Ozaukee County official and Wisconsin Sea Grant director to appear before House Ocean Caucus on Capitol Hill

June 15, 2018

By Jennifer A. Smith

On June 28, Wisconsin Sea Grant Director Jim Hurley and Ozaukee County’s Director of Planning and Parks, Andrew Struck, will appear before the House Ocean Caucus in Washington, D.C. The focus of the caucus briefing will be “Coastal Communities Responding to Changing Conditions.”

Legislators will hear how Sea Grant programs in multiple regions of the country work with varied stakeholders to understand and adapt to changing conditions in their areas.

Struck said of his planned remarks, “I’m going to be talking about some of our work with Wisconsin Sea Grant on education and outreach within Ozaukee County on Lake Michigan water levels and how those changing and dynamic levels are impacting our communities.”

Those changing water levels are something that Ozaukee County has felt the impact of more intensely in recent years, said Struck.

Located directly north of Milwaukee County, Ozaukee County has 25 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and is home to many recreational spots for tourists and locals alike.  The effect of lake water levels on coastal erosion is of particular concern, since the county includes very dynamic, 100- to 110-foot-high clay bluffs.  Homeowners, businesses and the community as a whole are impacted.

Currently, the county and Sea Grant are working together to provide public access down these very challenging bluffs.  Struck has been partnering with Sea Grant Coastal Engineer Gene Clark on a pilot project to provide pedestrian access.  Beyond the local impact, said Struck, “Hopefully, this will have implications across the Great Lakes in terms of public access to these types of challenging sites.”

Ozaukee County has had fruitful collaborations with Sea Grant for years.  In the past, Struck has worked with Sea Grant Assistant Director for Extension David Hart on a coastal erosion visualization tool, among other projects.

Struck and Hurley, who is currently president of the Sea Grant Association, hope to convey to members of Congress the productive relationships that exist between Sea Grant programs and entities like local governments, private industry and others.

Said Struck of the upcoming Capitol Hill visit, “I’m really honored by the invitation, and I’m looking forward to sharing what’s going on in Ozaukee County. I’m also sure there will be things I’ll learn and bring back from the trip that will help us here locally.”

Other speakers at the briefing will come from Louisiana, Maine, Oregon and Alaska. It will take place 11:30 – 1 p.m. (CST) in 2044 Rayburn House Office Building.