Category Archives: Uncategorized

Single Use Plastic Bottles

Let’s stop trashing our beaches with single use plastic bottles.

After years of hosting beach cleanups in the park, we’ve noticed a serious problem. One of the most common items of trash in the park and on the beach is empty plastic water bottles. The plastic is labeled as recyclable, which is good if it actually gets recycled. But littering the beach, or tossed in the woods, the plastic will not break down… true, it will eventually be crushed, flattened, and break into smaller and smaller pieces. The smallest bits will become so small they are referred to as micro-plastic. Guess what? Invisible micro-plastics are entering your drinking water because they are not removed by our public water utilities. Scientists have yet to determine the health consequences of consuming micro-plastics. Don’t forget the BPA chemicals in the plastic bottles…

So, why are we spotlighting plastic water bottles, when there is a lot of other trash on the beach/in the woods? Reducing or eliminating bottled water is one of the easiest ways to reduce a significant amount of trash each year in the environment. Consider using other water carriers: reusable stainless steel, aluminum, and thermos bottles. Plastic bottled water is necessary for communities lacking access to safe drinking water, but for many of us, it’s a convenience and could be used sparingly, when other methods cannot be adopted.

Plan ahead when you are spending time in Grant Park. If you bring water bottles in, then pack them out when you leave, because the park does not have a recycling program in place.

If you would like to dive deeper into plastic’s effect on the environment, our health, and social justice, author Daniel Jaffee, associate professor of Sociology at Portland State University has written a book: Unbottled: the fight against Plastic Water and Water Justice. You can hear Jaffee on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Central Time program…

Our Eaton partners come through again

Once again, Eaton Corporation’s South Milwaukee facility management chose to make a donation to Friends of Grant Park for 2023. Human Resources Manager Nate Schoepp and Continuous Improvement Technician Tony DeHoyos presented the check for $2,000 to Debby Pizur and Jody Johnson. The donation will be applied to our purchase of trees to be planted later this fall in Grant Park. We are grateful for the support.

Left to right: Jody Johnson, Debby Pizur, Nate Schoepp, Tony DeHoyos

Open Doors South Milwaukee, Sept. 9th | Wulff Lodge

Back for the second year, Open Doors South Milwaukee offered a chance to explore historic sites throughout the city of South Milwaukee! Friends of Grant Park members opened Wulff Lodge to the public for inspection on Saturday, Sept. 9th from 10 am to 3 pm. The lodge was home to Milwaukee County’s first horticulturist, Frederick Wulff and his family. We had over 130 visitors drop in for a self-guided tour of the rustic home. Many had wonderful memories of their overnight stay as a member of a scouting or church group, and commented how as kids they felt like they were truly out in the woods, even though the lodge is set in an urban setting.

Your group can rent Wulff Lodge! Available exclusively to civic, church or youth groups. To book a stay, call (414) 257-8005, M-F 8am to 4pm.

Protections for Natural Areas: Milwaukee County Ordinance 47.08

The following is an excerpt from a blog post by Eddee Daniel entitled “Milwaukee County Strengthens Protections for Natural Areas” from the website, posted on July 29, 2022.

Here, in abbreviated form, are the new provisions:

(A) No person shall harvest, collect, deface, or disturb, in any manner, any portion of a native plant or native fungi within the Park System.

(B) Invasive species can be removed within the Park System only by Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Culture (DPRC) staff or those authorized through written permission from the DPRC. Planting of any vegetative material within the Park System without the written permission of the DPRC is prohibited.

(C) The harassment, capture, injury, or killing of native wildlife within the Park System is prohibited. Introduction or release of any animal, wild or domestic, within the Park System without the written permission of the DPRC is prohibited.

(D) Natural areas designated by the Southeastern WI Regional Planning Commission as “Natural Areas of Local, Regional, or State-wide Significance” or designated as “Critical Species Habitat Areas,” will receive a heightened level of protection. Only hiking, biking, running, bird watching and similar passive recreation activities are allowed and only on designated trails.

According to Natural Areas Supervisor Brian Russart “the County Board did want Parks to be lenient on individuals walking along designated trails in the park system eating the occasional handful of wild raspberries as they are walking, because the impact would be minor and the plants are typically found along trails.” This does not allow people to bring a basket along to pick and remove more berries from the park for later use.

Russart would like you to know this: “Citizens that observe illegal foraging in the park system are encouraged to call the Parks Ranger Hot-line (414-257-7777) as they are observing these activities. This way Parks can respond immediately, and appropriately address the situation.

Friends of Grant Park Art Fair, July 23rd

Pop-up artist tents surround the brown shelter at area 5. All photos courtesy of Chris Stravinski Sharrow.

The very first Friends of Grant Park Art Fair was held on Sunday, July 23rd from 10am to 2pm. Thankfully, Mother Nature blew us a kiss with fabulous weather that day… and the turnout was estimated at 500 attendees, or more. Located in Area 5A brown picnic shelter, we hosted artists from a variety of mediums displaying and selling their works. The July fair preceded Heritage Day festivities in South Milwaukee.

The open air picnic shelter also featured sales of food and refreshment by the Friends of Grant Park. We hope to host a second art fair in July 2024, same location, same weather(?)…

Our mission statement is to preserve natural areas of the park, enhance unique features of the park, encourage use of the park, and to provide a mechanism for private contributions to supplement public funding of Grant Park.

Thirty artists and so much fun!

We’d like to thank Skyline Catering for donating taste-tempting cookies, and also thanks to the First Congregational Church in South Milwaukee for allowing us to safely prepare foods for the fair in their kitchen. We are indebted to the park’s maintenance workers who quickly cleaned the pavilion beforehand so the artists could arrive early Sunday to begin setting up their booths. And thanks to our members and volunteers who assisted in so many ways!

Invasive plant update

Friends of Grant Park received a competitive grant in March of 2022 to support girdling/and or removal of some of the larger flowering and seeding Japanese Tree Lilacs. This year, we worked with Milwaukee County Parks Natural Areas personnel and cleared approximately an acre of woodland of JTL. We also provided invasive species in-person education to 160 youth volunteers. These photos depict but a small portion of the trees removed. Thank you to the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium for their support. To learn more about invasive plants visit –

Invasive Plants | Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc (

Grant supported tree Lilac removal of larger caliper and flowering trees shown here.

Green Bay Packers Foundation Grant

We were simply delighted to receive notification that Friends of Grant Park would be recipients of a $4,000 grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation. Awarded on Dec. 8th, you can read about the foundation and the other recipients in this article from their website:

Our intent is to utilize the funds to offset costs for our various programs, such as WeedOut, Suburban Soles, tree planting and Trek ‘n Treat. We hope to continue these programs to benefit Grant Park, and these funds will support their continued success.

Thank you to the Green Bay Packers Foundation.

Honors to our members!

We are fortunate to have Rick Kaiser and Betsy Abert advocating for Grant Park.

Betsy Abert is a founding member of Friends of Grant Park and has been on the board of directors most of the time as a member-at-large. An avid “bird nerd”, she is Grant Park’s personal Avian Ambassador, leading bird watching hikes in the spring; almost daily monitoring of the bird seed supply in the bird feeder station; and fielding questions about their identification, migration patterns, and natural habitat. She has also shared her skills as a conscientious conservator and landscape designer when suggesting improvements to address erosion in the park. Betsy also volunteers as a WeedOut coordinator and is certified to safely apply herbicide when needed for eradication of certain invasive plants that persist despite continued removal by volunteers. If only we could clone Betsy!

The Friends of Grant Park honored Betsy with an Honorary Lifetime Membership. Thank you for your years of service!

Betsy Abert (on right) receives
Honorary Lifetime Membership
from Jody Johnson

WeedOut volunteers from YouthWorks program,
Rick Kaiser on right, back row, red shirt

Rick Kaiser has been an active member for the last 10 years or more, and his efforts are noted in this letter from the Friends of Grant Park Board of Directors. Thank you so much, Rick!

Stairs Project Completed (2022)

The Friends of Grant Park undertook planning and fundraising several years ago to improve egress in a ravine area near the Wil-o-way complex on the north end.  Following two consecutive 100+ year storms in 2010-11 that had destroyed most of the bridges in the park’s historic ravine trail system, a 2012 FEMA-funded footbridge was erected to restore the connection between the north and southern portions of the park all while protecting water quality.  Subsequent trail use commenced, with the result that an increasingly denuded trail on one side of the bridge eroded, causing potentially damaging siltation and mud distribution to the bridge deck and beyond to the creek below.  With preserving water quality, bridge infrastructure and safe egress as our goals, we proceeded with planning. 

Mud eroding onto the bridge deck.

History:  Following a survey of the site by RA Smith Engineers, and combining design proposals and details by former Parks Landscape architect, Jim Ciha and local landscape designers, Betsy Abert and Patrick Devereux, we submitted architectural drawings for the proposed steps to Parks’ Planning Dept. during the height of COVID.  Parks had just undertaken a splendid larger restoration in the northern sector of the park with improved parking, paving, and water quality goals; thus, we were delayed in pursuing  our own project. Grants acquired from the Bucyrus Foundation, Eaton Corporation, and many many FoGP donors allowed this project to move forward with the requisite funds as required by Milwaukee County Parks.  Upon request, our park supervisor Sean Kelly delivered fencing material from the main yard to the job site. Cost increases, supply chain and transportation issues combined with employee shortage related to Covid certainly played a part in delays.  Contracting with an experienced nearby landscape firm, Stone Oak Landscapes, the steps and rail are now being installed with great precision.  We plan to restore/revegetate any areas disturbed during construction with native plant species. It is our hope that restoration efforts in the central/main ravine will be supported. With a start-up grant from Eaton Corporation, steps and walls there, installed in the 1930’s, need to be replaced and the slopes protected and revegetated. 

Many thanks to our own Betsy Abert for her expertise and perseverance in pursuing this goal. Photos courtesy of Betsy Abert.

Construction of stairs project in process. Oct. 2022
Completed stairs!
In our opinion, it was worth the wait…

Trek ‘n Treat, Sunday Oct. 8th

(Our 2023 Friends of Grant Park calendar page for October had Trek ‘n Treat listed for Oct. 15th, but was rescheduled after going to press. We apologize for the error.)

On Sunday, Oct. 8th, from 1 to 4 pm, we welcomed costumed ghouls, goblins, Elsa, Olaf and Batman (moms and dads, too) to wander through the Seven Bridges Ravine to learn about the natural plants, animals, birds and insects that live in the park, and of course, get treats! Families hiked the ravine trail and then relaxed in the area 5A brown pavilion where there were other activities and snacks.

We had about 270 Trek ‘n Treat participants this year, and energetic volunteers to make it all happen from all walks of life… Local high school students from South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Marquette and St. Thomas More; members of FOGP, Friends of the Mill Pond and SM Historical Society; and representatives from Milwaukee County Parks and Wehr Nature Center. We received grant funding from Green Bay Packers Foundation and from Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors Youth Foundation. Additional support came from Ace Hardware, SM; Blaine’s Farm & Fleet; Guardian Credit Union; MJ Media, LLC; Piggly Wiggly, Oak Creek; and Walmart.

All photos taken by Pam Uhrig