Park Update – September 2022

Thank you to all who came out and made Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile a success. Hosting this event would not have been possible without the support and outreach efforts of the Friends of Lakeshore State Park as well as the presence of the Bureau of Land Management, US Forestry Service, and Riveredge Nature Center. Canoemobile is a unique occasion to provide park patrons of all ages and backgrounds with the opportunity to learn about canoeing and water safety. We hope to make this a returning event.

Summer will soon come to an end but there is still plenty to do and see at Lakeshore. Recently, staff has seen the woodchuck that lives in Rock Prairie, as well as a rare sighting of a fox roaming the riprap behind Fox Prairie. Walk the park early in the morning and you too may catch a glimpse of the famous Lakeshore foxes!

Notable events this month include Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend (September 10-11th), Food Trucks and Kayaks (September 11th), and cultural walks with our interpretive educators celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th) and Indigenous Peoples Day (September 23rd). A full list of Lakeshore events can be found below.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, September 3rd—9:30-10:30 a.m. Bird Hike
Saturday, September 3rd —4:00-5:30 p.m. Prairie Hike
Saturday, September 10th-11th Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend (see below for details)
Saturday, September 10—7:00-9:00 p.m. Beach “Bonfire”
Sunday, September 11th —10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  Food Truck and Kayaking
Thursday, September 15th —6:00-7:30 p.m. Hispanic Heritage Month Hike (Bilingual)
Wednesday, September 21st—6:00-7:00 p.m. Dragonfly Hike
Wednesday, September 21st—7:00-9:00 p.m. Beach “Bonfire”
Thursday, September 22nd —6:00-7:00 p.m. Late-Blooming Flowers Hike (Bilingual)
Friday, September 23rd—6:00-7:30 p.m. Indigenous People Hike
Saturday, September 24 – 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Medicinal and Edible Plants Hike (Bilingual)

If you have any questions about upcoming events, please contact Elaine Zautke (Lakeshore State Park Manager). / 414-274-4281

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

6 Things to Know About Bird-Watching

Bird-watching is one of the most popular activities at Lakeshore State Park, and it can be done in lots of different ways.

Whether you’ve got binoculars or an iPhone, you’re on your lunch break or making a special trip, it’s a rewarding and relaxing experience.

Blogger and birder Nathaniel Wegner shared some of his tips about birding at LSP, where a combination of lakeshore and prairie habitats create great bird-watching opportunities year-round. And check out Sunday Birders, Nathaniel’s blog about birding and exploring nature throughout Wisconsin.

1. Spring migration is a great time to view visiting species.

March through June is the peak of spring migration season, when you can spot species that are just passing through. This is when you can see unique shorebird species like the American Avocet (one of Nathaniel’s favorites) and Hudsonian and Marbled Godwits in addition to the more common Willets.

“Certain days each May can be amazing, especially with winds from the southwest, which push the birds towards the lake.”

Nathaniel Wegner

Birders have observed over 100 species in a single day during this time of year. Nathaniel’s tip: Always check the beach for the shorebirds and any terns that are migrating through.

2. Fall migration is, too!

Humans may pack up their beach towels when fall comes, but shorebirds come back again.. “This is also the time when rarities such as Whimbrel, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and Nelson’s and LeConte’s Sparrows have shown up,” said Nathaniel.

jim edlhuber black-belled plover
A Black-belled Plover, one of many birds you can spot at Lakeshore State Park. Credit: Photo by Jim Edlhuber

In addition to the beach, don’t overlook the large grassy area in the middle of the park, said Nathaniel. “It’s a good spot to check in fall, as a few of the shorebird species have been seen there, and sometimes a Cackling Goose will show up, too.”

3. Check out the rain garden area in summer.

“Summer is the quietest season in terms of birding in Milwaukee, but the rain garden area could have species like Sora or a Green Heron lurking in the reeds.”

4. The lakeshore rocks see action in cold months.

Starting in late October through January, the rocks along the lake are a great place to look for late migrants, said Nathaniel. These include Snow Bunting, Horned Lark and American Pipit, which sometimes will even winter in the area. You might even find a Short-eared Owl.

5. Visit the lagoon in winter

In the winter months, the lagoon is the place to spot many species of diving ducks, especially Long-tailed Ducks and scoter species.

6. Give eBird a try!

Nathaniel recommends that anyone interested in birds try eBird, a website and app from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology. “You can keep track of all the species you’ve seen, get rare bird alerts, see what species are usually seen at a specific park, and help science along the way.”

jim edlhuber green heron
A Green Heron, one of many birds you can spot at Lakeshore State Park. Credit: Photo by Jim Edlhuber