April showers bring May flowers as the saying goes, and on Earth Day, plenty of showers along with some solid precipitation came to the park. Volunteers didn’t let the weather dampen their spirit though as they gathered loads of trash, beautifying the park and preventing litter from entering Lake Michigan. Thanks to volunteers and Milwaukee Riverkeeper for helping make Milwaukee beautiful!
In anticipation of warmer weather and May flowers, our park DNR staff have been cutting down old vegetation to help identify and remove invasive plants which may otherwise crowd out native ones. Restoration work will continue on the second largest of the park prairies, and we’ll be hosting public planting days June 13-17th. If interested, please let us know by completing our volunteer interest form
May Park Events
Sat. May 13: Origami Swallows 9:00am-12:00pm
Sun. May 14: Mother’s Day Prairie Flower Hike 2:00-3:00pm
Wed. May 17: Bubble Hike- 6:00-7:00pm
Wed. May 17: Beach Bonfire 7:00-8:30pm
Sat. May 20: Bird Hike- 9:30-10:30am
Sun. May 21: Lakeshore State Park History Hike 10:00-11:00am
Fri. May 26: Urban Critters: The Fox 1:00-3:00pm
Sat. May 27: Fishing Clinic 12:00-2:00pm
Dog Walking in the Park
Making the perfect loop with your pooch
Lakeshore State Park is a very accessible nature loop for you and your dog when you want to get some outdoor time close to the city. The park provides many opportunities for sniffing, which not only can calm your dog, but is also an important mental stimulus for them! Park rules require your dog to be leashed at all times, which can be difficult for leash-reactive dogs. Here are a few tips from a former dog walker:
Choose a well-fitting collar or harness
Harnesses can be a comfortable option for your dog, but if your dog pulls a lot it can be hard to walk them with a traditional harness. A front-clip harness can help direct your dog better, or you can try a collar that constricts evenly around your dog’s neck. This could be a Martingale collar or a prong collar. These are safer than regular collars because they evenly distribute the pressure around the dog’s neck, rather than all the force concentrated on the windpipe. Choke collars like these can be especially helpful to give corrections to a dog that can get aggressive or pull too much on leash. They also make it less likely that your dog will slip their collar and get free!
You can bring treats in a baggie, fanny pack, or clip-on training pouch. Many trainers recommend associating any time you give a treat to your dog with a word like “yes!” to create a dopamine pathway between that word and food. So, even if you don’t have a treat on you, saying “yes!” when your dog does what you ask will give them a little dopamine kick.
Practice walking in a low-stimulus area before coming to the park
Going on a walk is one of the most exciting parts of the day for your dog, so bringing them to a place bustling with other dogs; bikers, walkers, runners, and wildlife can be really distracting. Set your dog up for success by practicing walking with them in a low-stimulus area. When your dog looks back at you without your prompting, give them a treat. This associates that behavior on a walk with getting good things.
Practice commands like “heel” or “leave it”
You can start to associate your dog walking near you with a command like “heel” so that you can have them walk calmly next to you. To do this, hold a treat by your side and when they reach for the treat, say “heel.” Repetitions of this will associate walking by your side = treat. If you have a reactive dog, the command “leave it” is a good one to have in your arsenal. You can teach this by saying “leave it” when you see something distracting, such as a biker, a runner, or another dog. When your dog looks back at you, give them a lot of treats for making the right decision.
Pick up dog poop
Dog poop doesn’t add nutrients to the environment like the poop of our native wildlife does. It can also spread disease, and it detracts from the appearance of the park for other visitors. You can tie bags to your leash. Or, when you buy dog-poop bag rolls in bulk, they often give you a free dispenser that can attach to your leash. Be a friend to the park and pick up after your dog.
Volunteer Interest Form
Interested in helping out?
We’d love to hear from you!
When you think about helping out Lakeshore State Park, what do you picture? Do you want to work inside at your desk or outside in nature? Parts of the year or year-round? Using your experience or learning new skills?
Whatever your answer, you’re in luck. When you volunteer with the Friends of Lakeshore State Park, all those options are all available.
Just ask Matt Baudhuin, a volunteer with the Friends who has discovered firsthand how many opportunities there are. What started out as an interest in the environment has become a valuable learning experience for Matt, one he hopes to turn into a career.
Matt, 25, had been working an assistant land steward at the Urban Ecology Center, a seasonal job that nurtured his interest in the natural world. When he became acquainted with the Friends through his activities at local environmental organizations, he mentioned he wanted to learn about grant-writing. A few months later, the phone rang.
Today, Matt is on the Friends’ grant-writing committee, helping collect the data and details that are essential for applications that, if successful, will fund environmental efforts at LSP, among other activities. He works side-by-side with people who have lots of experience to share, and he’s learning the ropes as he goes.
Lakeshore State Park is the premier location for ecology downtown. The amount of programs that we’re offering is growing, the amount of park areas that we’re rehabilitating is growing, and the number of people that we’re reaching is growing.
“I really enjoy writing grants, and it’s a great way to impact the environment in a different way than being out in the field,” says Matt.
Matt also pitches in with other volunteer efforts, such as clean-up days and food truck events. He encourages people to think about how they’d like to help or what they’d like to learn, then indicate those interests on the Friends’ volunteer interest form. Current needs include park greeters, caretakers to tend the restored prairies, citizen scientists, special events helpers and more. Help is needed with board membership and on committees as well.
You’ll be supporting a precious community asset as you work. “Lakeshore State Park is the premier location for ecology downtown,” says Matt. “The amount of programs that we’re offering is growing, the amount of park areas that we’re rehabilitating is growing, and the number of people that we’re reaching is growing.”
The people make it rewarding, too, says Matt. “I love working with the Friends of Lakeshore State Park. I’ve learned a lot and the people are amazing.”
Learn more about volunteering at the only urban state park in Wisconsin by contacting the Friends of Lakeshore State Park at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up below.
Volunteer Interest Form
Nature Puts on a Show Even When It’s Cold
At this time of year, you might think there’s not much to see at Lakeshore State Park. You won’t find the abundance of greenery and the flurry of bird activity that are typical during warmer months. But look more closely, and you might be surprised. We talked to Park Manager Elaine Zautke, who clued us in about the wildlife you can observe during the next three chilly months.
Waterfowl and ice
The Great Lakes rarely freeze, so the abundance of open water creates a food supply for birds that feed on aquatic life. Winter waterfowl like to hang around where there’s less ice coverage, such as the marina area and along the shoreline. They might also be looking for seeds that still remain on the plant life. Some species you night spot include Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, and Red-breasted Mergansers, among others. It’s entertaining to watch waterfowl dive into the water and emerge in another spot. The lagoon is the place to spot many species of diving ducks, especially Long-tailed Ducks and scoter species.
Unless it’s frozen over, the lagoon is also a great place to watch for fish – bluegills, pumpkinseed sunfish, brown trout, bass, northern pike and more. And depending on the conditions, this is a great time to spot interesting ice shapes. Freezing conditions can create fascinating frozen formations on the lake and the shoreline, and when they break off they can be fun to watch. Elaine says early mornings are especially good times to check.
Migration activity and more
Even though spring technically arrives this month, we all know that it can still feel like winter. Waterfowl and fish will still be around, of course, and as the temperatures gradually creep up other natural inhabitants will become active. Watch for animals as they start to come out of hibernation. Foxes often hunt or nest in dens along the shore, and a coyote or two has been spotted in the area. March through June is also the peak of spring migration season, when you can spot bird species that are passing through. Watch for unique shorebird species like the American Avocet and Hudsonian and Marbled Godwits in addition to the more common Willets.
The prairie starts to wake up
Bird lovers can continue enjoying the spring migration season during this time, animals will become more active (watch for woodchucks nibbling grass along the shoreline), and the fish will still be fun to watch. This is also when you can start spotting one of Elaine’s favorite plants: Prairie Smoke, one of the earliest bloomers on the prairie. It develops pink, feather-like seed heads that give the delicate impression of smoke. It has a short blooming period, so don’t wait too long to catch it.
Tips for nature observers
The quiet early-morning hours can be a great time to see animal activity, Elaine suggests. Binoculars are always a good idea, as well as a book or app that helps you identify plants, birds, and other wildlife. So don’t rush your cold-weather visits to Lakeshore State Park. By slowing down and watching, there’s a lot of wildlife to see. “Nature is doing something interesting every month of the year,” says Elaine.
Hello – I’m not a fan of extreme cold but I like winter, and am happy to finally see snow once again blanketing the beautiful prairies in Lakeshore State Park! I hope you enjoy the winter wonderland as much as I do.
You may have noticed that we don’t send a newsletter in January. Our volunteer board and committee members have been busy during that time doing outreach, putting together plans for projects and events for the rest of the year. I’m happy to report that for events we are planning an increased number and variety of activities coming to the park in 2023, all at no charge.
Looking ahead to warmer weather, we’re excited to be partnering with Milwaukee Kayak Company on monthly sunset paddles in June, July and August. As dates are set for all the upcoming events, we’ll list them here in our newsletter, and post information on our social media (links at bottom of the page), and on our website calendar: https://friendslsp.org/events/
Finally, we got notice that the Amazon Smiles program is shutting down. While we didn’t receive much income from that source, every bit helps to support the many programs we offer at the park. So please consider donating below. And if you want to get involved, we always could use help at the park or on committees – if interested please contact us here: https://friendslsp.org/get-involved/volunteer/