The Coulee Region

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Gundersen Health System is located in the Coulee Region. The Coulee Region is also known as the driftless area (untouched by the glaciers). As a result, we are surrounded by beautiful bluffs. Bluffs form along a river (in our case it is the Mississippi River). Over time, the river wears away the lower part of the river bank, which lessens the support for the upper bank, eventually causing it to break off. This forms high walls on either side of the river that also shapes the bluffs.

Today there is a push to conserve the coulee region area. Why? In recent decades the Coulee region has expanded with many farms and communities along the river. As a result, the wetlands and prairies have been converted into land that supports our population. Before people urbanized the area, the river would inundate (flood) the wetlands, which helped to filter out the water and keep it clean. Because there are few wetlands left today, the river is not filtered out as much, resulting in it being dirty. Levees, although important for preventing flooding, also prevent rivers from reaching the wetlands. Because of the large amount of farmlands in the area, many farm chemicals get into the water. This not only affects the land but it also affects the marine species.

Due to the many threats facing the coulee region area, groups are working to conserve the bluffs and the native wild life. Refugee for fish is also continuously being built to protect the marine species. If the bluffs are not protected the wildlife will suffer along with the many plants and trees that keep the environment thriving.

At Gundersen Health System we recognize the importance of protecting the environment. A healthy environment results in healthy communities. Through our Envision program we invest our time and resources in sustainability projects that will not only benefit our organization but the area around. Interested in learning about our projects? Check out our website: www.gundersenenvision.org, or better yet attend one of our sustainability series seminars!

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Pay attention to the paper you use

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Do you pay attention to the source of your paper products? If not, take a look—perhaps you may discover that it is time for a change. Why? Deforestation has been an ongoing issue for a long time. If trees are not cut down sustainably, there can be major issues to the environment including runoff, soil degradation, and a loss of habitat for wild animals. What does it mean to cut down trees sustainably? There are many ways that include cutting down trees in rows or cutting down random trees scattered throughout the forest. The goal is to leave some trees behind to still support the soil and wildlife in that area.

Today, many companies are starting to purchase their wood or paper products from sustainable sources. This is good news for you as a customer because it gives you the option to choose something that is better for the environment. So what should you look for when it comes to sustainably produced paper sources? Look for paper that has the FSC label or Forest Stewardship Council label. This council is a non-profit organization dedicated to forest preservation. They work with various other groups including the government to preserve our forests and provide people with enough wood at the same time. Another great option is looking for recycled paper. But make sure to pay attention to how much of it is recycled and choose the product that is closest to being 100% recycled. If you don’t, you may end up using paper that is made up of a higher percentage of newer trees rather than reused product. Next time you buy any type of paper product, look for the source and choose something that not only benefits you but also the environment.