Milwaukee Riverkeeper Cleanup a Success

At first glance, our park may look quite clean.

Upon closer inspection though, one might find many plastic bottles and smaller trash such as microplastics in some areas. This trash negatively impact park wildlife and water quality. Thanks to our partnership with Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the support of our volunteers, our park is kept cleaner for all.


Our most recent cleanup was completed on a brisk and sunny April 20th, when 23 volunteers and the DNR got together and collected 17 bags of trash! Afterwards, several of us celebrated the day with other partner organizations and volunteers at Rock The Green. Thank you Riverkeeper, the DNR and volunteers! 

Want to know how you can help with a cleanup? please contact elaine.zautke@wisconsin.gov

Fund for Lake Michigan Grant Awarded

Water quality impacts people, plants, and animals. Many species of birds frequent the park, including high numbers of Canada Geese. The geese feed on grass in the park, leaving excrement which negatively impacts water quality and the experience of over 450,000 annual visitors. 

Thanks to a generous grant from Fund For Lake Michigan, FLSP will contract Migratory Bird Management to spray Flight Control® Plus, a non-toxic spray which deters goose populations from taking up residence in the park.  Visitor experience will be enhanced through fewer goose droppings, enabling park patrons to walk freely and enjoy clean, green spaces. Thank you Fund For Lake Michigan!

Bird City Milwaukee

It’s not only winter-worn Milwaukee residents who flock to the lakefront and parks as May rolls around. Birds do too. And lots of them! 

One reason is that Milwaukee is situated in the Mississippi Flyway. And, as Bird City Milwaukee notes, we have over six miles of lakefront and more than 250 hotspots scattered around the area. That’s a big draw for birds throughout the year. And it’s why having safe and bird-friendly environments is so important.

Bird City Milwaukee (BCW), a member of Bird City Wisconsin since 2012, is dedicated to doing just that. It provides education and support to help communities establish and maintain good bird habitats. During its initial years in Milwaukee, BCW was spearheaded by the Urban Ecology Center (EUC), but gradually the management is being turned over to Visit Milwaukee.  As Tim Vargo of the Urban Ecology Center explains, the hope is that under the helm of Visit Milwaukee, Bird City will become “a networking/communication/marketing hub and a go-to place for anybody who wants to know what is happening in Milwaukee any month.” 

To get involved with Bird City Milwaukee, check out its website, social media and Facebook pages. And UEC’s Vargo suggests people can also support the Bird City cause by simply going on a bird walk. If you’re a newcomer to birding, not to worry.  “So many groups love it when new birders come because it’s sharing their passion,” Vargo says. “My suggestion is to get out with someone who can be a mentor and just do it over and over again. The first couple of times it might feel overwhelming but the more you do it, the easier it will be.”

A networking/communication/marketing hub and a go-to place for anybody who wants to know what is happening in Milwaukee any month.

Tim Vargo

May is a great month to get started. Not only is it prime migration season—May 11th is World Migration Day—it’s when the annual Brew City Bird Fest is held! The Urban Ecology Center will be avian central for the fest, May 10-17, offering a variety of cheep fun and informative events, including morning bird walks; a Bird in Arts program; and a Keynote Lecture—Birdie Big Year: Elevating Women Birders by Tiffany Kiersten. A full listing of activities can be found on the Urban Ecology Center website

The Friends of Lakeshore State Park will also be celebrating World Migration Day with a Bird Hike for all ages on Friday, May 10th at 9:30 a.m. Come join us as we search the skies and shore for some of our favorite species. Check our events page for details.

Birds love our city. By supporting Bird City Milwaukee, you can give them a little love them back.

Bird City Milwaukee
https://www.visitmilwaukee.org/things-to-do/nature-outdoors/bird-city/
https://www.facebook.com/BirdCityWisconsin/

Brew City Bird Festival
https://urban-ecology-center.webflow.io/programs-and-events/brew-city-bird-festival

Purple Martins Get a New Home

On April 5th, the installation of a new purple martin bird house was completed. The house is in the same location on the north end of the park just south of the bridge as the previous house. The house was generously donated by Katie and Doug Fisher. The installation took part in stages and was completed by DNR personnel and volunteers.

Some interesting facts about the installation:

  • The recommended height for a purple martin houses is 10 – 20 feet
  • The house weighs about 72 lbs.
  • An existing steel tube in the ground with a 2” inside diameter was re-used
  • A Schedule 40 steel plumbing pipe was used that fit into the existing tube.
  • Volunteer engineers designed the system to withstand 100 mph gusts
  • Purple martins exhibit site fidelity and they are back! (as seen in photo at top of page)

May 2024 Newsletter

Hello Friends!

Warmer temperatures are waking up the flora and the fauna at Lakeshore State Park!  Near the marina, resident groundhogs can be seen enjoying the spring sun. They are highly adaptable, able to live in various habitats. Lakeshore’s riprap and prairies offer a unique environment for a safe home, with plenty of vegetation for them to munch on. Though our groundhogs are curious and used to humans, those lucky enough to view them should watch from a respectful distance. 
 
The prairies are also coming alive! Look for signs of life while walking through the park and reading our new informational signs on blooming plants. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) is one of our first bloomers with their clusters of low growing, reddish pink flowers. We have signage with info about them in the demonstration prairie beds north of the pedestrian bridge. 

The DNR will be installing sign stakes as more plants bloom by the month. Information can be found at  “what’s in bloom” in park kiosks as well. And the DNR staff are hard at work removing invasive and aggressive species from the park’s prairies, as well as preparing areas for new, native plantings.

Keep an eye out for volunteer weed-out and planting dates coming soon!

Upcoming Events

Contact: Elaine Zautke (Park Manager)/elaine.zautke@wisconsin.gov/   414-274-4281

May 1: May Day Hike, 6:00-7:00 PM  Meet north entrance of the park, near Discovery World
May 3: History of Lakeshore State Park Hike, 2:00-3:00 PM Meet near Discovery World
May 5: Great Lakes Awareness Walk, 3:00-4:00 PM  Meet near Discovery World
May 8: Wildflower Walk, 6:00-7:00 PM Meet near Discovery World
May 10: Bird Hike, 6:00-7:00 PM Meet near Discovery World
May 11: Public Fishing Clinic, 1:00-3:00 PM Meet at fishing pier, along the western path 
May 12: Mother’s Day Hike, 3:00-4:00 PM Meet near Discovery World
May 15: Fossil Hike, 5:00-6:00 PM Meet near Discovery World 
May 15: Beach Bonfire 6:00-8:30 PM Meet aPebble Beach, along the park’s western path. 
May 17: Mushroom Hunt, 6:00-7:00 PM Meet near Discovery World
May 19: World Bee Day Walk, 3:00-4:00 PM Meet near Discovery World
May 22: Edible Plants Walk, 6:00-7:00 PM Meet near Discovery World
May 24: Spring Scavenger Hunt, 6:00-7:00 PM Meet near Discovery World
May 29: Snail Trails, 6:00-7:00 PM Meet near Discovery World 

Event details are available here: FLSP Events Page

Save the Dates

May 15th  6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
Jun 19th. 6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
Jul 7th     10am-2pm.  Brunch By the Beach with food trucks
Jul 23rd.  6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
Aug21st.  6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
Sep 7th.  time TBD. Wildflowers By the Water: Music, Food and Art
Sep 18th  5:30pm-7:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s

Our park educators offer a wide variety of programs for both kids and adults, such as fishing clinics (no license required for children 15 and under) and events that focus on nature education and exploration, all designed to be hands-on and family-friendly.

Sturgeon Protectors Signal Hope for our Rivers

For the first time in many years, sturgeon are returning to our rivers.

This has been the result of efforts by many groups, which Michael Timm reflects on in his recent article published in Urban Milwaukee: “Why do we care about the Sturgeon?”

When Sturgeon return home, we should be thinking about what kind of home that place will be. Like us, as Native people, sturgeon had been removed from their original homelands…so now our relatives are able to return, but return to what?

Mark Denning

We have summarized a few key points in the article below. The full article can be found here: https://refloh2o.com/water-stories

One of the groups that has been instrumental in the return of the sturgeon are the Milwaukee Sturgeon Protectors which use both native knowledge and environmental science to help heal the river. Mark Denning, a member of the Sturgeon Clan in the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin wrote “When Sturgeon return home, we should be thinking about what kind of home that place will be. Like us, as Native people, sturgeon had been removed from their original homelands…so now our relatives are able to return, but return to what?”
 
The ability of our rivers to support spawning sturgeon has been on the minds not only of
Sturgeon Protector members, but also children in nature science classes. Children are involved not only in measuring water quality through their classes, but they are also some of the most enthusiastic sturgeon releasers during Sturgeon Fest. To learn more about the Sturgeon Protectors, please contact them at https://sturgeonprotectors.org
 
Education and awareness are key parts of the ethos of the Sturgeon Protectors, who were
inspired by literal protectors preventing poaching during spawning season. The Sturgeon
Protectors have many members from different environmental organizations around Milwaukee
including Riverkeeper, Friends of Lakeshore State Park , UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, and Wisconsin Green Fire, among others. The repair of our riparian environment is not only beneficial for Sturgeon, but for other native fish – and humans too. These long-lived fish will hopefully return to cleaner rivers that will continue on the path of restoration as the next generation becomes involved in their protection”

Several members of the Sturgeon Protectors group meet at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences on Feb. 1, 2024. From left to right: Anne Steinberg, Eric Hansen, Mark Denning, Shirley Aspinall, Don Behm, David Wenstrup, Clare Eigenbrode, and Cheryl Nenn. Photo by Michael Timm.
Several members of the Sturgeon Protectors group meet at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences on Feb. 1, 2024. From left to right: Anne Steinberg, Eric Hansen, Mark Denning, Shirley Aspinall, Don Behm, David Wenstrup, Clare Eigenbrode, and Cheryl Nenn. Photo by Michael Timm.

Woman’s Club of Wisconsin Foundation Grant

More park improvements are coming our way! Thanks to the help of park manager Elaine Zautke, the Friends were recently awarded a grant of $3,000 for vegetative mat installation for the south end of the park.

These mats help reduce runoff and standing water during storms and wave surges, and provide habitat for many pollinator specites included monarch butterflies.

We are very grateful for the generosity of the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin Foundation
for their continued support of the park through funding the vegetative mat projects! 

Lakeside plant Installation
Stock photo showing vegetative mats installed in 2021 thanks to a previous grant from the Woman’s Club of Milwaukee Foundation

April 2024 Events

Greetings Friends!

After a mild winter and during this slow to warm up spring, park wildlife are preparing for the warmer weather ahead. Numerous ducks can be seen along the shoreline diving for food. Mating season is underway, with male Red-breasted Mergansers racing for a female’s affections, and Common Golden Eye males throwing back and bobbing their heads furiously to gain the attention of a potential mate – look for these birds before they soon migrate north! 

Warmer weather means Lakeshore staff are moving about the park too, maintaining the prairies and making improvements to the marina so the slips are more accessible and it’s easier for folks to get in and out of their boats. When in the park, stop and say hello to the friendly DNR staff as they prepare for another busy season! 

Upcoming Events

Apr 4th  6:00pm-7:00pm: Walk after Work! (North Entrance)
Apr 8th  1:00pm-3:00pm: Eclipse Viewing Event (Pebble Beach)
Apr 11th  6:00pm-7:00pm: Dog and Me Walk (North Entrance)
Apr 14th 11:00am-12:00pm: Gardening with Native Plants (North Entrance)
Apr 19th  6:00pm-7:00pm: Spring Bird Migration Hike (North Entrance)
Apr 20th  9:00am-12:00pm: Earth Day Clean Up with Milwaukee Riverkeeper
Apr 20th. 1:00pm-2:00pm: Earth Day Hike 
Apr 26th  5:30pm-6:30pm: Arbor Day Tree Walk (North Entrance)
Apr 27th  10:00am-11:00am: Prairie Hike, (North Entrance)

Event details are available here: FLSP Events Page


Save the Dates

May 15th  6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
Jun 19th. 6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
Jul 7th    time TBA. Brunch By the Beach with food trucks
Jul 23rd.  6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
Aug21st.  6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
Sep 7th.  time TBD. Wildflowers By the Water: Music, Food and Art
Sep 18th  5:30pm-7:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s
 

Our park educators offer a wide variety of programs for both kids and adults, such as fishing clinics (no license required for children 15 and under) and events that focus on nature education and exploration, all designed to be hands-on and family-friendly.


Volunteer for Riverkeeper Cleanup, Apr 20th!

The Friends of Lakeshore State Park is one of many host sites for the annual Earth Day cleanup in the greater Milwaukee Area. This is a fun way to get together outside and help keep our parks and waterways clean.
Six more volunteers are needed to help on Saturday, April 20th.
If interested, please register here: https://tinyurl.com/FLSP-MRK
(adults only due to the hazardous rocky areas by the shore)

After the cleanup, there will be a Rock the Green celebration at the Harley Davidson Museum. We hope to see you at the park and afterwards!

riverkeeper_logo

Membership Matters 

Membership with the Friends of Lakeshore State Park helps ensure the continued growth and protection of the Park in many ways including maintaining trails, enhancing habitat for our resident foxes and other wildlife, and promoting environmental education programs that inspire visitors of all ages. 

As a member, you will contribute directly to vital conservation initiatives and ongoing improvement projects. Your support is essential to the continues success of the Park. 

Please consider making a donation below today!

Park Pal Memberships
Individual: $25
Family: $50

Prairie Patron Memberships
Rock Prairie: $100
Fox Prairie: $250
Kid’s Prairie: $500
Big Prairie: $1,000
 

Thank you! to the following members who recently joined or renewed:
Andrea Petrich

March 2024 Newsletter

Greetings Friends!

Spring is in the air and so are migrating birds! Lakeshore State Park has experienced a mild winter and as temperatures grow ever warmer, animal activity in the park increases. Watch for signs of the resident foxes and birds on their migration journey. Wisconsin is part of the Mississippi Flyway and many ducks, geese, shorebirds, and waterfowl take advantage of the park’s riparian habitat on their journey back north. Frisky birds are looking for a mate. Male Common Golden Eye bob their heads while verbally calling for a female’s attention and resident male Red Breasted Mergansers will race around the lagoon, showing their speed and prowess to any onlooking females. Take part in a bird hike this month and see these amazing displays yourself! 

Upcoming Events

Saturday March 2: 8am to 9am Bird Walk (North Entrance) Hosted by FLSP Volunteers

Join birding enthusiasts from Milwaukee Birders https://milwaukeebirders.org as we take a slow stroll around the park while looking and listening for birds. Bring binoculars and smart phone. All ages and abilities welcome. Meet at the north end of the park just south of Discovery World. 

Sunday March 3: Astronomy and Math in Nature/Discovery World’s Girls and STEM Day,
9am-4pm (Discovery World Lobby) 

Italian mathematician, Leonardo Bonacci, discovered the Fibonacci sequence in 1202. This fascinating pattern is often found nature and in plants we see every day! Join Lakeshore State Park staff in observing this “golden rule” and see if you can spot the logarithmic spirals for yourself! Come learn about the upcoming total solar eclipse, occurring April 8th, 2024. The next total solar eclipse won’t occur until August 23rd, 2044. DNR staff will discuss the science of this spectacular phenomena, where the best viewing spots are located and how to safely observe the sun during the event.  

Saturday March 16: Spring Equinox Hike, 11:00am-12:00pm (North Entrance) 

The Spring Equinox represents new life & new beginnings and encourages new ideas. As the time of equal day & night, it also represents balance & contrast.  Join us for a walk through LSP to observe the signs of winter trying to hold on & look for signs of Spring trying to break through. Embrace this joyful change of seasons and allow the energy of Spring to reawaken your senses. Meet at the Park’s north entrance, just west of Discovery World. All ages and abilities welcome!  

Sunday March 17: Alternative St. Patrick’s Day Hike, 12:00pm-1:00pm (North Entrance)  

Buck the trend and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a relaxing nature hike at Lakeshore State Park! Learn about the history and construction of Lakeshore and observe waterfowl taking advantage of the warming weather. Wear green and don’t forget your binoculars and bird identifying book or app! Meet at the Park’s north entrance, just west of Discovery World. All ages and abilities welcome! 

Saturday March 23: Spring Migration Hike—9:30-10:30am  

Did you know there are over 100 species of birds that call the park home? Walk through Lakeshore State Park with Master Naturalist, Anne Duffy, and learn the basics of urban bird watching and watch for the over 70 species of migratory birds that reside annually! Hike with us multiple times throughout the season to see how populations change over time. All ages and abilities welcome. Bring your own binoculars if desired, as there are a limited number to check out. Meet at the North Entrance, just in front of Discovery World.

Save the Dates

Sat April 20 time TBA. Milwaukee Riverkeeper Cleanup

Sat, April 20 time TBA. Rock the Green at Harley Davidson Museum

Wed, May 15 6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s

Wed, June 19 6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s

Sun, July 7 time TBA. Brunch By the Beach with food trucks

Wed, July 23 6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s

Wed, August 21 6pm-8:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s

Sat, September 7 time TBD. Music, Food and Art

Wed, September 18 5:30pm-7:30pm. Evening bonfire with smore’s


Do you want to help plan or volunteer with events?
Please complete a volunteer interest form   

Volunteer Spotlight, Nick Abresch

Nick is a Commercial Banker at Johnson Financial Group who focuses on new business development and relationship management of commercial banking clients, primarily in the Greater Milwaukee area. Through Johnson Financial Group, Nick works with businesses in a variety of industries with solutions ranging from working capital, machinery and equipment, real estate, and management buyouts and acquisitions.

Nick has been involved with the Friends of Lakeshore State Park for about a year. His volunteer work here has mainly been promoting and creating awareness of the Friends group’s mission, helping raise funds for the group, and serving on the Finance Committee for the organization. In addition to volunteering on our Board, Nick is a Board member of Arts @ Large, an organization that works with K-12 Milwaukee Public School students to provide education in the arts.

Thank you for your volunteering, Nick!

Interview of Cheryl Nenn, the Riverkeeper

We sat down with Cheryl Nenn of Milwaukee Riverkeeper to talk with her about the state of our rivers, the best and worst parts of her job, and how our members can get more involved with Milwaukee Riverkeeper. A full (edited) transcript of our conversation can be found on our website later this month, below is an excerpt.   

Allison D.  ~ So what are some ways that our members can get involved? A lot of our members crosspollinate with different organizations, like our president, Dave, who was your volunteer feature in the 2022 report card. Are there any ways that people can get involved besides coming to the Riverkeeper cleanup? I know a lot of our members already do that, but there’s always going to be plastic in the water and there’s always going to be other things to do. What are some of your favorite things that we can point our members toward?  

Cheryl Nenn  ~ So we’d definitely like help at the spring cleanup on Saturday April 20th!! We also have an adopt-a-river program that requires more regular cleanups, 2 minimum per year. We also do regular water monitoring. We have over 100 folks that go out and test water quality monthly, which Dave does, at over 110 locations right now. So we definitely always need water monitoring folks. Our training is the first Saturday in May at Riveredge Nature Center from 9:00 to 3:00. If people are interested, they can contact us about that. We also have native mussel ID trainings that will probably happen this summer. We do road salt training in early winter, and road salt monitoring from December through March.  We have a lot of different monitoring opportunities and are always looking for more people to help.   

If people wanted to get involved in Plastic-free MKE, there’s a lot of different groups working on policy, education, providing water for refillable bottles at community events, and reaching out to businesses to join the Lake Friendly business program. The Community Advisory Committee’s Area of Concern Network is another option. The goal of that group is to educate people about all the work that’s coming to clean up historic pollution and restore habitat in the Milwaukee Estuary, and making sure that we’re hearing from the community.  We can then use that community feedback to inform the projects that are going to be implemented. So we definitely want to make sure that people know about the different public input opportunities that exist.  

We’re also really focused on environmental justice and making sure that people that haven’t historically been consulted about these types of projects have their voice heard. And we’re working to ensure their recommendations are acted upon, as part of this work going forward. To the extent possible, we are going to try to get the governments to pay for work that is important to the community. And we are also invested in trying to fundraise if needed so that we can to put in more community amenities. The goal is to improve water quality, but also to improve the quality of wildlife habitat and the fish we eat, and to improve the quality of recreational experiences that we have. There’s beach restoration projects happening as well. There’s going to be several smaller management projects on the North Shore beaches, but a fairly large project to move South Shore Beach a little bit south where there’s an opening in the breakwater and where water quality is significantly better. South Shore is one of the worst beaches in the country, statistically. So we’re going to be moving it someplace where we know the water quality is exponentially better. We also have fishing clinics coming up this summer again, and we have a bunch of paddle events coming up that people can join in on.  

And what is the most rewarding part of your job?  

I’m proud that we’re a group that gets things done for the rivers. We do water monitoring, we do cleanups, we do restoration projects, we advocate for a lot of dam removals and other beneficial projects and policies, and we fundraise to make that work happen. So when things get frustrating on the state and federal policy level, I think we still have been very effective moving good projects and policies forward on the local level. I guess one of my other favorite things about my job is working with people like Dave – our volunteers are amazing and inspiring. We have a fairly small staff at Riverkeeper, and I think we punch well above our weight. And I think part of that is because of people like Dave and our volunteers.  

And we get, hundreds of people that call us or e-mail us every year with concerns like something doesn’t smell right, something doesn’t look great, these fish look like they’re struggling, these fish are dead, there is oily sheen on the river. We respond to these community concerns, and work with a lot of different partners to find solutions to problems affecting the rivers. That’s a big part of my job.   

We’re averaging around 4,500 people at our spring cleanup, which is incredible. And I think we have over 95 sites this spring already scheduled – I think more than we’ve ever had. It’s really fun to work with the good people of our community. That’s what gives me energy – the amazing people that are spending their nights, evenings, and weekends trying to clean the water up and make it a better place. There are many others that serve by just keeping their eyes and ears open when they’re walking along the riverwalk, walking their dogs, running, and hiking. We get a lot of our tips from people who are just out there loving the river. We couldn’t do this work without the community and without our volunteers. So big kudos to them! I also get to drive our patrol boat, and that’s fun! 

Riverkeeper Cheryle Nenn at Lakeshore State Park

Membership Matters 

Membership with the Friends of Lakeshore State Park helps ensure the continued growth and protection of the Park in many ways including maintaining trails, enhancing habitat for our resident foxes and other wildlife, and promoting environmental education programs that inspire visitors of all ages. 

As a member, you will contribute directly to vital conservation initiatives and ongoing improvement projects. Your support is essential to the continues success of the Park. 

Please consider making a donation below today!

Park Pal Memberships
Individual: $25
Family: $50

Prairie Patron Memberships
Rock Prairie: $100
Fox Prairie: $250
Kid’s Prairie: $500
Big Prairie: $1,000

Thank you! to the following members who recently joined or renewed:

Elizabeth Johnson
Donna Kleczka
Tina Jones
Andrew Wiegman
Peter Campbell