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Friday, September 1, 2017

September Newsletter

NEXT MEETING:  7 pm Tuesday, September 26  Ho-Chunk House 8th & Main, LA CROSSE  SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPING with Coulee Region Ecoscapes, LLC    Join us as we hear from Judson Steinback, co-owner of COULEE REGION ECOSCAPES,LLC about the work CRE has done in our community and why sustainable landscaping is important in this age of global warming. From the food forest at the YMCA in La Crosse to community gardens around the region, from prairies and rain gardens to classes and workshops, CRE has been a leader in educating about and promoting sustainable ways of working with the land.

We will also discuss next steps our club can take to support Mayor Tim Kabat of La Crosse who has signed on to the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 initiative.

Please come a bring a friend! You don’t need to be a Sierra Club member! Light refreshments and coffee/tea will be served. For more information, please contact us at  The Board will meet at 6 p.m. before the general meeting.

OCTOBER 24: WATER QUALITY FORUM IN LA CROSSE COUNTY  Our state’s clean water resources are being threatened on many fronts. In La Crosse county, waste from a 4,000 pig CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) operated by Babcock Genetics has contaminated many wells in the Holmen area. Worse, the state DNR did not notify anyone affected until nearly three months after the County’s formal request forced them to release six years’ worth of well tests revealing the widespread contamination. And even worse, records show the DNR did not cite Babcock for these egregious violations.

Join the Coulee Region Sierra Club at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 24 at the Holland Town Hall (W7937 County Road MH, Holmen) to learn more about how lax regulation of CAFOs combined with budget and oversight cuts to the state’s DNR have contributed to this situation and how we can fight against it. Our panel will include

  • Jen Rombalski from the La Crosse County Health & Human Services Department
  • Mike Giese, La Crosse County Board of Supervisors Representative for District 17
  • Steve Doyle who represents this district in the State Assembly
  • Also invited - a resident of the area whose well has been contaminated.
The DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program for private well users affected by fecal bacteria contamination from livestock may provide some clean water and/or well compensation gransa (paid for by state taxpayers). But the DNR continues to not follow its own rules for enforcement and a recent audit found that ”notices of violations were issued to polluters in just 33 of 558 instances serious enough for such citations under DNR policies.” (

Mark your calendar now so you can attend this important forum. It’s free and open to everyone.

COULEE REGION SIERRA CLUB ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION GRANTS  In December, the Coulee Region Sierra Club award three $200 grants to area organizations for environmental education projects. Here are reports from two recipients. (This year’s application will be available in October).

Hello Sierra Club Members!

We wanted to extend our sincere gratitude for the grant money that the Sierra Club gave Evergreen Elementary School. We used the money toward our school-wide Environmental Education day. Students were able to touch and hold animals, learn about forestry and survival in wildlife, and even skype with a Sea Turtle at an aquarium in North Carolina.
Students were engaged and learned several ways they can help do their part to keep our Earth healthy and strong. Your money helped us to secure the presenters and allowed them to have an incredible day of hands-on learning.

I'm attaching some photos of the day. Thank you, again, so much!

Christy Wopat & Evergreen Environmental Ed Committee

Dear Coulee Region Sierra Club,

Thank you again for the $200 grant award for Lincoln Middle 7th Grade this past school year. Your funds helped pay for bussing costs. Students were able to travel to Camp Salem near Black River Falls, WI for an overnight Outdoor Educational Experience that focused on Bird Banding, Water Monitoring, and Llamaology.

In addition, students were able to go on a "Waterfall Hike" in the Robinson Creek as part of the monitoring portion of the event. Students gained a personal experience that connects
them to the environment and has created a foundational learning base for all future environmental education and personal recreation in our wild places.

Sincere Thanks,
Tim Sprain and the entire teaching team at Lincoln Middle School and The 7th grade
students of Lincoln

HURRICANE HARVEY  In addition to the unbelievable toll Hurricane Harvey has taken on the people of the Gulf Coast, the environmental disasters continue to mount. To help hurricane survivors, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club has set up a #HarveyHelp page ( One hundred percent of funds raised will go toward relief efforts for people and the environment. Listen to an interview with Bryan Parras, organizer for the "Beyond Dirty Fuels" campaign with the Sierra Club in Houston, Texas and co-founder of the environmental justice group t.e.j.a.s. at

PRESERVE MINING MORATORIUM BILL  [from Muir Musings, August 21, 2017] Last week Sen. Tom Tiffany, R- Hazelhurst, introduced draft legislation designed to repeal the law and sweetened the deal for the mining industry by loading his bill with giveaways that
further reduce protections that threaten public health and our environment.

Acid Mine Drainage is sulfuric acid and metal pollution produced when sulfide minerals in mines and mining wastes are exposed to air and water. AMD is toxic to fish and wildlife due to dissolved metals and contaminants such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, zinc, copper and many others that damage surface water and groundwater resources. The sulfide ores that companies are interested in mining in Wisconsin will produce AMD if developed into mines.

The Prove It First law is not a ban on mining, but has helped protect Wisconsin from unsafe metallic sulfide mining for many years. The Flambeau mine was permitted before the passage of the law, but the concerns about pollution from the mine were part of the reason the law was approved. Not surprisingly, the mine has been found to be violating the Clean Water Act by polluting a tributary of the Flambeau river at the mining site and groundwater is
highly contaminated from mining wastes buried in the former open pit.

This law has been in place for years for our safety and our planet’s safety. We must keep the Prove It First law in place for the good of everyone. It is common sense to choose
safety first. Show your support, sign this petition by the Sierra Club at  

THE FOXCONN CON  As of this writing, the state senate is set to pass a version of a Foxconn incentive package worth more than $3 billion, the largest ever granted in our state and one of the largest in the nation. Many analysts have warned that the state may never
recoup the costs of the incentives, but Republicans are determined to pass it with little public comment or scrutiny.

Former state representative Spencer Black, current vice president of the National Sierra Club, notes that there are serious environmental give aways in the Foxconn bill. In his August 15 Cap Times column, Black notes, “The plant will locate close to Lake Michigan and will be a very heavy water user. Foxconn has a very bad record of pollution at its other manufacturing plants. In China, Foxconn has been reported to have polluted nearby rivers with high levels of heavy metals. There have been major complaints about air pollution as well from Foxconn plants.” An even bigger concern is the precedent this will set.

Other special environmental exemptions for Foxconn, according to a July 28 Wisconsin Public Radio report, include being able to change the course of a stream, discharge dredge materials, or fill wetlands without a permit; not having to create new wetlands to replace filled wetlands; being able to build on a lake or stream bed with no permit, not needing pre-construction environmental impact statements; and allowing public utility projects for
Foxconn to go ahead without Public Service Commission approval. And the bill would borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to expand the southeast Wisconsin interstate.

With federal protection agencies now in the hands of climate change deniers and regulation opponents, we cannot hope that we will be saved by the feds. The state legislators who support waiving environmental regulations for favored businesses no matter how many pollutants are discharged, wells contaminated, or habitats destroyed, must be challenged and replaced.

We are the only ones who can save or not save. We are the ones who can act or not act. We can run for office, email and visit elected representatives (over and over if needed), write letters to the editor, talk to neighbors and community groups, and work and vote for
candidates who believe in environmental protections.

FALL HIGHWAY CLEAN UP  The fall highway cleanup on the Coulee Group’s adopted
highway – River Valley Drive in the La Crosse River marsh – will be on Tuesday, October 3 starting at 5:30 p.m. (Contact Pat to confirm if weather conditions are iffy). Meet at the city water well building at the intersection of County Highway B (Gillette Street) and River Valley Drive. Wear old clothes and bring work gloves. Safety vests and bags are provided. For more info, contact Pat or Bobbie at 608 788-8831 or

OPEN STREETS: PEOPLE > CARS  On Sunday, September 3, several streets in downtown La Crosse will be closed to motor vehicle traffic and open to walkers, dancers, vendors, hopscotchers, hula hoopers, musicians, eaters, bicyclists, yogis, chalk artists, rain barrel painters, shoppers, and more. It’s the first annual (we hope) Open Streets La Crosse where participants can appreciate all the space normally taken up by cars and now
available to people. Included in the event is a sample woonerf (shared street) and a Protected Bike Lane demonstration. Many businesses, organizations, and community
groups will hand out information and host events and activities. If you can, attend. If you have a food truck or organization and want to get a spot along the route, see the event Facebook site:

DECEMBER BOARD ELECTIONS  We will hold board elections in December. If you are
interested in helping guide our club next year, please nominate yourself by emailing us with a short paragraph description of your experience and interest at crsierraclub-at-gmail-dot-com.

HELP US COVER THE WHOLE COULEE REGION!  We’re still looking for CR Sierra Club members around the region to email with news of events and issues in their communities so we can get more people involved . Email crsierraclub-at-gmail-dot-com.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

August newsletter

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER WILL BE SHOWN AT THE MARCUS THEATER (Ward Ave. La Crosse) BEGINNING ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 11. This film drew two standing ovations when it was screened at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s an update, including the election of Donald Trump, to the award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth.

If you can, please attend (and take your friends, family, and neighbors). Find show times and get tickets at (Friday before 5, seniors are $5)

OPEN STREETS IN LA CROSSE SEPTEMBER 3   As part of the annual Labor Day weekend La Crosse Bike Fest, the City of La Crosse will host its first OPEN STREETS event on Sunday, September 3 from noon to 4 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.

Open Streets events create car-free spaces where people and families can exercise and play; at the same time, neighborhood businesses and vendors can engage the community and visitors in new ways. In La Crosse, the closed area will include Main Street from Ninth Street to Fifth Avenue South, Fifth Avenue from Main Street to King Street, and King to Fourth. The park-to-park event (from Burns Park on the East to Cameron Park on the west) will include artists, musicians, food vendors, retail activity, non-profit organizations and neighborhood groups. (And the Coulee Region Sierra Club!)

In addition, there will be a PROTECTED BIKE LANE (PBL) demonstration on Main (between Ninth and Seventh Streets) where people can see why PBLs are increasing in popularity around the world by providing bikes-only street lanes buffered from motorized vehicles by posts, blocks, planers, parked cars and/or other barriers, (This project is seeking
volunteers! Please email

Open Streets is a worldwide movement modeled after Ciclovia, which began in Bogota, Columbia. Closing streets to car traffic promotes biking, walking and active living in the communal spaces that are otherwise dominated or made unsafe or unhealthy by moving and parked cars. Open Streets events are designed to be recurring and we hope that
this will be the first annual La Crosse Open Streets. 

If you would like to be involved as a volunteer, vendor, or sponsor, please contact Carolyn Dvorak (608 709-2945). You can follow updates at the event’s Facebook page:

STILL Seeking BRF area members to help host Sierra Club display at the September 9 Green Life Expo in Black River Falls. Email

JOHN MUIR CHAPTER EXECUTIVE BOARD REP  Dave Wulf volunteered to represent the Coulee Region group on the state’s executive board but has had to step back temporarily due to health issues. Avery Van Gaard has stepped in to represent our group for now. The position may be shared once Dave gets back on his feet. Thanks to both for volunteering for this important position.

OCTOBER WATER ISSUES PROGRAM  The state Sierra Club  Water Team has released five papers highlighting Wisconsin’s most serious water problems (find them at The Coulee Region group is working on a water quality program in October. More details in our September newsletter.

JULY'S BLACK RIVER CANOE TRIP  Thirty-eight kids and 'kids at heart' paddled, played, swam, camped on a sandbar, hiked up a waterfall, swam again, rolled down a sandbank, saw an eagle, learned a few things, paddled, swam, and played some more. Perfect weather. Fine water levels ranging from 1400 cfs to 1100 cfs. Sing-a-long, s'mores, and dramatic cloud displays, too. Thanks to Pat and Bobbie for organizing and leading this trip!!

COULEE REGION GROUP APPLAUDS MAYOR'S READY FOR 100 SUPPORT  In an August letter to Mayor Tim Kabat of La Crosse, the executive board of the Coulee Region group thanked the mayor for his support of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 initiative and offered total support to help make La Crosse a 100% renewable city as quickly as possible. We hope the mayor will work with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations and agencies in the area to work out an action plan and timeline.

CONNECT WITH US! online at,, or If you know of an environmental event or outing in your area of the Coulee Region group, please let us know so we can include it in our calendar. If your area needs support for an environmental issue, please contact us so we can activate our members.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

MREA Energy Fair in St Paul September 9-10

Dear Friend,
We are thrilled to announce an inspiring lineup of speakers & film screenings for the new Minnesota Energy Fair, September 9-10, with a Solar Professional Day Sept. 8. By popular demand, we will be screening the June 2017 Energy Fair address by JB Straubel, Co-Founder of Tesla, on both Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m. See speakers below, and stay tuned for the music lineup coming soon!
Devon Cupery
Engagement Manager, MREA
Announcing the Keynote Speakers!
(All Access Pass required - Adult $15/day. Order here)

Tara Houska

National Campaigns Director, Honor the Earth
Saturday, September 9 at 6:00 p.m.
Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is a tribal attorney based in Washington, D.C., the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and a former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders. Learn more

Michael Noble

Executive Director, Fresh Energy
Sunday, September 10 at 1:00 p.m.
Michael Noble is a 30-year energy leader, well-known for shaping and driving the major public policy innovations that are speeding Minnesota and the Midwest’s transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Learn more

Jason Edens

Director, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance
Saturday, September 9 at 1:00 p.m.
Jason Edens is the founder and Director of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting energy poverty with solar power and ensuring that solar energy is accessible to all. Learn more

Special Film Screenings!
(All Access Pass required - Adult $15/day. Order here)

Screening of JB Straubel, Co-Founder of Tesla

Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m.
Watch a video of the keynote address by Tesla Co-Founder JB Straubel from our Custer, Wisconsin Fair in June 2017! JB Straubel is the Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Tesla Motors. Learn more

'Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry'

Sunday, September 10 at 3:00 p.m.
LOOK & SEE is an award-winning Sundance documentary and powerful cinematic portrait of Wendell Berry—farmer, activist, and undoubtedly one of America’s most significant living writers. More

'Sweet Land' movie

America's first carbon neutral film!
Saturday, September 9 at 4:00 p.m. 
Sweet Land is the first carbon neutral film in the U.S., produced locally in Minnesota! It's a story of unlikely immigrant lovers whose struggle for integration in 1920’s America. Learn more

Workshops are now online!
FREE Admission to
80+ Workshops and 60+ Exhibits
Access to 20+ Solar Professional Workshops with All Access Pass

View the Workshop Lineup

Sustainable Living, Solar, Community Resilience, Electric Vehicles & more!

NABCEP and DLI Credits*Approval Pending
All Access Pass required ($15/day)

All Access Passes include Keynote Speakers, Film Screenings, Music & Entertainment, and Solar Professional Workshops

Order All-Access Passes

Adult rate: $25/weekend or $15/day
Senior/Student rate: $18/weekend or $10/day
Become a member or Hardcore Volunteer
and receive a free All Access Pass!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Black River for kids and kids at heart

Thirty-eight kids and 'kids at heart' paddled, played, swam, camped on a sandbar, hiked up a waterfall, swam again, rolled down a sandbank, saw an eagle, learned a few things, paddled, swam, and played some more. Perfect weather. Fine water levels ranging from 1400 cfs to 1100 cfs. Sing-a-long, s'mores, and dramatic cloud displays, too. Thanks to Pat and Bobbie for organizing and leading this trip!!

See pictures here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Serenading the Wild Waters

Friends of the Upper Mississippi will host an event on July 26 at Chad Erickson Memorial Park, 3601 Park Lane Drive, La Crosse. Serenading the Wild Waters will be an evening of food, fun, and music provided by Eddie Allen, an American Folk singer and songwriter who has been active on issues regarding the clean waters of the Mississippi since 1980 and Mike Caucutt, the lead singer for Mr. Blink and 2009 winner of the Great River Folk Fest Songwriting Contest.

The goal of the event is to introduce people of all ages to the great outdoors, raise awareness of the environmental risks that face the Upper Mississippi every day, and to talk about what YOU can do to aid the Friends’ efforts. More information can be found on the Friends’ Facebook page.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 26 Clean Energy Roundtable in Platteville

The Wisconsin Climate Table is an umbrella group of 16 or so state organizations, including the Sierra Club, Clean Wisconsin, and Citizens' Climate Lobby,  working on clean energy issues.  The group offers opportunities to collaborate, share best practices, and document lessons learned around climate and energy work. 

Through a grant from the McKnight Foundation the Wisconsin Climate Table is holding meetings in various locations around the state to hear what the issues are, opportunities and challenges in addressing them, and any efforts that are underway so we can figure out ways that the Climate Table might be able to support clean energy efforts in this part of the state.

The southwest, Wisconsin meeting will be held in Platteville on Wednesday, July 26.  

Where: Community Room in the Platteville Public Library
               225 W Main St, Platteville, WI 53818
When: July 26th, 6 pm to 8 pm


Thursday, July 20, 2017


[from Wisconsin Bike Fed]

Calling all La Crosse food vendors, art vendors, & local businesses: Get your spot now for La Crosse Open Street, September 3rd, 2017, 12-4pm

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.

La Crosse Open Streets is an event that will take place Sunday, September 3rd during the seventh year of the La Crosse Labor Day Bicycle Festival. This is an effort to bring a new event to the area, while still capitalizing on the audience that will already be attending the Bicycle Festival.

2012 Open Streets Minneapolis
Open Streets events create car-free spaces where people and families can exercise and play; at the same time, neighborhood businesses and vendors can engage the community and visitors in new ways. We will use about a mile of downtown streets for this special event, activating space that is otherwise quiet on a Labor Day afternoon, and bringing new customers and sightseers to businesses. 

Open Streets is a worldwide movement modeled after Ciclovia, which began in Bogota, Columbia. The idea focuses on minimizing the use of cars and temporarily promoting biking, walking and active living in the communal spaces that are otherwise dominated or made unsafe or unhealthy by moving and parked cars. 

Open Streets events are designed to be recurring – possibly weekly or monthly through the summer. The idea is to give a glimpse of other ways to get around and use city space. While there are events throughout world, the most famous Open Streets events are in places like Toronto, LA, and St. Petersburg, Florida. 

We would like to begin by creating an annual event. While we know that temporary car-free spaces allow community involvement and support physical activity or the broadening of transportation choices, creating a welcoming community and encouraging people to return, we also know that it is difficult to imagine those choices with so many cars. The Open Streets event temporarily shows what is possible.

The City of La Crosse will close a stretch of downtown between Cameron Park and Burns Park. A map will be created to illustrate where activities will take place including yoga, dance, art, hula hooping, ladder ball, bean bag toss, jenga blocks, bubbles, bike checks, bicycle skills courses and more. Organizations and businesses are invited to participate and encouraged to have an activity for participants. Food trucks and craft vendors will also be invited. 

A Facebook page has updates leading up to the event. Open Streets will be promoted on social media and printed posters, post cards, fliers, signs and maps.

Please contact Carolyn Dvorak to reserve space outside your business or along the route and for event sponsorship.

Carolyn Dvorak
O: (608) 709-2945
C: (608) 317-2825 cell