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Earth Day and Arbor Day are in the rearview mirror, however, the time to take action for the planet never ends. The Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network (Root-Pike WIN), is working to keep the focus on restoring, protecting and sustaining all watersheds within the Root-Pike basin.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), “the Root-Pike basin is located in portions of four counties; contains (entirely or portions of) 10 cities, eight towns and eight villages; and is home to about 300,000 people.” There are five watersheds within the basin: Pike Creek – Kenosha County; Pike River, Root River and Wind Point – Racine County (these also span into other counties as well); and Oak Creek – Milwaukee County.

Given their dynamic, the non-profit aims to provide education, events and services to the surrounding southeastern Wisconsin area. They help serve municipalities, private landowners, citizens of the basin, government agencies and other nonprofits through their resources and outreach.

Restoration Plans

The aliments of Lake Michigan’s riverways create an unhealthy environment, specifically impacting the quality of our water. Root-Pike WIN believes in restoration plans to combat the ongoing problems. Their strategy can be read about on their website. You can read about their restoration plans in Racine and Kenosha Counties including:

Likewise, Laura Buska, the Respect Our Waters Program Manager and Communications Coordinator shares that education and support allows Root-Pike WIN to foster a growing community that understands the importance of our watersheds. Not only do they aim to target and reach those on a large scale, but strive to connect with people on a local level too.

Programs

Root-Pike WIN has various programs including Southeastern Wisconsin Clean Water Network, Respect Our Waters Public Outreach Campaign, and the Lake Michigan Coastal Improvement Communications that help create a collaborative effort to target environmental issues facing the southeastern area.

Additionally, the Pollinator Patch Program through Root-Pike WIN helps to support its mission by increasing habitats, decreasing operational costs and engaging the underserved. Buska said this program helps to “engage young learners in-school and about topics such as species conservation, native plants, water quality,” which are all important in water quality aspects. Read more about the programs available and get ready to help take action.

Snow-seeding a Pollinator Patch at Pritchard Park, 2022 – Credit: Root-Pike WIN
Snow-seeding, 2022 – Credit: Root-Pike WIN
Staff Kristi Heuser and Laura Buska install Pollinator Patch signage at Pritchard Park, 2021 – Credit: Root-Pike WIN

Root Pike WIN is able to create a connection with the environment and community through its programs and partnerships. The level of impact they create is directly due to supporters and volunteers.

Get Involved

Buska said, “our memberships are open to everyone,” and that there are “three tiers if you count student memberships.” Each offers a variety of different perks and benefits to both Root-Pike WIN and the member. Learn more about their memberships if you are passionate about making an environmental difference or learning more about watersheds.

“Maybe they can’t make the events or they just love what we’re doing and they want to make sure that we continue to do stuff,” said Buska. “We can’t really take on new things without general funding, without that kind of income or unrestricted funding.”

Donations are also greatly appreciated to continue helping to restore, protect, and care for southeastern Wisconsin’s watersheds. Buska shared, “most of our funding is restricted to actual project work including contracting with outside designers, engineers and contractors. Donations to our General Fund are critical to covering the internal staff time and resources needed to bring more restoration projects from recommendation to actual construction.”

Donations and memberships help sustain the work that needs to be done to protect one of our most beloved resources.

Volunteer

Still, looking for ways to get involved? Get ready to get your hands dirty, learn a thing or two, get on your way to becoming an environmentalist. Volunteer with Root-Pike WIN as a way to contribute to the positive impact of changing our waterways. Learn more by visiting their volunteer page.

Looking for something to do? In case you missed this year’s Earth Day events, the following events are being hosted by Root-Pike WIN:

  • Neumiller Planting and Invasive Removal 
  • Spring Ephemerals Botany Class & Walking Tour
    • May 14 from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.
      • (Rain Date: Saturday, May 21st at the same time)
    • Registration
  • Shagbark/Bradford Pond Cleanup 
    • June 2 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.
      • Rain Date: Friday, June 3rd at the same time
    • Registration
  • Stormwater 101 Library Class 
  • Forest Ridge Elementary School Cleanup
  • Rain Gardens: Landscaping for a Precious Resource Library Class
  • Clean Waters Paddle
    • July 13 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
      • Rain Date: July 27th at the same time
    • Registration
  • Stormwater Run-off: Its Origins and Uses for a Better Kenosha Library Class
  • Preserving Kenosha: The Threat of Invasive Species Library Class
Invasive vegetation removal with Urban Underground in Franklin 2021 – Credit: Root-Pike WIN
Citizen Science with KPL Botany Tour at Pritchard Park 2021 – Credit: Root-Pike WIN

more for the planet


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