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Spring Beach Clean Up, April 20

Thank you so much to the hardy souls who joined us Saturday morning to clean up the beach. It was a brisk, bright sunny morning, with a wind chill that blew the supply table’s papers and trash bags at every turn. In spite of that, 43 volunteers, with smiles on their faces(!) made time to spiff up the park.

In September, we will host another clean up of the Seven Bridges ravine beach. Keep us in mind for that, and we’ll see you there.

Friends of Grant Park Art Fair returns, July 21

We are happy to host the return of Friends of Grant Park Art Fair for a second year. Held in Area 5A Picnic Shelter, this is an open air event. New the year, we’re offering an Art Raffle, showcasing one piece of art from each of our artists. Tickets are $1 each; or 6 for $5 and will be for sale at the raffle table there. Winners will be chosen at 2 pm.

We look forward to seeing you there. We hope you will join us and wish for good weather!

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… https://www.wpr.org/shows/central-time/american-girl-dolls-bottled-water.

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 awealthofnature.org, 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.

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.

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…

We Energies Foundation support

The Friends of Grant Park are pleased to be recipients of a We Energies Foundation grant. The funds will be used to purchase young trees to replace the invasive Japanese Tree Lilac we have recently been removing. New tree saplings will be protected with fencing to prevent grazing by deer.

Program/Project: Tree Planting
Amount: $1,200.00

We Energies Foundation is making this contribution because they believe that together, we can create a brighter future for the communities we serve.