President’s Message, August 2022

It’s prime time for fun at Lakeshore State Park, and with so many educational and recreational activities available, keeping up with the list can be a challenge!

We post planned events on our social media, and starting this month, we’re adding details to our website: A summary of events the DNR and we host is listed at the bottom of the newsletter as well.

Numerous public events at the park not hosted through the DNR don’t get listed though. For example, the US Triathlon is this weekend: The park is a great place to watch the action. Another to note is the Dragon Boat Festival which takes place on August 13th. Friends of Lakeshore State Park volunteers will be there to help promote our organization and sell raffle tickets. Please stop by our table and say hello while enjoying this wonderful cultural festivity.

Last night, our Friends group hosted an “Indeed We Can” benefit in Walkers Point. Thanks so much to the DNR staff who led a popular trivia game about the park, and our volunteers and board members who promoted the park and sold raffle tickets. And thanks to Indeed Brewing Company for generously donating net proceeds of $558 from beer sales to our organization. Turnout was great, and we plan to hold this event again next year!

For our monthly article, Diane Bacha did fine research about shipping news in the Milwaukee harbor area. See why Lakeshore State Park is one of the best places to watch these huge vessels come and go!

Canoemobile is back in Milwaukee! Reservations are still available. See Elaine’s Zautke’s park update for details about this event and other activities like volunteering and field trips.

The many activities, the beauty of Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee combine to make Lakeshore State Park a premier location for education, conservation and recreation for everyone – come take advantage of everything the park has to offer!

David Wenstrup
President, Friends of Lakeshore State Park

Field Trip Offering
Friends of Lakeshore State Park, in partnership with DNR and MMSD still have some availability in free field trip offerings (including busing reimbursement) that are focused on water quality. These field trips include macroinvertebrate study relating to water quality, and a brief hike about Lake Michigan ecology. Field trips qualifying through this program need to be conducted prior to October 31st. For scheduling this opportunity, or for other field trip interest, contact our educator

Fascinating & Fun Ship Watching

Cold weather or warm, morning or night — there’s one activity that’s constant year-round at Lakeshore State Park, and that’s ship-watching.

Because LSP is so close to Port Milwaukee, it offers a terrific vantage point for viewing vessels that come and go. Bring your folding chair and perhaps a set of binoculars, and you can spot a variety of freighters, barges and cruise ships making a stop to unload cargo, pick up cargo, or do both. And in the case of cruise ships, they’ll be bringing visitors, too.

Port Milwaukee is a true 24/7, 365-day port. We have vessel activity potentially every day throughout the year.

Adam Tindall Schlicht

The ship-watching activity is increasing — last year, 400 vessels visited Port Milwaukee, up from 349 in 2020. “Port Milwaukee is a true 24/7, 365-day port. We have vessel activity potentially every day throughout the year,” said Port Milwaukee director Adam Tindall Schlicht.

Schlicht explained that there are four main types of vessels visiting Port Milwaukee:

  • Tugs or tug-and-barge combinations, which help large vessels operate safely or carry cargo to or from the port. Many of these are built to operate on the Great Lakes or may be traveling from or to the Mississippi River.

  • A “laker,” which is a U.S. or Canadian vessel specifically designed for the Great Lakes. These are some of the largest vessels on the Great Lakes. Along with barges, they’re also the most common at the port.

  • A “saltie,” an international ocean-going vessel that enters the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway. They typically visit April through January.

  • International cruise ships, the newest type of vessel at Port Milwaukee. This year alone Milwaukee is expecting 33 cruise ships carrying well over 10,000 passengers, Schlicht said.

Import/export cargo includes salt, fertilizer, steel, cement, grain, limestone, liquid methane and lumber, to name a few. “Our economic role cannot be understated,” Schlicht said. “The vessel activity and the cargo that we handle year-round generate over $100 million in economic impact each year.”

Want to know more about the vessels you’re spotting?

Here are three resources Schlicht recommends:

  • Port Milwaukee’s real-time vessel tracker, This updates in real time the information about vessels coming and going. (The Port Milwaukee website,, has information about the port, as well.)

  • Board Nerd,, a website that monitors vessel activity across the Great Lakes, along with information about their history and fun facts.

  • Wisconsin Marine Historical Society, “If you’re looking for more of that historical context – what is that ship, what is her service, what is she traditionally carrying? — Wisconsin Marine Historical Society is a fabulous resource.”

Cruise ship passes under the Hoan bridge
Viking Octanis passing under the Hoan Bridge photo by David Wenstrup

If you’re looking for more of that historical context – what is that ship, what is her service, what is she traditionally carrying? Wisconsin Marine Historical Society is a fabulous resource.

Wisconsin Marine Historical Society

Have you viewed Lakeshore State Park from the water?

There’s lots to love about summer at Lakeshore State Park, but one of our favorites: It’s the season for paddle boats!

“For my money it’s the best view in the city,” said Timothy Ritter, owner of Lakeshore Paddle Sport Rentals. Tim and wife Val operate their business mid-May through mid-September, depending on the weather. “The water is so clean, and the breezes, and going by Summerfest … it’s just a really unique spot.”

Lakeshore Paddle Sport Rentals gives visitors a chance to experience the park from a different vantage point by paddling around the Maritime Water Basin and the Quiet Water Basin between Lakeshore State Park and the Summerfest grounds. Rent a paddleboat or hydrobike and you’ll have a non-polluting way to get around while getting exercise, too.

It’s a great activity for families, friends, or anyone who enjoys being on the water.

For my money it’s the best view in the city. The water is so clean, and the breezes, and going by Summerfest … it’s just a really unique spot.

Timothy Ritter

A few tips to keep in mind when renting from Lakeshore Paddle Sport Rentals: 

  •  If you’re a 2022 Park Pal or Prairie Patron, you’ll have a separate email* from us today that you can use to get discounted paddle boat and hydrobike rentals.  Don’t lose that email – it’s good all summer!  That same email also will give you information on claiming a discount at Milwaukee Kayak Company this summer.
  • Bring water or soft drinks to enjoy while you paddle. Each rental is for an hour, so you’ll appreciate having refreshments.
  • It’s a good idea to bring a hat and sunglasses. The paddle boats have canopies for shade, but on a sunny day there’s plenty of glare off the water.
  • A life vest is included with your rental.
  • Bring your (small) pet!

 About that last piece of advice: Ritter said he has seen all kinds of pets join their humans on the water. “We’ve had dogs, cats, snakes, turtles,” Ritter said. “It’s such a fun thing to do.”

But to Ritter, the people are what make his job rewarding. “We have nothing but nice people and families as customers, it’s a joy.” Many are out-of-towners who ask his advice about things to do. “And they just gush, people just gush about Milwaukee and the downtown. It gets me right in the heart.”

*If you are a 2022 Prairie Pal or Prairie Patron and did not get the discount email, send a message to with your full name and approximate date of contribution and we’ll get the discount email out to you right away.

President’s Message – July 2022

The heat is on and summer is in full swing with many wonderful events going on around Milwaukee. Looking for a place to chill? It’s cooler by the lake, and our beautiful state park is surrounded by water!

There are many ways to cool off at the park. You can check out one of them in our feature article this month by volunteer Diane Bacha.

We have 14 events scheduled at the park this month, several available as bilingual, listed here on Facebook: One is our first ever food truck event to be held inside the park on July 10th, the day after Summerfest winds down. Along with great food there will be live music and family-activities to help keep the party going.

These many park events are made possible thanks to the hard work of the Wisconsin DNR staff. Park supervisor Angela Vickio oversees our park as well as Havenwoods State Forest and Hank Aaron State Trail. She’s introducing our new park manager Elaine Zautke. Stop and say hi to Elaine and the DNR staff when you see them at the park.

So come out to the park, enjoy the summer sun and one or more of our free events – happy Fourth of July everyone!

David Wenstrup

President, Friends of Lakeshore State Park


Spring migration, when many bird species visit town en route to their final destination, is a special time for birders. And Lakeshore State Park, with its mix of lakefront and prairie habitats, is a special place to take advantage of this opportunity.

Since June is the last month of spring migration season, we asked blogger and birder Nathaniel Wegner for some tips about taking advantage of it. Nathaniel, a home-schooled high school student who lives in Greendale, has been birding since 2017. He travels the state to explore parks and other natural environments and appreciates the unique experience each place offers.

“The number of species moving through our area is extremely fun to witness,” said Nathaniel. “The majority of Milwaukee’s shorebirds, warblers, and thrushes (and many sparrows and flycatchers) are migratory, so spring and fall are our only shot at seeing most of these species.”

At LSP, Nathaniel’s personal favorite during spring migration is the American Avocet. “Through the years, Lakeshore has been the best area in Milwaukee county to see this species,” he said. “It’s such a distinctive looking species in a class of birds that’s notorious for looking very similar, with its cinnamon colored head, black and white wings, and blue-grey legs.” You can usually find American Avocets on the beach along with other migrating shorebirds.

Nathaniel has been to many other parks with beaches, large grassy areas, rocks by the lake or rain gardens, but he considers LSP unique. “I think it’s the combination of all of these habitats (and in a relatively small area, in the middle of downtown) that gives it such bird diversity.”

You can learn more about birding at Nathaniel’s blog, Sunday Birders. And watch the Friends’ website for more tips from him about bird-watching at LSP.


Nathaniel Wegner Credit: Photo by Steve Wegner
Nathaniel Wegner Credit: Photo by Steve Wegner

President’s Message – June 2022

Making Lakeshore State Park a beautiful and thriving place takes a lot of work and your Friends organization plays a key role in making that happen.

We partner with the Wisconsin DNR and our community to support the park as Milwaukee’s premier lakefront destination for environmental and freshwater education, conservation, recreation, and outdoor enjoyment – for everyone!

Thanks to generous donations, memberships, and the support of the Friends over the past year, the park prairies have been further improved, the ADA-accessible fishing pier re-decked, the goose population remediated with a non-toxic solution, and multiple events held such as Cracking Arts Rebirth “swallows”, beach bonfires, and MKE Doors Open.

 And as the season turns towards summer, Lakeshore State Park is again abuzz with activity! We’re excited about programs and events being planned. We’ve just add over 4,500 native prairie plants. Our grant-funded bilingual park educator has over a dozen educational events planned at the park in June alone – with much more to come!

The need for these kinds of programs grows, so won’t you please help the Friends of Lakeshore State Park continue the work to make our park a thriving lakefront destination for everyone?

Become a Park Pal or Prairie Patron today!  This year joining or renewing at any level qualifies you for discounted rentals at Lakeshore Paddle Sport Rentals and Milwaukee Kayak Company.  See the park from a new angle!

David Wenstrup
President, Board of Directors