Northland College, City of Ashland Collaborate to Keep Beach Groomer | Environment
Northland College and the City of Ashland worked together to keep a beach groomer in the region. The Ashland City Council voted unanimously on a resolution to approve the equipment transfer from Northland College to the city. This includes a beach groomer, dump truck and trailer.
ASHLAND, Wis. — The beach groomer seen for the last two summers at three Ashland public beaches looks a lot like a Zamboni—but for sand and with only three wheels. Brought to this region with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the beach groomer has been aerating the region’s beaches in an effort to reduce bacteria and in turn, the number of beach closings.
With funding gone and faced with the possibility losing this beach groomer to Lake Michigan, the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute (SOEI) at Northland College teamed with the City of Ashland and took action.
“It no longer made sense for SOEI and Northland College to keep the groomer — but it was too good of a program to let go,” said SOEI Executive Director Mark Peterson. “This is a win-win for everyone.”
The College worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and negotiated an agreement to allow for the groomer to remain and for the College to donate the groomer to the city.
The EPA agreed, and on Tuesday night (July 30) the Ashland City Council unanimously approved a resolution to approve the equipment transfer, which included the beach groomer, dump truck and trailer.
“In this economic environment that we all operate in, it takes relationships and cooperation with many stakeholder to benefit the community,” said Mayor Bill Whalen. “Northland College continues to collaborate and support the city of Ashland and for that I thank them.”
Three of the City of Ashland’s beaches have been shown to have nonpoint impairments indicated by elevated E.coli counts.
In 2010, the Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership (CBAP), in conjunction with the SOEI and Northland College, received federal funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, implemented by the EPA, to provide E. coli testing and to target, reduce and remove beachfront contamination. The CBAP, formed in 2009, is comprised of 15 agencies, nonprofits and governments, including the SOEI, Northland College and City of Ashland.
In addition to the testing, during the summers of 2011 and 2012, the SOEI staff and Northland College students worked cooperatively with the City of Ashland to coordinate weekly beach cleanups that included grooming the top four inches of beach sand on historically impaired beaches—Maslowski, Kreher and Bayview—to reduce bacterial density.
The grant ended at the end of last summer and the SOEI and the city have since been working on the transfer. “I’m delighted the city has the opportunity to continue the partnership— and thankful to the College for the gift of the pick-up truck, trailer and beach groomer,” Whalen said.
The city will begin operating the groomer starting August 16. Under EPA rules, the city is not allowed to profit from the groomer however, they may loan it to other governmental or non-profit agencies.