HAST Earthcache: Menomonee River Watershed
In Wisconsin, United States
Size:  (not chosen)
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This Earthcache is inspired by one of the many interpretive signs found along the Hank Aaron State Trail in Milwaukee’s Menomonee River Valley.
A watershed, or drainage basin, is an extent of land where water from rain or snow melt drains downhill into a body of water, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea or ocean. The drainage basin includes both the streams and rivers that convey the water as well as the land surfaces from which water drains into those channels. The drainage basin acts like a funnel, collecting all the water within the area covered by the basin and channeling it into a waterway. Other terms that are used to describe the a drainage basin are catchment, catchment area, catchment basin, drainage area, river basin and water basin.
The Menomonee Valley is a U-shaped land formation along the southern bend of the Menomonee River in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Glacial melt water formed the Menomonee Valley over 10,000 years ago when the Green Bay Lobe of the Wisconsin Glaciation retreated and eroded a swath four miles long and half of a mile wide. Today, it is roughly bounded by the 6th Street Viaduct near the river confluence and Miller Park stadium to the west.
This image below shows the area covered by the Menomonee River watershed:
The Milwaukee area has abundant water resources – lakes, rivers, ponds and wetlands. But what happens when there is too much water? Unfortunately, Milwaukee County is especially vulnerable to flooding. Why? For 10,000 years, this area had a natural balance of prairies, wetlands, forests and rivers that absorbed rainfall and slowed water movement. In more recent history, expanding urban and suburban development has upset this balance. Houses, buildings, streets, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots have replaced our natural areas. These hard surfaces prevent rain from soaking into the ground. Instead, rain flows directly into storm sewers and waterways – causing fast currents and downstream flooding.
To log a find for this Earthcache, you must perform the following:
1) Voluntary (no longer a requirement): With your “Found It” posting, include a picture of you, your team, or your GPS (if caching solo) next to the 2 interpretive signs - the other sign is called “Trains in the Valley”. Please make sure not to reveal any answers in your photo.
2) Email the cache owner with the answers to the following 4 questions using the interpretive sign as your reference –
• How many square miles does the Menomonee River watershed cover?
• What percentage of rainfall do meadows and forests absorb?
• By contrast, what percentage of rain is absorbed by “highly developed areas”?
• What can we “Do More” to help reduce flooding?
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 6/12/2015 12:12:04 PM Pacific Daylight Time (7:12 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum