WGF Co-Sponsors Public Rights in Milwaukee’s Fresh Coast Webinar

WI Green Fire, December 17, 2021

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Wisconsin’s Green Fire will co-sponsor a webinar on January 19th with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Water Policy and the State Bar of Wisconsin, featuring six expert panelists who will offer diverse perspectives on the public trust doctrine and how it influences Milwaukee’s Fresh Coast. Often overlooked, much of the city’s coastline and riverfronts are not original — they’re built on lakebed or riverbed that has been filled to create new land, meaning they are governed under the public trust doctrine.

This raises many questions, including what is public enough to satisfy the public trust doctrine? Can the state and other developers exclude the public? What are the permissible uses on the newly created land? The six panelists will offer their perspectives on these questions, and dive deeper into the public rights, funding, policy, and governance affecting Milwaukee’s iconic waterfront.

This event will feature the following panelists, including Michael Cain, WGF’s Public Trust and Wetlands Work Group Co-Chair:

Moderator: Melissa Scanlan, Lynde B. Uihlein Endowed Chair and Professor in Water Policy, Director of the Center for Water Policy, UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences


  • John Gurda, Writer and Historian, author of “Milwaukee: A City Built on Water”
  • Brenda Coley, Co-Executive Director, Milwaukee Water Commons
  • Michael Cain, Board Member, Co-Chair of the Public Trust and Wetlands Work Group, Wisconsin’s Green Fire, and retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources attorney
  • Michael Kowalkowski, Attorney, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Toni Herkert, Government Affairs Director, League of Wisconsin Municipalities
  • Sarah Martinez, Water Policy Specialist, Center for Water Policy

Click here to register for the event!

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