Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A year in the urban wilderness

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area

2017 was a very active year in the urban wilderness of Milwaukee and beyond. As is my custom, I bring you a recap of the year, although it was harder than usual to narrow down the selections. In part, this was because I made a decision early in the year to limit my blogging activities to this, my Urban Wilderness blog, and to discontinue Arts Without Borders. In a very real sense I am sorry to see it go, as I continue to value the arts and find great pleasure in my outings. However, the more singular focus has enabled me to expand on the themes of this blog.

Lobster Claw, Mitchell Park Domes
Another reason for the growth of this blog is the project I began in 2017 with Preserve Our Parks, of which I am a board member. We’re calling it A Wealth of Nature. The intent is to celebrate and promote parks and wild places in Milwaukee and vicinity. Yeah, I know: it sounds a lot like what I’ve been doing for years. And it is! But the project has given me new enthusiasm and gotten me out intentionally to discover many places I had yet to explore for myself. Stay tuned. The project is just beginning. A new website is under construction.

And so, the (edited) year in review. Follow the links in each blurb to read the whole story and see the photo essays. (Note: I am including columns written for Milwaukee Magazine as well as my own blog.)

Autumn in Noyes Park, Milwaukee
Or just check out the year in pictures as you scroll down.

Sanctuary Woods and Medical Complex from Co Grounds Pk

2017 began with a bang as the City of Wauwatosa, where I live, unveiled a master plan that included roads and dense, high-rise developments in the last remaining parcel of green space on the Milwaukee County Grounds. “Sanctuary Woods” became a rallying cry for both sides in a contentious (and on-going) debate that I revisited many times over the course of the year:

Candle-light hike at Three Bridges Park
February brought out the best in people as Three Bridges Park held its first ever candle light hike and winter celebration. It was a smashing success, despite frigid temperatures.

March found me revisiting a favorite spot. My largely monochromatic photo essay:

Oak savanna at Indian Community School, Franklin
April brought spring and another, more colorful seasonal photo essay:

In May I took a tour of oak savannas, a rare and endangered ecosystem:

Things got real busy in June.
I visited four Milwaukee County parks and one Ozaukee County park to highlight “hidden gems:”

Showy lady slippers at Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area
I returned to Ozaukee County for a tour of the “Treasures of OZ:”

Beulah Bog State Natural Area
Then out to Walworth County for a first look at:

In July I revisited the Rotary Centennial Arboretum in Riverside Park for a special tour highlighting edible and medicinal herbs:

In August I reported on what I learned and experienced at my first ever City Parks Alliance national conference, in Saint Paul, Minnesota:

Kayak tour of Milwaukee's inner harbor
I served as Artist in Residence for the Harbor District, Inc. from January to September. In August I took one of two kayak tours of the inner harbor and filed this photo essay in September:

Another seasonal photo essay:

September found me learning even more about edible plants, this time at Theresa Marsh in Dodge County:

Prairie clover, Lakeshore State Park
Did you catch Milwaukee’s first ever boat parade and decorating contest? Here’s a photo essay:

Cuyahoga National Park, Ohio
In October I went to Kenosha County for a photo essay of two parks:

In November I filed my final seasonal photo essay from five parks in Southeastern Wisconsin:

I also took advantage of a road trip to a family Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh to stop off at Cuyahoga National Park near Cleveland, OH:

Kratzsch Conservancy, Washington County
December took me to Washington County where I joined in another tour:

Kenosha County Sustainable Living Educational Park


  1. Nature certainly brings out the wonder and compassion in us humans. Some, like you Eddee, have a gift of capturing images that excite our senses and motivate us to keep going.

    1. The most perfect email to welcome the New Year.
      Thank you Eddee!

  2. Eddee, thank you for reminding us of the beauty that surrounds us in all seasons...