Author Archives: Friends of Grant Park

Wanted: Grant Park Inspired Art

The Friends of Grant Park (FOGP) are seeking original artwork inspired by the varied nature and seasons of Grant Park. The artwork will be used in our fundraising 2022 calendar. Please help FOGP raise funds to help preserve and improve our park.

Artwork should be:

  • Representing/depicting spring, summer, fall or winter
  • Any size, any medium
  • Composed horizontally or able to be cropped into a horizontal format
  • 2 dimensional

We prefer unframed and unmatted work but are able to use framed work.

If your artwork is selected:

  • Your artwork will need to be delivered (location for drop off to be announced) or picked up by one of our volunteers by May 1, 2021. Artwork will be returned two weeks from the date received by FOGP. 
  • You can send a HIGH RESOLUTION jpeg (5 or 6 mb) of the artwork by May 15, 2021 or we can put it on a copy stand and photograph it for you
  • You will be credited on the page with your artwork

To share your artwork, please send a photo via email by April 2021 to:

Please help Friends of Grant Park raise funds to help preserve the character and beauty of our park.

Socially Distant Arbor Day

The friends of Grant Park were very fortunate to receive 200 Quercus rubra/Red Oak saplings donated by Caterpillar, Inc.  Oaks may be the single most important tree in North America for wildlife value. However, even though April 24th was Arbor Day, no one was gathering anywhere to honor the spirit of the day, let alone plant trees.

Quercus rubra

The plan last Fall was to make a tree available to every one of our incredible Weed Out volunteers in Spring 2020 for planting in the areas we have managed to clear (mostly, ahem) of invasive garlic mustard and old-specie Japanese Tree Lilac.  We hoped to help make the connection as to why we even bother with the weeds.  It’s for the trees and the forest that we commit our annual spring efforts to removing invasive species; so it makes sense that we carry forward with a new generation of tree planting, right?

Our problem was obvious: the valuable Oaks arrived last week and we’re presented with the question: how do we spread the task of transplanting them among volunteers who have been instructed to avoid gatherings and stay at home? The answer we found: one planter or family unit at a time using printed “how-to” directions, social distancing, and masks. Several intrepid volunteers from our group agreed to plant in an area recently cleared of a dense growth of the invasive Japanese Tree Lilac which had been spreading via root systems unchecked in our original County Parks nursery for 100 years. Working independently, or as a single unit family group, transplanting was begun on April 26th. We hope to have 200 trees in the ground by May 1st.

Thank you to our family and solo units: John & Peyton; Becky, Rob, George & Peter; Pam & Dave; Betsy, Rick, Deb, Jody and Lynn for their help at this time. We are hopeful our efforts take root, and that flagging for the new small trees will help visitors to the park avoid stepping on them.  

Suburban Soles 2020 Guided Nature Walks Calendar

Suburban Soles is moving forward as a non-FOGP event. Our group is not able to sponsor this activity because of Milwaukee County Parks Covid-19 guidelines. Because of continued public interest, these are the remaining dates. Contact Brian Morrison for further details at 414.588.5134.

These events will be sure to enforce the safer at 6 feet apart guideline. Face masks are strongly encouraged. Please consider others and do not attend this event if you have any suspicion of illness or may have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

July 12, Bloom Where You are Planted, CANCELLED: MATC Horticulture Instructor Delisa White, facilitator. Look at native & non-native plants… What is a “native” plant? Are non-native plants “bad” plants? Can native and non-native plants coexist? Join us as we walk the trails of Grant Park locating both native and non-native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.

July 26, South Milwaukee Takes Root, 10 am, Grant Park golf clubhouse: Local historian Nels Munson, facilitator. Focusing on the earliest days of the settlement in what we now know as South Milwaukee, join us as we learn about the family of John Fowle, who settled in this area in 1835, and walk the beach to hear about the various industries located there during our city’s formative years.

Aug. 9, Pollinator Power, 10 am, Grant Park area 5: Wehr Nature Center Naturalist Brooke Gilley, facilitator. What do bats, bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and hummingbirds have in common? All of them have the power of pollination! Help to support the importance of pollinators.

Aug. 23, Let’s Work Together, 10 am, Grant Park area 5: Urban Ecology Center Land Steward Jeff Veglahn, facilitator. Learn about the amazing pant communities & diverse ecosystems found in Grant Park! Jeff will lead us through Seven Bridges where we will learn about the plant communities made up of herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees that together make up the ravine.

Sept. 13, Leave it to Trees, 10 am, Grant Park area 5: Retired Arboriculture Instructor at MATC Mike Wendt, facilitator. A self-titled Tree Geek, Mike will guide us along the Seven Bridges trail to gain insight into our woody friends and teach us fool-proof ways to identify trees, and how trees can be successfully used in landscapes. Mike guarantees at least 100 tree trivia facts and warns participants that tree enthusiasm can be contagious!

Sept. 27, Meet your Wild Neighbors, PENDING, 10 am, Mill Hill, 601 Milwaukee Ave., South Milwaukee: Urban wildlife abounds throughout Milwaukee County, and Grant Park is lucky enough to enjoy a wide variety of urban mammals. Join Wisconsin DNR’s Milwaukee County Wildlife Biologist, Dianne Robinson, to discuss our wildlife neighbors. Learn how to coexist with these urban critters, even when they are a nuisance.

We will also post the flyer in kiosks within Grant Park.

COVID-19 information and closures

The entrance roads into Grant Park are open. Restrooms are closed. The golf course is open; call to book a tee time, (414) 762-4646. Parks has canceled park rentals, and special events and organized sports activities.

“The health and safety of our community and staff members are our highest priority,” Parks Executive Director Guy Smith said. “We want to remind people that Parks remain a healthy support in this situation. People may practice social distancing and healthy habits while enjoying their parks, and the department will do our best to keep outdoor park facilities accessible to the public during this challenging time.”

Current Opening Status, Updated Sept. 14, 2020

  • Milwaukee County Parks – open, most amenities use at your own risk
  • Oak Leaf Trail – open
  • Forked Aster Hiking Trails – open
  • Golf Courses – open for modified play, tee times available
  • Disc Golf Courses – open
  • Dog Parks – open (except Bay View – closed to establish turf growth)
  • Playgrounds – open, use at your own risk
  • Public Restrooms – closed
  • Community Centers – closed
  • Beaches – most open, no lifeguards, use at your own risk, swim hazard risk report
    NOTE: McKinley Beach Closed to Swimming for the rest of the 2020 Season
  • Sports facilities – tennis courts open
  • Picnic Rentals – Purchase a picnic permit online! For groups of up to 100, Saturdays & Sundays only. at Grant, Brown Deer, Lincoln, Washington & Greenfield Parks. Get Details!
    (NOTE: Rentals at other locations remain canceled until at least September 30) Please contact  Public Services 414-257-8005 
  • Outdoor Wedding Ceremony Permits – available in select locations
  • Outdoor Photography Permits – available in select locations
  • Outdoor Fitness Class Permits – available in select locations

For more information from Milwaukee County, please continue to monitor updates online: We are also providing updates on the Parks Nextdoor website and on social media.

Rolling Back Environmental Protections?

The Friends of Grant Park are concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency’s programs being whittled down to a bare minimum by the current administration. We hope members will contact their legislators and vote for candidates that advocate for stronger environmental protections. Here is an article to illustrate our concern:

South East Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission’s Master Plan for Oak Creek Watershed

After months of study, the South East Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) has posted Chapter 4 of the master plan for the Oak Creek watershed. Some surprising findings include PCB levels discovered at the sand bar mouth of Oak Creek at Grant Park beach that are twice as high as those at the MKE harbor. Also, high chlorides found in the watershed. You can read the report online at

The summary presentation for the 2nd half of Chapter 4 of the Oak Creek plan is now available on the project website (as of June 5).  It can be found at the link below – the presentation is located at the top of the links under the title Summary Presentation for the second half of Chapter 4.

The Friends of Grant Park sent a letter of concern on January 24th, 2020, to the WI-DNR regarding the high PCB levels found at the mouth of Oak Creek in Grant Park. Four days later, the WI-DNR and the EPA announced the Great Lakes Legacy Act Agreement (signed on Jan. 6, 2020) to address a 32-year-old Area of Concern: the Milwaukee Harbor Estuary, which had PCB levels half as high as the Oak Creek samples taken by SEWRPC. We are still waiting for a reply.

Grant Park Beach Cleanup with FOGP

Volunteers scour the beach for litter left behind…

The Friends of Grant Park will host a beach clean-up at the main beach to address the litter left behind from a summer of fun on Lake Michigan. So, help us to make the beach sparkle a bit more afterward. Even if you can only stay for an hour, we welcome your participation.

  • Saturday, Oct. 10th
  • 9 am to Noon
  • Meet us in main beach parking lot

Due to the coronavirus, safety precautions have been implemented: Wear a face mask; keep a 6 ft. distance from others; and avoid touching your face, eyes, or mouth until you can wash your hands with soapy water or use hand sanitizer.

Submit a Covid-19 Volunteer Waiver before participating, along with a Volunteer Agreement:

We will supply a bag, latex or nitrile gloves, and bug spray. Oh, and lots of hand sanitizer!

Echoes from the past

Our thanks to all of the interested hikers who attended our guided nature walk with local historian Nels Monson last Sunday. It was estimated that over 50 people (a record!) tagged along to hear historical information about the Seven Bridges trail, the Grant Park tourist camp, the original swimming beach, and historic Wulff Lodge.

Suburban Soles hikers crossing the main entrance bridge. Photo by Jackie Benka.

We are grateful

The Friends of Grant Park was founded in 2005 by Don Lawson, who devoted large amounts of his spare time and resources to recruit volunteers to help with Park People’s WeedOut program in Grant Park. Over the years, FOGP gained new members and took on new responsibilities and projects. Don served as our chair until 2017. He also was a founding member of a traditional Celtic band, the Garlic Mustard Pickers, performing at all of our St. Pat’s Day parties called “Pullin’ o’ the Green”, referring to the armloads of garlic mustard removed from the park. Bobbie Groth, Don’s spouse, was also a member of the band, playing violin for the group while Don played the hammer dulcimer and recorder. The band donated their time to maximize fundraising for FOGP at the event.

For these reasons, we felt it appropriate to have a tree, planted in their honor, as a gesture of our appreciation for their selfless contributions to both Grant Park and their community. An oak tree was planted on the bluff of Lake Michigan in July of 2019, with a plaque that reads:

In Honor of Don Lawson and Bobbie Groth 
   For their commitment to Grant Park

The adjacent park bench was donated by Don Lawson.