Explore and Restore Milwaukee’s Magnificent Waters

Written by Lesley Sheridan
    Tuesday, 03 September 2013
Explore and Restore Milwaukee’s Magnificent Waters

Throughout history Milwaukee’s rivers have tremendously affected the people of this area. People have relied on these now-urban waterways for food, travel, trade, industry and recreation. But just as Milwaukee’s Magnificent Waters have affected us, our actions and behavior affect the rivers we love and rely on. In 1987, the Milwaukee Estuary was designated an Area of Concern (AOC) by the federal government. The waters of the Estuary are considered impaired as the result of historical modifications like dredging and straightening, and heavy pollutant loads. It is one of forty-three AOC-designated Great Lake watersheds in the U.S. and Canada.

Areas of Concern are evaluated on fourteen characteristics called “Beneficial Use Impairments.” These Impairments include: restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, beach closings, degradation of aesthetics and loss of fish and wildlife habitat.

Currently, the Estuary AOC has eleven. To reach the ultimate goal of becoming delisted, an AOC must reverse degradation of these Impairments.

State agencies and local partners are working on projects throughout the watershed that improve fish and wildlife habitat, remove contaminated sediments and improve the aesthetics and recreational opportunities on the rivers.

Get more involved in the watershed where you work, live, and recreate through these opportunities:

Attend the “Built on Water” Lecture Series
Discover the rivers’ past and future with a visual lecture series by Milwaukee historian John Gurda. These lectures explore the history of our relationship with our waterways (see the Adult Learning section of Quick Guide for details).

Participate in an Explore and Restore Expedition
Experience Milwaukee’s Magnificent Waters with field trips to AOC projects sites with the Urban Ecology Center (see the Adult Learning section of Quick Guide for details).

Become a Citizen-Based Aesthetics Monitoring Program (CAMP) Volunteer or River/Beach Ambassador
Collect data that contributes to assessing the appearance and enjoyment of the rivers and inform others of the issues and efforts that affect us and our rivers. Contact Lesley Sheridan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.
Grants have been written, funds secured and projects are underway … the only thing missing is YOU! Get informed, get inspired and get involved with Explore and Restore: Milwaukee’s Magnificent Waters.

Lesley Sheridan

Lesley Sheridan

Lesley Sheridan is the Community Program Coordinator at the Urban Ecology Center -- Riverside Park branch.


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