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Pollution Tour

ln Fall 2010, an interdisciplinary group of University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire undergraduates and faculty from English, biology, geography, and social work formed the Environmental Civic Agency learning community. This learning community was funded through generous grants from The Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugold Commitment fund. Its mission is to increase environmental awareness and education on campus and in the community.

             Students Canoeing       SmallMediaAttention

The Environmental Civic Agency learning community, which includes local environmental agencies and UWEC faculty, staff, and students, created a Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour of the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. The purpose of this tour is to encourage the public to hike, kayak, canoe, or bike to preset GPS waypoints along the Lower Chippewa River and learn about point and nonpoint sources of local pollution that affect the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. Its goal is to inspire citizens who take this tour to actively steward our valuable river.

The Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour has been the feature of a Volume One article titled "Seeking Clearer Waters", and was the subject of two UW-Eau Claire press releases ("UW-Eau Claire students develop 'Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour'" and "Institute to Bring Together Campus and Community Environmental Initiatives"). To increase accessibility and awareness, a combination of video, sound, and text were used to recreate the Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour in this virtual online version. We hope you enjoy the Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour and use it as a way to connect to the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area and to learn about the things you can do to help conserve our beautiful local resource!

To learn more about pollution sources that contaminate the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area, click, pedal, or paddle your way to each GPS waypoint indicated on the photos below along the Lower Chippewa River and read each stop's message, either on this site or on the Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour map!

Take the Pedal and Paddle Virtual Tour

The Value and Significance of the Lower Chippewa River Basin

The Lower Chippewa River Basin covers 5300 square miles of land over 15 counties in west central Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources included much of that land in the LCRSNA.  Read more and view The Value and Significance of the Lower Chippewa River Basin video.


Lawn Pesticides

Pesticides applied to lawns and gardens are often washed away by rainfall that drains into storm sewers and flows directly into the Lower Chippewa River. Pesticides found in urban stormwater runoff do not pass through the wastewater treatment plant, but go into the river untreated. Read more and view the Lawn Pesticides video.


Invasive Aquatic Plants

Invasive animal and plant species are a destructive pollutant in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. Invasive species are species not native to a given ecosystem; like other pollutants, they do considerable harm to the ecosystem of the Lower Chippewa River Basin, including the Lower Chippewa River, floodplains, and other nearby waterways. Read more and view the Invasive Aquatic Plants video.

Preventing Invasive Species

Originally introduced as leftover bait, the rusty crayfish is an increasingly common invasive species found throughout Wisconsin. This species is found in small numbers in the Lower Chippewa River Basin. The rusty crayfish can migrate on its own both by hitchhiking on watercraft and by travelling through standing and running waterways. Read more and view the Preventing Invasive Species video.

Pathogenic Microorganisms in Recreational Waters

Pathogenic microorganisms are microscopic organisms that cause disease. Many are naturally present in recreational waters in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. However, high concentrations of them in the water increase the risk that people will get sick. Read more and view the Pathogenic Microorganisms in Recreational Waters video.

Fish Consumption Advisories

Whether you are an avid angler or just an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys the Lower Chippewa River, fish contaminants and their sources affect you. Mercury is one of the contaminants found in fish. Mercury is a byproduct of coal combustion, which is the main source of power in the Midwest. Read more and view the Fish Consumption Advisories video.

Light and Noise Pollution

Light and noise are two types of pollution you may not immediately think of as a threat to biodiversity in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. Light pollution is artificial lighting that harms ecosystems. Bright streetlights and household security lighting that leak light into the night sky are the biggest source of light pollution and a waste of energy.  Read more and view the Light and Noise Pollution video.


Trace amounts of prescription and nonprescription medicinal drugs, or pharmaceuticals, are another form of pollution in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. Pharmaceuticals enter our waterways when we improperly dispose of old or unused medications. Don't flush medications down the toilet or dump them down the drain. Read more and view the Pharmaceuticals video.

Estrogen and Estrogen Mimics

Estrogen is an essential hormone naturally produced in the body. Estrogen mimics are artificial hormones that have a different chemical structure but behave the same as estrogen biologically. Both types of estrogens can be found in many products we use every day. Read more and view the Estrogen and Estrogen Mimics video.

Road Salt in Stormwater Runoff

Road salt is put on our roads and highways to melt snow and ice every winter so we can travel safely. An average of 385,000 tons of salt is used by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation every winter! This amount doesn't even account for salt used by businesses, schools, and the general public. Read more and view the Road Salt in Stormwater Runoff video.

Riparian Buffers to Prevent Water Pollution

Trees, shrubs, and other plants that grow directly on the bank of a river are called riparian vegetation. If the area in which riparian vegetation exists is large enough, this area can be considered a riparian buffer. Studies show that riparian buffers significantly reduce pollutant runoff into the river and provide shelter for many animals. Read more and view the Riparian Buffers to Prevent Water Pollution video.

Pollution Tour Sponsors & Community Partners

Without these community partners, the Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour would not have been possible. The Environmental Civic Agency learning community would like to thank the following community partners for their collaboration and generosity. See all the Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour sponsors & community partners.

Copyright Disclaimer

The Watershed Pedal and Paddle Video Tour website and its content is copyright of The Watershed Institute for Collaborative Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and its affiliates. © 2011. All rights reserved.

Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:

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You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content, nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.