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Kosciusko Park in winter snow storm

Season’s Greetings!

December 18, 2019  |  Topics: Spotlight

From all of us at Preserve Our Parks

And in the spirit of the season, here is an illustrated Annual Report for A Wealth of Nature for the year 2019.

By Eddee Daniel, Project Director

Panoramic view of lake and wetland at Nicholson Wildlife Refuge
Nicholson Wildlife Refuge, Caledonia

 “A Wealth of Nature,” Preserve Our Parks’ on-going project, is now two years old. The project showcases local and regional parks and preserves and encourages the public to visit and support them. This is best exemplified right here on this website, where currently the “find a park” map now identifies more than 90 beautiful locations in Southeastern Wisconsin where you can go to recreate and enjoy nature. Recent additions include such diverse places as Jackson Park in Milwaukee, Harrington Beach State Park in Ozaukee County, Silver Lake County Park in Kenosha County, Nicholson Wildlife Refuge in Caledonia, Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha, Ackerman’s Grove in Washington County and the Monches Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Maple trees in autumn color at Ackerman's Grove County Park
Ackerman’s Grove County Park, Washington County

Here is a recap of some of this year’s project activities.

roosting monarch butterflies
Monarchs roosting on The Monarch Trail

This blog, The Natural Realm, has published a wide variety of stories from diverse contributors. The most popular story of the past year was “The Magic of the Monarchs,” about the monarch butterfly migration at the Monarch Trail in Wauwatosa. Many stories have been submitted by our project partners, including the Mequon Nature Preserve, the Milwaukee and Waukesha County Parks Departments, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, and Waukesha County Land Conservancy. Of 76 stories posted this year, 43 were by guest contributors. Topics have been as diverse as controlled burning, Lake Michigan ice, urban coyotes, Sturgeon Fest—from a kindergarten perspective, a citizen science snake survey, and a Pike River restoration project.

A popular feature of the blog has been our series of featured artists, especially those involved in the unique collaborative project called ARTservancy. This project, a partnership between the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) and Gallery 224 in Port Washington, invited 12 artists to be inspired by 12 different OWLT preserves. The Natural Realm published a story about each of them during the year. Additionally, as ARTservancy begins its second year, I am serving as one of the new artists in residence. I am working in the Milwaukee River Greenway, thanks to the sponsorship of River Revitalization Foundation. The Natural Realm will continue featuring each of the ARTservancy artists and preserves.

A collage of images by all twelve 2018-2019 ARTservancy artists in residence

The website and blog, while primary, are not the only components of the project. As Project Director, I have given 14 presentations during the year, to park friends groups, nature centers, environmental organizations, public libraries and others. I was a featured speaker at two conferences, the Conservation Summit at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Port Washington, and the Fox River Summit in Burlington. I even braved two middle school classes for Milwaukee Public Schools, which were the most challenging presentations of the year!

The Urban Wilderness Explorers hike the Milwaukee River Greenway in autumn
The Urban Wilderness Explorers hike the Milwaukee River Greenway

The newest addition to A Wealth of Nature programming is a series of hikes. In May I led two hikes as part of Jane’s Walk MKE. Then in September, under the auspices of, I created a group called “Urban Wilderness Explorers.” To date we have hiked in seven places in SE Wisconsin. My plan is to schedule at least one per month through the winter months and more when the weather warms up. We’ve added a new “hike with us” page to this website where you can learn all about it—and sign up!

The Hank Aaron State Trail in Three Bridges Park with Milwaukee skyline
The Hank Aaron State Trail in Three Bridges Park, Milwaukee

In fact, there’s still room in our next hike in Three Bridges Park. Sign up here.

Stay tuned. Next week: The year in pictures. Here’s a sneak preview:

Seven Bridges Trailhead, Grant Park, in blazing autumn colors
Seven Bridges Trailhead, Grant Park

Addendum: The Year in Pictures is now available. Click here.

The featured photo is of Kosciuszko Park, Milwaukee. The Season’s Greeting image of the waterfall is from Whitnall Park, Franklin.