The sun sets over a vast oak prairie on the Valley View segment of the Ice Age Trail.

Ice Age Trail grows with donation to buy more land

Private foundation will match public contributions to conserve historic treasure

A private Milwaukee foundation announced it will match up to $400,000 in donations that members of the public make to the Ice Age Trail Alliance to support the nonprofit's effort to preserve segments of the Ice Age Trail. The pledge from the Paul Fleckenstein Trust will jump-start efforts by the Ice Age Trail Alliance, a nonprofit, volunteer organization whose mission is to create, support and protect the many segments of the Ice Age Trail, to conserve land in the Madison area and move closer to its goal of purchasing 500 miles of trail connectors that are still privately owned. “We rely on public funding to acquire land,” said Kevin Thusius, the alliance’s director of land conservation. It is difficult for the group to compete with land bidders who have cash in hand. Public money allows the alliance to immediately acquire land up front when it finds a property for sale and later cover those costs with funds from the government and donations.

Madison teen entrepreneur to be featured on the popular TV show “Project Pitch It!”

From our news partner Madison365:

Seventeen-year-old Nabil Hamdan founded his business, the World of Bamboo, after seeing all of the plastic at B.B. Clarke beach on Madison’s east side and wanting to make a difference in helping to save the planet. On Sunday, May 30, he will be featured on the TV show “Project Pitch It!” to show how he uses bamboo as a plastic alternative as a way to fight plastic pollution. Nabil will be hosting a Virtual Watch Party on the same day where he will present attendees with a free Bamboo Straw Bundle Gift. “The first 50 people to sign in will get free products. After the show premiere, they will be asking me questions and I will give them a rundown on my business and how it works and what I do,” Nabil tells Madison365.

Earth Day turns 50, goes online

Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, about 20 million people gathered throughout the nation for the first celebration of Earth Day in the United States. 

Vilas Park Master Plan looks to address water quality, pedestrian access

Implementation of the Vilas Park Master Plan is underway as the Vilas Neighborhood Association (VNA) attempts to decrease algae blooms in Lake Wingra and improve issues with pedestrian safety in the park by fall 2020.

Throughout the process of the redesign, which began in late 2018, the Vilas Neighborhood Association asked for input from community members in the pursuit of an improved park area. The Association received two common themes in responses — increase pedestrian safety and improve the quality and health of Lake Wingra.

Massive solar project could change the landscape in rural Dane County

An international renewable energy company’s interest in starting a solar energy project in small-town Vienna, just north of Madison, is causing conflicts between neighbors and within families as farmers decide whether to lease their land to the project. 

The first mention of the project entering the area occurred in February 2019, and tensions are rising as farmers are taking opposing stances. In January 2020, residents of Vienna put together a petition requesting that the town board hold an informative meeting with Invenergy, the solar company, explaining the Great Dane solar farm project.  

Climate Strike Draws Hundreds to Downtown Madison

Not even a failed screening of activist Greta Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations, nor humid September weather, could slow down protestors at the Madison climate strike demonstrations Friday. 

Conservative Group Promotes Clean Energy Policy in Wisconsin

As the cost of renewables like wind and solar continues to decline dramatically—by 69% and 88% respectively over the last decade, according to recent analyses—the conversation around energy is changing in Wisconsin and across the country. 

While some groups, like RENEW Wisconsin, have been advocating for renewable energy in the state for decades, a new nonprofit, the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum, has also recently begun promoting clean energy policy in the state. The Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum (WCEF) was founded in December 2017 with the goal of bringing conservatives to the table to discuss the benefits of clean energy for Wisconsin’s economy and actuating the transition through lobbying. The group is part of the Conservative Energy Network, which is also active in Minnesota, Michigan, and states around the country. WCEF’s platform might come as a surprise to some who see clean energy as tied to left-of-center policy proposals like the Green New Deal, but the forum’s director, Scott Coenen, sees a middle ground where the expansion of clean energy aligns with conservative values. Earlier this spring, Madison Commons sat down with Coenen to understand his organization’s perspective on the energy transition.

Plant Dane Native Plant Program accepting orders through March 20th

Plant Dane is now accepting plant orders for their 14th annual native plant program. The program provides discounted plants native to Wisconsin to schools, non-profits, municipalities and residences in Dane County. These native plants are important to local ecosystems, and provide a natural habitat for local animals and improved water quality. Dane County Land and Water Resources Department and the Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership (MAMSWaP) sponsor this program to improve water quality, according to Christal Campbell, the Stormwater Education Coordinator for Dane County. “Native plants have long, deep root systems that allow stormwater to soak into the ground preventing runoff from washing pollutants down the storm drain into our lakes, rivers and streams,” Campbell said.