Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island, Door County [Photo courtesy D. Geiwitz]



This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 WaterWays newsletter.  Download a PDF of the full NewsletterBy Raj Shukla, Executive Director


It’s been a year since the world came to a screeching halt.

So many have lost so much, and there have been lessons I’ll remember forever.

A year without much travel has taught me to appreciate local activity. A year confined to fewer of my favorite places, with fewer of my favorite people, has taught me to embrace the moment. A year with ever-present threats of disease and discord has made me aware of how much more we all deserve. And, a year with rivers, lakes and streams as my first—sometimes only—refuge, inspires me to protect them every day, in every way I can.

I know I am not alone.

On ballots, on farm fields, on Zoom from home, and out on the water in kayaks, local people are working to protect and restore water.

In this winter’s issue of WaterWays, Allison tells you how leaders in three Wisconsin counties have taken it upon themselves to demand more from politicians in the Capitol. April ballots will ask voters in Marquette, Portage and Wood Counties to support a right to clean water in Wisconsin. (Learn how your county could take part during a future election cycle!)

Mike shares some of the member- nominated farmers across Wisconsin who protect water as a course of business. You submitted farmers from Marshfield, to North Freedom, to Oak Creek who are shifting an industry with persistence and great care for land and water.

Ellen shines a light on how you can help stop the spread of invasive species with a little knowledge and a plan. Make your own “Un-Wanted List,” and learn how to spot these unwanted visitors in rivers and streams.

Bill shows you how we use the Wisconsin Water Agenda to guide our advocacy. The Agenda’s principles, developed by a team of diverse leaders from across Wisconsin, give policymakers and watershed volunteers a road map to clean water for all.

In our own organization, we’re taking the initiative on race and equity with new resources for our team, and new leaders on our team. When I take a step back back and look at all that people are doing to protect and restore water, I’m reminded of another lesson I learned a long time ago: engaged and active people are the key to making progress.

All over Wisconsin, members like you are taking action. They’re organizing, and re-imagining. They’re getting their hands and boots dirty to keep water clean. The rivers kept flowing last year. We’re grateful that so many of you have pushed forward with as much grace and persistence.