Thursday, August 21, 2008

Marketplace Today, Marketplace of Ideas are moving

Marketplace’s Marketplace Today and Marketplace of Ideas blogs are moving to Marketplace’s home page.

Marketplace Today is moving to; for those who want to bookmark, the address is

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Gannett announces job cuts in state

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Associated Press

Gannett’s Central Wisconsin Media Group is cutting 11 full-time positions next month when it closes its Stevens Point production facility, the Wausau Daily Herald reported today.

Gannett owns that paper, as well as the Stevens Point Journal, Marshfield News–Herald and Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune in central Wisconsin. The printing, inserting and labeling work will move to Wausau, the newspaper said.

The news is the latest cutback announced by the Virginia-based media company, which said last week that it would cut 1,000 jobs nationwide, including 600 layoffs.

The Green Bay Press–Gazette will lay off eight employees, publisher Kevin Corrado said Friday. That's 2.4 percent of the paper’s 328 employees.

The Post~Crescent in Appleton will lay off eight of its 581 workers within the next week, publisher Genia Lovett said. That's 1.4 percent of its work force.

The newspaper has been forced to make cuts as advertisers reduce their spending in the poor economy, she said.

Forest managers react to emerald ash borer

By Lee Bergquist
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Managers of the Chequamegon–Nicolet National Forest said this morning that they are further restricting the movement of firewood and would not allow visitors to bring in firewood from anywhere south of Wisconsin 29.

Wisconsin 29 bisects the state from Green Bay to Prescott on the Mississippi River.

For the past two years, the Forest Service had not allowed firewood from outside of Wisconsin.

The changes are motivated by the discovery of the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle, in Wisconsin this month.

The beetle is unable to move more than a few miles on its own, but often hitchhikes a ride on firewood to travel long distances and infect new areas.

The emerald ash borer has been found in 10 states and is responsible for killing tens of millions of trees.

Tickets available for Titans–Packers Thursday

A limited number of tickets are available for the Aug. 28 Packers-Titans game, the Packers announced today.

A few hundred tickets were not utilized by the Titans, according to Mark Wagner, the Packers’ director of ticket operations.

Tickets can be purchased online by going to A link to Ticketmaster information is available there, as is information for purchasing tickets over the phone or in person.

Outgoing UW leader rips business lobby

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Associated Press

Outgoing University of Wisconsin–Madison Chancellor John Wiley says the state's largest business lobby has been taken over by "political extremists" and has become an obstacle to economic development.

Wiley is using a 3,000-word essay in Madison Magazine to slam Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and state lawmakers for creating a “toxic” political environment that puts partisanship ahead of the state's pressing needs.

Wiley’s jabs come as he prepares to step down Sept. 1 as chancellor, a job he has held since 2001.

Wiley says WMC has become a partisan political lobbying organization that does little to create the high-income jobs the state's economy needs to flourish.

Click here to read Wiley's essay posted on the magazine's Web site.

WMC disputes Wiley's characterizations. Click here to read its response.

Oshkosh Corp. cutting workforce by 10%

By Tom Daykin
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Oshkosh Corp. said today that it will cut its global work force by 10 percent, just two weeks after weak construction activity caused the heavy equipment maker to reduce its earnings forecast.

The company is making the work force reduction through layoffs, retirements and unfilled open positions, according to a statement.

The statement didn’t say how many employees Oshkosh has worldwide. The company’s latest annual report, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said Oshkosh had 14,200 employees as of Sept. 30, 2007. That would translate to a reduction of 1,420 positions.

The statement didn’t elaborate on whether any cuts were occurring in Wisconsin or provide information on how many employees Oshkosh has in the state. The company has not filed any layoff notices with the state Department of Workforce Development, said agency official Jerry Smith.

The company has 2,700 employees in Oshkosh, where it is based, according to the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce. It has 1,500 employees at its Pierce Manufacturing operation in Appleton, according to the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce. The company also has 250 union employees in Kewaunee, according to its annual report.

The operations in Oshkosh, which include more than 1,800 production employees, focus on defense work, which has remained a bright spot for the company. The Appleton operations are part of the company’s fire and emergency segment, which posted a 3.1 percent sales decline during the third quarter.

"To meet current economic and market-place challenges, Oshkosh Corp. is implementing global corporate-wide organizational changes that will reduce costs, rebalance inventories and position the company to respond to the slowdown in residential and commercial construction," the statement said.

96 access in Grand Chute closed through Friday

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Northeast Regional Office at Green Bay is announcing that access to Communications Drive from Wisconsin 96 will be temporarily closed for paving at the intersection beginning this afternoon, Thursday, August 21.

Access will be restored on Friday afternoon.

On Friday morning, Aug. 22, access to Mayflower Drive from Wisconsin 96 will be closed for paving the intersection. Access will be restored to traffic on Saturday morning.

This work is part of the ongoing construction project on Wisconsin 96. Motorists should remain alert and use extra caution when driving through this or any work zone.

Parade of Homes school supply drive through Sunday

In conjunction with the Parade of Homes through Aug. 24, members of Valley Home Builders Association are collecting school supplies for area school children.

To donate, drop off school supplies during Parade of Homes hours, 5–8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, or 11 a.m.–5 p.m. this weekend, at any of the 39 homes in the event. If you’d like to tour the homes, Parade admission comes with a ticket purchase, with or without a donation.

School supplies will be donated to the school districts in which Parade homes are located. Locations of Parade homes, along with a list of suggested donations are available on

Those who are unable to tour the homes, school supplies may also be dropped off at the VHBA office, 920 W. Association Dr., Appleton, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wausaukee voters approve exceeding school revenue limits

Wausaukee School District voters have approved a referendum to exceed state revenue limits by $675,000 for 10 years.

The 1,234–674 vote may end efforts to dissolve the school district, after a previous referendum to exceed revenue limits failed.

The state School District Boundary Appeal Board will hold hearings in Wausaukee Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on a proposed order to dissolve the school district. Future hearings have been scheduled for Sept. 30 or Oct. 1, Nov. 11 or 12, and December and January if needed. The board will decide by Jan. 15.

The referendum passed in the Village of Wausaukee and the towns of Amberg, Wagner and Wausaukee. The referendum failed in the towns of Athelstane and Silver Cliff.

School districts consider lawsuit in investment downturn

By Amy Hetzner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Five Wisconsin school districts, including Kimberly, could face combined losses of tens of millions of dollars in a complex investment scheme to help fund employee retirement benefits, according to investigators hired by the districts.

The value of district investments has declined by $120 million — or 60 percent — since the transactions were undertaken within the last two years, according to a news release from a public relations firm for the attorneys who examined the deals.

School district officials released statements accompanying the news release Wednesday, saying they were misled by a financial adviser, and that the investments were much riskier than they had been told.

"There were no documents signed by the districts or even presented to the districts prior to closing that disclosed the true risk of the deal," said Shawn Yde, director of business services for the Whitefish Bay School District. "There is no way the districts knew or could have known that they were being victimized."

School boards for the five districts — Kimberly, Kenosha, Waukesha, West Allis–West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay — plan to vote over the next few weeks on whether to file a lawsuit to recoup their losses, said Craig Peterson, president and CEO of Milwaukee public relations firm Zigman Joseph Stephenson Inc.

"The school districts feel as though they were intentionally misled, that they were buying at least AA-rated investment products," Peterson said. An AA rating usually means that an investment is safer, although it does not earn as much money as riskier deals.

The five districts recently hired two law firms — one in Milwaukee and a Houston-based firm that specializes in securities fraud litigation — to look into their investment in complex financial instruments known as collateralized debt obligations. A chartered financial analyst also was retained.

CDOs are bundles of debt that can range from corporate bonds to subprime mortgages. They have been at the center of the global financial turmoil that has brought down some major companies over the last year.

The five districts made the investments in 2006 using borrowed money and, in some cases, district assets to help seed trusts they established to borrow more money to funnel into the CDOs. According to Wednesday's news release, the deals also involved a credit default swap, another fairly recent financial vehicle designed to transfer risk from one investing party to another.

The value of the investments has plummeted over the last year, triggering calls for millions of dollars more in collateral to avoid a drop in income from quarterly dividends.

But until recently, school officials had continued to insist that their investments were safe and that district funds were protected. Until the last fiscal quarter, they all also had been receiving surplus payments from the investments that they could use to pay non-pension retirement benefits for their employees.

Representatives from all of the districts said in statements released Wednesday that they had been sold investments far riskier than they had been led to believe by the investment banks involved in the deal.

Officials with Royal Bank of Canada, which devised the CDOs and determines their value, and Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., the original broker on the deal, could not be reached Wednesday night.

"At all times we believed we were acting in the best interest of our citizens, and in accordance with Wisconsin state statutes," said Deborah Rouse, director of business services for West Allis–West Milwaukee, in her written statement. "We were victimized by these sophisticated financial institutions and we are recommending action."

Said Jason Demerath, interim executive director of business services for Waukesha: "We were unknowingly sold a risky and expensive plan . . . We are shocked and angry, and Waukesha will do everything in its power to get our money back."

Shopko donates $1 million to Concordia

By Erica Perez
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Concordia University has received $1 million from Green Bay-based discount chain Shopko — the lead gift in the university’s $20 million campaign to create a School of Pharmacy that would open in 2010 at the lakeside Mequon campus.

Shopko Chairman and CEO Mike MacDonald and Executive Vice President of Retail Health Services Mike Bettiga presented a check to Concordia officials Wednesday.

“Shopko is proud to be giving the first gift for the creation of Concordia’s new pharmacy school,” Bettiga said. “Shopko was founded by a pharmacist over 46 years ago, and pharmacy has been pivotal to our business ever since.”

The new school is designed to meet the growing demand for pharmacists in Wisconsin and throughout the country. That demand is expected to increase in coming years as more pharmacists retire. The state’s only pharmacy school is at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wisconsin has the highest demand for pharmacists of any state in the country, according to the Pharmacy Manpower Project, a nonprofit corporation that develops data on the size and demography of the pharmacy workforce. Concordia plans to accept 50 to 75 students for each class. UW-Madison, by comparison, graduates about 130 students a year.

The educational model also will be different. Students who have completed two years of a pre-pharmacy program can apply to Concordia. Those who finish two years can earn a bachelor’s in pharmaceutical science. Those who stay for four years can get a doctor of pharmacy degree.

School of Pharmacy Executive Dean Curt Gielow said he’s thankful to Shopko for the gift, which shows the company’s interest in increasing the pool of pharmacists for its stores in urban and rural Wisconsin.

“It’s only a small portion of what I need, but, hopefully, it will stimulate others to make a decision as to whether or not a pharmacy school in Wisconsin — and one in the metro Milwaukee healthcare market — is of value,” he said.

The new building alone will cost about $17 million, based on preliminary estimates from Zimmerman Architectural Studios in Wauwatosa, Gielow said.

The school also needs to assemble a senior leadership team, begin the accreditation process and eventually hire 30 to 40 faculty members. The goal is to raise at least $10 million in the next six to eight months. If school leaders can’t meet that target, they will have to re-evaluate the plans to open by 2010, Gielow said

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stora Enso CEO: NewPage deal will succeed

By Joel Dresang
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The head of the Finnish paper company that sold its North American holdings to NewPage Corp. said today that he remains confident that the deal would help the U.S. operations succeed.

“That unit has the best chance of success in the tough battle,” Jouko Karvinen, chief executive officer of Stora Enso Oyj, told Reuters news service in Helsinki.

NewPage, based in Ohio and part of the private equity group Cerberus Capital Management, is closing its mill in Kimberly next week in response to contracting demand for coated printing paper used for magazines and catalogs. Last month, NewPage closed a mill in Niagara, which also was part of the $2.5 billion deal for Stora Enso North America, including operations in Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Biron and Whiting.

Stora Enso still holds a 20-percent stake in the North American operations, and Karvinen said he’s counting on NewPage succeeding.

“I am even more convinced than a year ago that to divest Stora Enso North America and create NewPage was a good thing for Stora Enso and for NewPage,” Karvinen told Reuters.

EPA: Brown County violating clean air standards

By Lee Bergquist
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday designated six Wisconsin counties, including Brown County, for the first time ever, as violating federal standards for fine-particle pollution.

The other five counties are Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Dane and Columbia.

The revised standard was set after the agency reviewed thousands of scientific studies on how the tiny particles affect the lungs and heart and concluded that allowable daily limits for soot levels must fall by 46 percent.

The EPA said the new levels could produce health benefits of $9 billion to $75 billion a year nationally, but many science and environmental groups said standards should have been made even stricter.

Many business groups, however, were opposed to the reductions because they will mean more regulations and higher costs for affected companies over about the next five years.

“Certainly the non-attainment designation comes with an expensive new layer of permitting,” said Scott Manley, director of environmental policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby.

In the six Wisconsin counties, companies that expand or move into the area could be forced to purchase the most expensive pollution controls on the market and would have to find ways to cut soot levels.

In the Midwest, the EPA named 76 counties as not meeting the new standard for fine particles.

In Wisconsin, if the designations become a reality — there is still a period for public comment — the new standards will create different rules with different responsibilities in different counties.

Some counties, such as Dane, will violate standards for particulates but not for another pollutant known as ozone. Others, such as Ozaukee, will violate the standard for ozone but not particle pollution.

“It will certainly create a patchwork,” observed Al Shea, administrator of the division of air and waste management at the state Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR said the six counties could meet the new standards if utilities agree to reduce other pollutants as part of proposed mercury-reductions regulations now before the Republican-controlled Assembly.

The Assembly Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on the mercury rule today. The rule aims to cut mercury levels from coal-fired power plants by 90% by 2021 if utilities agree to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, as well.

It is these other pollutants that help create soot. The tiny particles come from coal-fired power plants, cars and trucks and other sources and are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller.

A human hair is about 70 microns.

When breathed, fine particles can eventually lead to lung disease, asthma attacks and heart problems.

Ozone, a summer phenomenon, can cause heart and lung troubles, too. But high levels of particle pollution can hit even in the winter. In December, the DNR issued an unprecedented 25-hour particle-pollution alert in metropolitan Milwaukee when emissions were so high that authorities recommended that everyone — even healthy people — cut back on strenuous outdoors activity.

DNR and Gov. Jim Doyle have said that planned reductions by utilities and industry and anticipated cuts from the mercury regulations will ratchet down emissions.

In December, Doyle asked the EPA to consider all counties in Wisconsin as being in compliance with the law.

But the EPA responded on Tuesday by designating the six counties as being in violation. In a letter to Doyle, the EPA said it could not give counties a pass, based on what they might do in the future.

Jennifer Feyerherm of the Sierra Club office in Madison agreed with the EPA action.

“The EPA is using the Clean Air Act to protect the air, thank goodness, because Wisconsin wanted to pretend that the air pollution didn’t exist,” she said.

The letter analyzed each of the six counties’ pollution picture. Racine and Waukesha counties were included in the designation because both contribute to Milwaukee’s particle emissions. Columbia County was added because a coal-fired plant there plays a role in particle pollution in Dane County. Brown County reported violations, but the EPA said surrounding counties were too small to play a role.

However, the EPA said Kenosha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties did not need to be lumped in with the others.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

College leaders urge drinking age debate

By Erica Perez
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

David C. Joyce, president of the 1,000-student Ripon College, is the only Wisconsin college president so far to sign on to the newly formed Amethyst Initiative, a collection of about 100 university leaders who say the 21-year-old drinking age is not working and that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

The group’s Web site does not go so far as to blatantly call for lowering the drinking age to 18, but the statement by the group’s signatories does say that raising the drinking age has had negative effects. The statement encourages public debate on the issue.

“Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students,” the statement reads. “Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer. By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.”

Joyce said he signed onto Amethyst earlier this year after consulting with his senior staff.

“We’ve created a culture of drinking instead of responsibility. Simply saying you can’t drink until you’re age 21 has not worked and is not working,” he said. “Probably one of the most pervasive problems we face in higher education is abuse of alcohol. That’s what I lose sleep about at night.”

The organization was started by John McCardell, president emeritus of Middlebury College in Vermont.

The list of signatories includes mostly private liberal arts schools, but it does feature some big names, including Duke, Tufts and Syracuse universities and Dartmouth College. It also includes a few big public schools, such as Ohio State University, the University of Maryland-College Park and the University System of Maryland.

Other than Ripon, however, Wisconsin’s colleges and universities were noticeably absent from the list.

Meanwhile, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the American Medical Association, the National Transportation Safety Board and other organizations slammed the Amethyst Initiative in a statement released Tuesday, pointing to studies that show raising the drinking age has saved lives.

Also weighing in against lowering the drinking age is Donna Shalala, the University of Miami president, former U.S. health and human services secretary and past chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“Signing this initiative does serious harm to the education and enforcement efforts on our campuses and ultimately endangers young lives even more,” Shalala said in a statement on the MADD Web site.

UW-Madison officials did receive information about the initiative but decided not to make an institutional commitment because of an upcoming leadership change, a university spokesman said. Chancellor John Wiley steps down in September to pass the torch to former Cornell University Provost Biddy Martin.

UW–Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells said that while he hasn’t signed the Amethyst statement, he thinks it has potential to spark much-needed debate about what types of changes in law could help curb binge drinking. He says it’s not a clear-cut issue.

State helps fund Van Zeeland expansion

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The state Commerce Department announced industrial revenue bond allocations today to two companies to help fund expansions.

The state awarded $1.21 million to Van Zeeland Manufacturing Inc., Little Chute.

Van Zeeland manufactures power transmission products, including sprockets, gears and pulleys. The company is constructing and equipping a 25,500-square-foot facility that will expand its production capacity by 20%, the state said. The $1.4 million project is expected to create eight jobs.

The state also awarded a $5.1 million industrial revenue bond allocation for Traffic & Parking Control Co., Elm Grove, to acquire a production facility in Brown Deer. Traffic & Parking Control makes traffic signs and related equipment.

The company acquired a 128,000-square-foot building that it plans to equip and renovate in a $5.1 million project. The project is expected to create 15 jobs, the department said.

Schneider Logistics named Responsible Care Partner

Schneider Logistics, Inc., a leading global logistics provider and part of the Schneider National enterprise, was recently approved as a Responsible Care Partner by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) board of directors.

The ACC reviewed Schneider Logistics’ application detailing the organization’s operations and processes for environmental protection, health, safety and security and approved the partner designation.

The Responsible Care Partnership Program is open to companies that have direct and substantial involvement in the manufacturing, use, formulation, distribution, transportation, storage, treatment-disposal and/or sales and marketing of chemicals. To date, only 70 companies have achieved a partner distinction with only a small number in the transportation logistics category. A Responsible Care partner status demonstrates Schneider Logistics’ long-term commitment to the chemical industry and aligns the company with customers' Responsible Care initiatives.

“Everyone who interacts with chemicals in today’s supply chain has a responsibility to move them safely and securely,” said Bill Miller, vice president for supply chain management for Schneider Logistics. “We are honored to have this tangible affirmation from the ACC, recognizing our commitment to excellence in responsibly managing our customers’ most sensitive products.”

Schneider Logistics joins an impressive list of Responsible Care members such as BASF, DOW, Honeywell, DuPont, 3M, BP Lubricants, Procter & Gamble and Mitsubishi Chemical, USA, all of which have committed to the high standards required by the ACC to maintain Responsible Care standards.

“Achieving Responsible Care partner status is a significant milestone for any company we do business with,” said Marshall Sprigg, global supply chain director for Dow Building Solutions. “We are pleased to see Schneider Logistics join this prestigious program—it shows dedication to putting the proper processes and policies in place.

“Dow has always been a strong proponent of Responsible Care,” continued Sprigg. “I can’t emphasize enough how important this program is. We are pleased to see Schneider's commitment to leadership on safety, environmental and security issues in the transportation industry.”

The Responsible Care program is well-known and respected by chemical manufacturers, but is just beginning to move deeper into the supply chain. The program has been phenomenally successful for member companies, demonstrating a 78 percent reduction in environmental releases and a worker safety record that is five times safer than manufacturing as a whole. Responsible Care partners have also achieved an over 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases and have completed 100 percent of their security vulnerability assessments.

“We are always looking for ways to enhance our service offerings,” continued Miller. “The Responsible Care certification efforts pushed us to review more than 267 processes in all areas of environmental, health, safety and security procedures. The ACC also honored Schneider National’s Bulk Division with a Responsible Care partner designation in 2007. We’re pleased to be able offer that heightened commitment to safety and security to all customers.”

Tower Tech to supply German turbine maker

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Broadwind Energy Inc. said today that its Manitowoc-based subsidiary, Tower Tech Systems Inc., has signed a contract to manufacture wind tower sections for Nordex USA Inc.

Another Broadwind subsidiary, Badger Transport Inc. in Clintonville, received a contract to deliver the sections to various Texas locations for Nordex.

The contracts are the first for Broadwind with Germany-based Nordex, a global supplier of turbines.

Tower Tech said it expects to supply the first Nordex sections in early 2009. The integrated order represents the first time Broadwind has included logistics coordination in its service package. Naperville, Ill.-based Broadwind bought Badger Transport earlier this year.

Broadwind said the Tower Tech order is the largest ever for Nordex in the United States. Financial details were not disclosed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

SCA Tissue, McMahon try prairie plantings to filter runoff

Two Town of Menasha business neighbors — SCA Tissue and McMahon Group — have joined forces with the town in an environmental demonstration project that will use perennial native plants to absorb water runoff along the portion of the state’s Friendship Trail that runs through their adjoining properties on McMahon Drive.

“We hope to provide a model for the use of native plants to capture water runoff from impervious surfaces and minimize the need for fossil fuel consumption,” says Michael Dillon, SCA Tissue Manager, Environmental and Risk Management. SCA Tissue North America has its Service Excellence Center offices at 1451 McMahon Dr. in the Town of Menasha.

Dillon also hopes the project’s results will serve as a learning tool and model for multiple audiences, including trail users, his municipal colleagues and eventually other area and state municipalities. Dillon, who serves as president of the Town of Menasha Parks & Recreation Commission and the town’s Sustainability Committee, approached town officials with the project idea.

“After reviewing the plan, the Town of Menasha officials, specifically Arden Tews, Jeff Sturgell, and Mike Kading, gave us approval and support to proceed with the project,” said Dillon. “We are thankful that the town has been open to exploring these alternative environmental management ideas.”

Dillon then approached McMahon Group to gauge the company’s interest in the project. McMahon Group is an affiliation of engineering, architecture, design/build and operations firms that has its headquarters at 1445 McMahon Dr., next door to SCA Tissue. Stuart Boerst, Senior Ecologist at McMahon Group, immediately became an advocate and a technical resource for the prairie-planting project.

“This project is an opportunity for us to lead by example on how to enhance the ecological value of the land in a sustainable way as well as beautify it,” said Boerst. “Not only do prairie restoration projects like this filter pollutants, improve water quality, stabilize the soil and reduce erosion, they provide food and shelter for song birds, butterflies and mammals.”

The three-year demonstration project will plant native prairie grasses and wildflowers along the north side of Friendship Trail, which runs through both company’s properties just south of U.S. 10. The Friendship Trail, a state-owned multi-use recreational trail that is maintained by the Town of Menasha, hooks up with the Trestle Trail and will eventually run from Stevens Point to Manitowoc.

Instead of flowing into the drainage ditch that runs between the trail and 10, runoff from the section of trail that passes through the adjoining properties of SCA Tissue and McMahon will be absorbed by the plants into the soil, where it will be filtered naturally and recharge the groundwater. The project area is a strip that runs north of the trail to the drainage ditch, stretching 700 feet in length and varying in width from about 10 to 40 feet.

Work already is under way on the three-phase project. The ground is being prepared for the native plants by removing the existing vegetation, most of which consists of weeds and invasive species.

“We are using different methods to prepare the ground and will evaluate and share the results to identify the best approach,” Dillon said. Those methods include spraying with herbicides, mowing and then vacuuming up the weed seeds and cuttings before spraying, and tilling under the vegetation followed by spot spraying.

This fall, seeds will be planted, utilizing a proprietary mix developed by McMahon. The mix includes approximately 50 different perennial wild flowers and grasses native to Wisconsin, including purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, butterfly milkweed and prairie blazing stars.

Next year, the project plan calls for minimum growth from the perennials and spot spraying for weeds to give the prairie plants room to grow.

In year three, the majority of plants will be producing flowers throughout the season. Little maintenance will be required from that point forward.

The native prairie wild flowers and grasses in McMahon’s seed mix have very deep roots that serve as a conduit for infiltrating water back into the soil. “Most of these plants have roots that go down five to 15 feet, compared to the very shallow roots of lawn grass and some weeds,” Boerst said. “The roots allow water to infiltrate deep into the soil for filtering and prevent the kind of quick saturation that leads to runoff into the drainage ditch and eventually into lakes and rivers, bringing fertilizer and associated problems with it. For instance, phosphorus in fertilizer produces nuisance algae blooms and lower water quality.”

The natural filtration offered by restoring native prairie habitat is environmentally preferable to channeling storm-water runoff to ditches and detention ponds where the sediment will later require removal and ultimately land filling.

The natural approach also has economic benefits over installing grass that requires mowing, fertilizing and other care.

“The entire project will cost less than $2,000, including educational signage at the sheltered picnic table along the trail,” Dillon said. “We expect that just eliminating the costs involved in mowing will quickly repay the initial investment.

“Man-made disruptions of eco-systems can often be best corrected by bringing nature back into the equation. We think this demonstration project will show the environmental and economic benefits of taking the natural approach to storm-water runoff management.”

This is not the first environmental demonstration project for either McMahon Group or SCA Tissue. Both companies have made environmental sustainability and leadership a cornerstone of their businesses.

McMahon Group has led the design and long-term management of many prairie and wetland restoration projects throughout the state in both the public and private sectors. McMahon Group is also a recognized leader in storm-water management and water resources throughout the state.

SCA Tissue added 115 solar panels to its Service Excellence Center in February, with the intent on sharing the lessons learned in alternative energy with other mills and offices. In less than half a year, those solar panels already have produced 14-megawatt hours of electricity, enough to power 10 family homes for one year, and eliminated 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

In addition, both McMahon Group and SCA Tissue are active members on the U.S. Green Building Council.

SCA Tissue is currently pursing LEED-EB certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for its Service Excellence Center. LEED-EB, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings, is a voluntary program that certifies that buildings are designed and operated in such a way as to minimize their environmental footprints.