Monday, April 27, 2009

Izzy And The Monarchs

Last week, I wrote a post about how the Milwaukee County Board appears set to proceed with the foolish plan of razing the County Grounds for UWM's Innovation Park, which should be really put downtown, close to the rest of the campus.

In said post, one of the commenters, Izzy's Mom, stated that her daughter has been very active in trying to get the word out about how important it is to preserve this land. I got in contact with Izzy's Mom and offered this site for her daughter's letter. Izzy and her mom were quick to take me up on that.

Izzy is a nine-year-old little girl who is very deeply invested in preserving this land after having had opportunities to observe one of the miracles of nature. The following is the letter that Izzy had prepared and sent to the paper. The letter is unedited:

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Izzy and I am nine years old. I am here to tell you all about The Monarch Trail and the fight to save the Milwaukee County Grounds.

From what I understand, UWM wants to build on the Milwaukee County Grounds, AKA The Monarch Trail. So once again Barb Agnew and her crew are here to save the day for The Monarch Trail.

First of all, I think that everyone sees this medium sized field, that is pretty blank right now and thinks: “What is this place and why is it important?” But in a few weeks that “blank field” will turn into a ground not just for the monarchs, but also for the bluebirds, foxes, snakes and other animals. They will come to lay their eggs and in 2 weeks they will become caterpillars about to embark on an amazing journey, first to Canada, then Mexico.

Second, think about this. How many Monarch sanctuaries are there in Wisconsin? 1? 2? 3? Even if there are many, what if they are all in one area of Wisconsin?

Here's another way to think about it. You are a Monarch. You know that there is one place you could go to that is near. You fly there, but instead of milkweed you find noisy machines. You see them cut down stalk after stalk of milkweed, the food you need. But because of those noisy machines, there is none left. You know there is another place to go but it is far away. Without milkweed you have no energy, no energy means to milkweed. Without food, you starve to death. Think about it. Either way, you would of died because there is probably no milkweed because nobody knows about it. And because of UWM building, they will only see the destruction of a species, not happy beautiful butterflies. I hope you understand what we mean and the basic message: “DONT BUILD ON THE MONARCH HABITAT!”

Izzy and the Monarchs
It is inspiring to see one so young be so involved and invested in the world around her. At the same time, it is sad that a nine-year-old girl shows more insight, more intelligence and more wisdom that the County Executive, UWM Chancellor Carlos Santiago and some County Board members put together.

Along the same lines, it has also come to my attention that all the information is not in yet. From my inbox, an email that has gone out to at least one County Board Supervisor:

As the UWM Foundation and Real Estate Foundation get closer to purchasing the Milwaukee County Grounds my issue has been that we cannot lose another open, green public place to development. It truly is not sound public policy to sell off Milwaukee’s assets in order to cover this year’s budget.

After reading the editorial by Professor Petering in Sundays Journal, It became more apparent that not all of the issues have been properly addressed. I know that the City of Milwaukee is strongly against moving portions of UWM to Tosa but the Faculty and Staff are in the process of doing a survey to gather the input about this location and most are adamant that it not be severed from the other aspects of Engineering.

I have also not heard the reasons that other properties within the research park are not utilized first, why would they ruin the northeast quadrant first? These other parcels already have infrastructure and the project would develop faster and be inherently “green”.

And as Carlos Santiago pursues these wonderful goals for UWM, the success of the Engineering research portion is based on collaboration of mutual interests, Not location.

Can we allow the faculty to speak and be heard on this and re-visit the value of putting the Engineering project in downtown Milwaukee? Location-by-donor may not be what is best for Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. This all needs to be considered.

[Name redacted]

In other words, the County Board is again being asked to make a decision without having all the facts placed in front of them. Given Scott Walker's history, the Board should be painfully aware that they can't trust anything he presents to them with out checking it out thoroughly.

Finally, I also have a copy of a notice being put out by


The Grounds were whittled down to what remains of the Northeast Quadrant, thus the preservation efforts started --
  1. A State Park was envisioned by the citizens and the County Board but was vetoed by then County Executive Tom Ament.
  2. A compromise was drawn allowing some natural space for the public and some for development.
  3. The UWM Foundation's proposal to purchase the land is a much larger footprint than stated in the compromise.
  4. Without permanent preservation this remnant will be eaten away, taking our last unique urban habitat from the following: Owls, Foxes, King Fishers, Whip-poor-Wills, Bobolinks, Bluebirds, Meadowlarks and the migrating Monarch Butterflies and Us
Remember that the vote is set for Monday, May 11th at 9 am. Please contact your County Board Supervisor and ask him or her to enforce this compromise, to protect our natural preserves and to provide an unique and cost free learning environment for our children.


  1. Great post... I do hope people contact their supervisors and stop this mistake from happening.

  2. Dave,

    We are trying really, really hard. As I know you are :)

  3. Personally, I think that at least one of the old Orphanage buildings should be kept, as well.

    I have no idea how to PAY for all that preservation, but, hey...

  4. Dad29,

    Our mission is not just to save the Monarch Habitat, it also to preserve the buildings and the other wildlife habitats. The trail can only improve out there. Maybe a donor will step forth and invest in our future?!?!?
    Tell everyone you know that there is a nature walk scheduled for the County Grounds this Saturday morning. We would love to see any and everybody out there and enjoy it. It is amazing to see the land dormant now and then watch the progress that natures brings forth. Ahhh.

  5. I know how Izzy feels. I felt the same way when I was growing up when Bishops woods went from being a nice wooded area with a day camping area to the next year, buildings upon buildings with the habitat destroyed.

  6. i remember izzy and the monarchs playing at my high school dance.