The Friends of Lakeshore State Park raise funds and provide donated supplies to enhance visitor experiences at our beloved urban oasis. From providing educational supplies, to re-decking the fishing pier (2021), to working toward a visitor and education center (with actual restrooms!), FLSP takes on projects of all sizes. Explore more about each of these below, and contact us, become a member, or donate if you are interested in contributing.
Fulfilling the Park Legacy
Since Lakeshore State Park officially opened in June 2007, it has become a destination for over 250,000 visitors a year who enjoy the open prairie spaces and panoramic views of the skies, Lake Michigan, and Milwaukee’s urban development. An oasis in an urban setting, Lakeshore State Park offers boaters, tourists, and local residents the chance to experience nature in the heart of Wisconsin’s largest city.
As the Park comes of age and the prairie matures, the views from Lakeshore have become some of the iconic images of the city. Each year, more events – benefit runs and walks, festivals, and social events – look to the Park as their venue of choice.
An Education Platform
Less well known, but even more significant, Lakeshore has grown into a local center for Great Lakes and freshwater education. Providing easy access to Lake Michigan, Lakeshore State Park now conducts over 100 education programs each year in collaboration with Milwaukee schools, regional colleges and universities, and local community centers.
For more information, please read our FLSP Project Overview
The Friends of Lakeshore State Park provide funding to improve visitor experiences at Lakeshore State Park through grants and donations. The Friends are currently seeking funding opportunities for the following:
- Prairie Restoration Initiatives: Coordinated with park staff, the Friends help provide funding for prairie forbs and grasses to enhance the aesthetics of the park. Funding needs vary by year, with most seasons requiring around $3,000. The Friends are currently seeking funding to provide additional prairie space at an estimated cost of $25,000 for the 2020 season.
- Re-Decking of the Fishing Pier: The ADA compliant fishing pier is in need of replacement of the deck boards. This pier is used extensively by park staff for the popular Kids Fishing Clinics and by anglers fishing the lagoon. The Friends are looking to provide funding to replace the pressure treated pine boards with composite boards, extending the life of the pier and reducing maintenance needs. The estimated total cost for this project is $40,000.
- Replacement of Sun Shades: The sun shades provide some of the only breaks from the sun in the prairie-focused park. Through the years, the tops of these have seen some wear and tear. The estimated total cost for replacing both sun shades is $28,000.
- Naturalist Position: Due to restrictive budgets within the park system, the Friends provide financial support for additional naturalist staffing. The park provides over 100 educational programs to the public, summer camps, and school field trips each year. The Friends currently fund approximately one month worth of naturalist staff time for programs each year.
- Environmental Education Supplies: Approximately $1000 in environmental supplies are needed each season. Examples of supplies include: aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling supplies, fishing poles, tackle and bait, nature arts and crafts supplies, displays and activities for drop-in programs, etc.
- Future Visitor and Education Center: More details about this project can be found under the Projects tab.
The Friends have been an active partner since the opening of Lakeshore State Park in 2007. The following are a few examples of items you may see as you walk the park that were funded fully or in part by the Friends:
- Park Benches: funded through donations and grants
- Informational Kiosks at North and South Entrances: funded through donations and a Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) grant
- Educational Signage: permanent interpretive sign bases are installed throughout the park to provide visitors historical and environmental education. Some locations are switched out every couple years to provide new information. The Friends have helped fund 4 of these signs and all of the bases to date, and an additional 3 were provided in partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society.
- Property Orientation Signs: Installed in 2020; this project prompted additional updates to the information found in all of the park’s kiosks and FLSP provided additional funds to complete
- Fishing Kiosk: Installed in 2020, this kiosk is found at the park’s most popular fishing area near the Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse and includes applicable fishing brochures, general information, and research conducted by UWM School of Freshwater Sciences regarding fish species in the park
- Fish Habitat Hotels: funded by the Friends and provided by Harbor District, these will aim to improve nesting and feeding habitat along sheet pile shores. Due to high water levels in 2019 and 2020, the installation has been moved to 2021.
- Environmental Education Program Staff and Supplies: the Friends contribute annually to provide additional naturalist hours and materials for education programs.
- Fishing Poles: through donations and grants, the Friends have been the primary provider of the equipment used for the popular Kids Fishing Clinics hosted by the park staff
- New Prairie Areas: through donations and grants, the Friends have funded the installation of multiple prairies throughout the park. The small prairie just south of the big lawn area started restoration in 2016 and is close to complete. In 2020, the Friends secured a SWWT Mini Grant to help beautify and manage storm water at the south entrance through installation of native vegetated mats. These areas will continue to be worked on and enhanced for the next few years.