Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Practical Gift Idea

We have several natural canvas tote bags for sale. Take to the library, the beach, or wherever you go. If you are willing to bag your own groceries, these stylish and sturdy totes can help reduce the need for plastic or paper grocery bags… Also highlights our great park and benefits our group’s fundraising goals. Machine wash warm, hang to dry. To order, send email to friendsofgrantpark@gmail.com, and we’ll contact you regarding payment and pickup or local delivery.

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 Guided Nature Hikes 2021 Calendar

Back by popular demand, Suburban Soles nature hike is ready for our fourth season. Friends of Grant Park is proud to sponsor this program, starting on Sunday, the 2nd of May, and running every 2 weeks through Sept. 19th. You can join the Sunday morning hike at 10 am. Each walk lasts about 90 minutes and may involve stairs. Consider bringing along a water bottle and/or bug spray as needed, and comfortable shoes or boots which may prove ideal when walking along muddy paths. Check the schedule for meeting location which varies from hike to hike.

These events will follow 6 ft. social distancing guidelines. 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.

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

See you on the trails!

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:

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/12/760203456/epa-makes-rollback-of-clean-water-rules-official-repealing-2015-protections

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 sewrpc.org.

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.  

https://www.sewrpc.org/SEWRPC/Environment/Restoration-Plan-Oak-Creek-Watershed.htm

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.

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”, named after 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.

The truth about butts…

The Friends of Grant Park have been organizing beach cleanup events for many years. Trash collected is typical for any beach popular with the public: beer and soda cans and bottles, candy wrappers, styrofoam cups, plastic water bottles, butane lighters, drinking straws, occasional discarded baby diapers, shotgun wadding (OK, maybe not so typical for your average beach), and of course cigarette butts. Butts take the cake for the vast amount of them collected each and every year. Our partnership with Alliance for the Great Lakes allows us to access their data from beach cleanups taking place nationwide, and clearly cigarette butts outnumber any other form of trash. Smokers typically toss their cigarette butts anywhere and everywhere they smoke, but at a public swimming beach in a natural setting of a county park, they are litter pure and simple, and toxic litter at that.

Several of our members have had it with butts, and we are discussing ways to address this litter problem. We will follow up with more details as we develop a plan of action. As of 2017, the following Wisconsin counties have banned smoking in their parks: Brown, Columbia, and St. Croix. The village of Shorewood, and cities of Appleton, Greenfield, and Verona have also done so, including Wisconsin Dells. In the meantime, here is a short article that explains cigarette butt toxicity: https://truthinitiative.org/news/5-ways-cigarette-litter-impacts-environment

And another recent article comparing cigarette butts to plastic straws: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/experts-say-cigarette-butts-not-plastic-straws-are-largest-human-caused-pollutant/

By far, cigarette butts outnumber other forms of trash on our beach.

URO: Unfortunately Rained Out

Most of us probably assumed the rain would win out for our June 1st Burdock Busters WeedOut! And it did after three intrepid women showed up for the first assault on burdock plants in Grant Park. Armed with “parsnip predator” spades, these three warriors used their trusty spades to slice into burdock root below the soil line, made like butter with recent rains. Then the rain (lightening, too, I think) forced them to stop. Two of the volunteers are pictured here prior to the rain:

Nancy, Deb and Betsy (snapping photo).

Never fear, we’ve scheduled another session for burdock on June 15th, meeting at 9 am in the bird feeder parking lot. Try out one of our fancy spades for yourself. It’s so satisfying to bring down the burdock!