Chapter Feature: ESW-UW's Lake Preservation

In mid-November,the ESW chapter at the University of Wisconsin - Madison (UW) joined the ESW network. As one of our newest chapters, they are quickly shaping up to be a strong addition to our organization. The chapter president, Melissa Carre, was introduced to ESW by a current Leadership Team member during a mutual summer internship. After browsing the main website, Carre was immediately fascinated with ESW’s focus beyond environmental sustainability to include social and economic sustainability and prosperity. Despite forming less than two months ago, ESW-UW members have already partnered with a local organization to solve an important issue facing their community.

Thanks to the motivation provided by ESW’s Resilient CommUnity Design Challenge, VP of Projects, Samuel Howard, contacted The Lakeshore Nature Preserve in hopes to collaborate and solve local issues together.  The University of Wisconsin-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve is a volunteer-led organization which strives to protect the shorelines along Lake Mendota, which is adjacent to campus. The Preserve is home to a collection of biologically diverse and significant  communities of local plants and animals and is utilized for teaching, research, and recreation among the campus’s students and faculty. From hiking  to  canoeing and from picnics to bonfires, these activities offer just a glimpse of the role the Preserve has on the residents everyday lives.

On a site visit with the Preserve, program manager Laura Wyatt and several members of the chapter walked along Picnic Point, a nearly mile-long peninsula along Lake Mendota's south shore, to discuss the various project opportunities available. After much consideration, ESW-UW decided to work on solving the erosion issue facing the shores of Lake Mendota’s most popular destination. Due to the winds and water eroding away the sides of the peninsula they felt this was one of the most significant issues they could contribute to and help the Preserve.

To address the erosion issue, Envirolok and their patented shoreline erosion control and restoration systems will be utilized as a potential solution to help restore stability to Picnic Point’s coastline. Envirolok bags offer an easy to install and simple way to introduce native plants into the delicate ecosystem of Lake Mendota.The Lakeshore Nature Preserve and students of the ESW-UW believe this will be one of the most sustainable ways to prevent the shore from dwindling further. By installing additional native plants alongside current plants on the coast, Envirolock bags will allow both root systems to grow deep and interlock to provide an even stronger system over time. This solution will hopefully restore the coast to its original conditions, and it will further prevent erosion from occurring by stabilizing the soil and promoting draining in a sustainable manner.

Currently, ESW-UW is waiting for the snow to melt so they can start implementing this solution. In the meantime, they are solidifying their plans to effectively carry out their very first project. By ensuring they select appropriate vegetation and select optimal locations to implement their solution, ESW-UW is on track to leave a sustainable and lasting solution in their community within their first year of formation. We look forward to seeing how this project progresses in the near future and are excited to welcome the University of Wisconsin - Madison to the team!

To learn more about The Lakeshore Nature Preserve please visit