Hello Neighbors, I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weekend. I am writing to update you on a voter registration drive at the Beacon (the homeless day resource center in our district), updates on efforts by Yahara WINS and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program for clean lakes, including harvestable buffer strips and aerial cover-crop planting. I also highlight the great efforts in our neighborhood to expand solar energy. Also included are quick updates on the advisory referendum on legalizing cannabis, capital city trail closures, and neighborhood news.
Voter Registration Drive at the Beacon
The Beacon will be hosting a voter registration drive on Wednesday July 11th from 9:00 to 2:00. City of Madison Election Officials, along with League of Women Voters volunteers will be on hand to assist patrons with registering to vote and obtaining vital documents. Volunteers will be trained on how to help patrons without permanent addresses register to vote. We are still looking for some volunteers to assist. Please contact me if you would like to sign up.
The Dane County Clerk's office will bring a tabulator machine so patrons can try the machine out and familiarize themselves with the process of voting.
All members of the community who are interested in registering to vote are welcome to attend. Please spread the word in the community, particularly to our neighbors who are housing insecure.
For those unable to attend on July 11th, League volunteers will return in the following weeks to assist with starting and completing registrations.
Voting is a fundamental right for all of our neighbors, and we have seen firsthand what can happen to our democracy when voter participation is low. I was happy to organize this event, along with the League of Women Voters, City and County Clerks, and The Beacon. Big thanks to District 6 neighbor Norm Littlejohn for making graphics and posters.
Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (WINS) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
We have seen numerous beach closures in the past few weeks due to intense rain followed by heat advisories. These events wash phosphorous into our lakes, causing algae blooms. In our last Land Conservation Committee (LCC) meeting, there was a presentation on various efforts under the Yahara WINS and RCPP programs to clean our lakes. The entire presentation can be seen here (I marked the start time):
There are a few innovative programs to highlight. Dane County rents land directly from farmers for Harvestable Buffer Strips. A harvestable buffer, or field border, is a strip of grass that can be harvested and utilized, while also providing an environmental benefit by capturing sediment, nutrients and pesticides. The rental period is 5, 10 or 15 years and the rental rates the county pays are competitive: $400 (5-year), $425 (10-year), and $450 (15-year). In our last LCC, we approved a 15-year contract that paid the farmer $33,793. This money is all paid upfront and if the land is sold, it is part of the deed, so it is honored for the entire contract period. Here is a good discussion on Harvestable Buffers:
The County is also working to do aerial crop planting, real-time monitoring in partnership with USGS, and modeling to quantify phosphorous reduction. The power point presentation which goes into more detail is available here:
There is a lot more work to do, but to move forward we need to understand what the current efforts in place are so we can build upon them. The Health Farms, Healthy Lakes task force will be releasing recommendations soon, and those will be our guide as we move forward. More details are available in a County press release.
Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara (SASY) Goes Solar
Did you know there are over 40 solar installations in the SASY neighborhood? RENEW Wisconsin recently received a grant from the SASY Neighborhood Association to document these installations and work with homeowners and businesses to tell their stories. The entire report can be seen here:
The solar installations were made by possible by a 30% federal tax credit, state credits through the Focus on Energy program, and a city group-buy program MadiSun. Neighbor Brian Lavendel said: "When the MadiSUN program came together, it made it much easier because RENEW did all the work, and I knew the economics were fair.”
If you are thinking of going solar, please let me know and I can help put you in touch with people who can help you navigate tax credits, group-buys, and assess your solar potential. The solution to climate change is shining above our heads, and our district will continue to lead on this issue. Special thanks to neighbor Michael Vickerman for the work he did on this project.
- The Capital City trail reconstruction begins July 9th. See here for detours and more information:
- It was great to see so many of you at the rally to Keep Families Together on Saturday, June 30th. I know first-hand the contributions that immigrants bring to our country, and it was encouraging to see so many people rallying despite the intense heat. I signed on to two letters from the County Board to Gov. Scott Walker and President Trump in opposition to sending national guard troops to the border, and protesting the inhumane policies of separating parents from their children. Thanks to Supervisors Bayrd and Danner for drafting these letters. Please see the video discussing these letters here:
- The cannabis advisory referendum will be up for a full vote by the County Board this Thursday, July 12th. Please stop by the City County Building to register your opinion on this initiative. The meeting starts at 7:00.
- I recently published an update in the East Side News. Not everyone is online or on social media so I will try my best to communicate with our district in as many forms as possible.