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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy Days and More to Come

Last week, the state Assembly unanimously passed the Clean Lakes Bill, banning the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizer across the state. The bill has not yet passed the Senate, but given the same bill passed the Senate last year only to die in the Assembly, it’s only a matter of time.

Excess phosphorus is the bane of all our lakes, wetlands and rivers, causing algae growth that in turn depletes oxygen for fish and other aquatic life. Agricultural runoff is still the leading source, but in urban and suburban areas, around lakes all over the state and especially in the north where there is little farming, lawn fertilizer is a primary contributor of phosphorus to our waterways. The Clean Lakes Bill prohibits the display, sale and use of fertilizer with phosphorus, with a few exceptions: people starting a new lawn, or who have had their soil tested and found it to be depleted in phosphorus, can purchase phosphorus fertilizer.

Another exciting event is designation of a new Wild River, the Brunsweiler. The designation overwhelmingly passed both the Assembly and the Senate, and in the midst of Superior Days to boot! The designation also honors the life of Martin Hanson, long-time conservationist and caretaker of the Brunsweiler, who lived on its banks most of his life. Best of all, this was the first time in 44 years that Wisconsin has designated a new Wild River, and many legislators who didn’t even know there was such a law on the books have been educated. We have high hopes this new knowledge will lead to swift designation of the Totogatic River in northwest Wisconsin, and will instigate many more designations in years to come.

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