Grant to UW-Milwaukee supporting genetic research in Lake Michigan

A grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan will support genetic research by UW-Milwaukee scientists as part of a broad push to improve the health of the lake and associated water systems.

UWM is receiving $100,000 to analyze the genetics of three underwater animals, including the Yellow Perch and the Green Bay Mayfly. The third has yet to be determined, though it could be a fish species like Lake Whitefish, Lake Trout, Northern Pike or Muskellunge, UWM says.

The university aims to create a database for the genomes of organisms like these, which are determined by DNA analysis.

“We’re incredibly excited,” said J. Val Klump, dean at the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences. “This genomic data will open up new avenues of research and greatly expand the scientific understanding of the impact of human activities, climate change, emerging contaminants and other factors on Lake Michigan’s health.”

The money going to UWM is only one slice of a bigger pie being doled out to 22 different projects around the state. These water-related efforts were originally approved in June, and collectively bring $1.6 million to an effort to improve water quality and natural habitats, promote tourism, and provide broad support to the regional economy.

The Fund for Lake Michigan is a non-profit foundation based in Milwaukee, created in 2011 by We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, WPPI Energy, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club as an environmental change-maker. It focuses on southeastern Wisconsin, and has given out over 270 grants for $18 million in total.

Some of the bigger grants in this round of funding are going to:

*Kenosha, for the second phase of its effort to restore its most used beach, Simmons Beach. The $175,000 grant will allow the city to plant native plants, creating sand dunes and replacing its asphalt areas with porous concrete — all with a goal of removing the beach from a list of ‘impaired waters.’

*Harbor District, Inc., supporting two years of efforts to improve Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor. Initiatives to increase waterline access, clean up trash in the water, and form a new private park will be funded by a $200,000 grant.

*The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, to study the environmental impact of rising chloride levels in the waterways. It’s getting $127,000 to do so, and has a end-game goal of reducing chloride and its damaging effects on surface water and groundwater.

*The Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership, which is receiving $100,000 to restore the Manitowoc River, one of the most polluted rivers in the state. The money will go towards the creation and operation of a specialized team looking into agricultural issues like manure management and crop rotation.

See a full list of the recently approved grants:

–By Alex Moe