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.
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 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.
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!
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!
The grant money will be used to combat invasive species in the Great Lakes basin.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Milwaukee County Parks will receive a grant of $635,000 as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to combat invasive species in the Great Lakes basin.
Milwaukee County Parks will collaborate with the Milwaukee Conservation Leadership Corps/Student Conservation Association, the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute to remove invasive plant species from 32 ecologically diverse natural areas encompassing 1,300 acres of critical wildlife habitat in the Milwaukee County Park System.
The project will also provide educational opportunities for students in grades 6-12 as well as for college students.
“Thank you to the EPA for this important opportunity to collaborate with them in achieving a shared goal of environmental stewardship,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “Equally as important, we will engage students around Milwaukee County in a hands-on learning opportunity that will not only benefit the park land directly, but also instill a sense of environmental ethics and pride in our great park system.”
In other grants news, the Milwaukee County Parks Department has received a 2015 Root River Watershed Initiative Network grant of $9,910 to reforest 6.9 acres of leased agricultural land.
The reforestation project, directly adjacent to the Root River, will be planted to a diversity of native trees and shrubs that will provide habitat for migratory and breeding wildlife populations. The Parks Department will be partnering with the Franklin High School Eco-Club to install this planting in the fall of 2015.
Chris Sobszak, from Boy Scout Troop 252, is focusing his attention on his eagle scout project at picnic area 3. Numerous picnic tables there make it a difficult area for park’s staff to mow, so Chris is installing a large area of paving stones for the tables to rest on, creating a no-mow zone. Thanks to funding from FOGP, Friends of the Mill Pond and others, the project was completed by mentors and members of Troop 252. Nice work, guys!
On December 7th, 2012, the Friends of Grant Park were awarded a matching $5,000 mini grant from Sweet Water – the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc. The aim of the grant program is to improve water quality in the Milwaukee and Racine area watersheds area by supporting local, grassroots efforts that employ green infrastructure practices and conservation-related activities that will improve water quality, restore/reserve habitat or educate people about these issues and associated stewardship actions.
Our desire was to stabilize slopes in the “Seven Bridges” ravine. These slopes were compromised over the last few summers by the increased foot traffic of many who love and continued to use the park after a heavy storm washed out one of the critical beach access bridges. The mini grant allowed us to re-establish native ground, shrub and tree vegetative cover on these slopes with appropriate coir and biodegradable erosion fabric. Natural “wattle” fencing was included to discourage further foot traffic.
Habitat preservation will serve migratory species within this riparian corridor. Stabilizing the upper and intermediate slopes with over and understory plants means that species dependent upon clean water, and healthy insect and invertebrate reproduction will continue to flourish in the long-shaded and cool environs of the ravine.
We were fortunate to have over 2 dozen volunteers before and on June 8th, who helped with the actual installation. We were blessed with no mosquitos and fabulously cool weather for the daunting task of hauling nearly 20 yards of weed-free compost down the slope. We had help from landscape professionals Mike Marek and crew, who showed us how to install erosion blankets and slope interruptors in steeply eroded areas. To see pictures of our project, visit the photo gallery and click on “slope restoration”.