Park Property Supervisor Update – May 2022

Thank you to all the volunteers that came out for the Milwaukee Riverkeeper Spring Cleanup at Lakeshore State Park! Your work helped prevent dozens of bags worth of litter and debris from making its way into our precious resource of Lake Michigan, and it was one of the nicest weather days we’ve had for the event in years!

As we move to warmer weather, park staff and volunteers are working to make sure our prairies are ready for spring. You may see some of the prairies mowed back, in an effort to encourage mulch formation after they’ve served their purpose of food and habitat for winter wildlife. This practice also allows us to identify and remove invasive plants that seek to establish and take over prior to our native warm weather grasses and forbs emerging.

Thanks to contributions to the Friends of Lakeshore State Park, we are continuing efforts to restore our second largest prairie to native grasses and forbs. Our order of 4,548 prairie plants are set to be delivered the week of May 23rd. We are in need of all the help we can get (many hands make light work) for volunteer shifts 9-11:30am and 1-3:30pm daily on May 25th, 26th and 27th. To sign up for a shift (or a few), visit and follow the instructions for becoming a volunteer in our State Park System!

Migratory waterfowl are making their way back for summer, with recent sightings of a couple northern shovelers, American black ducks, and blue winged teal. American avocets are also on their way through, so keep your eyes open along the shoreline and quiet water basin at the park!


Avocets at the Park

We’ve got a number of events coming up in May, including our first beach ‘bonfire’ of the season, hope to see you there! All events meet at the north entrance unless otherwise noted.

Saturday May 7th, 9-10:30am Lakeshore History Hike
Sunday May 8th, 1-2pm Walk with Mom
Saturday May 14th, 9:30-10:30am Bird Hike
Wednesday May 18th, 6-7pm Bubble Walk
Wednesday May 18th, 7-9pm Beach ‘Bonfire’ (meet at pebble beach)
Saturday May 21st, 10-11:30am Kids Fishing Clinic (meet at south entrance near BMO Harris stage)
Saturday May 28th, 10-11 am Prairie Phenology Hike

Angela Vickio

Park Property Supervisor Update – April 2022

As we move into mid/late April, watch for prairie smoke starting to emerge and bloom in the northernmost prairies.

Prairie smoke has wonderful pink flowers, that once pollinated will produce a fuzzy seed head that resembles the look and feel of the hair on the 1980’s Troll dolls. They are some of our earliest risers at Lakeshore, and only bloom for a short period of time. The first tree swallows are also starting to make their way back to the nesting boxes for the spring, as some of our winter birds migrate out.

Interested in volunteering? The Wisconsin State Park System recently launched a new way to communicate volunteer opportunities throughout the state. To stay in the loop on upcoming invasive species removal dates, prairie planting days in late May, long-term opportunities, and special volunteer projects, please visit  MyImpactPage – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ( to sign up for Lakeshore State Park!  Additional dates for public volunteer events will be added as staff returns for the season.

Do you have a large group looking to help?

We are in need of a group of ~20 volunteers later this summer (once the weather is a bit warmer) to help us finish painting the Harbor railing at our south entrance. If your group may have interest, please contact Angela Vickio to discuss possible dates.

While we are typically ready to re-open our fishing pier for the season, the pier sustained some storm damage this winter, causing some of the pilings that hold it in place to fail. The Department is currently exploring options for a longer-term solution for this issue, and we will provide an update when we are able to re-open it to use. We will still continue to lead fishing clinics starting in May again this year, just at an alternate location on the property.

Speaking of events, we’ve got our first ones for the season coming up in April! We’ll have many more as the weather warms but mark your calendars for the following early season hikes. All hikes listed below will start at the north entrance, just west of Discovery World.

Upcoming Events

Angela Vickio

Volunteer Gardeners are Vital to Prairie Restoration

Year after year, more native grasses and flowering plants take root at Lakeshore State Park and fewer invasive plants thrive.

That’s not by accident!

Prairie restoration requires constant diligence – and digging and planting. Without volunteers to do this work, the thistle and Queen Anne’s lace might still be winning.

The Milwaukee Art Museum Garden Club’s “Prairie Pals” are an essential part of that effort. Beginning with the park’s annual spring planting, the club musters volunteers who regularly put on their gardening gloves and get to work.

“We’re so fortunate to have the club’s involvement,” said David Wenstrup, Friends of Lakeshore State Park President. “Consistent, dedicated effort is what it takes to do this work, and they’re fully committed to the mission.” After David helped the group out a few times, he decided to become a Garden Club member himself.

Anyone is welcome to join the Prairie Pals starting May 5 and continuing every other Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. as they fill bag after bag with invasive weeds. You can come whenever you like, and you don’t have to be a Garden Club member – see the Park Supervisor Update for how to register to volunteer.

Helen Dahms and Grant Kniedler, who coordinate the Lakeshore State Park volunteers for the Garden Club, say that gardeners understand how important native species are for migratory birds, insects and other wildlife. But the volunteers benefit, too. “It’s a wonderful way to get some fresh air and camaraderie and also do some public service,” says Helen.

Grant calls it “a nice chance to be social in a productive way,” and he’s proud to have a role in sustaining a beautiful place. “I think it’s important to create a pleasant environment for the citizens of Milwaukee.”

“It is just such a beautiful setting.  To go down there and have the lake, the Summerfest grounds, the city skyline and the art museum — you can’t beat it.”

Helen Dahms

Garden Club members have been volunteering at Lakeshore State Park since 2018, coming from throughout the metro Milwaukee area to help. Some have their own gardens at home, and others are apartment-dwellers who appreciate an opportunity to work in the soil.

President’s Message – April 2022

It has been a long winter and, like many of us, Lakeshore State Park is more than ready to totally embrace Spring.

While Winter gave us interesting ice formations, colorful fishing huts on the frozen lagoon and birds such as goldeneye on open water, we are eager to welcome the return of red-wing blackbirds and more people enjoying the park – and with longer and warmer days, more organized activities will soon start here as well.

On April 23rd, our friends at Milwaukee Riverkeeper are sponsoring their annual, city-wide waterway cleanup. With over 80 locations, you will be able to join your friends and neighbors in this popular event that helps to keep our waterways clean and healthy. This also includes a free t-shirt and a Rock the Green after-party. For more information and to join in the fun at the park, register and select Lakeshore State Park.

April showers bring May flowers as the saying goes – and volunteers of the Milwaukee Art Museum Garden Club sure know about native flowering plants.  I invite you to read Diane Bacha’s article about the great work these volunteers do to make Lakeshore State Park prairies beautiful.

In addition to the Garden Club, there are many ways to volunteer at Lakeshore State Park. Volunteering is a great way to make new friends, share your skills and give back to your community. Whether you like to work in enthusiastic groups or prefer to work alone, we have volunteer opportunities, from prairie restoration to greeting visitors, for everyone!

Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you as we all enjoy the many Spring wonders of our Lakeshore State Park.

David Wenstrup
President, Board of Directors

Want To Sponsor a Bench?

The Deadline Is April 1!

Sometimes it’s the little things that count, like offering someone a place to sit and rest. What if you could offer this gift almost year-round and in a beautiful environment?

Sponsoring a bench or picnic table at Lakeshore State Park is a way to do just that.

The deadline for submitting a sponsorship application for tables and benches is April 1. Locations for benches and picnic tables are pre-determined, and plenty are available right now.

Each sponsored bench or table bears a plaque that can be used to memorialize a loved one, acknowledge a contribution or convey a message about the park. A sponsor can also choose a fish, heart, bicycle or tree icon to include on the plaque. (Messages must adhere to guidelines and be pre-approved.)

Sponsorships are $2,500 for a bench and $3,000 for a table and will support maintenance and repairs for 10 years. As Natural Resources Property Supervisor Angela Vickio points out, that means a long-term way to help more people experience outdoor recreation.

The more seating and rest options the park has, the more accessible it is “to people of all abilities,” Angela says. Picnic tables are specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs, too.

Bench and table sponsorships are also available for the Hank Aaron State Trail, which is connected to Lakeshore State Park.

If interested, contact Angela at (414) 750-1237 or

President’s Message – March 2022

Hello everyone!

It’s my pleasure, honor, and privilege to serve as the incoming president of the Friends of Lakeshore State Park. Sue Frautschi did great work leading the organization over the past three years, and we’re thankful for her continued support on our all-volunteer board.

David Wenstrup on Richard A Grobschmidt Bridge
David Wenstrup on Richard A Grobschmidt Bridge

I love Milwaukee and the park. Hiking, cycling, birding, volunteering, and photography are some of my favorite activities, and the park is a great place to do it all. With beautiful prairies, the lake and city skyline, photo opportunities abound here. And if you want to share your skills, Friends of Wisconsin State Parks has a photo contest: FWSP Photo Contest.

Our organization has dedicated volunteers. Diane Bacha contributes the monthly article and helps with our social media. Please check out her story, as well as links to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. We’ve been posting about the park more frequently – and with spring on its way, we’ll have more exciting news to share!

All the best,

David Wenstrup