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SOMERS — A partnership to enhance the natural habitat near the University of Wisconsin Parkside generated a lot of buzz Tuesday.

Representatives with the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network and UW-Parkside officials discussed restoring and enhancing pollinator areas at the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course.

Dave Giordano, executive director of the Root-Pike WIN, said the effort underway is described as a “patch” effort, specifically the rusty-patched bumblebee.

The Dannehl course will serve as a pollinator habitat to encourage growth of the species.

“We think that this is a benefit to the bee and a benefit to the we,” Giordano said. “Yeah, I know it’s corny.”

In all seriousness, Giordano said the project signifies an effort to improve natural habitats at and near the UW-Parkside campus and in other areas of the community.

“People want to live and be near healthy watersheds,” Giordano said.

Work will take time

The rusty-patched bumblebee project encompasses 210 acres, with the Dannehl course serving as the epicenter for the activities. The transformative effort that officially kicked off Tuesday will take time, Giordano said.

“It won’t happen overnight,” he said. “But, still, we can’t wait to get started. It’s exciting to get this out into the campus and out into the community.”

Debbie Ford, chancellor of UW-Parkside, said the rusty-patched bumblebee project fits well alongside the campus’ 50th anniversary and is an example of the university’s overarching mission.

“Our university is built on these partnerships,” Ford said. “It’s events like this that give us an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the community. ‘Beeing at Parkside’ will have an entirely new meaning.”

Restoring natural habitat

Other agencies and experts were involved in the behind-the-scenes planning process before the wraps were taken off the endeavor at Tuesday’s ceremony.

Julie Kinzelman, who serves as the Racine Health Department’s laboratory director and is a research scientist, has been looking at restorative efforts along urban shorelines.

Speaking in broad terms, Kinzelman said any efforts to improve natural habitats are beneficial to humans and animals alike.

“Our quality of life is better when we respect the environment,” Kinzelman said.

Somers behind project

Somers Village President George Stoner said he and other local elected officials are behind this and other environmental projects. UW-Parkside is located within Somers’ municipal boundaries.

“We are experiencing tremendous development,” Stoner said. “It’s our responsibility to be good stewards of the land. This is another example of making Kenosha County a good place to live, work and play.”

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