WITC-Ashland earns Lake Superior Stewardship Award
(7/28/11): A number of area individuals and groups are
among the nine American recipients of the Lake Superior Binational Forum's
eighth annual Lake Superior Binational Program Environmental Stewardship Awards.
The Lake Superior Binational Forum is a multi-sector
stakeholder group of U.S. and Canadian volunteers who work together to provide
input to governments about lake issues and educate basin residents about ways to
protect and restore the lake. Members come from Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin,
and Ontario, Canada.
The awards program pays tribute to U.S. and Canadian
nominees that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship
through leadership in one of six categories: Youth; Individual Adult; Business;
Industry; and Municipality, Organization, or First Nation/Tribe.
Recipients have demonstrated they have taken successful
actions that minimize negative impacts on the natural environment in the Lake
Superior basin. This year all recipients are in the U.S. Three of the nine
winners are in Wisconsin, as are two honorable mention winners.
In the business category, the WITC-Ashland campus Rain
Gardens impressed judges with a low-cost but effective solution to stormwater
runoff. The WITC-Ashland campus is committed to considering and installing
sustainable initiatives in all college operations whenever possible.
When new curbs and gutters were recently constructed on the
campus perimeter, stormwater flowage into Lake Superior increased with the
additional concrete. So, faculty, staff, and the Ashland County Land and Water
Conservation Department sought to slow the flow of water by installing three
very large rain gardens that replaced campus lawns. These gardens help divert
water from the street and campus parking lots into a native wildflower and shrub
garden that provides beautiful habitat for butterflies and other insects, plus
food and shelter for small mammals.
The gardens also serve as a visual reminder of the merits
of stormwater management and natural landscapes, and the ecological benefits
that both bring to the environment and community.
Among the four adult winners, Bob Krumenaker,
superintendent of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, was selected as
showing outstanding leadership by an individual. The written announcement for
the awards said he has been a progressive and enthusiastic national leader who
moved climate change adaptation and mitigation concepts into public
consciousness in the Great Lakes.
"By recommending a bold new vision for the National Park
Service, he championed the need to address climate change in national parks at a
time when the idea was highly controversial. Bob led a NPS task force to develop
and adopt regional climate change strategies in national public land and
waters," the announcement said. "Under his leadership, the group developed
interpretive brochures on the impact of climate change on the Great Lakes as
well as peer-reviewed reports and materials."
Closer to home, Bob led the Apostle Islands staff to
aggressively redesign operating procedures and to retrofit vehicles and boats to
reduce greenhouse gases. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore — recognized as
the first "Climate-Friendly Park" in the Great Lakes — has quickly become a
leader in NPS climate change efforts through implementation of many sustainable
The honorable mention recipients include Eric Schubring,
host of the Local Morning Edition program on WOJB Community Woodland Radio on
the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation. He hosts a weekly radio interview
program about Lake Superior called, "Big Sea, Shining Water," that features
binational guests describing the work they do for the lake, as well as hobbies,
missions, joys, and challenges of living around the Lake Superior basin.
Also receiving an honorable mention was the Town of
Bayfield which created the Houghton Falls Nature Preserve, a unique piece of
Lake Superior shoreline and watershed that contains old growth pine, waterfalls,
and cedar forests that reduce rainwater runoff into Lake Superior.
The Douglas County Forestry Committee of Superior was named
as winner in the municipality category for their work on the Nemadji River
Watershed, purchasing a 3,995-acre tract of undeveloped land with six miles of
pristine river frontage despite the fact that it was not an easy sell
considering tight county budgets.
A public awards ceremony for the U.S. winners was held on
July 17 at the Barkers Island Pavilion, in Superior, during the Lake Superior
Day festival for the public. Lake Superior Day is held annually around the
entire lake on the third Sunday in July.
The WITC-Ashland Rain Gardens were recently featured by The
Northlands NewsCenter's Jeff Edmonds.