February 8, 2019

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I would like to thank you all for taking the time to read through my newsletter. Each week, I'll include information to keep you up-to-date with what's happening in Madison.

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Focusing on Nitrates and Water Quality

When the Speaker of the Assembly announced last month that he would be forming a water quality task force following reports of contaminated wells across southwestern Wisconsin, I just knew I had to get involved.

I felt it was my responsibility as chairman of the Assembly Environment Committee to become a member of this panel, but more importantly, I believe my experience in working on water quality issues in Kewaunee County could be a tremendous asset in helping the entire state.

I look forward to being a part of this group, but my concern is the title of “water quality task force” is just too broad. Unfortunately, our water is threatened by a wide variety of pollutants, any one of which could occupy all of the task force’s time.

With that in mind, I have begun a work group on nitrates to compliment the goals of the task force. Nitrates in our ground water pose a threat to well owners throughout the state, and experts have very little knowledge of how to effectively reduce the levels of this particular contaminant.

While nitrate levels are frequently high in our area's wells, most of the work that already has been done only addresses high amounts of bacteria. Nitrates come from many sources and the highest levels are often found in communities where large quantities of commercial fertilizers are used on crops.

For the nitrate work group, we have assembled the top experts in their field from the DNR, the UW Soil Sciences Department and UW Extension. It also includes a bipartisan group of legislators and representatives from several of the major agriculture and conservation organizations. Our goal is to closely examine the research that has been done and determine what we still need to figure out. In the end, I hope we can come up with some recommendations based on sound science that will effectively combat this problem.

One of the lessons we learned while working toward new rules for manure management that were specific to our area was the importance of including all of the stakeholders in the discussion. Our state is blessed with many progressive farmers who are committed to developing innovative practices. By including them in these talks, not only do we capture that energy and knowledge, we also get a buy-in from them in working on a solution. Stricter laws alone will never solve these problems.

The first meeting of the work group is set for next week and I am extremely excited to get started. Everyone deserves clean water and I believe the work group on nitrates will make a significant contribution toward that effort.

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The Door County Maritime Museum Turns 50!

I was honored to present a legislative citation this week to the Door County Maritime Museum, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Since it was founded in 1969, the Maritime Museum has been deeply dedicated to preserving the rich maritime history of Door County and the Great Lakes while also providing educational opportunities and entertainment to the public.

To celebrate its half-century of existence, the museum is featuring a new exhibit named “The Water Defines Us: DCMM@50.” The public display, which is expected to be open for the entire year, highlights the museum's early days in northern Door County and the restoration of the Cana Island Lighthouse.

We are so fortunate to have a place like the Door County Maritime Museum in our backyard since it serves as an essential historical reference resource for the entire state of Wisconsin. But don’t take just my word for it. Talk to any one of the 65,000 people who go there every year.

 I respectfully ask that you please continue to support the Door County Maritime Museum so it can be enjoyed by future generations to come. It truly is a jewel of our community.

To learn more about the Maritime Museum, please call 920-743-5958 or click here.

Accessing DNR Resources

While everyone knows the basics of what services are provided by the state Department of Natural Resources – such as hunting licenses and well permits – there are a lot of other resources you may not be aware of.

Did you know the DNR has a Small Business Environmental Assistance Program dedicated to helping small businesses understand their state and federal environmental responsibilities? Or that the DNR offers a wide range of workshops and training sessions on everything from teaching children how to fish to how to effectively track wolves?

As is true with any state agency, local groups can even request a member of the DNR to come to one of their meetings, should they require further information on a DNR process or regulation. The DNR website even has a convenient reporting system for violations and hazardous spills that also includes a guideline on pertinent information.

I have had a great working relationship with the DNR, and I expect that to continue under the new administration. If your passion is related to anything outdoors, be it hiking, hunting or conservation, I highly encourage you to take some time to familiarize yourself with their website so you can have an better idea of all the great things the DNR has to offer.

Upcoming District Events!

What: Celebrating Water
Where: Throughout Washington Island, WI
When: February 9-17, 2019
Details: "Take part in a week long celebration of ice and snow with food, fun, adventure and entertainment. Register with the Lions Club to participate in the Fishing Derby and more."

What: Indoor Farmers Market
Where: 2392 Cty F, Baileys Harbor, WI
When: Saturday, February 9, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
"Browse great local vendors’ homemade wares, food, and health and beauty products."

What: Author Talks

Saturday's Guest Author: Dan Egan, author of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes
Where: Sturgeon Bay High School, 1230 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay, WI
When: Saturday, February 9, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm.

Sunday's Guest Author: Peter Geye, author of Wintering

Where: 7845 Church Street, Egg Harbor, WI

When: Sunday, February 10, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Details: "Free copies of the books will be available at all Door County Library branches (while supplies last)."