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Stream of grants recognizes importance of water

Dave Horst

Today is World Water Day. As I reflect on that, I’m thinking that as much as our Fox River has been cleaned up, it has a long way to go.

You have to limit the fish you eat from it. There are still reasons not to swim in it and heaven forbid you should drink from it. But despite all its remaining faults, the Fox River is still increasingly a part of our lives and a key to how we define this region.

Fox Wolf Watershed Alliance photo

People are biking and running along it, eating lunch overlooking it, and buying or renting residences that make it their morning view.

World Water Day, held March 22 each year since 1993, is the creation of the United Nations. It is intended to raise awareness of the 2 billion people currently living without access to safe drinking water.

Here in the Fox Valley, drinking water quality is assumed. We don’t have Flint’s contaminated water lines, but we have a good share of rural residents who have to contend with naturally occurring arsenic leaching into their ground water or radon gas entering their homes through their private wells.

Appreciating water has been a major object of grant funding by your Community Foundation.

  • David and Rita Nelson Family Heritage Crossing

    Last year, the trail systems of Little Chute and Kaukauna were linked over the Fox River by the David and Rita Nelson Family Heritage Crossing, an 1,100-foot pedestrian/bicycle/fishing bridge. Our David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund provided the lead gift of $650,000 to get fundraising moving for the $3.5 million project.

  • An extension of the CE Trail in Kaukauna, also with help from a Nelson Fund grant, made it easier for Fox Cities residents to get to the Fox River Trail along the river to Green Bay.
  • A Community Foundation donor anonymously made it possible for Kimberly to tie its riverfront to the CE Trail when state funding fell through.
  • Corporate charitable funds created by SECURA Insurance Companies, Jeweler’s Mutual and Water Right all awarded $1,000 grants to support Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance’s annual river cleanup.

All Hands On Deck program

  • The All Hands On Deck program in Green Bay taught young people how to build and sail their own boats with Community Foundation grant support.
  • An environmental grant from the Bright Idea Fund brought Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind, a book about the intrinsic human need to be around water, to the 2020 Watershed Conference, hosted by Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance.

By World Water Day 2023, there will be more trails along the river, greater public access and even a higher level of appreciation for the Fox Valley’s greatest natural resource. You can be sure the Community Foundation will have a hand in all of that.

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