It all started with trash on the beach.
On February 14, 2014, the Friends of Grant Park sent a letter to the Parks Department expressing our concerns over the use of the bluff area in Warnimont Park by the Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club. A follow-up letter of April 16, 2014 was sent following a meeting we had with the club. These documents thoroughly discuss our concerns. We provide a summary here to explain what led us to bring our concerns to the Parks Department.Read more...
During several clean-up events held at Grant Park Beach over the years, thousands of small plastic moldings were collected by volunteers. These moldings are the cast off portion of shotgun shells. The longshore current very often flows from north to south along the beach, and it became obvious that these shotgun “waddings” as they are called, were deposited in the lake by our neighbor to the north, the Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club trap shooting operation (AKA Cudahy Gun Club). The club has been shooting into the lake since about 1932 from several locations along the shoreline, and have been at their current location since the early 60’s. In 2010 a constituent of County Supervisor Pat Jursik contacted her complaining about the number of plastic waddings he was finding on the beach. As a result, Supervisor Jursik met with the gun club and suggested they needed to deal with this problem. Again, in November 2013 we complained about the wadding to Supervisor Jursik. She informed us she met with the club and admonished them to do their part to clean up, consistent with the terms of their lease with the County. Still, the waddings kept accumulating on the beach.
The county parks property leased by the club is littered with both wadding and orange clay targets. Lead shot is sold by the club and preferred by its members. The clay targets are made of limestone and petroleum pitch, and are not biodegradable. Viewed from the beach, the debris is alarming. Much of the wadding collects at the top of the bluff, where the club is able to rake some of it up and dispose of it properly, but much more is carried over the bluff by wind and weather. The club admits the bluff itself is impossible to keep clean because of its steep angle and potential for erosion damage. The majority of the orange clay targets accumulate over the bluff’s edge and litter the landscape; some make it as far as the lake, as evidenced by target debris scattered on the ice when the club opened for the season in February. The club erected fencing intended to prevent targets and wadding from reaching the lake, but erosion from the hillside simply overwhelmed it, both over the top and forming gullies underneath. This simply reinforced our view that there was no way to effectively catch the hillside debris before it got into the lake.
Our research into how to solve this problem involved reviewing several manuals on “best management practices” at gun sites, such as erecting berms to allow for remediation and removal of lead contaminated sediment and soils, and erecting netting to prevent targets from reaching the lake. Because of the unique location of the club on the bluffs overlooking the lake, none of these remedial measures were usable there. These manuals stated gun clubs of this sort should NOT be located over waters and wetlands.
Another one of our chief concerns was the erosion of the bluff at the gun site. The club itself admitted that it was losing 2-3 feet of bluff a year, with no means to stop the encroachment. We believe this was the result of the inability to plant trees, bushes, and other vegetation, given the club’s presence, to stabilize the area.
A similar operation, the Milwaukee Gun Club, was closed down in 1989. Other clubs located on wetlands or bodies of water have been closed: Lincoln Park Gun Club, Chicago, IL (1991); Southern Lakes Trap & Skeet Club, Lake Geneva, WI (1992), both for violations of federal environmental law (Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation Recovery Act). Newspaper articles published in the Milwaukee Journal about the Milwaukee Gun Club closure suggested that the county decided to repurpose the land to soccer fields and terminated the lease. The Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club is the last gun club in the country still operating on the Great Lakes.
- Letter to Supv. Gerry Broderick about relocation of Sportsmen’s Club in Warnimont Park (6/18/2015)
- Our message to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors (1/29/2015)
- Fox6 News covers potential eviction of Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club (1/26/2015)
- Recent photos of the bluff below the Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club (12/10/2014)
- Our letter to Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Gerry Broderick (12/4/2014)
- Our letter to the EPA (12/4/2014)
- Our letter to Parks Director John Dargle (11/11/2014)
- Follow up letter to Director Dargle (11/10/2014)
- Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club cited by DNR in 1989 (11/10/2014)
- News article from December 1989 (11/10/2014)
- It all started with trash on the beach (11/6/2014)
- Statement on Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club lease termination (11/6/2014)
- Underwater image taken at Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club (11/5/2014)
- Condition of property leased by Cudahy Sportsmen’s Club (11/5/2014)