Grant program pours dollars into Wisconsin's coastal areas

A total of $1.5 million was awarded to 39 projects, including a planning grant for Superior.
People travel to and from the lighthouse on Wisconsin Point Wednesday afternoon, June 24. Nearly $1.4 million was secured from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Grant program for a dunes restoration project on the point. The City of Superior was awarded a nearly $20,000 grant this year for comprehensive planning. (Jed Carlson /

The city of Superior has been awarded a nearly $20,000 grant from the Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.

In all, 39 Coastal Management grants totaling $1.5 million were announced by Gov. Tony Evers Wednesday, July 1.

Jason Serck, the city's economic development, port and planning director, said this year’s grant will be used to hire a consultant to gather input that will be used to update the city’s 2020-2040 comprehensive plan. The city has budgeted a matching amount in its capital improvement program for the project.

Since the city is in a coastal region, Serck said, the comprehensive plan already focuses on that.

“We’ll be enhancing those sections,” he said.

People rest on a log on the shore of Wisconsin Point as they watch their fishing lines in Lake Superior Wednesday, June 24. (Jed Carlson /

About $250,000 of the total grant money went to projects in the four counties bordering Lake Superior, including $29,000 to add 1,000 feet of pedestrian trail and lighting at Kreher Park, the former Ashland/Northern States Power Lakefront Superfund site in Ashland; and $59,000 to Northland College for the second phase of a project investigating sources of cyanobacteria to the Chequamegon Bay region of the lake.

“This program mixes the use and the economic development aspects of the lakeshore in addition to the absolute need for preservation and continuation of those natural resources,” said Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan. “Kreher Park is a good example of how we’re trying to do that, bring people to the water’s edge but do it in a sustainable way that can be enjoyed for years to come.”

A $52,000 grant was awarded to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to create an inventory of buildings in northern Ashland County to help develop better flood mitigation plans. The project utilizes the state cartographer and modern technology to prepare for the future.

“In some ways it’s leveraging the best resources that we have physically but also technologically to ensure that moving forward we’re able to plan for whatever comes down the line in Lake Superior,” Brennan said.

State Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, sent out a news release thanking the administration for the grant awards.

“I’m glad Gov. Evers and his administration understand the importance of our state’s coastal areas, which contribute greatly to Wisconsin’s economy and play a major role in the success of our state,” said Milroy, who represents the 73rd Assembly District.


For 42 years, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Grant Program has supported projects focused on wetland protection, habitat restoration, nonpoint pollution control, land use planning, Great Lakes education, public access, historic preservation and land acquisition. Federal dollars from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management in the U.S. Department of Commerce funds the grants.

The program is available to 15 coastal Wisconsin counties that border Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Funding may be awarded to local, state, and tribal governments, universities and nonprofit organizations.

The grant program has poured over $1.8 million into the Superior area since 2014, including $1.375 million in 2018 for Wisconsin Point dunes restoration. That project consolidated parking lots and installed walkways to reduce visitor impacts on dune vegetation and historic resources. Other projects that have received funding in the area include public access improvements at Billings Park, the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Rivers2Lake Education Program and completion of a low-impact design for boat launches at Woodstock and Pokegama bays.

Applications for next year’s grants will be available in August, with a planned deadline in early November. Visit the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program website for more information.
People enjoy a nice Wednesday afternoon, June 24, in Lake Superior and at the lighthouse on Wisconsin Point. Nearly $1.4 million was secured from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Grant program for a dunes restoration project on the point. The City of Superior was awarded a nearly $20,000 grant this year for comprehensive planning. (Jed Carlson /

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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