Follow by Email

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Reminder of events

May 15 - Tour La Crosse County Landfill with emphasis on sustainability features. Meet at 6 pm at landfill site - 0.8 miles past Woodmans toward West Salem on Hwy 16.

May 17 - at 6 pm, La Crosse Area Transit Advocates meeting at Southside Neighborhood Center (1300 Sixth St South) and at 6:30, monthly meeting of Citizen Climate Lobby of La Crosse at 401 West Avenue South.

May 19 - Two opportunities to learn about and discuss area mountain bike and hiking trails - ettiquette and shared use. One forum at noon, one at 3 pm during the Driftless Sports Convergence at the Onalaska Omni Center.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

May newsletter

View and download the .pdf version at this link.

HIGHWAY CLEAN UP APRIL 28  The Coulee Region group will clean up its adopted section of roadway - River Valley Drive in La Crosse - on Saturday morning, April 28 beginning at 9:00 a.m. As usual, we will meet in the parking area of the water pumping station just northwest of the stop lights at the intersection of Gillette Street (Hwy B) and River Valley Drive. Gloves, safety vests, and bags will be provided. Our club clean up is part of the general Earth weekend clean up of the marsh area. At noon, a lunch for all clean up volunteers will be served at the Myrick Rod and Gun Club Shelter. If you have questions, please contact Maureen at 608 784-9324.

EARTH FAIR APRIL 29  The 10th annual La Crosse Earth Fair will be held at Myrick Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 with a Recycling Fair at nearby Emerson Elementary School. The Coulee Region Sierra Club will have a table at the fair encouraging attendees to learn about environmental issues and join our efforts. The fair will feature activities for children, hands on workshops, guided hikes, other educational activities. Attendees are encouraged to walk, ride their bikes, or take the shuttle. Passive House Tours of Western TC’s SwiPHt at 751 N. 24th Street will be held between 1 and 3 p.m. Read more at earthfairlacrosse.com. A Recycling Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the nearby Emerson Elementary School parking lot. Dynamic Recycling will accept most electronic items for a small fee. Cell phones will also be accepted for recycling. In addition there will be document shredding, flag retirement, scrap metal collection, and child car seat recycling.

LANDFILL TOUR MAY 15  The La Crosse County Landfill is the site of our next club gathering. La Crosse County Sustainability Coordinator Nick Nichols will take our group on a tour of the landfill which boasts several sustainability features. The landfill is a 350 acre complex which continually seeks to find new ways and partnerships to recycle, repurpose,
and reuse materials to keep them out of the waste stream. A DNR Green Tier Program participant, the landfill captures methane to fuel a local hospital complex, chips clean wood waste as an energy source for a local power plant, collects asphalt shingles to be ground and delivered to a local asphalt manufacturer for highway construction, collects concrete and used blacktop to be ground up and used for road base, and collects over 30,000 pounds of partially used paints, household cleaners, auto care cleaners and lubricants, pesticides and more from citizens, to be beneficially reused again by someone else in the community. Meet at 6 p.m. at the County Landfill (about 0.8 mile beyond Woodmans toward West Salem). You need not be a Sierra Club member to participate. If you would like to carpool - need or can provide a ride - or would like more information, email us at crsierraclub at gmail.


JOIN OUR TEAMS!  Water Team members will connect with the state water team through monthly conference calls, highlighting CR group water concerns and coordinating actions with the state team. Ready for 100 Team members will work to educate community leaders about switching to 100% renewable energy and support and advocate for ambitious goals and timelines. Email us to join! 

HELP NEEDED  Our current program chair, Carol Miller, needs to take a break from Sierra Club duties. We are looking for a member who would like to gather ideas and help set up
speakers and activities (four to six per year) for our group. 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. We would also like to find club members from outside the La Crosse area to table and/or provide information about the Sierra Club at community events and fairs. To volunteer, please email us!


MAY 19 SHARED USE TRAILS FORUMS  On May 19, as part of the Driftless Sports Convergence in Onalaska, the Seven Rivers Region Outdoor Recreation Alliance will sponsor two Community Trails Forums focusing on modern trail design for mountain biking, hiking, and shared use with shared goals of conservation and recreation. The forum will “also discuss proactive solutions for trail use and ettiquette in an effort to promote positive
experiences for all trail users.” These hour long workshops are free and will be held at noon and at 3 pm at the Onalaska Omni Center. For more information and to register, please visit tinyurl.com/laxtrailforums.


SUNVEST SOLAR GROUP BUY  A new John Muir Chapter partnership will help shift
Wisconsin from fossil fuels towrd clean, renewable energy. Pewaukee-based SunVest Solar will help members reduce upfront costs and simplify the installation process. Also, for each unit installed through the program, SunVest will make a donation to the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter to support conservation work in Wisconsin. The program is open to home-owners, businesses, and non-profits. Find and fill out the contact form at sunvest.com/p r o g r a m s /sierraclub and SunVest will respond with an initial design and on-site assess-ment showing production and cost estimates.


THE ENERGY FAIR JUNE 15-17  The 29th Annual Energy Fair will be held in Custer,
Wisconsin (near Stevens Point) June 15-17. The mission is “to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainability through education and demonstration.” This year’s fair will include 200+ workshops and demonstrations. Extended workshops will also be offered. Discounts on tickets and camping (optional) are given until May 17. See theenergyfair.org
for more details. If you plan to go and have space for more, please check cr-sierra.blogspot.com after May 1 for carpool signup options.


MAY 3 SOLAR GARDEN INFO  Xcel Energy will host a Community Solar Garden Information Session (Solar*Connect Community) on Thursday, May 3 at 6 p.m. at Western TC’s Lunda Center. Individuals and businesses wishing to “go solar” can learn more about the program, how to size solar subscripions, and how bill credits work. Community solar gardens give apartment dwellers and those without suitable sites or the ability to pay high upfront costs the chance to invest in solar. Read more at tinyurl.com/Xcel-solarconnect

ALEC AND THE ENVIRONMENT  The Center for Media and Democracy reports that the
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry group that writes legislation for states, is meeting in late April to polish bills for the next legislative season. Noting that ALEC IS “chock full of fossil fuel companies,” CMD writes, “One piece of priority legislation ... is the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act ... punative measure designed to frighten protestors with strict penalties and discourage large-scale demonstrations like the Dakota Access Pipeline protests ...” Some states, including Iowa have already passed and signed on to this legislation and it’s been introduced in several others. Another priority is legislation giving states greater control over permitting fossil fuel development on federal land within their
borders (where oil and gas lobbyists have more power and influence). For more details and other bills to watch out for, see tinyurl.com/Alecandenviro

Monday, April 9, 2018

Frog survey /Conservation Congress tonight

Reminder. If you can, please attend your county's Conservation Congress Spring Hearing tonight.

And

Friends of the La Crosse River Marsh is working with WisCorps to do a frog and toad survey this spring and summer. "Over the years, a few groups and individuals have undertaken surveys of frogs and toads in the marsh.  A WDNR survey and an Eco Park survey are perhaps the two most important for the La Crosse River Marsh.  Baseline data on amphibian populations is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that amphibian populations are key indicators of water quality and overall ecological health.  Frog and toad choral surveys are relatively easy to conduct — perfect for a citizen science project."

Volunteers (great for families) are needed!
The survey will be done on set evenings, the first one here in April.  We’ll organize the survey and compile the data.  Surveyors will work in teams of two or more and each team will survey an easily accessible site—by bike, by foot, or by car.  
If you are interested, the first order of business is to learn frog and toad calls.  Here’s a URL from WDNR that you can use to learn the calls.  It also includes a self quiz.  You will want to learn the following calls:  Wood Frog, Northern Spring Peeper, Western Chorus Frog, Northern Leopard Frog, American Toad, Eastern Gray Treefrog, Green Frog, and Bull Frog.  These are listed in approximately the order when they first start to call in the spring. Leopard frogs have already been spotted, so don't delay.

For more information, contact Friends of the Marsh or WisCorps. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

April 2018 Newsletter


CONSERVATION CONGRESS APRIL 9  Just a reminder that Wisconsin’s annual Conservation Congress hearings are coming up on April 9 at 7 p.m. The La Crosse county hearing will be in the Onalaska HS auditorium. Check the link for other counties. There are several questions this year of interest to the Sierra Club - you can find these and how the organization recommends its members vote in the latest edition of the John Muir chapter’s newsletter, which just came out. To find the location of the hearing in your county, to view the questionnaire in advance, or to learn how to write a resolution, check the link.

Also, if you’ve never been to a hearing before, you should know that you don’t have to stay the whole time - you can complete your questionnaire and leave if you’re pressed for time. If you have any other questions, please feel free to send us a message at crsierraclub at gmail.


APRIL 29 LA CROSSE EARTH FAIR  The 10th annual La Crosse Earth Fair will be held at Myrick Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 with a Recycling Fair at nearby Emerson Elementary School. The Coulee Region Sierra Club will have a table at the fair
encouraging attendees to learn about environmental issues. The fair will feature activities for children, hands on workshops, guided hikes, other educational activities. Attendees are encouraged to walk, ride their bikes, or take the shuttle.


A Recycling Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the nearby Emerson Elementary School parking lot. Dynamic Recycling will accept most electronic items for a small fee.
Cell phones will also be accepted for recycling. In addition there will be document shredding, flag retirement, scrap metal collection, and child car seat recycling.


The Sierra Club spring highway clean up (April 28 at 9 a.m.) is part of the annual Earth Day clean up. See more about high way clean up below and more about the Earth Fair and related activities at earthfairlacrosse.com.


SEEKING PROGRAM CHAIR  Our current program chair, Carol Miller, needs to take a
break from Sierra Club duties. We are looking for a member who would like to gather ideas and help set up speakers and activities (four to six per year) for our group. If you’re interested, please email us
at crsierraclub at gmail.

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. To help, please email
crsierraclub at gmail.

NEXT GATHERING, TUESDAY, MAY 15  The La Crosse County Landfill is the site of our next club gathering. County Solid Waste and Sustainability Manager, Nick Nichols, will take our group on a tour of the landfill which boasts several sustainability features.

The landfill is a 350 acre complex which continually seeks to find new ways and  partnerships to recycle, repurpose, and reuse materials to keep them out of the waste stream. A DNR Green Tier Program participant, the landfill captures methane to fuel a local hospital complex, chips clean wood waste as an energy source for a local power plant, collects asphalt shingles to be ground and delivered to a local asphalt manufacturer for highway construction, collects concrete and used blacktop to be ground up and used for road base, and collects over 30,000 pounds of partially used paints, household cleaners, auto care cleaners and lubricants, pesticides and more from citizens, to be beneficially reused again by someone else in the community.


Meet at 6 p.m. at the County Landfill (about 0.8 mile beyond Woodmans toward West Salem). You need not be a Sierra Club member to participate. If you would like to
carpool - need or can provide a ride - or would like more information, email us at

crsierraclub at gmail.

MARCH MEETING NOTES  A full house greeted guest speaker, Margot Higgins, PhD,
at our March 27 meeting. Following a short business meeting which included reports on local issues, state news from guest, John Muir chapter chair, Don Ferber, and information about the April 9 Conservation Congress, Dr. Higgins discussed her work at Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. She talked about the unique history of this park and the attempt to include the indigenous populations and subsistence users in the
park’s management. She noted how this model was related to the management arranged for the Bear’s Ears National Monument by tribal representatives along with US agencies and including tribal knowledge and science. (This plan is now in jeopardy by the Trump administration’s plan to roll back the scope of the monument boundaries).


National Sierra Club board elections
are going on now. Barb Frank, who has served on the national board, spoke of the importance of voting in this election. If you are Sierra Club member, you should have received your ballot in the mail. (if not, you can vote online). The latest issue of Muir View has an artiicle about the elections including how to vote electronically, information about candidates and endorsements. Voting concludes April 25.


Thank you Dr Higgins for sharing your experience and knowledge of this important issue. Also thanks to guests Don Ferber and Jim Kerler, chapter leaders. If you have ideas for future speakers or meetings, please email us at
crsierraclub at gmail.

SIERRA CLUB SOLAR GROUP BY WITH SUNVEST  Chapter chair Don Ferber introduced a new partnership that will allow state Sierra Club members to purchase and
install solar panels with a substantial group by discount. The group buy will help shift Wisconsin from fossil fuels towrd clean, renewable energy. Pewaukee-based SunVestSolar will help members reduce upfront costs and simplify the installation process. Also, for each unit installed through the program, SunVest will make a donation to the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter to support conservation work in Wisconsin. The program is open to  homeowners, businesses, and non-profits.


Find and fill out the contact form at sunvest.com/programs/sierraclub and SunVest will respond with an initial design and on-site assessment showing production and cost estimates. 


HIGHWAY CLEAN UP APRIL 28  The Coulee Region group will clean up its adopted section of roadway - River Valley Drive in La Crosse - on Saturday morning, April 28 beginning at 9:00 a.m. As usual, we will meet in the parking area of the water pumping station just northwest of the stop lights at the intersection of Gillette Street (Hwy B) and River Valley Drive. Gloves, safety vests, and bags will be provided. Our club clean up is part of the general Earth weekend clean up of the marsh area. At noon, a lunch for all clean
up volunteers will be served at the Myrick Rod and Gun Club Shelter. If you have questions, please contact Maureen at 608 784-9324.


CLEAN WATER ACT MONITORSThe John Muir Chapter Water Team is seeking volunteers
to help monitor compliance with the Clean Water Act by reading through permit papers at DNR offices. If you are interested in helping, please email us at
crsierraclub at gmail.

BLACK RIVER TRAIL HELPERS  Efforts are underway to have the Black River designated
as a National Water Trail. Friends of the Black River is seeking volunteers interested in working on the application and planning for projects needed to meet the criteria for National
Water Trail designation. For more info or to volunteer, please contact info_fbr@yahoo.com


REAP - RURAL ENERGY HELP  The United States Department of Agriculture is seeking
applicants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency projects under the Rural Energy for America Program. Loan guarantees and grants will be provided to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to help them reduce energy costs and install renewable energy systems. Eligible systems include wind, solar, hydroelectric, ocean, hydrogen, geothermal, or renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters).


The deadline to apply for grants is April 30. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year round. Find more information on page 10829 of the March 13, 2018Federal Register


CAFO/WATER QUALITY UPDATE  Karst geology is vulnerable to groundwater pollution.
Significant portions of southwest Wisconsin have karst geology. This is similar to the geology present in northeast Wisconsin. including Kewaunee County, where more than
one-third of private wells are unsafe due to high contamination levels.


In northeast Wisconsin, part of what has made it possible to begin addressing the problems was a sophisticated groundwater study that definitively nailed down the extent and source of the contamination using genetic testing.

Given the similar geology in southwest Wisconsin and the large number of people using private wells, our region should conduct a similar groundwater study to allow us to learn the extent and sources of contamination. Please let your county board members and county
conservationist know that you support this kind of groundwater testing in your area.
[information provided by Bill Davis, John Muir Chapter Chair] 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Conservation Congress county meetings April 9

Just a reminder that Wisconsin's annual Conservation Congress hearings are coming up on April 9. There are several questions this year of interest to the Sierra Club - you can find these and how the organization recommends its members vote in the latest edition of the John Muir chapter's newsletter, which just came out. To find the location of the hearing in your county or to view the questionnaire in advance, check this link. Also, if you've never been to a hearing before, you should know that you don't have to stay the whole time - you can complete your questionnaire and leave if you're pressed for time. If you have any other questions, please feel free to send us a message!

Kathy Allen

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Eau Claire hosts April conference on renewable communities

Last week the City of Eau Claire made a historic commitment to take action on climate change, by committing to 100% renewable energy and climate neutrality on both the municipal and community level by 2050.

There is a lot of work ahead, as the city needs to create a Climate & Energy Action Plan to get us there, AND we need to inspire other communities to follow our lead.

The best opportunity to jump in right away is to attend the 2018 Local Government Summit in Eau Claire this April 23-24th, hosted by the Wisconsin Academy for Sciences, Arts, and Letters. "Leading the Charge," is a two-day summit where we will share practical resources and explore emerging issues around local energy planning and resilience in Wisconsin communities.

Right now in Wisconsin, much of the meaningful and groundbreaking work in energy planning and climate change mitigation is happening through local governments and the businesses and organizations supporting their efforts. The Eau Claire region is #leadingthecharge and is poised to offer fresh perspectives on tangible and measurable ways that local municipalities can move forward to foster community well-being and energy resilience. This summit will highlight regional successes and inspire leading-edge thinking on local energy topics. Networking, collaboration, and new connections will help us move forward more quickly and efficiently in our respective communities towards a more equitable and sustainable future. The summit will offer resources and tools to:

  • Grow the workforce in your community around renewable energy
  • Connect with financing opportunities to launch your clean energy projects
  • Provide managers with practical and effective tools to measure efficiency
  • Prepare for community self-sufficiency and resilience
  • Learn from other communities how to write and implement robust energy resolutions
  • Explore city-wide transportation strategies such as efficient fleets and electric vehicle purchasing
  • Get a head start on planning for energy systems of the future
The Local Government Summit will take place on April 23-24th in Eau Claire at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s W.R. Davies Center. Registration and additional details are available at the Wisconsin Academy website

There are discounted rates for local government employees. Early bird pricing ends on March 31; regular registration closes on April 15. We hope to see many local government leaders at the summit who will lead the charge and spark a collaborative regional response to climate change that other regions of Wisconsin can build upon!

For additional information please contact:
Chelsea Chandler, Environmental Initiatives Director
cchandler@wisconsinacademy.org or (608)263-1692 x20
Kelly Hilyard, Environmental Initiatives Program Assistant
khilyard@wisconsinacademy.org or (608)263-1692 x15

Reminder - meeting on TUESDAY, March 27

Our next member meeting will be on TUESDAY, MARCH 27 at 7:00 p.m. This month we are meeting at the PEOPLE'S FOOD CO-OP COMMUNITY ROOM (315 Fifth Avenue South). Please join us for this program:
From Copper to Conservation in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
by Margot Higgins, PhD
Margot Higgins is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Program and is currently an associate lecturer in the Environmental Studies Program at UWL. She has lived and conducted research in Wrangell-St. Elias Park for the last decade. This area was and is home to the Ahtna, Upper Tanana, Eyak, and Tlingit people. US Army exploration and mapping of the area which identified gold and copper deposits led to a mining rush that lasted for nearly forty years. In 1971, passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act led to a study of future use of the area. President Jimmy Carter declared the area a National Monument in 1978 and in 1980, it became the largest national park in the country.
The meeting will also include updates on recent state and local Sierra Club activities and refreshments. Everyone is welcome to attend. You need not be a Sierra Club member.