Ten University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students and their advisor will regroup in Madison during the first full week of August after spending the past two months in New Orleans, helping residents of the city’s Lower Ninth Ward who hope to revitalize a natural treasure near the neighborhood ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The students are participants in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies’ annual Water Resources Management Workshop. The Lower Ninth Ward’s Holy Cross Neighborhood Association invited them to evaluate the feasibility of restoring Bayou Bienvenue, a former cypress swamp, to mitigate future storm surges and provide other environmental benefits. They also are collaborating with the University of Colorado’s landscape architecture department and the Sierra Club on plans for a nature preserve and interpretive center.

While in New Orleans, the UW-Madison students gathered data on the history of the bayou, its current ecological conditions, and community attitudes about its proposed restoration. They will analyze the data this fall and present their findings to the neighborhood association by the end of the year.

“We have received such a welcoming response,” says faculty advisor Herb Wang, a UW-Madison professor of geology, geophysics, and environmental studies.

Funding is being sought for follow-up activities that would involve UW-Madison graduate students for several more years. For more information about this project, see

To reach members of the UW-Madison group, contact:

– Liz Pleuss at
[email protected], (608) 443-9842 (cell);
– Natalie Hunt at
[email protected], (414) 243-6264 (cell);
– Laura Craig at
[email protected], (608) 255-5502;
– Herb Wang at
[email protected] or (608) 262-5932 (office), (608) 695-0584 (cell).

The Nelson Institute’s summer Water Resources Management Workshop creates an opportunity for student teams to work outside the classroom on “real-world” concerns. Previous workshops have addressed more than two-dozen local and regional water management problems across Wisconsin. Last year, the workshop produced a plan to improve the water quality of Monona Bay in central Madison.