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:

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
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

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 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

Volunteer Spotlight

The Friends of Lakeshore State Park is an all-volunteer organization, with one part-time administrative assistant; we are a small yet strong team! Volunteers are key to our success, and we are excited to recognize our 2023 Volunteer of the Year, Allison Driskill. Allison helps tremendously through her management of our social media, help with the newsletter and planning and participating in park events. Thank you Allison!

Learn more about Allison as we discuss her experience volunteering with FLSP.

What is your favorite season to visit the park?

Spring, when the Baptisia alba is blooming!

Why did you start volunteering with Friends of Lakeshore State Park?

I used to take my dog, Jackson, on walks around the park which he and I really enjoyed. When he died, I decided to see if the park needed volunteers to honor his memory and give back to a place that brought us joy when he was alive. I get to make a big impact with this park in particular due to the small nature of the volunteer group and how publicly accessible this park is to both visitors and city-dwellers alike!

What is your favorite thing to do in the park?

I really like walking around and seeing all the different native plants that I can identify. Seeing the succession of species blooming throughout the season is always amazing!

What is your favorite plant or animal that is in the park?

Obviously I really like the showy Baptisia alba (Wild White Indigo), but I also love running my fingers through Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass).

Why are accessible spaces in nature important to you?

When I first started coming to the park, I didn’t have a car so this was the first state park I had visited in Wisconsin. I know that I can take anyone to the park, no matter their athletic ability or the vehicle access. The paved paths allow anyone to view a slice of nature.

Why are public parks important to you?

Patches of greenery in public spaces are not only important slivers of habitat for native animals who have been displaced by human populations, but it is also a benefit for us as well. Going out in nature is calming and good for people. Access to nature should be a right available to anyone, even if they live in the city.

Do you want to volunteer with the Friends?

We could use your help! Please complete a volunteer interest form.

Donor Spotlight

The Friends of Lakeshore State Park are grateful for the generosity of individuals and organizations in support of our mission. Over the past two years, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF) has funded a park educator and diversity intern who deliver impactful educational programs at the park for so many. We are thrilled to let you know that for the third year in a row, we have been awarded a grant from the GMF towards a park educator and diversity intern at Lakeshore State Park! 

About the Greater Milwaukee Community Foundation: they work to inspire philanthropy, serve donors, and strengthen communities now and for future generations. The foundation strives to help the greater Milwaukee area become a vibrant, economically thriving region comprised of welcoming and inclusive communities that provide opportunity, prosperity and a high quality of life for all. With nearly a century of experience, the foundation has vast knowledge and expertise surrounding community needs and challenges and what resources and partners it takes to meet them.

Membership Matters

We value our members and believe you share our vision of maintaining and improving this remarkable natural gem for generations to come, and we continue to extend our warm invitation to join the Lakeshore State Park Friends.  

Membership plays a pivotal role in ensuring the continued growth and protection of the Park; it helps us maintain trails, enhance wildlife habitats, and promote environmental education programs that inspire visitors of all ages.

Through Dec 15th, new and renewing members of Friends of Lakeshore State Park are eligible through a random drawing to win one of the thank-you gifts below:

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 joined or renewed in October:

Laura Herzog
Bob & Carol Diggelman
Angie Mack
Andrea Van Sumeren
Naveen Lalit Kankate

November Park Events


Friday, November 10th: Veterans Hike, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Wednesday, November 15th: “Rock your Mocs” Hike, 5:30pm-6:30pm
Friday, November 24th: #OptOutside Hike, 11:00am-12:00pm

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.

For details on events, please visit the FLSP Events Page.


Christmas in the Ward!

The tradition continues! Friday December 1st Friends volunteers and the DNR will be making s’mores at Christmas in the Ward. Please stop by, say hello and get warm by four fire pits while making these tasty treats. Donations using Square or cash will be gratefully accepted. The event starts at 5:30pm with fireworks at 7:25pm.

Want to help with events, programs or otherwise?
Please complete a volunteer interest form.

Colder weather doesn’t mean all activity at Lakeshore State Park has slowed.

Spawning trout and salmon can be seen leaping from the water as they make their way to the shallow waters and gravel beds best for laying eggs. Bluestem grasses have turned an autumn orange, the flowers have all gone to seed, and you can practically smell the pies in the oven.

This month is one of the last times to soak up fall, and when we start to feel grateful for our families, our friends, and our planet. As we relish the last moments of flowering plant life for the year, we can feel grateful for organizations which help keep our parks functioning at their best. We can help these organizations in several ways, such as giving our time to weed out invasive plants, donating to fund more educational opportunities at the parks, promoting organizations that help facilitate both, and more. Giving to organizations that matter to the planet during this season can provide a feeling of warmth that helps stave away the chill as winter starts to wrap its icy grip around our city. 

Donating to the Friends of Lakeshore State Park helps fund things like educational collaborations with the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks and Audubon Society, new equipment for the staff and park rangers, and free events for the public. As Milwaukee’s only urban state park, your support can help make nature accessible for anyone, regardless of their ability, language, or access to transportation.

Someone without a car can access this park, and it may be the only state park they have had a chance to visit. Anyone who visits here can see birds, butterflies, bees, foxes, and fish all within this urban patch of prairie by the lake – just by taking the Gold line bus to the lakefront! Your donation to the Friends of Lakeshore State Park helps support the DNR to keep this park accessible, educational, and an island of natural habitat right in the heart of Milwaukee.