EGG HARBOR (NBC26) — With a population of around just 200 people, Egg Harbor is a small Door County village making a big impact in environmental sustainability.
Egg harbor recently received the Governor's Tourism Stewardship Award, an honor that goes to a business or community that promotes sustainable practices. Ryan Heise, Village Administrator for Egg Harbor, says this is something the village has been working on for the past three years.
“One of the great things about being in a little village is that when you have an idea, it doesn’t take too long to execute that," he said. "And I think that’s where the village of egg harbor has accelerated.”
In 2017, the Village of Egg Harbor became the first municipality in Door County to become a Green Tier Legacy Community, a Department of Natural Resources program promoting sustainability. Now, they're leading the state in environmental stewardship, said Heise.
“Our hope is that as we succeed in our environmental stewardship, others will as well," he said.
The village created a task force to find ways to be more sustainable, like making compositing and electric car chargers available to everyone, getting rid of single-use plastics, putting out more recycling bins, developing a terracycling program and allowing residents to easily get solar panels for their homes. The newly-renovated Kress Pavilion is an energy-efficient building, and the new beach expansion is designed to withstand high water levels. The village has created more walking paths and added Eggy Bikes, available for public use, to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors, rather than stay inside or drive in a car and use resources like oil and gas.
“I think it’s one the only ways that we can move forward as a society and it’s a really healthy way to view your society and your lifestyle," said Lydia Semo, Village Environmental and Sustainability Coordinator for Egg Harbor.
When tourists come to Egg Harbor, they appreciate the village's efforts to protect the environment, said Semo.
“I think door county is such a unique community that when they do come here and they see that small businesses are still thriving and that we are doing sustainable initiatives," she said. "They are inspired to do the same when they go back home.”
There's still more to do; the village is looking to install solar panels this summer, and they also want to start collecting thermal energy from wastewater.
“Oh there’s always work to be done, absolutely," said Semo. "It’s a growing process to be sustainable. You can never stop being sustainable. It’s always an ever-changing thing.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged a lot of these efforts; the task force hasn't been able to meet and give presentations in person. They're taking this time to focus on coming up with new ideas to become even more sustainable in 2021.