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Work begins on wetland restoration project at Cliffside Park

Posted on August 14, 2023

Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network started work to create open-water wetlands at Cliffside Park on Thursday, following permitting delays.

The project aims to rehabilitate the area by bolstering native vegetation and removing invasive species. The converted wetland area will serve as a habitat for wildlife populations, including migratory birds and pollinators. Upon completion, improvements to the land are expected to limit runoff to the eroding bluffs.

The Wind Point Watershed Restoration Plan, which is approved by both the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency, identifies the project as “highly critical.”

“This is going to be an incredible project,” said Root-Pike WIN Executive Director Dave Giordano at the event, thanking supporters of the project.

Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network Executive Director Dave Giordano speaks on Wednesday at Cliffside Park, as work to create open-water wetlands begins. The project, intended to start earlier this summer, was delayed due to permitting delays.

Work was initially scheduled to begin in June, but due to permit issues that Giordano attributed to backlog from the pandemic, the project was delayed.

“It wasn’t that there was anything particular about the project that was causing a delay,” he said. “It’s just that with COVID there was a huge back-up in a lot of different things.”

Calling the land “a rare space in Southeastern Wisconsin,” Giordano spoke on the importance of Cliffside Park as one of the few “open spaces” left.

“The one thing this park is missing is what it used to be before settlement, and that is a substantial number of wetlands,” said Giordano, emphasizing the necessity of wetlands to the environment.

Giordano expects the project to conclude by the end of September, though he noted that three years of stewardship will follow that end date.

During this time, he explained, Root-Pike WIN will “make sure that everything’s planted properly and growing properly.”

Work on the wetlands restoration project will temporarily reroute visitors on the trail away from the site, though Giordano said this change will only last “a couple months.”

When the project is complete, there will be a platform for visitors to look down into the wetlands, which Giordano said “will make for a better experience.”

Giordano also noted that he considers this “phase one” in a series of Root-Pike WIN projects to restore the park, including further removal of invasive species and the restoration of a ravine.


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