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Interactive Website Focuses on Parks & Preserves in Southeastern Wisconsin

Eddee Daniel
Milwaukee County Grounds

The Milwaukee-based advocacy group Preserve Our Parks has rallied for public spaces, noteably Milwaukee County’s beautiful but financially beleaguered parks. In fact, Tuesday evening the group is holding a public meeting to rally support for a sustainable funding source for the system.

But Preserve Our Parks also is widening its focus through a new interactive website. A Wealth of Nature is meant to draw attention to parks and preserves throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Eddee Daniel is lending his talent to the project. For years, he's used his camera to capture bits of nature holding on in industrial-stressed environments, such as the Menomonee Valley before its renaissance.

He also uses words through blogging and articles. “People who know me know that I look at parks and I spend a lot of time doing that and yet once I started this project, I have continually how many amazed how many places I haven’t been to,” Daniel says.

That cannot be said of the spot where we stand on, a 55-acre oasis sandwiched between the freeway and an ever more congested medical and business complex.

“This is the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa… and we are standing on a hilltop that overlooks downtown Milwaukee, and it’s a pretty spectacular spot with a rolling prairie-like landscape with trails crisscrossing through it,” Daniel explains.

Credit Eddee Daniel
The Hartland Marsh Preserve is also featured on the website. A hiking trail and boardwalk along the southern portions of the property is accessed from the Cottonwood Wayside parking lot. This wildlife preserve allows hiking, birding and canoeing.

The website contains stories and photos of the Monarch butterfly habitat in one direction and the wildlife-rich forest in the other. “The goal of this website is to get people outdoors and get them to enjoy parks, and we hope that by doing so that they’ll be more willing to step up to do something in the way of advocacy,” he says.

Daniel has contributed the lion’s share of the initial content on the Preserve Our Parks website, but hopes soon he’ll be one of many contributors. “We have built a blog feature called the Natural Realm... we will also be inviting others to contribute to that, so it will be representative of a diversity of voices."

Two people have submitted material so far – one blogged about a little-known stretchalong the Milwaukee River, another about butterfly gardenstaking shape in River Hills.

Through the website, Daniel wants to reinforce the case that the region can’t afford to neglect even the smallest stretch of greenspace. “We need to find more dedicated funding sources to support our parks because the traditional support of maintenance funds are getting more difficult to find so the issue is to get people more involved and eager to support what’s necessary to keep the parks as everyone wants them to be."

We met on a crystal clear morning and could make out Milwaukee’s skyline where it meets Lake Michigan nearly 10 miles to the east.

“A lot of people know about the spectacular parks – the Kettle Moraines, the lakefront of course, parks throughout the region that are draws for people from all over. But some of the more surprising places are like the one, The County Grounds, you don’t expect to find such beauty – such a wonderful open space,” he says.

Daniel says he can't imagine not feeling compelled to advocate for places like this.

This story aired during Morning Edition on July 10, 2018.

Credit Eddee Daniel
The Menomonee River Parkway - approximately 9-mile long greenway follows the Menomonee River in two sections.

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