sustainable La Crosse Commission, and some commission members will be there to explain where we go from here.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Tuesday - Green New Deal Action Call

Just as the La Crosse Common Council has agreed to move our whole community to 100% renewable, zero carbon energy by 2050 or sooner (come celebrate on Tuesday, July 16 at 1 pm at City Hall!) this message from the national Sierra Club invites us to get involved in the national push for a Green New Deal: 

In just three days, 1,582 people across the country have signed up to attend our activist kickoff call on Tuesday, July 16 to get involved in organizing for the Green New Deal in their community.

Some will be lobbying their local representatives in support of climate legislation, others will be hosting a watch party for the Democratic Presidential Debates on July 30th and 31st. This is big! But the most exciting part is, many of those people have never done anything like this before now. If you're in too, RSVP for the call here.

We’re seeing huge momentum all across the country. This energy didn’t come from the top down. It’s growing from the grassroots -- from everyday people fighting for 100% clean energy, jobs that pay a living wage, and climate policies that prioritize communities of color and working-class people.

That’s why we’re hosting this activist call: to ask each and every one of you to take a leap. New bills on 100% clean energy and clean cars show that momentum for a Green New Deal is building, but we’re up against a lot and the climate clock is ticking. It’s going to take all of us doing whatever we can, and doing it together.

If you’ve never done a lobby visit before or organized an event, we’ll give you a toolkit and connect you with a coach to guide you every step of the way. Even if you’re not sure you can make the kickoff call, sign up here and we’ll follow up with everything you need.

As the signup numbers keep growing, I’m getting more and more excited to share our upcoming plans alongside Sunrise Movement Co-Founder Varshini Prakash, and Sierra Club Organizer Yassi Kavezade. As we’re preparing for the call, here are some of the things I’ve heard from them: 

  • Varshini Prakash, Sunrise Movement Co-Founder: “We need solutions that are commensurate to the scale of the climate crisis. Our politicians have failed to take action  for decades -- now it’s time for us to take the lead and fight for the Green New Deal.”
  • Yassi Kavezade, Sierra Club Community Organizer: “A Green New Deal means my generation can pass on a world that we can be proud of.” 

I hope you’ll join us. Here’s that link one more time to sign up -- even if you can’t make the call, we’ll follow up to figure out the best next steps for you to continue growing the Green New Deal.

Talk soon,

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club

Jackson County Air Quality Hearing

From Frac Sand Sentinel:

An Air Quality Hearing for Smart Sands in the Town of Hixton, Jackson County, will be held on July 16th, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. in the Jackson Co. Court House, 307 Main St., Black River Falls. It will be the public's opportunity to submit written and oral comments.

Please open up the announcement for further information.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

La Crosse, Milwaukee poised for 100% renewable

Reposted with updates

The Ready for 100 resolution pledging the city of La Crosse to achieving zero carbon emissions and all energy from 100% renewable sources by 2050 or sooner will be before the City Council TONIGHT, July 11 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held in the council chambers on the main floor of City Hall.

If you would like to attend and register in support of the resolution, please arrive before 6 p.m. when registration ends. Register in support of resolution #19-0471. There's no speaking tonight. We just want to have as many as possible there to show support. 

The resolution will be part of a "consent agenda" of several items that have been recommended for approval by council committees. There are other items on the agenda before this, so if you wish to stay for the vote, be prepared to wait a bit.

We hope to introduce similar legislation at the county level next.

Milkwaukee city and county are poised to adopt 100% renewable legislation soon, too.

If you have any questions, please email us or call or text  608 315-2693. 

If it passes on July 11, La Crosse will join more than 100 towns, cities, counties, and states moving forward with plans to improve the health, environment, and economies of their communities. Chicago has pledged 100% renewables. Puerto Rico has pledged. The state of Washington has pledged. Orange County, NC has pledged. 

In fact some communities have already achieved 100% renewable goals including Georgetown, TX and Aspen, CO, Burlington, VT and Rockport, MO.

There are many reasons this is a good and needed plan. Xcel Energy has already committed to carbon zero and is adding renewables to its portfolio, in part because of consumer pressure and in part because of economics. Renewable electricity generation is cheaper than fossil fuels. Moving our whole state to in-state generated renewable energy would boost our economy by billions of dollars.

Moving to renewables nationwide will mean an end to oil bomb trains, frac sand mines, oil and gas pipelines, fracking wastewater pollution, petroleum processing explosions, and more. 

Preparing for a transition to 100% renewable heating will grow many new jobs - assessing systems and needed upgrades, refurbing buildings, creating new processes and products, building and installing renewable systems.

A renewable carbon free future is expected to help rural economies, too, with "dual use" solar agriculture and carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture.

Transitioning to 100 renewables for transportation will mean supporting and beefing up an electric bus public transit system, siting and installing EV charging stations, and eliminating health effects of fossil fuel exhaust (even psychological effects.)

In the end, economics and public pressure will make change happen no matter what. Pledging and planning now will allow communities to start saving money on reliable renewable energy and stop wasting money on old systems and inefficient plans while the transition is occurring. 

Here's a little report on Feldheim in Germany, a 100% renewable self-sustaining village. Here's an energy village in Germany featured in an Energy Fair presentation last weekend.  Finally,