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Thursday, March 14th, 2024
Veterans Terrace at Echo Park - Burlington, WI
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David Strifling

Marquette University

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Legal and Policy Strategies for Chloride Control


Many scientific studies have examined the potential risks to human health and natural resources associated with excess chloride in the environment. Yet little, if any, of that work has been directed toward developing legal and policy strategies to address the chloride issue. Building on the framework of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission's comprehensive Chloride Impact Study for the Southeastern Wisconsin Region, this presentation summarizes our report examining a menu of responsive legal and policy options available to decision-makers in the Region. These include limiting slip-and-fall liability, relying on direct regulatory authority such as the Clean Water Act or corresponding state regulations and municipal ordinances, disseminating relevant information to stakeholders and the public, using alternatives to chloride where feasible, leveraging new policy strategies such as water quality trading, investigating integrated watershed management across jurisdictions, and leveraging economic measures and assistance. The report draft is available here

David Strifling is an Associate Professor at Marquette University Law School and serves as director of Marquette’s Water Law and Policy Initiative.


Tom Warchol

BoardSafe Docks

Providing Accessibility for all Abilities;

The Value of Investing in the Inclusion of Paddlers with Disabilities


  • Not all accessible water entry points offer the necessary adaptive features to be truly inclusive.

  • Water access areas must include adaptive features beyond the minimum standards identified by the ADA in order to be truly inclusive.

  • Water access products that are intentionally inclusive offer many benefits and can enhance economic growth, promote tourism, support community equity plans, and offer therapeutic, social, inclusive, and community recreational connections to its users


Growing up in the Adirondack region of New York State, Tom spent a considerable amount of his youth kayaking and canoeing the rivers and lakes of the area and developed a desire to work in an industry that promoted marine and wilderness access.  He graduated from Clarkson University with a degree in mechanical engineering and has spent his professional career designing and developing large infrastructure projects.  These include nationwide telecommunication networks, global work for the United Nations, and marine infrastructure throughout the US. Being a partner at BoardSafe allows him to work with incredible customers who share the same passions of adventure and improving non-motorized marine access for all.


Paul Meuer

Tall Pines


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Ravensholme on the River:

Farming with a Focus on Community and Water


Ravensholme on the River is a 265-acre farm that was donated to Tall Pines Conservancy by Anita Ransome-Kuchler in December 2022. As an organization focused on farmland preservation and protection of water resources, Ravensholme on the River presents a unique opportunity and challenge to create a demonstration space for viable conservation practices that enhance the quality of the Fox River and beyond.

Paul Meuer is the Land Protection Manager with Tall Pines Conservancy, a non-profit land trust focused on protecting farmland, water resources, natural areas, and open spaces in northwestern Waukesha County Wisconsin. His professional background includes over ten years as an environmental consultant and restoration ecologist, and he currently holds certification as a Professional Wetland Scientist. Outside of work he can typically be found on a mountain bike or in the garage tinkering on a classic car.

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Karen Miller

Kane County, IL

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Update and Celebrate:

Fabulous Fox Water Tail National Designation


Respect and love for nature inspires and motivates Karen Ann Miller to regularly explore local open spaces and plan longer trips that include hiking and paddling while learning about local culture.  She has been fortunate to be employed as a Land Use Planner by Kane County, a county that values its natural resources, for over 22 years.  Karen is the Illinois Co-Chair of the team developing the Fabulous Fox! Water Trail.  She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a commissioner for the Brookfield Plan Commission and active in the Brookfield Historical Society.  Master of Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago; Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Northern Illinois University


Wes Cattoor



of Natural Resources


IL DNR’s New Dam Public Safety Policy


Run of the river dam removals have seen growing interested throughout the US based on it numerous benefits including public safety, fish passage, ecosystem restoration, recreation and more.  The IL DNR has been working to removal numerous dams throughout the state for multiple decades.  Recently, the IL DNR released its new guidance policy for this program including prioritization, funding, and internal project procedure for working with locals to determine the best solution for their community.  This presentation will provide an overview of the new guidance policy as well as an overview of the state efforts focusing on recent work with the USACE on their 519 study.

Wes serves as the Section Chief of Engineering Studies in the Office of Water Resources at IDNR.  His responsibilities include overseeing flood control, dam removal, flood surveillance, dam operations and water supply planning in Illinois.  He has been with IDNR – Office of Water Resources for 17 years with over a dozen years working on dam removals as the project engineer and project manager. He is a Professional Engineer in Illinois and a Certified Floodplain Manager.

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Allison Madison


Salt Wise




Salt Smart Collaborative

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Less Salt Please! Two Programs, Two States, One Goal


Once salt goes down, it doesn’t go away. Salt Levels are rising in lakes, streams, rivers, and drinking water. We can protect our natural resources and reduce salt use without sacrificing safety. Paving the way to better practices is a multi-faceted endeavor. Organizations and communities of all sizes across Illinois and Wisconsin are infusing salt smart/wise practices into their operations, trainings, policies, communications, and outreach. Learn how groups like Salt Smart in Illinois and Salt Wise in Wisconsin are working to fill the gaps with equipment open houses, webinars, trainings, certification programs, and targeted outreach to educate and encourage the adoption of the best practices for salt use.

Allison Madison is the Wisconsin Salt Wise Program Manager. In this role, she catalyzes statewide collaboration around salt reduction. Allison graduated from St. Olaf College and has a joint MS. in Environment and Resources and Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin. She's passionate about protecting Wisconsin's freshwater resources and celebrating their beauty by paddling, swimming,  skiing, etc.

Hanna Miller is a Watershed Project Manager at The Conservation Foundation working on reducing the impacts of chlorides. She is also the workgroup coordinator for the Chicago Area Waterways Chloride Workgroup and the co-coordinator for the Salt Smart Collaborative. Hanna graduated from Hamilton College with a degree in Geoscience. Outside of work, Hanna can often be found cycling along one of the many waterways in the Chicago area.

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Ryan Johnson

US Army Corps of Engineers


Fox River Connectivity & Habitat Study - Update


The Chicago District is conducting a feasibility study to assess connectivity and habitat concerns and ecosystem restoration opportunities on the Fox River from Algonquin, IL to Montgomery, IL. The agency and public comment period ended in November 2023. Ryan will give an update on this study and discuss future steps.

Ryan received his Bachelor’s in Geography from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL in 2011. He went on to earn a Master’s from the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA in 2014. Following graduate school Ryan worked as a Project Manager for an ecological restoration firm in the Chicago Region for six years. In 2020, Ryan began working for the USACE, Chicago District as a Biologist in the Planning Branch. Ryan provides planning and environmental compliance support for a wide variety of projects in the Chicago District including various ecosystem restoration studies and projects.

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Leonard Steinert



Fox River Fresh Water Mussel Update


Leonard was introduced to malacology by Dr. Todd Levine in 2018 when they worked on a project studying the reproductive strategies of Lampsilis cardium. After graduating with a degree in biology and biochemistry from Carroll University he has worked at the Wisconsin DNR for 3 years doing mussels surveys and research.

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Jim Stute


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Peaking under the covers: measuring cover crop canopy and residue for improved estimates of run-off reduction.


Using appropriately chosen and managed cover crops is a proven way to reduce agricultural runoff while water quality trade represents a potential revenue stream for farmers. Estimated reductions generated by nutrient management planning software such as Snap Plus potentially underestimate cover crop value in rapidly evolving cover crop management systems which seek to maximize biomass production and soil residue cover. This session will examine how “planting green,” a practice promoted by most Producer-led Watershed Protection groups including WPCRC ramps -up conservation potential, and our efforts to superimpose data collection on existing on-farm trials for improved model calibration and better estimates for water quality trade.

Stute is a farmer-member of the WPCRC and an independent research agronomist. His research and outreach focuses on developing best practice recommendations for Climate-Smart agricultural systems to maximize financial returns, encouraging adoption by farmers. This work is conducted entirely with cooperating farmers in Southeast Wisconsin and focuses on the Climate-Smart cornerstone practices of no-till and cover cropping. Past affiliations include UW-Extension and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and he’s spent the last 30 years working to increase cover crop use.

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Cindy Skrukrud



Update: 20 Years of Illinois' Fox River Study Group


In 2022, the Fox River Study Group (FRSG) completed an update to its Fox River Implementation Plan (FRIP) that addresses nutrient-related water quality issues in the southern half of the Fox River watershed, from the Stratton Dam in McHenry, IL to the mouth of the Fox River in Ottawa, IL. Skrukrud will provide an update on the group's 2023 efforts that include engagement on dam removal opportunities, a new water quality trends report and a celebration of twenty years working together.


Cindy Skrukrud is now vice-chair of the Fox River Study Group, after chairing the group for its first two decades. She lives in Nippersink Creek watershed in McHenry County, Illinois. She holds a BS degree in bio-agricultural sciences from Colorado State University and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.




Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

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Southeastern Wisconsin Fox River Commission

Southeastern Wisconsin Fox River Commission (SEWFRC) Updates


Building upon the foundation of water resources management and environmental protection, the Southeastern Wisconsin Fox River Commission (SEWFRC) continues to assist communities to maintain the Fox River as an asset for the people of Southeastern Wisconsin. In fulfilling their mandate, the Fox River Commission continues to build partnerships with communities, organizations and municipalities. SEWFRC is currently funding or approved funding for 10 separate projects ranging from dredging, lake shore and streambank stabilization, wildlife restoration, access site improvements, planning report preparation, and the 2024 12th Annual Fox River Summit. We have applied for 4 major grant opportunities for federal and state funding including the USDA, NRCS, WI DNR Waterfowl Stamp Program, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US Wisconsin Department of Transportation programs. We just completed 2 lake shoreline stabilization projects this past year and we established an ArcGIS Story Map on our website to help track past, current, and prioritize future projects (see link here Project Sourcing for Protecting and Restoring the Fox River ( Most recently, the Fox River Commission, in conjunction with County partners and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission is updating it's implementation plan to reflect it's goals and objectives through the future. This presentation will provide brief details of each of these efforts as well as goals for the future.

Dr. Slawski has over 30 years of experience in aquatic ecology specializing in stream habitat and fisheries assessments, design, and restoration techniques. He has received a B.S. Biological Sciences, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, in 1991, and Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in 1997. His research has focused on understanding the impacts of physical and hydrological alterations associated with land use development and ways to mitigate those impacts to improve or restore fish and aquatic life.


Dr. Slawski has been employed at the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission since 1998 and currently holds the position of Chief Biologist of the Natural Resources Planning and Management Division, which specializes in wetland delineation and primary environmental corridor assessments, natural areas and critical species habitat protection, lake, and stream management planning. During this period he has coauthored numerous technical reports and peer-reviewed publications related to lake and stream water quality, fish, and other aquatic life assessments and watershed protection/restoration planning throughout the southeast region of Wisconsin. He practices a comprehensive science-based watershed approach to water quality planning that provides the basis for the communities to make sound decisions regarding environmental, land development, and recreational issues—all with ties to strong partnerships and public involvement, sustainability, and quality of life.


Justin Poinsatte

Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

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Exploring Lake and River Water Quality Data

with New WDNR Tools


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently developed and released new tools for easily exploring lake and river water quality data, watershed pollutant load modeling, and lake aquatic plant data: the Wisconsin Water Explorer (WEx) and the Aquatic Plant Explorer (APex). These tools remove the complexity of finding, formatting, and visualizing this information and instead provide a simple point-and-click interface to instantly create graphs, maps, and reports using the latest data for your waterbody of interest. This presentation will provide an overview and demonstration of these tools and how lake and river organizations can use them to stay informed on the status and trends of water quality and aquatic plants on their waterbodies.

Justin is a Principal Specialist-Biologist with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, where he assists with the development of lake and river management plans. Justin earned his BS from the University of Notre Dame and his PhD from Washington State University. Prior to joining the Commission in 2019, Justin worked as a Natural Resources Research Scientist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the Bureau of Water Quality.

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Fox Waterway Agency


Chain O' Lakes Watershed-Based Plan Update

Pat Smarto is a dedicated advocate for waterway preservation and community prosperity. Serving as the Chair of the Waterway Advisory Committee since 2021, and as a longstanding member since 2019, Pat brings extensive expertise and a passionate commitment to the cause. With a background as the owner of Lakes Realty Group, a leading firm specializing in waterfront properties, Pat possesses a profound understanding of the intricacies of waterfront real estate and the vital role waterways play in local economies.

A lifelong boater on the Chain, Pat has developed an intimate connection with the waterways and understands their significance to both residents and visitors alike. As a waterfront homeowner in the area, Pat has a personal stake in ensuring the sustainability and vitality of the Chain for future generations.

Driven by a deep-seated desire to safeguard the environment and bolster economic growth, Pat is committed to leveraging her expertise and influence to enact positive change. With a vision to ensure that the Chain remains a thriving environmental and economic asset in the region, Pat works tirelessly to promote sustainable practices, foster community engagement, and advocate for policies that prioritize the long-term health and prosperity of the waterways and surrounding communities.

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Friends of the

Fox River

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Where were you for It's Our Fox River Day 2023?

To effectively protect and restore a watershed, we must act on a watershed scale. The Fox River Summit and Our Fox River Day (IOFRD) are two events that embrace that concept.


IOFRD is designed to be a unifying watershed-wide event to provide awareness and action in celebration of the Fox River. Born as a clean-up, it has morphed into a diverse celebration. Learn what happened, lessons learned, and get ready to celebrate IOFRD 2024.

Gary Swick used his BS in Natural Resource Mgt. from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and a MSEd in Outdoor Teacher Education as the foundation for developing a field-based High School Environmental Science suite of eight courses. Under his direction, students planted thousands of trees, restored acres of natural areas, generated files of research, and accomplished many other acts of environmental stewardship that have become local history. Many of those students are now professionals in the environmental field.  In addition, he also invested 10 years at Northern Illinois University as an instructor, and 18 summers as a raft guide on the Snake River in Wyoming.

Gary serves as the President of the Friends of the Fox River and is a board member on several other non-profit conservation groups. He is an avid outdoor recreationist.

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