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RACINE COUNTY — The wetlands at Cliffside Park in Caledonia are going to get a bit of a makeover through a new partnership with Racine County and the state Department of Natural Resources.

The non-profit Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network (Root-Pike WIN) helped secure a DNR grant through the Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust, valued at $590,000, to fully fund the restoration project.

According to county officials, the project plans to restore the wetlands inside Cliffside Park, 7320 Michna Road, to “near-settlement conditions” by providing “an improved natural area for public recreation, slow soil erosion, remove invasive species, provide habitat for unique species and improve water quality to Lake Michigan.”

“It is great to see public-private partnerships like this one working together to advance the environmental needs of our county,” County Executive Jonathan Delagrave said. “The restored wetlands will leave a legacy for residents and visitors to Cliffside Park to enjoy for future generations and at no cost to Racine County taxpayers.”

The agreement also provides a conservation easement on the 40-acre area so that it will be “protected in perpetuity.”

Dave Giordano, Root-Pike WIN executive director, said the Wind Point Watershed Restoration Plan, a plan adopted by the county and the villages of Caledonia and Wind Point, recommended the restoration of the area.

“The Cliffside Park project was deemed highly critical and the (Wisconsin Wetland conservation Trust) funding recommendation comes specifically out of the plan,” Giordano said.

According to officials, the Cliffside Park wetland restoration is one of the largest projects recommended in the Wind Point Watershed Restoration Plan and would symbolically mark the start of the cooperative effort to improve the park.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will both regulate the work, as the funding must restore the area to the highest standard of restoration possible.

County officials plan to be kept informed of major milestones, potential risks and any other activities that may impact the park experience.

Quarry Lake upgrades

The county also is planning to improve Quarry Lake in Mount Pleasant by restoring the beach along with cleaning and treating the water.

CareFree Enzymes Inc., was approved by the Public Works, Parks and Facilities Committee to treat the water this spring at the park, 3659 Northwestern Ave.

According to M.T. Boyle, Delagrave’s chief of staff, the county is discussing sending out a bid for the contract for excavating work of about 45,000 square feet “pushing unwanted material into the deeper water” and having approximately 3,000 tons of new sand trucked into the quarry.

“The contractor will spread the new sand over the swimming area, replacing the unwanted material that was removed,” Boyle said.

Boyle added there also is discussion of doing an annual spring drawdown of the Quarry Lake water level, which would better expose the swimming area and let the water level naturally rise to normal water levels.

“The restored wetlands will leave a legacy for residents and visitors to Cliffside Park to enjoy for future generations and at no cost to Racine County taxpayers.” Jonathan Delagrave, Racine County Executive

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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