When an airport in West Bend, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee, proposed an expansion into area wetlands and woodlands, a group of concerned citizens formed and called for the protection of the area’s natural resources. The group—Watershed Watchers—pushed for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by writing and collecting signatures for a petition and asking the City Council to adopt resolutions. And while the City of West Bend did agree to an EIS, it wasn’t completed due to lack of funding.
During the ensuing years, Watershed Watchers has pressed tirelessly for an EIS: hiring an attorney, conducting educational campaigns, writing to elected officials, keeping area residents abreast of happenings and encouraging public involvement. Almost 15 years later, an EIS is being done.
Freshwater Future has given multiple grants to Watershed Watchers over the past six years ranging from $500 to $5,000 to assist with their project. Watershed Watchers volunteers have also participated in our Grassroots Symposia building their skills to help protect wetlands in their community.
Thankfully, the Federal Aviation Administration asked for the EIS, assuring objectivity and a fair analysis of the wetlands, social issues, and quality of life for the area. The permitting process will not begin until decisions are reached through the EIS process. The permits have to be approved before federal money is allocated for this project. The wetlands are in the hands of the EIS decision-making process.