Milwaukee County Parks-Natural Areas Program

Milwaukee County Parks-Natural Areas Program The Natural Areas Program is a creative use of partnerships that engages Wisconsin’s largest community through the science and beauty of restoration ecology while managing approximately 10,000 acres within the Milwaukee County Parks System.

The Natural Areas Program is a creative use of partnerships that engages Wisconsin’s largest community through the science and beauty of restoration ecology. In just five short years this newly reborn Natural Areas Program has developed over 80 community partnerships and has trained 8,000 volunteers. These volunteers, who have donated nearly 60,000 hours, consist of university students, elementary school students, community groups, government agencies, NGO’s, religious institutions, and private corporations. The assistance these partnerships provided and continue to provide is integral to the management of the Milwaukee County Park’s 9,200 acres of natural areas. These resources include upland and bottomland forest, fens, oak savanna, remnant wet-mesic prairie, shrub-carrs, open marsh, lagoons, pollinator gardens, and surrogate grasslands. These are natural resources that have been historically molded by the influences of a great lake, Wisconsin’s ecological tension zone, and over 150 years of Euro-American settlement. Many unique challenges present themselves in a county where the human element cannot be separated from the natural element, nor should it. The overriding goal is restoration and management of these natural resources, but another, which is of equal importance, is binding the citizens of Milwaukee County to their natural areas. In the process we are creating stewards, advocates, donors, and in effect a corps of restoration ecologists.

Operating as usual

Why shouldn't you build a teepee in Parks natural areas?-Building teepees is harmful to native plant species and damages...
05/10/2021

Why shouldn't you build a teepee in Parks natural areas?

-Building teepees is harmful to native plant species and damages important wildlife habitat. Venturing off designated trails harms native pollinator plants and spreads invasive species. It destroys critical wildlife habitat, compacts soil, and causes erosion into area waterways.

-You can see in these photos that underneath the teepee only a few plants remain. Surrounding this structure is a lush carpet of native spring ephemerals that had once extended into the space where the teepee now is.

-Please remain on designated trails and help protect our natural areas, plants, and wildlife. Thank you!

We’re not sure what's fuzzier, the plant or this long-horned bee. Many species of long-horned bees are specialist pollin...
05/08/2021

We’re not sure what's fuzzier, the plant or this long-horned bee. Many species of long-horned bees are specialist pollinators, meaning they only visit one type of plant. Oftentimes these plants and pollinators are completely dependent on one another for their survival.

See a monarch? Look again. This monarch mimic is, in fact, a viceroy. Note the horizontal stripes on the back wings. Unl...
05/04/2021

See a monarch? Look again. This monarch mimic is, in fact, a viceroy. Note the horizontal stripes on the back wings. Unlike their doppelgangers, viceroys don’t migrate. Instead, they overwinter as caterpillars, wrapping themselves in the leaves of their host plants: willows, aspens, and cottonwoods. Come spring these hungry, hungry caterpillars emerge and are perfectly positioned to fatten up on the fresh, new foliage. 🐛🐛

See a monarch? Look again. This monarch mimic is, in fact, a viceroy. Note the horizontal stripes on the back wings. Unlike their doppelgangers, viceroys don’t migrate. Instead, they overwinter as caterpillars, wrapping themselves in the leaves of their host plants: willows, aspens, and cottonwoods. Come spring these hungry, hungry caterpillars emerge and are perfectly positioned to fatten up on the fresh, new foliage. 🐛🐛

Spending time in nature is linked to improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being🌳😊🐦.We were fortunate e...
04/26/2021
For the birds: Medical College of Wisconsin graduate students take time for birdhouse project

Spending time in nature is linked to improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being🌳😊🐦.

We were fortunate enough to collaborate with the Medical College of WI and the Friends of County Grounds Park to install songbird nest boxes which will be monitored by grad students this year.

Thank you to CBS 58 Sunday Morning for highlighting this project!

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Birdwatching has taken off during the pandemic. In fact, the online database eBird says there's been a 37% increase in its usage.This month, a group of medical students jumped on

If you've ever found a large monarch caterpillar far from a milkweed plant, there's probably no need for concern. Monarc...
04/17/2021

If you've ever found a large monarch caterpillar far from a milkweed plant, there's probably no need for concern. Monarchs prefer to pupate away from their host plant in a better camouflaged and less predictable spot to keep them safe from predators.

If you've ever found a large monarch caterpillar far from a milkweed plant, there's probably no need for concern. Monarchs prefer to pupate away from their host plant in a better camouflaged and less predictable spot to keep them safe from predators.

Did you know that wild leeks or "ramps" are very slow growing and can take 7-10 years to reach maturity from seed? Remov...
04/12/2021

Did you know that wild leeks or "ramps" are very slow growing and can take 7-10 years to reach maturity from seed? Removal of such plants can devastate a natural community.

Did you know that wild leeks or "ramps" are very slow growing and can take 7-10 years to reach maturity from seed? Removal of such plants can devastate a natural community.

Say hello to this clever little lady found at a local Milwaukee County Park last year. This federally endangered rusty-p...
04/11/2021

Say hello to this clever little lady found at a local Milwaukee County Park last year. This federally endangered rusty-patched bumble bee is nectar robbing a jewelweed flower. She's managed to access the sugary nectar reward trapped deep in the flower that normally only longer tongued species can reach.

Say hello to this clever little lady found at a local Milwaukee County Park last year. This federally endangered rusty-patched bumble bee is nectar robbing a jewelweed flower. She's managed to access the sugary nectar reward trapped deep in the flower that normally only longer tongued species can reach.

With its name and coloring the great spangled fritillary is one of the most charismatic butterfly species found in our p...
04/07/2021

With its name and coloring the great spangled fritillary is one of the most charismatic butterfly species found in our park system. Fritillary species depend on violets as their host plants, such as our state flower, the blue wood violet.

Why Birds Hit Windows—and How You Can Help Prevent It
04/03/2021
Why Birds Hit Windows—and How You Can Help Prevent It

Why Birds Hit Windows—and How You Can Help Prevent It

For birds, glass windows are worse than invisible. By reflecting foliage or sky, they look like inviting places to fly into. And because the sheer number of windows is so great, their toll on birds is huge. Up to about 1 billion birds die from window strikes in the U.S. each year, according to a 201

We could use your help in finding new populations of an invasive plant called lesser celandine. If you think you've foun...
04/02/2021

We could use your help in finding new populations of an invasive plant called lesser celandine. If you think you've found this plant, please email [email protected] a photo of the plants and the location.

We could use your help in finding new populations of an invasive plant called lesser celandine. If you think you've found this plant, please email [email protected] a photo of the plants and the location.

Bumblebee monitoring opportunities are now available at your Milwaukee County Parks. If you're interested in joining, pl...
03/29/2021

Bumblebee monitoring opportunities are now available at your Milwaukee County Parks. If you're interested in joining, please email [email protected] 🐝🖤💛

Bumblebee monitoring opportunities are now available at your Milwaukee County Parks. If you're interested in joining, please email [email protected] 🐝🖤💛

Did you know dragonflies just might be the most efficient predators in the animal world? Dragonflies capture their inten...
03/25/2021

Did you know dragonflies just might be the most efficient predators in the animal world? Dragonflies capture their intended prey 95% of the time according to one study. With four wings that move independent of each other and an ability to anticipate their prey’s next move it’s no wonder these aerial insects are such great hunters!

03/20/2021
Northwoods Frog Call Phenology

Hoppy First Day of Spring🐸
Chorus and leopard frogs have already started to call in Milwaukee County. It's ribbiting!!

Feast your eyes (but perhaps not your nose) on skunk cabbage. One of our earliest flowering species, this quirky plant p...
03/16/2021

Feast your eyes (but perhaps not your nose) on skunk cabbage. One of our earliest flowering species, this quirky plant produces its own heat, a rare phenomenon in the plant world! Instead of bees, the pungent flowers attract flies and gnats as pollinators.

03/07/2021

For those of you in need of a small dose of summer spirit, here's a bumble bee rolling in primrose pollen.

Spring wildflowers are just a matter of weeks away! Take a look at some of last year’s beauties.
03/01/2021

Spring wildflowers are just a matter of weeks away! Take a look at some of last year’s beauties.

We're excited to share our Natural Areas 2020 year in review with you! Last year certainly kept us busy with invasive sp...
02/25/2021

We're excited to share our Natural Areas 2020 year in review with you! Last year certainly kept us busy with invasive species removal, a massive tree planting, running multiple monitoring programs, discovering a federally endangered rusty-patched bumble bee nest, and so much more!

You don't need to go to the tropics to see coral. We have some right here in Milwaukee County. Coral fungi that is. You ...
02/21/2021

You don't need to go to the tropics to see coral. We have some right here in Milwaukee County. Coral fungi that is. You can find it in forests on logs or dead trees as it decomposes the wood.

You don't need to go to the tropics to see coral. We have some right here in Milwaukee County. Coral fungi that is. You can find it in forests on logs or dead trees as it decomposes the wood.

This not so scary odonate with distinct coloration and wing pattern is known as a Halloween pennant dragonfly 🎃
10/31/2020

This not so scary odonate with distinct coloration and wing pattern is known as a Halloween pennant dragonfly 🎃

Look at those mandibles! Giant stag beetles can reach up to 2.5 inches long. Have you seen one in Milwaukee County Parks...
10/26/2020

Look at those mandibles! Giant stag beetles can reach up to 2.5 inches long. Have you seen one in Milwaukee County Parks?

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a flying lobster! This moth is a delight to see in the parks. Other names it goes by are...
10/22/2020

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a flying lobster!

This moth is a delight to see in the parks. Other names it goes by are snowberry clearwing or hummingbird moth

MILKWEED- These summer bloomers benefit many pollinators including butterflies, moths, bumblebees, beetles, and more! Ca...
10/14/2020

MILKWEED- These summer bloomers benefit many pollinators including butterflies, moths, bumblebees, beetles, and more!

Can you name all 4?

Staff have been seeing a great diversity of sparrows in the parks recently!
10/14/2020

Staff have been seeing a great diversity of sparrows in the parks recently!

If September belongs to warblers, then October is surely the month of sparrows. As short-distance migrants (with the exceptional few making it down into southern Central America) sparrow migration through NW Ohio is later than other songbirds, extending from about mid-September into mid-November.

While many migrating sparrows begin appearing in September (including the Lincoln's Sparrow whose peak is right at the end of September) October is really when these birds move en masse through the region, with White-throated, White-crowned, and Song Sparrow leading the charge. The appearance of the American Tree Sparrow toward November is often the signal that fall migration is nearing its end and that the next season will soon be upon us.

Because of their subdued colors and patterns, sparrows are often confounding to people, earning the group as a whole the throwaway nickname "little brown birds" or "little brown jobs." But rather than simply impress with flash, sparrow plumage begs for closer inspection, revealing a plethora of earthly colors. A wide array of brown, russet, tan, rust, red, peat, loam... These birds are truly made of the rich soil they scratch in.

And while many may share the similarity of being "streaky," each sparrow species has its own style and placement of streaks (or lack thereof). When searching for an identification, streaking on the breast is often the place to start, noting its presence or absence and deducing from there.

#MigrationMonday

This little dude was found feeding on wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace. Black swallowtail butterflies don't migrate sout...
10/02/2020

This little dude was found feeding on wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace. Black swallowtail butterflies don't migrate south, but rather overwinter by hibernating. The pupae will emerge from the chrysalis in spring!

This time of year we are cleaning out nest boxes, but we wanted to share this priceless picture of a bluebird nest this ...
09/25/2020

This time of year we are cleaning out nest boxes, but we wanted to share this priceless picture of a bluebird nest this June 🥰

Catch this incredible plant in forested areas throughout the county! Its unique white appearance is due to lack of chlor...
09/21/2020

Catch this incredible plant in forested areas throughout the county! Its unique white appearance is due to lack of chlorophyll because it isn't dependent on photosynthesis.

It goes by many names including Indian pipe, ghost plant, or corpse plant.

Birds aren't the only wildlife to migrate south for the winter. The common green darner is one of several dragonfly spec...
09/15/2020

Birds aren't the only wildlife to migrate south for the winter. The common green darner is one of several dragonfly species to make the journey to warmer climates. Watch for dragonfly swarms now through the end of the month!

09/12/2020
09/12/2020
As bumblebee season comes to a close, we continue to see males (AKA drones). New queens and males are the last to emerge...
09/10/2020

As bumblebee season comes to a close, we continue to see males (AKA drones). New queens and males are the last to emerge.

Pictured is a male Bombus fervidus (yellow bumblebee), which can be disguised from the female because it has 5 yellow abdominal segments and not 4.

What do Milwaukee County parks or trails mean to you? Take a moment and share a written, audio or video answer:
07/15/2020
County Parks Ask

What do Milwaukee County parks or trails mean to you? Take a moment and share a written, audio or video answer:

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❤️❤️❤️
07/04/2020

❤️❤️❤️

We've heard from a lot of county residents asking how they can help parks this summer - we're dealing with funding and staffing shortages due to COVID-19, as well as the impacts of years of underfunding; so today we launched a new campaign called Love Your Parks, with several ways you can take action and support your parks.

Head to https://buff.ly/3gpsIWA to get details on how to volunteer, donate, share stories and get a new Parks Explorer app

06/29/2020

Address

1150 N 68th Street
Wauwatosa, WI
53213

Opening Hours

Monday 07:00 - 15:30
Tuesday 07:00 - 15:30
Wednesday 07:00 - 15:30
Thursday 07:00 - 15:30
Friday 07:00 - 15:30

Telephone

(414) 257-6521

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The Natural Areas Program is a creative use of partnerships that engages Wisconsin’s largest community through the science and beauty of restoration ecology. The Program has developed over 80 community partnerships and has trained over 10,000 volunteers. These volunteers, who have donated nearly 80,000 hours, consist of university students, elementary school students, community groups, government agencies, NGO’s, religious institutions, and private corporations. The assistance these partnerships provide is integral to the management of the Milwaukee County Park’s 10,000+ acres of natural areas. These resources include upland and lowland forest, fens, oak savanna, remnant wet-mesic prairie, shrub-carrs, open marsh, lagoons, pollinator gardens, and surrogate grasslands. These are natural resources that have been historically molded by the influences of a great lake, Wisconsin’s ecological tension zone, and over 150 years of Euro-American settlement. Many unique challenges present themselves in a county where the human element cannot be separated from the natural element, nor should it. The overriding goal is restoration and management of these natural resources, but another, which is of equal importance, is binding the citizens of Milwaukee County to their natural areas. In the process we are creating stewards, advocates, donors, and in effect a corps of restoration ecologists.

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Free pizza and information tables showing the events and ambitions of the newly formed Friends of County Grounds Park. Free registration is appreciated for planning purposes, but not required. Link below!! https://www.facebook.com/events/2516631525258681
Author Michelle Madden has just released her book, "111 Places in Milwaukee That You Must Not Miss" which includes Wauwatosa's own Sanctuary Woods and portions of County Grounds Park. In helping launch her book, I am proudly providing my first tour of 2019 - complemented by the interactive map launched this past December. The registration is through Eventbrite for planning purposes, but the event is free. Sign up and reserve your calendar for a fun time outside, with a historical tour, and meet the author! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/exclusive-tour-of-sanctuary-woods-the-milwaukee-county-grounds-tickets-64827693376 https://tosahistory13.wixsite.com/tosa
Is lake Michigan safe to swim in right now in the Veterans Park area? If not, where is the closest outdoor watering hole. I know the Milwaukee River is not safe.
Rarely seen Sora (Porzana carolina) is spotted in Milwaukee River Parkway.
Just wanted to share my experience today as I monitored my wetland in Wauwatosa. A solid reminder that anyone going out to do this should let someone else know that they are there. Fortunately this tree limb did not land on me while I was in the pond checking my traps, I was standing right there about 30 seconds before it fell!
Spotted a coyote at lakefront near Yacht Club 12/24/17 ~0830
The stats are out and the third season of the Atlas is officially a wrap, with special thanks going out to all of the Milwaukee birders and County Parks team members who helped out! Find out how many blocks are totally complete, which new species we confirmed, and how many million birds we've documented by heading to http://bit.ly/2ykgH30.
Is this a blue bunting bird? lol I need to be able to sleep tonight knowing what kind of bird this is!!! #grantpark Sorry...the squirrel came along for the ride!