Fund for Lake Michigan awards $1.4 million in grants

Largest award goes to UWM School of Freshwater Sciences for harbor study

Bradford Beach in Milwaukee

The Fund for Lake Michigan this week awarded nearly $1.4 million in private grants aimed at improving beaches, reducing polluted runoff and restoring habitat in Wisconsin.

Bradford Beach in Milwaukee
Bradford Beach in Milwaukee

The fund was established in 2011 by We Energies, Madison Gas & Electric and WPPI Energy to safeguard the lake and improve water quality in the region. This round of grants went to 26 different projects throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

A majority of the projects directly impact the Lake Michigan coastline and near shore areas. While other address needs in area watersheds that feed into the lake.

“With water problems increasingly in the news, the fund is delivering on its promise to help protect water resources right here in Wisconsin,” says Vicki Elkin, Fund for Lake Michigan executive director.

The largest grant in this round is $190,000 to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences to conduct an extensive aquatic habitat survey of the city’s harbor. The university will be working with the state Department of Natural Resources, Army Corps of Engineers, Harbor District, Inc. and other stakeholders to advance harbor rehabilitation.

“The long-term goal of this study is to restore a thriving recreational fishery and vibrant wildlife population in the heart of urban Milwaukee,” says Elkin. “In the meantime, we’re sure to see immediate improvements to the Milwaukee harbor and its larger estuary as a result of this grant.”

Other grants include:

  • City of Algoma ‐ $75,000 to improve water quality and reduce the number of beach closures at Crescent Beach.
  • Harbor District, Inc.  ‐ $40,000 to lead and coordinate efforts to sustainably redevelop and revitalize Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor.
  • Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership ‐ $30,000 to increase the scope and scale of LNRP’s small grants program.
  • Ozaukee County ‐ $38,500 to identify sources of E. coli that are compromising water quality at Harrington Beach State Park.
  • Racine County ‐ $35,000 to evaluate the condition of existing infrastructure within the Racine Harbor and to identify opportunities for restoration and water quality improvements.
  • Natural Resources Foundation ‐ $60,000 to evaluate how coastal development affects shoreline erosion and how those impacts can be mitigated.
  • University of Wisconsin‐Sea Grant ‐ $17,000 to measure the impacts of beach restoration projects on local communities in Wisconsin.
  • Woodland Dunes Nature Center ‐ $100,000 to restore Forget‐Me‐Not Creek, a two‐mile stream that runs through the nature center’s 1,315‐acre preserve and flows into Lake Michigan just south of Two Rivers.
  • River Alliance of Wisconsin ‐ $84,000 to support the final phases of one of the largest fish passage projects in the country.
  • City of Glendale ‐ $20,000 to use green infrastructure to demonstrate the use of stormwater BMPs at the new Glendale‐Nicolet Recreational Park near the Milwaukee River.
  • City of Milwaukee ‐ $25,000 to design and test a new pilot program to encourage private property owners to retrofit existing parking lots with green infrastructure.
  • Greater Milwaukee Committee ‐ $60,000 to create a linear park along the recently‐completed Beerline Recreational Trail as part of the Beerline Trial Neighborhood Development Project.
  • River Revitalization Foundation ‐ $120,000 to improve river access, create in‐stream habitat, reduce runoff and restore a steep bluff along the Milwaukee River near Capitol Drive.
  • Ozaukee Washington Land Trust ‐ $21,000 to work with the City of Mequon and other partners to develop a strategic plan for land protection within the city.
  • Village of Grafton ‐ $35,000 to stabilize 1,200 of shoreline at Veteran’s Memorial Park along the Milwaukee River using green materials and native plantings.
  • Forest Exploration Center ‐ $20,000 to develop a green infrastructure and stormwater management plan as part of a larger effort to restore and develop recreational and educational facilities at this 67‐acre wooded site along the Menomonee River in Wauwatosa.
  • The Water Council ‐ $60,000 to work with two facilities within the Menomonee Valley to fully implement the Alliance for Water Stewardship’s (AWS) new water standard.
  • Milwaukee County Parks ‐ $25,000 to work with municipalities and other stakeholders within the Oak Creek Watershed on a detailed restoration plan for the watershed.
  • Hunger Task Force ‐ $22,000 to restore 13 acres along the Root River at the 208‐acre Hunger Task Force Farm in Franklin.
  • Root‐Pike Watershed Initiative ‐ $50,000 to help municipalities, landowners and other stakeholders implement the recommendations of the recently completed Watershed Restoration Plans for Wind Point and the Pike and Root Rivers.
  • Kenosha County ‐ $47,500 to design plans to curb streambank erosion along 4,300 linear feet of the Pike River in Petrifying Springs County Park.
  • Great Lakes Community Conservation ‐ $18,700 to support AmeriCorps crews in southeast Wisconsin.
  • Southeast Wisconsin Watersheds Trust ‐ $60,000 to support Sweet Waters’ Mini‐Grant Program which provides grants of up to $5,000 for small‐scale habitat, restoration and green infrastructure projects that improve water quality in the Milwaukee area.
  • Milwaukee County ‐ $60,000 to restore habitat and reduce runoff and sedimentation at eight riparian and lakefront sites within the Milwaukee County Park System.
  • Clean Lakes Alliance ‐ $60,000 to conduct research on the impact windrow composting, a new manure management practice, has on water quality.


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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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