ANN ARBOR, Mich. – July 28, 2009 - Clean water comes from many sources, many of them not as simple as a wilderness stream. Whether through legislation or restoration, Wisconsinites have reason to celebrate. A significant restoration project will break ground this summer, and Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold has championed the Clean Water Restoration Act all the way to the Senate floor.
Work will begin this summer on the Big Muskego Lake wetland enhancement project. This is a cooperative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Ducks Unlimited to develop a tertiary sediment wetland on the outlet of the 2,200-acre Big Muskego Lake in Waukesha County, in southeast Wisconsin.
Ducks Unlimited Engineering staff surveyed the area, and designed a unique shallow wetland that will be developed to slow water flow and trap sediment from lake discharge. Once complete, the project will allow for future de-watering of Big Muskego Lake to improve wetland habitat for wildlife while minimizing sedimentation impacts to Wind Lake, a downstream recreational lake. Consolidation of Big Muskego's lake bottom via de-watering will allow for the germination of beneficial wetland plants, providing improved waterfowl brood habitat and migratory feeding and resting areas. Other wetland dependent migratory birds including songbirds, shorebirds, and wading birds will benefit from the added wetland habitat diversity provided by this project.
While properly maintained wetlands like Big Muskego Lake are critical to clean water in Wisconsin, they remain in peril as long as the Clean Water Act has been weakened by recent Supreme Court rulings. Gildo Tori, director of public policy at Ducks Unlimited, put the problem in perspective: "People should understand that the threat of diluted legislation is just as dangerous to clean water as a chemical spill or an invasive species. Senator Russ Feingold took leadership to fix the problem and introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act, and we very much appreciate his action.
With the passage of the Baucus-Klobuchar compromise amendment to Senator Feingold's bill the legislation passed the Environmental and Public Works committee and is on its way to the full Senate. Wisconsin and the nation will hopefully see the return of the original protections of the Clean Water Act with less ambiguity to the nature of protected waters. "Now that the Clean Water Restoration Act is on the move, we are one step closer to restoring critical protections for our nation's waters and wildlife habitats. I am grateful for the work of Ducks Unlimited and other organizations that support the Clean Water Restoration Act, and work tirelessly to conserve wetlands jeopardized by the repeal of Clean Water Act protections. Until Congress acts, more and more waters will be stripped of their protections, jeopardizing wildlife habitats, recreational pursuits, agricultural and industrial uses, and the drinking water of millions of Americans," said U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.
In Wisconsin, DU has worked with partners to conserve more than 92,656 acres of wetlands and associated uplands, provided technical assistance on 73,413 acres, and invested approximately $14.8 million in the state. DU has 41,000 members in the state who raised more than $2.6 million last year. Click here to visit the Wisconsin DU Web site.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.