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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Anne Bartels Named Outstanding Youth Educator By State WLWCA

Issue Date: March 11, 2022

Anne Bartels, Information & Education Specialist with the Marinette County Land and Water Conservation Division of the Land Information Department was selected by the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association (WLWCA) to receive the Brad Matson Youth Education Award for Wisconsin's Outstanding Youth Educator for 2022.

Bartels' award was recognized at the monthly meeting of the Marinette County Development Committee on Tuesday, March 8. At that meeting the committee was also introduced to Sheri Denowski, the new Marinette County Conservationist, who was recently hired to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Greg Cleereman.

Denowski comes from an agricultural area in western Wisconsin, and was previously employed in Clark County. Her husband, Dave Denowski, is originally from Crivitz, she said, so they were happy to be moving close to family here.

By unanimous vote, the committee authorized Denowski to apply for Targeted Runoff Management grants that could total nearly a million dollars to help two Marinette County farms pay for installation of high-cost "best management practices" improvements to prevent manure runoff into nearby waterways.

The award for Bartels was presented during the annual WLWCA conference, which was held virtually this year from Wednesday, March 2 through Friday, March 4.

Bartels' significant contributions to outdoor education in Wisconsin were recognized at the Development Committee meeting, and Committee Chair Ted Sauve asked to have the state award formally presented to Bartels at the County Board meeting on Tuesday, March 29.

Bartels had been nominated for the award by Marinette County Land Information Director Tim Oestreich, who said since she became the Marinette County Education specialist in 2007 Bartels has shown tremendous commitment to youth education. Under her direction, the "TOAD" program had grown from 50 programs delivered to 3,035 individuals in 2006 to 268 programs delivered to 8,187 people in 2019. Oestreich said Bartels is extremely popular with local educators and their students, and may be known to kids as "the bug lady," or "the bird lady." He said if one word could describe her, it would be "joyful."

Bartels also works with school field day programs, the annual Sand lake Conservation Camp at Camp Bird, Master Gardeners and their programs at Harmony Gardens, and more. Oestreich noted when COVID-19 shut down most of the in-person programs Bartels normally handles she came up with innovative programs that could be done without in-person contact.

Bartels said she was surprised by the award, and that she found it nice to be recognized. She said this year, now that COVID has pretty much settled down, she will be going back to many of the former in-person events, including the Logging Conference. She will again be working with Master Gardeners, and the Prairie Walk and Spring Wild Flower Walk will again be held at Harmony Gardens this spring.

Bartels told the committee she hadn't gone to school to be an educator, she had studied wildlife biology. However, she is pleased to be able to do what she does.

Supervisor Clancy Whiting stressed that the award for Bartels named her the top conservation educator in the state. He said over the years, Marinette County's somewhat unique conservation education program has gotten a lot of attention at the state level. Most counties do not have a full time conservation educator.

Sheri Denowski, newly appointed Marinette County Conservationist who had been introduced to the committee last month, noted that Bartels was also recognized at this year's Wisconsin Counties Association annual conference.

Denowski said she, Oestreich, County Board Supervisor Tom Mandli and two other people from the Marinette County Land and Water Conservation office had joined to participate in the virtual WLWCA conference from a location in the courthouse. She was impressed with a session on climate change, and what some communities are doing about it, including one county which bought up 13 homes in a flood plain, moved the people out, and returned the land to wetlands and green space to reduce flood damage.

Mandli said he had gone home very depressed after being told during a final session of the conference that a lot of bills aimed at environmental improvement had been introduced to the Wisconsin Legislature last year, but none of them had passed. He had been told some of the projects would probably be included in the state budget instead, but objected that he strongly believes these laws should be stand-alone, not hidden in the state budget bill. At any rate, he had felt better the next day, after realizing, "We're doing the best we can with the playbook that we have."

Mandli asked county personnel to put together a resolution acknowledging climate change, and possibly have it ready to be passed by this committee at its April or May meeting. He felt adopting such a resolution could eventually make the county more likely to get some special funding for environmental practices.

Oestreich said he has sent letters to all towns and villages in the county asking for information about where they will be doing road work this coming summer, in order to preserve or recover survey monuments in the road beds. So far, he has gotten only six responses. He will send another letter, and hopes ultimately that 70 percent of municipalities will respond. While reviewing paid bills, one committee member asked about a payment of $9,600 to Hugh Guy Land Surveying for "tie sheets," and explained that was their bill for last year for survey work that tied the monuments recovered to survey information.

Denowski was authorized to apply for, administer and assist with Targeted Runoff Management grants for the "Stoney Acres" farm of Bryce Harding on County XX near Wausaukee, and for Jerry Zeitler's farm in the Town of Pound.

Denowski explained the grants do not even come close to covering the cost of the projects the two property owners will be taking on. There may also be Federal cost share programs to help ease the burden on the property owners.

For the Zeitler property, the $225,000 grant may pay one third of the cost. Preparing the manure spreading plan alone will cost over $10,000 and the covered barnyard and other parts of the project are hugely expensive. Denowski commented when a land owner is willing to invest his own money to that extent, "it's nice to encourage them with help from this DNR grant." She expects the entire $225,000 to be approved, and said that is the maximum amount any one farm can get under this section of the program.

The $738,369 grant sought for Harding's Stoney Acres will help pay for work required under a DNR "Notice of Discharge" order. Denowski said the DNR order typically tells property owners: "You have runoff, and you will fix it, but we will help you." Farms established after 2002 are not eligible. Denowski said typically, the DNR funds 70 to 90 percent of the project cost if farms served with a notice of discharge order can show hardship.

Denowski said she will ask for the DNR to cover 90 percent of Harding's costs, but expects only 50 to 70 percent cost share to be approved. Part of that project also includes the very expensive covered barn yard.

While reviewing paid invoices, Sauve asked about a bill for $560 from Lilljestrand Meats for deer processing. Oestreich said that was the final invoice for 2021, and paid for processing eight deer that had been donated, with meat distributed to food pantries and other non-profit purposes.

At the end of the meeting, Sauve presented County Board Chair John Guarisco with a "Marinette County" hat that matches one he had made for a foreign exchange student from Brazil who stayed with his family. Sauve said he had learned there is no other Marinette County in the USA, so it wasn't necessary for the hat to designate Wisconsin. Guarisco said he will treasure the hat as part of his collection, adding he has about 460 hats, "but none that say Marinette County."

The next Development Committee meeting, to be held on election day, which is Tuesday, April 5, will be the final one for Sauve, who did not seek re-election and will be ending his long career on County Board.

Supervisor Clancy Whiting gave a tentative farewell. He said he may not be able to attend the April 5 meeting, and since he is being challenged for his County Supervisor position on April 5, this committee meeting may be his last.


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