Scientists thought that portions of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay would experience a huge year of oxygen depletion because of massive volumes of early phosphorous runoff, but winds and weather combined to lessen the impact. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviewed a number of local experts including several UWGB research partners.
From September 13 through the 30th, UW-Green Bay is partnering with St. Norbert College and the greater Green Bay community to host the residency of Antxon Olabe, an environmental policy consultant from northern Spain. Olabe is an environmental economist and journalist specializing in sustainability and climate change. His visit is made possible through the generous private support of the International Visiting Scholars program. During his visit, Olabe will give several talks on both campuses and in the community. In addition, he will be guest lecturing in several classes and visiting local schools. Among his scheduled presentations:
• Wednesday, Sept. 16 — “Homo Sapiens and the Biosphere: Building up hope, redressing the climate and environment crisis,” 7 p.m., SNC’s Fort Howard Theater
• Monday, Sept. 21 — “Modern Environmentalism: A Basque Perspective” as part of UWGB’s Global Studies Roundtable Discussion series, 2-3 p.m., MAC Hall 201
• Wednesday, Sept. 23 — “Modern Environmentalism: A Basque Perspective,” 6:30-8 p.m., Neville Public Museum
• Friday, Sept. 25 — “Homo Sapiens and the Biosphere” as part of the Natural and Applied Sciences Seminar Series, 3:30-4:30 p.m., ES 301
If you questions about Olabe’s visit, a primary contact is Associate Prof. Katia Levintova of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Assistant Prof. Ryan Holzem of NAS, a specialist in environmental engineering technology, was awarded two grants this summer. He will receive $9,664 to provide a third-party evaluation of a private pro-biotic product that is added to manure lagoons to reduce organics and solids and improve nutrient values, with testing on two Wisconsin-based farms. He was also awarded $4,685 through EMBI (UWGB’s Environmental Management and Business Institute) to evaluate several chloride reduction options for a local food processing company that uses salt in product processing and wants to reduce the amount of salt leaving the facility via used water.
The students of the American Environmental History course taught by Associate Prof. David Voelker invite the campus community to participate in a cleanup walk to commemorate Earth Day. Although Earth Day is on April 22, the walk will take place on Tuesday, April 21, from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. (rain or shine). Participants should meet outside of the Cofrin Library on the side nearest the Environmental Sciences (ES) building, near the plaque that celebrates the Wisconsin Idea. Participants will be provided with small garbage bags and will be asked to return at 10:30. Participants will be encouraged to walk across campus to enjoy the arboretum trails. The walker who picks up the most trash will receive, as a green badge of honor, a UW-Green Bay T-shirt donated by the Phoenix Bookstore. Participants who are unable to walk on the arboretum trails are welcome to use scooters or wheelchairs on paved or gravel walkways (as appropriate) and will be paired with a partner to pick up trash. If you have any questions, please contact David Voelker.
The UW-Green Bay campus will host the 12th annual Student Watershed Symposium on Tuesday, April 14, as part of the Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Program. The Symposium brings together the teachers, students and faculty at UW-Green Bay who monitor the health of watersheds in the Lower Fox River Basin. This year more than 90 teachers and students from area high schools will participate in the daylong event. We’ll have more details and a link to the full news release in our next issue.
For the millions of outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking on the trails, kayaking down the rapid rivers, and biking through national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, there are the few who work to both study and protect the natural landscape of our public lands.
Morgan Gantz, a 2012 UW-Green Bay Environmental Science graduate is working to do just that in an Interagency Wilderness Fellowship program with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and American Conservation Experience.
“Generally speaking, Wilderness Fellows are educators and advocates of wilderness stewardship,” said Gantz. They have much to steward with over 100 million acres set aside in a land preservation system since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into the law the Wilderness Act 50 years ago.
Gantz is spending six months working at two national wildlife refuges in Minnesota, Rice Lake and Tamarac. Out of 250 applicants for the fellowship, Gantz was one of eight selected. Her position began in May 2014.
Through this position, Gantz is working to establish a baseline condition and long term monitoring protocol for each refuge based on the five qualities of wilderness character. She is identifying measures specific to each location that quantify change over time. The goal is to create a tool land managers can use to better understand the wilderness they manage and to track trends over time.
“So my job is to evaluate a broad suite of biological indicators relating to water quality, air quality, climate change, and composition of native and invasive species among others,” Gantz said.
The program has also given her the chance to gain experience working with federal land management agencies.
“As Wilderness Fellows we are exposed to all aspects of land management from office work and project management, to interacting with and educating staff, to fieldwork and regular maintenance. I have assisted biologists with counting bird population’s productivity success, banding birds, blowing up beaver dams to alleviate water flow, invasive plant surveys, ecological restoration activities, visitor services, and numerous education and outreach events.”
The broad range of practices that Gantz has taken part in have provided her with new challenges and learning experiences.
“It has really been a challenging position because I’ve had to independently identify what wilderness character means to each location. There is no ‘black and white’ on how to measure and assign values to the qualities that make up a wilderness within the framework, there can be a lot of greyness to creating protocols and is often left up to a judgment call of the local staff.”
Previous to this experience, Gantz worked on the Exotic Plant Management Team in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska during the summer of 2013, which actually has the largest wilderness in the whole National Wilderness Preservation System.
“Hiking along glaciers and enormous mountains was unreal,” Gantz, said, “It felt like a huge fantasyland up there. It was actually my mentor from that position, who is the ecologist for the Park that emailed me the job announcement for the Wilderness Fellowship program and urged me to apply because she thought it was a good fit.”
Gantz had several experiences during her time at UW-Green Bay that helped her to achieve what she has today. Of those, Gantz served as a terrestrial invasive species intern with the Shawano County Land Conservation Division, which she feels was the stepping-stone to achieve her position in Alaska.
“I took Restoration Ecology as my senior thesis class and it was one of my favorites,” she said. “The concepts learned in that class I am constantly using and applying to my career development. I was fortunate to serve as a research assistant under Professor Mat Dornbush, which enhanced my technical skills and made my resume more competitive when applying for science related jobs.”
The relationships Gantz formed while a student here have influenced her as well.
“I made lasting connections with UWGB faculty, many of which I still use as references on job applications and whom I contact for professional advice. My education at UWGB was very rewarding and gave me all of the valuable skills that are helping me succeed in this fellowship today.”
When looking to the future, Gantz is interested in various options.
“I am currently looking for job opportunities within the field of wilderness management, habitat restoration and management, or conservation related work but also considering further education into graduate school. I have been enjoying traveling and working seasonal jobs but often times I am looking for more of a challenge and feeling an eagerness to learn more.”
Gantz is thankful for the opportunities that she’s been given.
“As a Wilderness Fellow, I am proud to support our nation’s most wild lands,” she said, “The Wilderness Fellows program has been the opportunity of a lifetime for me, and a valuable resource for our federal land managers.”
For more information.
Story by Katelyn Staaben, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication
UW-Green Bay’s integration of higher education and the environment has imprinted a lasting impression on alumnus John Bates ’74 of Communication Action.
Bates used lessons learned at Eco U to forge a successful career as a Wisconsin naturalist, writer, blogger, professor and nature guide in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Bates looks back on his days at UW-Green Bay as a dynamic time to be on campus.
“I attended UW-Green Bay at a time of great energy and excitement. It was a time of converting cornfields into a vision of what an environmental campus should look like,” says Bates.
His writings include several books on nature in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes Region. He uses observations of the seasons, plants, animals, phenology and ecology as inspiration for his work. Bates was initially attracted to UW-Green Bay by the ecologically oriented curriculum and the school’s commitment to the environmental sciences.
“I relished the many field trips – all the hands-on, get your feet wet learning that we were exposed to. Those perhaps were my best memories at UW-Green Bay,” Bates recalls.
He credits the faculty at UW-Green Bay with sparking his interest in environmentalism and steering him toward a rewarding career as a naturalist and author. Bates reminisces about his favorite classes at UW-Green Bay.
“I took every class I could from Dr. Keith White, and sat in on several classes for a second time just to hear it all again. His introductory Vegetation of Wisconsin class launched a lot of young students into the ecology field. I also really enjoyed and benefitted from Dr. Paul Sager’s freshwater invertebrates class, Dr. John Reed’s botany class (co-taught by Gary Fewless), and Dr. Richard Presnell’s many environmental education classes. They were all superb professors and made a lasting impression on me,” Bates says.
He returned to UW-Green Bay and received his Master’s Degree in Environmental Science in 1986. Bates and his wife, artist and fellow UW-Green Bay alum, Mary Burns ’85 of English and Natural History, live on the Manitowish River in Iron County where they own and operate the Manitowish River Press, a publishing company devoted to producing books that celebrate the natural world. Bates is currently working on his eighth book, Old Growth Forests of Wisconsin. The work Bates is most proud of is “A Northwoods Almanac,” a regular column for the local newspaper in Minocqua. This is his 25th year writing it, and he feels it seems to have mattered to a lot of folks.
“I post their sightings, discuss what’s going on currently in the natural world — the flowerings, nestings, migrations, and try to truly celebrate the beauty of this place we call the Northwoods. Hopefully I’ve helped some people fall more deeply in love with, and understand more thoroughly, their home,” Bates says.
There’s a nice piece of in-depth environmental reporting by Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the Tuesday (Sept. 16) edition. In the wake of the “Lake Erie debacle” earlier this summer, in which a toxic algae bloom required the total shutoff of the Toledo, Ohio municipal water supply, Egan took time to focus on the seasonal and periodic algae-related “dead zone” cropping up in areas of the bay of Green Bay. (Egan quotes UW-Green Bay alumna Tracy Valenta as just the latest in a long line of UW-Green Bay water-quality researchers who have documented the bay’s health over the years. We previously told this story in last fall’s edition of the university magazine, at news.uwgb.edu/magazine/10/24/masters-of-the-new-learning/.) The Journal Sentinel piece reports that the Green Bay metropolitan sewerage district is balking at federal mandates to install expensive new phosphorous-reduction technology when less-regulated, non-point agricultural pollution has been shown to be a much greater contributor. Read more.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is good for both the environment and the economy, Prof. Emeritus Michael Kraft writes in his latest syndicated column. Carried by McClatchy-Tribune News Service and appearing today (June 19) in the Centre Daily Times of State College, Pa., and elsewhere, the piece considers the EPA’s long-term plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. “… the plan brings substantial and measurable public health benefits,” Kraft writes, adding that “ … The agency’s economic analysis shows a substantial annual net benefit to the economy of between $49 billion to $84 billion for the year 2030, and creation of tens of thousands of new jobs. In short, we can reduce carbon pollution and still enjoy strong economic growth.” Read the column.
The 17th Biennial Water Resources and Environmental Management Seminar is under way today and Wednesday (June 17 and 18) in the University Union. We shared news of this international event, organized by Profs. Emeriti Jack Day and Bob Wenger, in a previous post. The lineup of speakers features researchers from around the world including UW-Green Bay speakers John Katers, Bob Howe, Paul Sager, Michael Zorn, John Luczaj, Kevin Fermanich, Bud Harris, John Stoll, and Patrick Robinson. Topics range from the rehabilitation of Green Bay, and response to the West Virginia chemical spill, to irrigation in Ecuador. For the full list of sessions and times, see our previous post.