A couple miles from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, a marsh owned by the University is filled with cattails—cattails that need to be removed to open up the marsh and allow for plants to grow and habitats to thrive.
Back on campus, the cattails are creating energy by acting as dry biomass for the University’s dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester–a first in the Americas biogas facility that turns waste into energy.
Beyond creating clean energy, the removal of the cattails from the marsh helps tell a sustainable story to students at UW Oshkosh.
“There has been some student participation monitoring the material once it is in the biodigester. Also, now that an area in the wetland has been cleared of cattails, I am planning to have a team of undergraduates monitor the area to see what plants spring up,” said Robert Pillsbury, associate professor of biology and microbiology. Pillsbury led the project to remove the cattails from the marsh.
This project presents a great learning opportunity, he said.
“This has the potential to be a real win-win situation for our campus. With this one action we can improve habitat for wildlife and fish on University-owned land, get students involved in cutting-edge ideas and test a new source of energy with the University’s biodigester while providing a renewable, clean energy to the campus.” Pillsbury said.
UW Oshkosh continues to set an environmental example for the community as well as for members outside of the area.
“We hope to use this demo in future grant proposals to do this on a larger scale with great lakes coastal wetlands” Pillsbury said.