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The Fox River touches the lives of area residents daily…even when they don’t realize it.

Three University of Wisconsin Oshkosh faculty experts shared their research on the Fox River’s water quality, ecology and culture during a seminar last week sponsored by the Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations (SIRT).

The two-hour event also included a short trip to the river for observation and water sample collection.

Marcel Dijkstra, assistant professor of environmental engineering technology, spoke about what can be done to improve water quality in the river from an engineering perspective. Options include changing agricultural practices, increasing wetland areas and water level management to improve the ecosystem.

Associate Biology Professor Robert Pillsbury shared information about the ecology of wild rice, an annual native aquatic grass. He said in a study of 60 rice wetlands in Wisconsin and Minnesota the nutritional grain grew best in slow-flowing water and areas in which water levels change slowly.

Paul Van Auken, associate sociology professor, spoke about an applied research project he worked on for the nonprofit Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway. The project considered how area residents interact with the Fox River Watershed, including Hmong people have deep cultural connections to the land and natural world.

SIRT engages stakeholders from Wisconsin and beyond to build healthy communities, inclusive economics and ecologically sound environments through inquiry, education and action.