Behind the scenes, many individuals and businesses are initiating outstanding projects and programs to protect and enhance the lands and waters impacting Lake Michigan.
To honor and recognize their achievements, the Lake Michigan Stakeholders sponsor the annual Lake Michigan Champions of Conservation awards at Lake Michigan Day the second Friday of August, this year Aug. 11 at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.
Wendy Lutzke of Manitowoc was selected for her excellence in spreading Great Lakes awareness with thousands of students through the annual Watershed Ambassadors Camp and many other initiatives as a professional educator at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and in elementary classrooms. She and co-leader Kim Kettner formed the Friends of the Manitowoc River Watershed, launching annual river and bi-annual beach cleanups, adopting Lower Schuette Park, offering educational seminars and river paddling experiences, and supporting City beach improvement projects.
Cathy Pabich of Algoma organized brainstorming and strategic planning meetings with diverse area stakeholders to form the Friends of Crescent Beach. She has advocated for improving beach health with all levels of government, educated local residents, launching cleanups, maintenance and interactive community events. Her group was awarded the Algoma Utilities/WPPI economic development grant and named a community “Bright Spot” by the Live Algoma health initiative in 2016.
Trout Springs Winery (TSW), Greenleaf, was named this year’s business champion. Owned by Steve and Andrea DeBaker, TSW is a division of Branch River Farms, Wisconsin’s only licensed private fish hatchery, plant nursery and winery under one roof.
The Wisconsin Clean Marina Program, part of the Wisconsin Marine Association, is the 2017 organization champion, providing guidance, training and education to 21 marinas and 14 pledged to “keep Wisconsin’s waterways free of harmful chemicals, excess nutrients and debris…”
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is receiving the honorary champion award as policy maker for her extensive and ongoing efforts to protect the Great Lakes along with many public policies and funding vital to the entire region. Her support includes full funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Water Resources Development Act helping strengthen GLRI. Additionally, Senator Baldwin has spearheaded innovative solutions including the bipartisan Digital Coastal Act to help shoreline communities prepare for storms and fluctuating water levels, and authoring the Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act.
For more information, go to lakemichiganstakeholders.org/champions.