La Crosse-area leaders chosen for Thriving Earth Exchange

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A new partnership will pave the way for environmental change in our community.

The Thriving Earth Exchange connects local governments with university science resources. In Wisconsin, leaders are connected with scientists at UW-Madison.

Local leaders are working for environmental change.

“There’s so much work to be done,” said Lewis Kuhlman, who works with the city of La Crosse.

This new partnership will help leaders take steps toward progress.

“Having the opportunity to work with specific researchers and scientists on an area that needs deeper study is a really great opportunity,” Kuhlman said.

The city is considering multiple projects, with the first being addressing city temperature differences. Kuhlman acknowledged the noticeable temperature difference between greenspace and areas without trees in the city.

“What areas would most benefit from addressing this urban heat island effect?” Kuhlman said.

The city also plans to research improving the La Crosse River Marsh.

“What can we do in the marsh to reduce some of those impacts elsewhere?” Kuhlman said.

Chosen separately, La Crosse’s Jamie O’Neill will work to research playground surfaces.

“Rubber tire chips that get mulled up — they produce a lot of heat,” O’Neill said.

That heat, O’Neill said, has a negative impact on the environment.

Through research, she hopes to learn the impact of those surfaces and determine what could be used instead.

“This is needed here because we really want to make sure we’re making informed decisions going forward,” O’Neill said.

Town of Campbell council member Lee Donahue also was selected to be in the Thriving Earth Exchange.

, in the continuing battle with PFAS contamination, was also selected.

The town, which is locked in a continuing battle with PFAS contamination, is situated between two rivers. Donahue plans to work with a scientist to understand what could happen with contaminants in the future.

“We want to find out how that structure maybe affects the way that the groundwater flows,” Donahue said.

Donahue said she plans to learn from research with experts how contamination could spread.

“We have been heavily affected by PFAS contamination,” she said. “We know what it’s like to deal with it day in and day out. And quite frankly, we don’t want any other community to be affected in the way that we have.”

Together, all three leaders hope to find solutions for the future.

Two Vernon County leaders — Ben Wojahn and Monique Hassman — also were chosen to take part in the exchange.

This research work will not cost the community.

Recent headlines on News 8 Now

Possible mass graves near Mariupol as Russia attacks in east

Spring Fever open house, clean-up events to keep downtown La Crosse busy

Elite Nutrition owner in Onalaska raises money for city’s police K-9 unit

Southwest fire crews brace for return of dangerous winds