Wednesday, April 22, 2009

County Board Members Forget What Day It Was

I met some new friends today. They are really some wonderful people. And how apropos it was to meet these defenders of the Monarch Butterfly on Earth Day.

My new friends had seen my post regarding Walker breaking yet another promise he made and wanting to pave over the last of the undeveloped land on the county grounds. They asked for a boon from me.

They have been striving to reach a goal, but did not feel that the County Board was hearing them. They also told me that when they reached out to the local paper to get their word out, either by story or by letter to the editor, but have been repeatedly shunned. They asked me to help them get their word out. How could I refuse? Us monarchs have to stick together.

My new friends are very concerned about this plan of Walker's, which would sell off this land to UWM for their engineering school. They are concerned because this last parcel of land, which was supposed to have become a state forest, is also very unique as that it is part of the migration route of the Monarch Butterfly. This would be obviously lost forever if were to be developed.

The loss of this land would be devastating. In the words of Professor Lincoln P. Brower, Research Professor of Biology, Sweet Briar College, and Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus, University of Florida (pdf):
Having heard about the potential loss of a Monarch butterfly migration route on the Milwaukee County Grounds, as well as the sincere and concerted effort by the community to save this superb area from development, I would like to explain how important preserving such specific habitats as this has become. Monarch populations require space with milkweed plants for reproduction and numerous wildflower species for maintaining their lipid reserves that fuel their lives. Habitat quality is enhanced by geographical complexity, including streams, ponds and topographic diversity, as well as stands of trees for wind and storm protection. All of these parameters contribute to the success of the monarch's incredible 2500 mile migration to Mexico, and in the spring, another 1200 mile return journey. Milwaukee County Grounds exemplifies such a constellation of habitat quality features, and unless we can, one by one, save recognized areas, the local and migratory populations of monarch butterflies, and indeed many other species, will begin an inexorable decline.

I know that you are aware of the value this land holds for the human community, for education, and to provide open, natural space in an urban area. I trust that my note may help to underscore the scientific importance of its preservation; such rich biological areas cannot be moved, recreated, or replaced. If this educated effort in your county, and others nationwide, cannot succeed in saving areas such as these, we will soon begin to see, among other biodiversity disasters, the unraveling of the great migration of the monarch butterfly, truly one of this planet's greatest wildlife spectacles.
This would also eliminate a valuable learning experience for the children of Milwaukee County. Many groups, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, as expressed in this letter(pdf) take their children to this land for the unique experience that they would otherwise never receive.

So you can understand my disconcertion when I learned that some County Supervisors, like James "Luigi" Schmitt, were fully on board with destroying this land, and that other supervisors, like Lynne De Bruin and Gerry Broderick, were actually touring the land today, giving it serious consideration.

This really ought to be a no brainer.

First of all, the board should have learned to check and double check and even triple check everything, and I do mean everything, that Walker and his people tell them. They are supposed to vote on this on May 11, but haven't even gotten all of the impact studies on this yet.

Secondly, as I pointed out in my previously mentioned post, there are a lot of people that don't want this campus built on the county grounds, but would much rather see it downtown where it belongs.

Thirdly, in these difficult economic times, do they want to be the people to take away this free, yet invaluable, learning experience for our children. It would cost them nothing to preserve the land, but would cost us all dearly if they allowed it to be unnecessarily ruined.

I urge the County Board to at least table this proposal until they have had the opportunity to read and evaluate ALL of the reports and studies. Then they can reject this foolish proposal and allow the school to be built downtown, like it should be.

And I ask you, gentle reader, to also contact your supervisor and bug them (pun intended) to preserve this cost-free and extremely important land.


  1. Thanks for the article. Barb has been a huge help in fighting this mistake, and hopefully we still have time to make it right. Thanks

  2. Just curious, what part of the County grounds is this supposed to take place? I used to live down the road from the County grounds and have saddened by all the development there.

  3. Dave-

    We need to talk.


    It is the land north of Watertown Plank Road, east of the freeway, west of the power plant.

  4. Is there still a chance to save this land?

  5. If enough people put enough pressure on the County Board. Their next vote is May 11, so don't delay in contacting them. The link in the post will lead to their contact info.

  6. This is so true.

    The public needs to be made aware of this. The deal that UWM proposes changes everyday and now I believe they have another plan that we won't see until the sale of the land. I think it might have even more construction on it that originally thought.

    I am very involved with the Monarch Trail and the efforts to perserve this land.

    My 9 yr. old "Izzy" is trying very hard to support the efforts too. She has spoke to the Committee @ the Zoofari, emailed the Supervisors and wrote letters. She is putting the word out everywhere we go. Currenlty she is working on trying to get another letter published in any local publication.

    I think if we all put our gifts forward we will have a positive outcome for the County Grounds.

    Let's all stay connected. We just got to meet Julia Butterfly Hill, WOW what amazing experience for me and my daughter.

  7. Izzy's Mom-

    Welcome to Cog Dis and thank you for becoming a friend.

    Do email me. I think I can help.

  8. Talk to Mark Borkowski- we used to run the County grounds when we ran cross country and track at Tosa East. If anyone who would appreciate the area, it would be Mark.

  9. Borkowski is in Franklin. Schmit would be the more likely person. I am hoping to catch up with some of the member of the parks committee this week.

  10. I have been working with the Monarch Groupd sending e-mails, and letters to various elected officals of Milwuake County. The important vote is slatted for May 11th @ the Mil. County Courty house @09:00 AM, we need eyeryones help. I am a concern citizen, and want the Monarch Trail save not only for our generation but also for future generations to come.

  11. Amen to that! We need as many possible connections as we can get to stop the vote in favor of UWM. Keep up the good work. We are going to send pictures us enjoying the Grounds to all the Supervisors, Mayor, Walker, etc.