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UW-River Falls faculty awarded grant for Kinni research

February 5, 2015

Assistant professor of conservation Jarod Blades and Jill Coleman-Wasik, assistant professor of environmental science, at UW-River Falls were recently awarded a UW System Undergraduate Research and Discovery Grant.

This grant program is an outgrowth of discussions of the UW System Board of Regent’s Research, Economic Development and Innovation (REDI) Committee. The grants are meant to help build capacity at the UW campuses for undergraduate research that has the potential to lead to innovations generated on campus.

Blades and Coleman-Wasik will create a Kinni Watershed Consortium (KWC) to better coordinate research efforts, engage the community, and ultimately lead to the implementation of organized best management practices for the nearby Kinnickinnic River. The river, which has been designated as an “outstanding resource water” by the Wisconsin legislature, faces ongoing pressures and changes related to land use, population growth, environmental degradation and climate change.

A multitude of research has been initiated at various locations throughout the watershed in an attempt to understand these issues and promote sustainability, but because of the number of projects across multiple fields of study, it is difficult to be aware of what is being done where and by whom. The KWC will link the social-ecological research efforts taking place at UWRF with the external agencies and organizations, actively communicate with the public, and provide opportunities for undergraduates to learn and practice research skills.

Undergraduates will be involved in a number of ways. They will assist in the development of the KWC framework by developing the Web-based portal and the associated public symposium. Other students will be actively involved in a research project monitoring the water quality and habitat of the Kelly Creek Preserve.

The project is a collaborative effort between UWRF, the Kinni River Land Trust (KRLT), Trout Unlimited, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Students will also be part of the team that conducts an online/mail survey to explore the public perception of the Kinni watershed, helping to guide public priorities and future research needs.

For more information, email laura.walsh@uwrf.edu or call 715-425-3535.