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Suburban Soles Guided Nature Walks

 Join “Suburban Soles”, supported by the Friends of Grant Park, as we walk thru beautiful Grant Park on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month (May-September). Focusing on various topics, we will be guided by knowledgeable facilitators who will educate and teach us about nature and the surrounding environments we explore. Topics include, tree and wildflowers identification, the history of Grant Park, climate change concepts and the importance of native ecosystems.
Most walks start at 10 am and last about an hour and a half, traveling about 1.5 miles on average. Locations vary, so find the events on facebook, or ask at the South Milwaukee Rec Department about event details and dates. Lace up your shoes, put on your thinking caps, and let’s explore beautiful Grant Park together!


May 12th “The Long Flight Home” – Explore the Habitat Welcoming the Migration of Birds

8am – GPS Willoway Grant Park 207 S Lake Dr.

With millions of  feathered ones returning north from their winter grounds in Central & South America, we gather to witness this nearly 14,000 year old rite of Spring on Mother’s Day. Our Lake Michigan flyway affords a unique flight path and rest stop. Join bird enthusiasts Betsy Abert & Rita Flores Wiskowski in spotting colorful warblers, flycatchers, and raptors large and small. Binoculars, comfy shoes, and a rimmed hat will be helpful.

May 26th – “Bloom Where You Are Planted” – Witness Native Wildflowers
10am – GPS Mill Hill – 601 Milwaukee ave. South Milwaukee

US Forest Service eastern region botanist, Sierra Dawkins leads us on this exciting wildflower walk with identification of Native woodland species.. Bring your walking shoes, curiosity and a good attitude! All backgrounds welcome!

June 9th – “Nature thru the Lens”- Observe Nature thru Photography
10am – GPS Grant Park Area 5

For those who share interest in the art of photography, or for those who just want to get lost in the wonder of it all, join local wildlife photographer Todd Leech as he guides us thru the beauty of nature and teaches us how to observe our surroundings. We will discuss what we see while learning about some of the advanced photo techniques Todd has used in the past to capture the best shots possible.

June 23rd – “Gentle Giants of Grant Park” – Identify & Learn About the Trees of the Park
10am – GPS Grant Park Area 5

Do you know the difference between a hickory and a maple?  Where are all the ash trees? What is a “native” tree? How many butterflies eat an oak? Put on your hiking shoes and thinking caps, and join Milwaukee Area Technical College horticulture instructor, Delisa White, for answers to these questions and more.  Come see the forest and identify the trees!

July 14th – “Permaculture Home” – Learn about Permaculture & Native Ecosystems
10am – GPS 1002 Sycamore ave. South Milwaukee

Calling home gardeners! The Edible landscape is calling!! Let’s talk about integrating native species to rebuild a self-sustaining ecosystem in our home landscapes!  Join Bryce Ruddock, co-author of Integrated Forest Gardening: the Complete Guide to Polyculture and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems, while walking through his own landscape developed with Permaculture design concepts.

July 28th – “Echos from the Past” – Discover Histories of the Seven Bridges & Wulff Lodge
10am – GPS Grant Park Area 5

Put on your hiking shoes and join us as this week’s Suburban Soles adventure will focus on the history of the Seven Bridges area.  Local historian Nels Monson will be your guide for this fact-filled tour.  Wander through the picturesque ravines as we visit the site of the Grant Park Tourist Camp, the original beach area, and the home of Frederick C. Wulff – the man whose vision and dedication led to the creation of this delightful public treasure.  This tour is sure to please anyone interested in the history of Grant Park.

August 11th – “Nature’s Superheroes” – Support the Importance of Pollinators
10am – GPS Mill Hill – 601 Milwaukee ave. South Milwaukee

What do bats, bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, and hummingbirds have in common?  All of them have the power of pollination! Join us as we celebrate these sometimes small but mighty creatures that play a large part in keeping our ecosystem healthy.  This hike will be led by Wehr Nature Center Naturalist, Brooke Gilley.

August 25th – “Let the River Run Thru You” – Study the Ecosystem of the Oak Creek
10am – GPS Mill Hill – 601 Milwaukee ave. South Milwaukee

Jan Marsh, EPA watershed expert, will lead a walk along the Oak Creek channel.  We will talk about the watershed landscape which surrounds the creek and the impacts of human activity in the area. We will also discuss how the creek corridor handles flood events, how those have changed over time, and how the stream has adapted to those changes. We will also look at features along the main stream channel and how they impact water quality, fish, and other aquatic organisms.

September 8th – “Explore the Great Ravine” – Restore our Natural Areas
10am – GPS Grant Park Area 5

We will explore Grant Park’s ravines, one of Lake Michigan’s unique ecosystems. Traverse the ravine trails with Milwaukee County Parks Natural Areas Coordinator, Brian Russart to learn about ravine ecology and restoration activities that are being undertaken to preserve ravines within the park.

September 22nd – “The Tides, They are A-Changin’” – Be Aware of Climate Change
10am GPS Grant Park Beach Parking Lot

Michael Timm leads the non profit organization “Milwaukee Water Stories” where he uses interactive maps, apps, and local storytelling to engage the public about the role green infrastructure can play in co-creating a resilient future.  Join us on this climate changing focus walk, as we study the land and waterscape, discussing how Grant and Warnimont Park’s bluffs and ravines have dramatically changed after recent intense rain events and why more frequent intense storms like these continue to hit the Midwest causing detrimental effects.

Our apologies!

Due to technical challenges, we were unable to add new content to this website since March 23rd. Please check back here in a few days as we update the website to reflect current activities we are offering. We will try to bring this website back up to date very soon.

Toe tapping time again: Pullin’ o’ the Green


Yes, it’s back by popular demand! Our St. Patrick’s Day party fundraiser, Pullin’ o’ the Green, will return to the beloved Grant Park Golf Clubhouse on Saturday, March 16th from 6 to 9 pm. For the eco-conscious among you, bring your own Traveling Beer Garden glass to minimize our use of plastics.

  • Loaded Baked Potato Buffet
  • Live Music by the Garlic Mustard Pickers
  • Raffle Items
  • Beer/Wine/and Soda cash bar

$25 suggested donation at the door includes FOGP membership, Potato Buffet, and first beverage. There will be limited seating and guests who wish to attend must RSVP by going to this E-Vite link: http://evite.me/PU7w1KNFVs. We hope you can join us!

Sponsored by Friends of Grant Park. Proceeds benefit Friends of Grant Park projects.

Off-trail Foot Traffic Causes Slope Degradation: What Can We Do?

The Friends of Grant Park have identified the issue of off-trail foot traffic causing erosion as one of our top priorities to tackle in Grant Park.  We are in the process of installing new interpretive signs at the entrances to the Seven Bridges trail; they remind visitors to stay on the steps and established paths to prevent damage to the fragile sloped ecosystem in our ravines.  Some visitors choose to go “off trail”, hiking or biking, but doing so damages grasses, wildflowers and tree roots. Ultimately, slopes denuded of vegetation become rutted and eroded, as exposed soils wash down to the lower trails, then the creek, and finally Lake Michigan during rain events.  This siltation of our waterways is clearly evident over at the Mill Pond, for instance.  We can help reduce this effect by staying on the trails provided, using the stairs to access the beach, and treating the vegetated slopes with respect while visiting.


Frequently our fundraising events highlight erosion-prevention projects such as that of 2012 where we installed compost, trees, shrubs and understory seedlings to a scoured part of our ravine slope following the washout of the main bridge to the beach in 2010’s storms.   We have “armored” volunteer trails with cut branches acquired during Buckthorn WeedOut events in the last two years, accomplishing a two-in-one task.  Matching grant moneys have made both of these projects feasible with the purchase of tools and materials needed to stabilize slopes.  As well, sometimes we need to hire professionals to undertake projects. 


Friends of Grant Park encouraged the installation of fencing as a means of discouraging off-trail use.  It may be that this is a reasonable tactic in slopes now under siege.  And, we know that a set of stairs is necessary in proximity to one of the newer bridges.  We will take this into consideration with Parks planning.  Larger projects demand larger amounts of capital, a fact currently impossible with County budget deficits.  We encourage you to consider inquiring about long term support of our park, as well as more affordable, smaller donations. In this age of dwindling county budgets, we may lose the beauty of the ravine if we do not practice good stewardship now.


Photos courtesy of Rebecca Wheeler

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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L to R: Pam Uhrig and Debbie Wilhelm, members of the Garlic Mustard Pickers; Jody Johnson; and Jerry Connor, treasurer of the GMP.

We were very surprised at our January monthly meeting when we were given a generous donation from the Garlic Mustard Pickers.  Jerry Connor, treasurer for the band, presented Jody Johnson, consensus chair and secretary for the Friends of Grant Park, with a check for $500 “to help support the preservation of the beautiful treasure we call Grant Park.”

Three of the Garlic Mustard Pickers’ members met in 2003 while picking garlic mustard during WeedOut in Grant Park, and decided to get together to play music. A few more players were added and they have played numerous times at fundraising events sponsored by the Friends of Grant Park, and many other events in the Milwaukee area featuring traditional acoustic music from the Gaelic-Irish countries. After meeting their expenses, they donate most of their earnings to local non-profit and community groups.

The Friends of Grant Park cannot stop singing their praises!




What about coyotes?

We have received reports over the past few years of coyotes seen and heard howling at night in the area. People are concerned about the safety of their pets while outdoors in their yards, or in the park.

The WI-DNR has information about coyotes on its website, https://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/wm/wm0567.pdf and another good article was printed in the Jan./Feb. 2019 issue of All Animals from the Humane Society, https://www.humanesociety.org/news/misunderstood-coyote.

Milwaukee County has a program to monitor coyote sightings. If you observe a coyote, log on to report your sighting. This data-base helps track of populations of coyotes and helps monitor their behaviors. This is the link for Coyote Watchhttps://www.inaturalist.org/projects/milwaukee-county-coyote-watch

The best advice is to keep your pets on a short leash at all times in the park, which is the park’s rule anyway. A coyote should be no more of a threat than someone else’s dog off leash attacking your dog off leash. And it bears repeating, only one (human) fatality has ever been recorded in the U.S.


Christmas Bird Count Dec. 16th

Wehr Nature Center, along with the Friends of Grant Park and the Friends of the Mill Pond, is hosting the 2018 Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, Dec. 16th, from 10 am – 4 pm. This census held annually by members of the Audubon Society, is the nation’s longest running community science bird project. Held in the festively decorated Golf Course Clubhouse, the Christmas Bird Count is open to the public, and participation is encouraged, however pre-registration is required. To participate, contact Wehr Nature Center at (414) 425-8550, or email: carol.howard@ces.uwex.edu

Warm soups and beverages will be available for all participants. Other activities include a photo gallery and an owl prowl at 4 pm.

To participate in the bird count along the lakeshore, contact
Betsy Abert  at betsyacorn@gmail.com.

Christmas Bird Count flyer II

Kiosks targeted by vandals

Four wooden kiosks were built in the park in recent years by candidates for Eagle Scout recognition, and those kiosks now seem to be favored by vandals for their graffiti tagging and target practice on plexiglass doors with pellet guns (or whatever). We support the Scouts for their workmanship and community engagement. The photo attached here is of a repaired kiosk across the street from the Seven Bridges main entrance.  The Friends of Grant Park supplied the materials for repair, but we have Keith Sobczak to thank for doing the work. Keith still volunteers with the scout troop whose Eagle Scout candidates built the kiosks. Vandalism is costly and recurrent; any donations to offset the materials needed would be appreciated. Donations can be made online through the Park People website: parkpeoplemke.org. Be sure to select “Grant Park” for your donation to benefit our group.



Mural Project Completed at the South Milwaukee Library!


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The artist Sarah Henry, pictured with gold scarf, at an event commemorating the mural’s completion. Also in the picture are Friends of Grant Park members from left to right: Debbie Pizur, Rick Kaiser, artist Sarah Henry, Jan Marsh, Jody Johnson, Betsy Abert, Pam Uhrig, and Jackie Benka. In addition to the screech owl and robin seen in the mural above, Sarah painted a doe and fawn, a red fox, two squirrels, a bunny, and a monarch butterfly. You’ve got to come see it!

IMG_3527 Week one

IMG_3540 Week two

IMG_2926 Week four

The South Milwaukee Library children’s room upstairs was transformed into the entrance to the Seven Bridges Trail. “Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature” is the familiar phrase welcoming visitors to Grant Park’s most iconic feature, and to the children’s library as well. Let us know if you like it!

Sponsored by the Friends of Grant Park


2019 Historic Grant Park Calendar

We thought we’d do a different take on a calendar this year. Our Historic Grant Park Calendar for 2019 was the result. With vintage photos of Grant Park and historical information, you can peek into the past. Send a copy to friends and family. Funds raised through calendar sales will benefit maintenance and improvement of Grant Park. The Friends of Grant Park are a 501(c)(3) organization. Available for sale at:

  • Avenue Coffeehouse –  911 Milwaukee Ave.
  • Parkway Floral – 1001 Milwaukee Ave.
  • Serendipitous Designs & Gifts – 907 Milwaukee Ave.

You can get a look at the calendar here: 2019 Calendar Flyer

Cash or check only. $10 each. Calendars can be ordered by mail; add $2 per calendar for shipping & handling. Checks are made to FoGP and send to 421 Hawthorne Ave, South Milwaukee, WI 53172.