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Door County Government was honored with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation’s third Collaboration in Action Leadership Award for a unique collaboration with the University’s Department of Biology and Microbiology that has resulted in the nation’s most extensive beach monitoring and research program. The award was presented during the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation’s Community Breakfast Sept. 15. More than 200 attended.

In 2002, the UW Oshkosh Department of Biology and Microbiology partnered with Door County’s Department of Soil and Water Conservation and Public Health Department to develop a comprehensive beach monitoring program and subsequently implemented several E.coli source-identification projects to determine sources of beach pollution. This work resulted in the re-engineering of 10 beaches in the Door County and makes the County a model for their progressive approach.

The collaboration serves as a model for UW Oshkosh to conduct this work in several other locations, such as Ashland, Eagle River and the New North communities of Oshkosh and Manitowoc.

Additionally, associate professor of geology Maureen Muldoon, in collaboration with the Door County Department of Soil and Water Conservation, conducted landmark research on the geologic structure unique to Door County and northeastern Wisconsin, creating a better understanding of how water travels and interacts with local geology and how those features affect the transmission of pollutants in the water.”

“Given the mission of the New North, ‘to harness and promote the region’s resources, talents and creativity for the purposes of sustaining and growing our regional economy,’ we feel that Door County Government meets the criteria for sustaining the mission of the New North and advancing the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in that work,” said John Koker, dean of the University’s College of Letters and Science.

“This collaborative initiative was implemented to address the need to safeguard the health of swimmers and to protect the natural resources of Door County found in its many beaches,” said Rhonda Kolberg, director of the Door County Public Health Department. “In 2002, Door County was faced with a serious and complex problem, and decided to face it head on, looking for partners and resources to help address the problem. By establishing this collaborative relationship, Door County has had the fortune of being able to draw on the resources and expertise from the University for other issues that have come up over the years. It is great to know that the knowledge and expertise of the University is available in Door County to help create a healthier future for all Door County’s citizens and visitors.”

Added Bill Schuster, director of the Door County Department of Soil and Water Conservation, “The impact of water resources and tourism on Door County’s economy have made these collaborations not only the right thing to do environmentally and culturally, but also necessary from an economic standpoint.”

Past recipients of the Collaboration in Action Award include J. J. Keller and Affinity Health System.

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